Best Scooter for Kids Buyers Guide
What makes a scooter the toy of choice for so many kids these days? Why not a bike or a skateboard? Simply put, it combines the best of a bike and a skateboard into one fun and easy-to-use toy. Kid the standing ride, similar to a skateboard, but they get the ease of balancing and steering with handlebars, similar to a bike.
For parents, scooters often represent a safer toy for their kids. The handlebars make it safer to balance than a skateboard, while the standing design makes it easier to hop off when losing control, compared to a bike.
Benefits of a Scooter for Kids
Some of the main benefits for kids when it comes to scooters are:
- Motor Skill Development
- Developing Reading Skills
For a kid, balancing on a scooter with handlebars is a lot simpler than balancing on a skateboard – but being closer to the ground and in a standing position, can make it easier to balance than a bike. For young kids, scooters are a great way to teach them balance and how to steer in the desired direction.
Scooters can help young children develop essential motor skills. For example, coordination between the eye and the foot, depth perception, and other motor skills are developed in the action of propelling a scooter by kicking.
Did you know that there are many skills a child needs before they ever start reading? For example, they need to have hand strength and dexterity to hold a book and turn pages. They need to be familiar with directions in order to read left to right. These things are helped by riding.
When kids are able to master something new, it builds their confidence. Learning to ride a scooter is easy, and that gives kids a boost of confidence when they do master it.
Finally, riding a scooter is just fun! It encourages kids to play creatively outdoors and lets them have a blast.
Types of Scooters
There are several types of scooters that exist for kids these days, such as:
The two-wheel scooter is the standard that is commonly seen in the children’s department of chain stores. There is a wheel on the front and the back, a place to stand, and a bar in the front that leads to handlebars. The handlebars may be adjustable for your child’s height, and it may have other special features.
A three-wheel scooter is the same, but it has two wheels on the front and one in the back. This is often an excellent choice for younger children because the second wheel in the front provides more stability overall.
A caster scooter is a unique type of three-wheel scooter. This one has two wheels on the back and one on the front. Instead of a board where your child will stand with one foot behind the other, there is a horizontal board between the two back wheels, so your child will generally stand, as though they were standing on the ground. The way a child moves on this scooter is more similar to the way a skier moves as they ski.
A pro scooter is one that is designed for professional competitive events, and usually features elements that make it better for trick riding. It will often have larger handles, sturdier construction, and so on.
Off-road scooters are designed to be ridden over rough terrain. It will feature larger wheels with more tread, a protective guard on the rear to prevent the foot from coming into contact with the wheel, and a braking system.
An electric scooter is a scooter that runs via battery power. This can allow kids to ride without kicking, and can often reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. These may be best suited for older children and teens, and are even made for adults as well.
Two Factors to Determine the Best Scooter for Your Child
Now that you know what types of scooters there are, it’s time to figure out which type your child should be riding. There are two main factors to consider when choosing:
- Your child’s age
- Your child’s interest level
When it comes to your child’s age, the big thing to consider is safety. A child that is younger than five years old, should be riding a three-wheel scooter. These offer the most safety and stability for a little one. You can even find three-wheel scooters that include a detachable seat so that the child can begin learning with a seat, and move up to standing.
A child that is between the ages of five and ten will often ride either a two-wheel scooter or a caster scooter. These are the next two safest models and are easy to control. However, pro scooters, electric scooters, and off-road scooters can be ridden by any child over the age of six. The selection for the age range of six to 12 is huge, and will largely be determined by your child’s interest.
For a teenaged rider, you’ll want to go with a pro scooter, an off-road scooter, or an electric scooter, simply because these are the sturdiest. There are adult scooters that could work, but adult scooters are primarily made for commuting, rather than fun riding or trick riding.
When it comes to your child’s interest level, consider whether they just like to scoot around as a means of fun transportation, or if they want to ride at a skate park and do tricks. If they have friends that ride scooters and are interested in learning jumps, stunts, and other special moves, you’ll want to choose a pro scooter that works for the specific type of scooting they want to do. If they are just getting around and having fun, but aren’t interested in learning about scooting as a sport, a basic two-wheel scooter will work great.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to a “pro” athlete to ride a pro scooter. This is just a term that means that the scooter is used to do tricks and ride at skate parks. There are pro scooters that are perfectly suitable for beginners, as well as more advanced pro scooters.
What Features Should You Look for in a Scooter?
Once you choose the type of scooter for your child, the next step is to find a quality ride. In order to keep your child safe, and to let them do the kind of riding they want to do, choosing the highest quality components will offer the best scooter.
