Skateboard vs. Scooter: How Do They Compare?

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The skateboard vs. scooter debate has been raging longer than the skateboard vs. BMX bicycle debate. Many people find that hard to believe, based on the fact that the scooter has just recently witnessed a rebirth among teens and young adults. Yes, we said rebirth.

Before the days of the BMX bike craze when skateboarding was still in its infancy, scooters were all the rage. The late 60s and early 70s skateboard craze took over, and the scooter took a backseat. It was nearly forgotten about when BMX began reaching new heights in the 90s.  

Fast forward to the 2010s and into the present, and the scooter has witnessed a rebirth that’s been giving the skateboard a run for its money. Both of these deck-based vehicles get heavy use in the streets for commuting and freestyle riding, but what are some of the other similarities?

What are some of the major differences that draw users to one or the other? We’re going to examine both of these vehicles in detail. Hopefully, once you reach the end of the article, you’ll have a better understanding and a clear direction in which way you want to go to start your skating journey.

Unique Features of Skateboard vs. Scooter

Let’s get detailed about the specific dynamics of the skateboard vs. scooter. In this section, we’re breaking down each characteristic to find out how well they operate.

Steering/Turning

When talking about moving vehicles, the steering or ability to turn is probably the most important feature. Acceleration and means of pushing or propelling are important, but what good does all the acceleration in the world do if you can’t steer or turn?

Scooters use a handlebar system that controls the motion of the front wheel. Turning is relatively simple, and the wheel has a 360-degree range of motion. In terms of mobility, it doesn’t get any better than 360-degrees.

Alternatively, skateboards are a little more difficult. There’s no handlebar system on a skateboard or a means of turning the wheels in any other way but using your body motion and momentum.

You lift and press your toes and heel on a skateboard, working them in conjunction with twists of your shoulders and hips. If it sounds difficult, that’s because it is. Turning a skateboard takes a high level of balancing ability and coordination.

Maneuverability

Which one of these vehicles is easier to maneuver? If you’re in a closed environment or face some tight turns and sharp corners, which one of these vehicles will get you out of a jam?

This one is tough. A scooter can bank some sharp corners, and you do have the option of using your leg to plant if things get too tricky.

The way a scooter handles corners is almost like a bicycle, and it’s pretty tough to get past the convenience of handlebars.

Many people would assume that maneuverability is lacking in a skateboard. However, this is a very relative statement.

If you’re a new skater, maneuverability can be very challenging. In fact, it can be a nightmare. However, if you’re a veteran skateboarder, maneuvering the board can come as effortlessly as any bike or scooter, if not easier. How is this possible with no handlebars or turning wheels?

One way of turning and maneuvering on a skateboard is known as carving. Although carving looks amazing when it’s done correctly, it does take wide angles to carve. It actually takes more of an arc than an angle.

When a skater is experienced, he can stop the skateboard on a dime, planting his back feet and whipping the board’s nose around. Ridiculous 90-degree turns can be accomplished if you know how to handle a skateboard.

Kick Pushing

Both of these vehicles require kick pushing to propel them forward. Electric scooters don’t require kick pushing, but we aren’t using them in this guide because it wouldn’t be fair. Let’s keep the argument in an apples-to-apples form. An electric scooter vs. electric skateboards is an article for another day.

When they push on a kick scooter, scooter riders keep the other foot straight ahead on the deck and hold the handlebars. A kick push is easier when you can keep your body sideways but doing this on a scooter is somewhat inconvenient because you need to hold the handles.

It’s easy to do balance-wise when you have something to grab, but it just doesn’t seem very efficient when you’re talking about acceleration. The handlebars seem to get in the way sometimes, and it’s not uncommon for a scooter rider’s legs to hit the bars. Moving at a quick speed can be difficult on kick scooters sometimes. 

On a skateboard, you have nothing blocking your range of motion. Standing sideways isn’t a problem either, or it’s actually recommended. Skaters can get a high, full-range leg kick that isn’t easily achieved on kick scooters.

Related: What is a Mongo Push

 Stopping

There are essentially two ways of foot braking on the skateboard and scooter, respectively. The scooter also has a set of hand brakes. These handlebar brakes are usually connected to pads on the front wheel.

The second set of brakes on the scooter are located on the back wheel. The foot brake is pushed down onto the wheel by a rider’s heel instead of a pad that clamps down like the front brake.

Your only option is foot braking when you ride a skateboard. Using your foot like a brake is the only option available when you’re balancing on the deck. Riders slowly lower their foot onto the pavement, contacting more and more of the surface with each pass.

Alternatively, once a skater gets used to balancing, they can do a boardslide to stop the deck. A boardslide is when the skater abruptly sweeps the board sideways, bringing the skateboard to a grinding halt.

Now that you have a better understanding of how each element of a skateboard or scooter works, let’s get down to usability.

