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The Hottest Wheels

November 20, 2010

Nora Studholm
The Hottest Wheels

Longboards and scooters and bikes...Oh my! When it comes to getting around campus, every CMCer has a preferred set of wheels. But what does a person's transportation choice say about his or her character?  What makes someone a unicycler or a scooter-er?  To get to the bottom of this puzzling question, The Forum asked proponents of each mode about their choice and even took their wheels for a spin.  Here's a run-down of the hottest ways to zip around Claremont.

The Razor Scooter

These toy-like little scooters are extremely convenient: Laura Epstein bought hers off Amazon for only $30 and they shipped it to her Story House mailbox in one light package. Laura is delighted that her Razor “gets the job done” --she’s not late when she only has 5 minutes to get from one class to the next. But when I tried to ride her little scooter, I felt like an elephant on a tricycle and could barely make it move. Moral of the story: don’t get a Razor scooter if you are over 5’8”, or if you're looking for long-distance mobility.

The Gas-Powered Scooter

The big brother of the little Razor is the gas-powered scooter.  This scooter is larger and has added endurance, thanks to an engine that's attached to one side for greater speed and power. Michael Bagby and his friends bought a fleet of these scooters so they could motor around campus together in a “scooter gang.” He has mixed feelings about his scooter, however. While it’s fast and fuel-efficient, it is obnoxiously loud-- he often feels bad roaring through campus during the quieter daytime hours. On the flip side, it's hard to deny that Bagby’s scooter has a retro-cool factor that's hard to come by as far as small-scale transportation.

The Longboard

By far the most commonly used means of transportation on our campus (other than good ol' fashioned walking), riding a longboard sends a message, whether intentional or not: “I am so So-Cal, man.” On our hilly campuses, long boards are especially efficient, and you can work up some serious speed cruising down from North Quad to 6th Street. I’ve been assured that it’s easy to learn to use them, although my attempts have always ended in scraped knees and curses.  Check out The Forum's resident skater-girl guru Caroline Nyce's longboarding manifesto for more info on this mode of transport.

The Power Board

Erik, a Mudd professor, has taken the long board to the next level. His “power board” has a battery-powered engine welded to its bottom, allowing him to travel up to 16 miles on a single charge. Riders say that the power board feels more stable than a regular skateboard, but that smoothly accelerating and braking takes some practice. Power boards are an investment-- they cost $500 to $800 dollars-- but, as Erik points out, “I replaced a Mercedes with this,” although he adds sheepishly, “I kept the Jaguar though.”

The Bike

This two-wheeled campus classic is one of the most versatile choices for transportation. Whether you’re just trying to get to class or you're running errands in the Village, a bike is the most reliable way to get around. Reliability, however, doesn't have to mean boring or dated. Brendan Huss stands out on his flashy custom-painted bicycle: the wheels and frame each boast a different shiny neon hue. From vintage fixed-gear bikes to beach-style cruisers, the variety of wheels on campus is extensive and far from dull.

The Unicycle

If you’ve walked through Mudd’s campus, chances are you’ve seen someone riding a unicycle. No, these cyclists aren’t circus performers-- they’re just regular college students getting to class. Although this feat appears impossible, a Harvey Mudd unicyclist named Jeep claims that he learned to ride in just a week.  He admits, however, that it’s much harder to keep balanced while wearing a heavy backpack. So, why ride a unicycle instead of a regular bicycle? “It's just cooler," Jeep explained, "Also, you don’t have to lock it up. Who’s going to be able to take it?” Jeep should look out, though; there is actually a fairly large community of unicycle riders at Mudd who go on recreational rides together... for up to 20 miles at a time!


Mudd takes the prize for the coolest modes of transportation. In addition the thriving unicyclist community, the campus is swarming with people zooming about on “freelines.” These foot-sized platforms with wheel are not the easiest to learn how to ride says Zeke, a Mudder who uses the wheels to get to class every day. To move, riders balance their on the platforms and swivel their feet in a “sine curve” pattern (had to review my trig to even understand this one). Freelines are fairly expensive, running from $120 to $200 dollars, but riders assured me that once you learn to ride them, the wheels are addictive and well worth the initial cost.

Does that uber-long trek to Honnold-Mudd have you groaning for an alternative?  Test out some of these options for speedier, more creative transportation. I wonder when we'll get our first CMC Segway gang...

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