Brakes are the first part of choosing a safe scooter for your child. Many scooters, especially scooters made for young children, don’t have a brake at all. Instead, your child will just put their foot down on the ground or hop off if they want to stop. The idea is that young children won’t be going fast enough to make a brake necessary.
The next step is a scooter with a foot brake. This is a small attachment over the rear wheel that a child steps on, and it slows the scooter down to an eventual halt. Finally, there are scooters that have hand brakes, which operate similarly to bike hand brakes. These have the most parts, so they will be more likely to break down over time. They could also cause a brake that is a bit jarring to a small child because it’s not as gradual. But they do offer the most safety if your child is riding very fast or riding up and down ramps.
The next thing to consider is whether the scooter is very portable. If the it folds up, it will be a lot easier for your child to store it in their room, carry it to a friend’s house, or bring it along for vacations. Most of the time, electric scooters and pro scooters are the only types that may not fold in some way – but the market has started to introduce very portable electric scooters recently.
The next thing to consider is the size and weight. Is it appropriate for your child? Your child may want a pro scooter, for example, but if they are short or underweight for their age, they may not be able to control the scooter adequately. Additionally, keep in mind the weight that the scooter will support. If your child is heavier than what a toddler-sized scooter is meant to support, they should be moved up to a standard child scooter, even if they aren’t of that age.
Now it’s time to take a look at the wheels. Wheels are one of the parts that are often customized for athletes and pro riding. Depending on what type of ground your child is riding on, they may have actual rubber wheels with treads (for rough terrain), or small, smooth plastic wheels for riding at parks and on the pavement. The bigger the wheel is, the more stable the ride will be – but smaller wheels make it easier to push off and get a little bit of speed. So the choice really does come down to what type of scooting your child wants to do. For most kids, standard plastic wheels are just fine – and keep in mind that you can have a separate set of tougher, off-road wheels to change out when your child will be doing different types of riding.
Consider whether you want to buy what is known as a “complete”, which means that it comes with all the parts included, or if you’d rather choose the components separately yourself. There are a lot of situations in which you may want to choose to build a scooter from scratch, for example:
- Your child is interested in pro skating and wants specific features that don’t come in an affordable complete.
- You want a specific safety feature for a scooter that you can’t find in the type of scooter that is best for your kid.
- You want to have many options so that your kid can choose how they want to ride in different situations.
Finally, consider the handlebars. Many parents want adjustable handlebars that will grow with their child. Consider if they are at a good height, if they will be too big or small for your child’s hands, and if they are made for tricks or not.
Those are the components that make up a scooter. Accessories that you’ll often find included things like grip tape for the wide deck and the handlebars, bells, lights, and more. Start by choosing the best components first, or select a complete option that has the features you and your child want. Then find the right accessories to make the scooter fun and exciting.
Brands and Pricing
As a parent doing the shopping, cost and safety are among your top concerns when it comes to kick scooters. If you want to buy the best quality scooter for a child that is really interested in trick riding, then you do want to consider the durability. That will easily put the price much higher than a standard scooter meant to be a fun toy and nothing more. Some brands that are known for striking a good balance between quality components and affordable prices are Razor, Fuzion, Mongoose, Apex, and Micro.
You can find a decent scooter that is durable and fun, for under $100. These will likely be a standard two-wheel with no hand brakes, but the construction will be sturdy. However, higher-end scooters like the Micro Maxi that feature pro-level characteristics, hand brakes, and more, can cost over $200. And an electric scooter for a child can cost as much as $500. So be aware that there are affordable options out there, but the way to judge an affordable scooter is not the same as judging an affordable toy of another type. Compare these to getting a new bike, and you’ll be in the right ballpark.
One thing to remember when it comes to the price is that a very cheap scooter may cost you more if you have to replace parts in the long run – but then again, so could an expensive scooter. Replacing parts on an expensive scooter may be pricey because the parts are more mechanically involved. Replacing parts on a cheap scooter may add enough to the cost that you could have bought a higher quality scooter from the start.
Keep in mind that your child will need some safety gear to go with kick scooters. A helmet is the bare minimum, and it’s something that no kid from toddler to teenager should ride without. Knee and elbow pads may be a good idea as well, especially for a very small child.
Scooters have been a popular toy since the 50s, and the lighter they get, the more popular they become for even younger children. As they get more popular, they are the cause of more and more accidents for children. Most commonly, broken arms and hands occur when a child falls. Cuts, sprains, and bruises are also very common on the arms and hands. About 25% of the injuries caused by scooters are to the head, and another 25% are on the legs – the rest is all the arms and hands.
