Scooters are a trend that isn't going away. And among the lure of video games and televisions, they stand out as a more active choice that encourages kids to get outside and play. As with skateboards, riders of all ages should wear the proper safety equipment, meaning a helmet at the very least; knee and elbow pads are also recommended. You'll find additional safety information and links in the What To Look For and Useful Links sections of this report. Although there are other brands of scooters, Razors are the most reviewed, most proven models for kids.
The clear brand leader, Razor scooters are omnipresent in major retailers both online and off. The company offers 16 different non-motorized scooters, plus another nine electric, battery-powered models. Kickboard USA also gets great reviews for its Mini Kick three-wheeled scooter, which is recommended for younger kids who are riding for the first time. The scooters covered here have traditional configurations, with a fixed rear wheel and a front wheel (or wheels, in the case of the Mini Kick) that turns via the handlebars. We don't include caster scooters (usually three-wheeled, with two independently turning back wheels), skateboards or skateboard alternatives such as the RipStik.
Among basic foot-powered, two-wheeled kick scooters, the Razor A (*Est. $30) garners the largest number of reviews -- more than 600 Amazon.com users -- and a high average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5. The Razor A is a standout pick for budget shoppers, and owners love its simplicity and fun factor. Most agree that it represents a great overall value. Independent critics concur, saying it's durable and easy to use. They note that this folding scooter is simple and lightweight enough for a kindergartner to handle, but caution that the Razor A isn't made for riding on rougher surfaces or doing tricks. It's best for basic riding on smoother or paved surfaces.
The Razor A is recommended for kids age 5 and up, and has a maximum weight limit of 143 pounds, so it isn't a great choice for many older kids and most adults. Casual riders at the higher end of the age or weight ranges may do better with the Razor A5 Lux (*Est. $80) . Like the Razor A, it folds for easy transport and storage, but it has larger wheels and a 220-pound weight capacity. It's recommended for kids 8 and older and also gets high ratings from owners.
Many owners say the Razor Ultra Pro kick scooter (*Est. $70) is the best of the bunch for stunt riders. The scooter features a reinforced head clamp and extra-thick foam grips, and adds a down-tube that's welded to the deck, wider handlebars and upgraded wheel bearings. The fixed frame means the scooter doesn't fold up, but many reviewers say it makes this model sturdier and, in effect, safer for doing tricks. The Ultra Pro can accommodate riders up to 220 pounds and is recommended for ages 8 and up. Riders shorter than 5 feet 4 inches may be more comfortable using the Razor Ultra Pro Lo, which has shorter, narrower handlebars but is otherwise identical to the Ultra Pro.
Even the smallest riders can get in on the fun with scooters like the Kickboard Mini Kick (*Est. $85) , which gets high marks from reviewers. Owners give it especially good feedback, saying children as young as 3 can maneuver the three-wheeled (two in front, one in the rear) Mini Kick easily. Several note that the steering design works well to prevent abrupt turns and help maintain balance. Stability is said to be a strong point, but even satisfied owners say the double front wheels can make this scooter tip forward more easily than some others.
One less expensive three-wheeled kick scooter that some critics rate well is the Radio Flyer My 1st Scooter (*Est. $450, plus $90 doubles kit) , a two-in-front, one-in-back wheel configuration designed for children as young as 24 months. Owner reviews are better than average, but we did find numerous complaints that the steering is too stiff for many toddlers to handle.
Some electric scooters borrow their styling from kick scooters, while others look more like scaled-down mopeds. The largest volume of positive feedback goes to simpler, less expensive, rechargeable scooters like the Razor E100 (Est. $120). It's a favorite at Cheapism.com, and independent reviewer Ashley Gunn says it's tough to beat this model for the price. Most critics agree that riders as young as 8 will find the Razor E100 perfect for cruising the neighborhood.
Unlike Razor's kick scooters, the E100 has a traditional pneumatic front tire in front and a solid urethane wheel in back. The right handlebar grip has a motorcycle-style twist throttle control. A bicycle-style brake is mounted to the front wheel, controlled by a lever mounted near the left handlebar grip. The electric motor assembly is mounted at the rear wheel, with the onboard sealed battery pack suspended below the scooter's deck.
Most owners say the motor is quiet and battery life is adequate at about 40 minutes or so of continuous use. Yet according to Razor's website, a full recharge takes 12 hours and the battery pack's overall lifespan is rated at approximately 250 charge/discharge cycles. Riders need to kick-start the Razor E100; it must be moving at 3 mph before the motor will activate. Few riders seem bothered by this feature and many parents posting reviews appreciate it.
We found some owner complaints relating to faulty batteries and a poorly designed chain guard (the electric motor turns the rear wheel via a chain drive). The E100's 120-pound weight limit and 10-mph top speed may also deter some buyers. Two step-up models, the Razor E200 (*Est. $200) and Razor E300 (*Est. $260) , address these issues, offering successively higher weight limits and top speeds. They're also substantially more expensive than the E100.