Skateboard vs. Scooter: Efficiency and Usability

This section will go over a discipline and examine whether the skateboard or scooter is better for the job.

Skateboard vs. Scooter: Which Is More Convenient

In a close race, we think the skateboard takes the nod for convenience. The skateboard is smaller; therefore, it can be taken almost anywhere without requiring much space.

A rider can put the skateboard inside a backpack, hang it on the straps outside of the backpack, or just carry it under their arms.

The scooter is heavier and bulkier, so easy carrying isn’t always an option. When a rider isn’t mobile, there aren’t as many places to put the scooter. If the backpack is big enough, the rider might slip the deck portion into the bag, but the handlebars will hang out from the top or sides.

The only real option with the scooter is to carry it manually. This can get annoying after a while, so we have to give the skateboard the nod on this one.

Skateboard vs. Scooter: The Learning Curve

This was a tough category to pick a clear-cut winner. Most of us agree that the learning curve on both of these vehicles is nearly the same.

You have to learn how to kick and push on both of these decks. Learning to turn is a little more difficult on a skateboard, but getting used to moving your legs around the handlebar also takes some adjusting.

We’ll give this category to the scooter, but there’s only one reason for our decision. The skateboard requires extra balance, which adds another element to the learning curve that makes it slightly more difficult.

Skateboard vs. Scooter: Becoming an Expert

This is usually any rider’s end goal after they take up a particular discipline or style of riding. In this case, it’s the type of vehicle for riding. How long does it take to become an expert at each of these? Does one have a shorter path to success than the other?

Scooters can be whipped around quicker than skateboards, which means some scooter tricks require double the work as the skateboard version. What do we mean by this?

For example, a 180 on a skateboard is a 360 on a scooter. You can’t switch legs or reverse your stance on a scooter because the handlebars have to face forward.

Riding a scooter in the initial phases might be easier, but learning the harder tricks might be more challenging than a skateboard. We’re going to give the skateboard the win on this one. It’s easier to master a skateboard, but just barely.

Skateboard vs. Scooter: Safety

Safety is always an important dynamic when it comes to riding, especially when it comes to children. It’s important to note what types of hazards come with a hobby like riding. In most cases, it’s impossible to eliminate all hazards, but understanding them allows you the opportunity to prepare for them with the right safety equipment.

Let’s look at some of the elements of safety between these two.

·         Skateboards are higher off the ground than scooters are. The positive in this is that skateboards have more clearance, leaving less chance of crashing because of rocks, sticks, and other obstacles.

·         On a scooter, you have handlebars for added support. If you’re unsure about your balance when you first begin, having handlebars is a huge benefit, making the ride much safer.

·          Free skating can get pretty intense on a skateboard. You can quickly enter a breakneck pace, especially if you have larger wheels installed for longboarding. Scooters are designed to keep a steady pace and are usually more stable when speeds get higher. The design of a scooter has tighter axles that don’t wobble as much as skateboards.

We have to give the safety category to the scooter. Regardless of which one you use, safety equipment must be worn at all times.

Skateboard vs. Scooter: Physical Fitness

This is an overlooked dynamic for both of those vehicles. Riders get overwhelmed by the extreme sports element and forget that both can be a great way to get exercise.

Your legs get plenty of workouts whether you choose to ride the scooter or a skateboard. Kicking and pushing along with constant switching make for an intense leg workout.

However, the skateboard has a slight edge over the scooter in this category. The handlebars take some of the strain off your upper body. On a skateboard, the need to balance and shift your body weight to turn does a great job of strengthening your core. It’s not uncommon to see a skater develop six-pack abs.

The lack of a handlebar takes the scooter out of contention in this category. This one is a win for the skateboard.

Skateboard vs. Scooter: More Options/Categories

It’s important when you pick any hobby that options exist. If one discipline doesn’t speak to you as much, you can pick up a different one and see if that style fits. Skateboarding is the clear winner in this category.

There are so many different styles of skateboarding and types of boards that come with those styles. There are different wheel and truck sizes and different types of bearings you can experiment with.

Scooters have options for different wheel sizes, but not bearings or trucks. The wheel sizes on scooters can be adjusted based on potential riding terrain.

The main style of scooter is the razor scooter. Most scooters are modeled after this style, but there are a few wider variations with larger wheels that exist for harder terrain. 

If you’re looking to take up a hobby that offers plenty of options and the ability to switch disciplines at any moment, you should probably choose a skateboard.                                                                                                                                                                                               

Both the skateboard and the scooter have elements that make them appealing to users of any age. The safety and simplicity of the initial phases can make it more appealing for kids and teenagers to ride scooters. 

The versatility and extra workout could be dynamics that appeal to young adults and older riders who use skateboards. Both of these vehicles have benefits that cater to all age groups. You can never go wrong by enjoying the best of both worlds. Test both out and decide which one feels more comfortable.