This means that while helmets are always the most important thing, you may not want to skip the arm protection either. Elbow pads can prevent up 82% of elbow injuries. Wrist guards may help with the injury to the wrists and arms, but they do make it harder to steer.
Other important safety tips to follow for a scooter include:
- Only ride a standard scooter where the ground is smooth. Don’t ride over rough terrain (including cracked sidewalks) unless your scooter has wheels specifically for off-road riding.
- Don’t ride scooters at night.
- Don’t allow a very young child to ride a scooter without your supervision.
Exciting Things to Do with a Scooter
If you are thinking about surprising your child with a scooter, then you probably picture them riding around, kicking their leg, and having a blast cruising. But kick scooters are a lot of fun to do tricks on, and many of the best scooters for children that we reviewed are designed for that purpose. Not sure what tricks kids can do on scooters, or why a scooter needs to be designed especially for tricks? Here are some things that kids can do with their scooter, and why it changes the design.
Hopping is one of the first scooter tricks that kids learn. In this trick, the scooter wheels leave the ground, and land back on the ground at the same time – doing a “hop”. For this type of trick, the deck needs to be pretty lightweight so that the kid can get some air!
A “fakie” means to ride your scooter backward, and it’s a foundational building block for many other tricks. It requires that kids have good control over their balance on a scooter, so scooters with slightly larger, more stable wheels, are helpful for this trick.
A manual is a trick in which the front wheel of the scooter is lifted off the ground while the kid rides. This is tricky because lifting up too high will cause the scooter to fly out from under the rider. An excellent rear brake can be helpful in this trick.
A nose pivot is when the rider leans forward to lift the rear wheel off the ground, and while balanced on just the front wheel, turns the deck in a different direction. It’s a neat way to turn around, and it’s best performed on a scooter that is designed to provide a very smooth ride.
Similar to the nose pivot, a 180 is when a hop and a turn are combined. Instead of turning with the front wheel on the ground, both wheels come off the ground, the board is turned, and then the rider lands. This also requires a light board to get some air. Many kids learn how to perform this trick by starting with a nose pivot and then hopping up into the 180 – doing multiple tricks like this that build off each other is called a combo.
Another easy trick for kids to learn is riding with either one hand or no hands on the handlebars. For this trick to be successful, kids need great balance. A deck that is wide, set lower to the ground, and large wheels, will be helpful for learning this trick.
There are also tricks that require that the feet be taken off the board. Often this happens in the air when the scooter isn’t touching the ground.
These tricks are things that are all done from anywhere, even a driveway. However, once you add in ramps at the skate park, there are many other things you can do. For example, a tail whip happens when a rider gets momentum going up a ramp, and while in the air, whips the deck of the scooter around 360 before landing back on the ramp. This requires both a lightweight deck and a solid set of adjustable handlebars, as these are crucial to controlling the scooter during this trick.
There are other tricks that can be mastered once these are learned. A “magnet” is when a rider hops off the board, then brings the board up to their feet, and then lands back on the ground with the deck under their feet by the time they touch down.
As you can see, the way a scooter is designed definitely changes what can be done with it. A heavy scooter may be better for early riders, but it won’t be great for trick riding. A scooter with a unique stance, like a caster scooter, is fun to ride, but it won’t really allow a child to ride at the skate park.
Summing It All Up
This article contained a lot of material for learning how to choose the best scooters for a kid that wants to try riding. So let’s sum it all up in an easy “at a glance” guide. Here’s what you need to know to choose the best scooter for your kid:
- Go for quality components wherever you can to get the safest and most durable scooter.
- Pay attention to the weight capacity and age limit on a scooter, and follow them. Toddlers need different features than children do.
- Look for a scooter that either fits your child’s interest (such as trick riding), or will grow with them over time so they can try new things if they want to.
- Think about where your child will be riding. Rough terrain needs bigger, sturdier wheels. Smooth terrain needs smaller, harder wheels with no air in them (such as hard plastic wheels).
The price range for scooters can run anywhere from under $100 to over $300, and it all depends on the type of scooter you want. However, keep in mind that the most expensive scooters are those that include an operational motor, so they compare more to an electric child’s Jeep than they do to a bicycle.
If you aren’t sure which scooter is right for your child, check out our list of the ten best kids scooters on the market right now. We covered electric scooters, standard two-wheel scooters, three-wheel scooters for toddlers, off-road scooters, and pro scooters. You’ll be able to easily find the best scooter for your child in this roundup.
Now that you have this easy and in-depth guide to choosing the best scooter for your child, be sure to remember to grab a helmet and other safety gear! Scooters are lots of fun, but safety is always paramount. Let your child discover the fun of this unique toy and make some great memories along the way.