Picking a scooter for your child

All kids' scooters aren't created equal; they come in a variety of styles to suit riders from a wide range of ages and skill levels. Most kids' scooters can be divided into two basic types: self-powered kick scooters and electric scooters. However, there are variations within each category that are important to consider when determining which model will best meet your needs.

Kick scooters can come with two or more wheels, and some models are more suitable for doing tricks than others. Some electric scooters are faster than others, and the design can vary considerably between brands and models. One particular scooter brand, Razor, tends to dominate the landscape in both breadth of offerings and quality of reviews. However, models from manufacturers such as Huffy, Kent and Currie also get positive feedback from critics -- there's just far less of it to draw from.

Some basic safety recommendations are universal. Scooter riders are advised to wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads. Use common sense and adjust your riding style and speed to your riding environment to ensure the best experience for yourself and the people around you.

Some scooter manufacturers like Razor make owner's manuals for their products available online. Downloading these and reading them before purchase can help answer questions you may still have after researching user reviews.

Keep these specifics in mind when shopping for a kids' scooter:

  • Check recommended age/weight ranges. Different riders will have different dimensions, needs and skill levels. Looking at the recommended age and weight range for each scooter is a good starting point to help you evaluate whether a specific model is suitable for your child's body type and abilities. For instance, a taller child may need a sturdier scooter with higher handlebars, whereas a very young or beginning rider may get more use out of a scooter with more than two wheels.
  • Consider where and how your child will be riding. Basic kick scooters and electric scooters aren't made for rough terrain or loose surfaces, and only some scooters are suitable for  tricks. If your child is a more advanced rider, consider an upgraded kick scooter with a reinforced frame, wider tires and better handgrips. (Caster scooters and boards are another product entirely, and there are fewer choices and not much critical feedback available.) Lightweight kick scooters are best for a child who just wants to cruise around the neighborhood.
  • For electric scooters, check battery runtime. There's a wide range of types and sizes of electric scooters, but most reviews say that simpler, more budget-friendly stand-up models can work well for most kids. Costlier models come with more options, though, and shorter battery life, lower weight limits and slower speeds may be issues with the most basic electric scooters.
  • Proper maintenance can extend the life of your scooter. Experts say it's a good idea to check wheels, bolts and electric motors frequently, particularly since warranties can run out in as few as 90 days. Rechargeable batteries on electric scooters are especially vulnerable to problems stemming from prolonged inactivity or temperature extremes, critics note, so pay careful attention to manufacturers' recommendations regarding charging and storage.
  • Don't forget your safety equipment. Reviewers agree that items such as helmets and knee pads are a must for any rider on any type of scooter. Factor the price of your child's safety equipment into your scooter budget, and be sure that whatever gear you buy is of good quality and fits your child well.
  • Watch where you ride. Stay on smooth surfaces. Avoiding wet or loose surfaces such as sand, dirt and gravel will provide a more stable ride and reduce the risk of an accident. Likewise, sidewalks, dedicated paved bike paths and skate parks are safer for scooter riders than riding on regular surface streets, where vehicle traffic becomes a factor.
  • Respect the people around you. Riders using their scooters in public need to be aware of the pedestrians they share their space with. Never ride recklessly around others; always maintain a speed appropriate to your surroundings. Besides ensuring your own safety, you want to make sure you don't accidentally injure anyone else as a result of your riding, doing tricks, etc.

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