Many children eagerly anticipate their first ride on a scooter (look, Ma, freedom!) when they can begin cruising around the neighborhood in speedy and stylish fashion. Although you can spend hundreds of dollars on a tricked-out scooter, there are plenty of cheap scooters bearing two-digit price tags in an assortment of styles and colors that will keep youngsters happy and active -- and away from all those couch-potato alternatives. Moreover, cheap scooters seem to be a gender-neutral interest that's as popular with girls as with boys.
Cheap Scooters Buying Guide
Cheap scooters come in two forms: the traditional foot-powered type, best known as a kick scooter, that go for less than $40; or a motorized scooter powered by batteries that can be had for less than $100. There are also gas-powered scooters, but at a minimum of several hundred dollars apiece, these are way beyond the Cheapism niche.
|Kick Scooters, Motorized Scooters|
|Kids Scooters Weight Limits, Design|
|Scooter Reviews, Best Scooters|
Before deciding between a cheap kick scooter and a cheap motorized scooter, you'll need to consider the child's age. Two-year olds might start out on a three-wheeled scooter and graduate to the standard two-wheeled variety at age 4 or 5. Motorized scooters are meant to be ridden by older children; manufacturers' specs for the cheap electric scooters we researched all recommend 8 as the minimum age. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children younger than 8 should always be supervised while riding a scooter of any type, a stance echoed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which further advises that motorized scooters should be reserved for children at least 12 years old. Age aside, most kids master the scooter thing quickly. We read reports from parents and former pre-school teachers attesting to their value in boosting kids' self-confidence, coordination, and balance.
Razor dominates the kids' cheap scooter market with a lineup that includes entry-level scooters for tots and whooshes all the way to electric models with seats designed for teens and up. It's the cool brand and kids who are old enough to recognize such markers of status may refuse to ride anything else (or so we've been told by several young scooter aficionados). Radio Flyer is another well-known brand that focuses on traditional kick scooters for the pre-school and elementary-grades set. X-Treme Scooters specializes in electric and gas models. Other producers include Fisher-Price and Huffy, which target young riders with child-pleasing themes like Cars, Toy Story, and Spider Man.
Cheap scooters are pretty basic: a couple of wheels, a deck, and handlebars. The wheels are often hard urethane and the handlebars on many models adjust to different heights. Hand brakes are standard on electric scooters, and kick scooters meant for school-age children usually come with a foot-operated rear brake; entry-level kick scooters rely on a little foot stepping off the deck to serve as the brake if the scooter hasn't already come to a stop on its own. Seats are reserved for higher-end motorized models that go faster and farther than the cheap scooters we researched and are recommended for older (i.e., minimum 13 years) riders. A scooter's performance is best judged by ease of use and durability. That is, how easy is it to push off and keep going? How much abuse can the scooter take before it just gives out?
Our picks for best cheap scooters include the Razor A (starting at $27), a kick scooter noted for its durable construction, smooth ride, and high marks on the coolness scale, and the Razor E100 (starting at $91), an electric scooter that scores with kids and adults for the same reasons. We also like the Radio Flyer My First Scooter (starting at $34), a three-wheeled model that is well-built and designed for toddlers just launching their scooting careers; reviews indicate, however, that this one is tough to steer.
Parents and caregivers, heads up here: Make sure the child always wears a helmet when riding. Experts also recommend knee pads and elbow pads. Also note that cheap scooters should be used on hard surfaces that are clear of debris like rocks and pebbles.
Kick Scooters, Motorized Scooters
Kick Scooters.A kick scooter, sometimes known as a push scooter, is a very basic form of transportation: a narrow deck with two small wheels, one in front and one in back, and steering handlebars affixed to the deck by a long mount. Just kick off with a foot, roll, push off again, roll, and so on; speed is controlled by the strength and momentum of the rider's kick. The best cheap kick scooter we found is the Razor A (starting at $27), an easy and dependable ride for youngsters ages 5 and up. The next model in the Razor lineup is the A2 (starting at $37), which is one of the few cheap kick scooters capable of executing at least one trick; this model features a bar in the back that lets the rider pop a wheelie. Another Razor, the Pro (starting at $50), is designed for stunts and freewheeling with grip tape on the deck and a reinforced head tube. One model beyond our price range for kick scooters that bears mention is the Pulse Kick 'N Go (starting at $74), which features a T-shaped bar at the rear of the deck that the rider kicks to accelerate rather than using their foot.
Entry-level scooters for tots have three small wheels and a wider deck, as well as steering handlebars. The third wheel provides added stability and the wider platform usually can hold two little feet side by side, both features that make it easier and safer (fewer tip-overs) for young children learning to ride. Our pick for best entry-level kick scooter, the Radio Flyer My First Scooter (starting at $34), sports two wheels in front and one in back. The Razor Kiddie Kick (starting at $28) takes the opposite approach and puts two wheels in the back and one up front. One configuration isn't necessarily better than the other, although parents' assessment of the Radio Flyer is more positive; critiques of the Razor Kiddie Kick center on difficult push-offs and very slow speeds, which together seem to frustrate youngsters.
Motorized Scooters.A scooter powered by an electric motor means a lot less work for the rider but higher cost for the buyer. Just turn on, push off, and roll away. The variable speed on most kids' motorized scooters tops out at 10 miles an hour and is typically controlled through the hand grips or a thumb trigger. The deck is wider than a regular kick scooter in order to accommodate the motor, which is secured underneath on our favorite cheap electric scooter, the chain-driven Razor E100 (starting at $91), and at the rear on the belt-driven X-Treme X-140 (starting at $100). Although 8 is the recommended minimum age for stepping up to a motorized scooter, some parents seem to ignore the advice; we read reviews that indicate 6- and 7-year-olds are tooling around on these little machines.
The motor on an electric scooter is powered by batteries. Specs on both the models we researched call for two rechargeable 12V batteries, which are included. Both motorized scooters also come with chargers. Manufacturers specify the batteries' range differently. With the Razor E100 you can expect about 40 minutes of uninterrupted scooting and then up to 12 hours of charge time. With the X-Treme X-140, you should be able to travel about six to eight miles and then have to wait six to eight hours for a full recharge.
Kids Scooters Weight Limits, Design
Scooters Weight Limits.Once you've decided whether to go electric or old-school foot power, you'll need to consider the child's weight. Some cheap kids scooters can handle the heft of an adult, but others are clearly built to carry children. The maximum weight on the Razor A and Razor A2, for example, is 143 pounds. For entry-level kids scooters, the weight limit drops significantly: 50 pounds for the Radio Flyer My First Scooter and 45 pounds for the Razor Kiddie Kick. Electric scooters are made with older kids in mind and typically accommodate heavier riders. The X-Treme X-140 can tolerate up to 200 pounds although the Razor E100 is good only up to 120 pounds.
Scooters Wheels.The wheels on a scooter vary in size and composition. Entry-level kick scooters usually feature wheels made of hard plastic, and parents' reviews indicate they don't damage floors when children ride them indoors. The three wheels on the Kiddie Kick are 98 millimeters high, or just shy of 4 inches; the two front wheels on the Radio Flyer My First Scooter are 6 inches high and the single rear wheel stands 5 inches tall.
The two kick scooters for older kids that we researched, the Razor A and Razor A2, also feature hard urethane wheels that are a tad short of 4 inches high. The motorized Razor E100 boasts a relatively large 8-inch pneumatic tire in the front and a urethane rear tire that's about 5 inches in diameter. The X-Treme X-140 comes with two 6-inch wheels -- hard rubber on the front and hard rosin on the rear -- that some reviews indicate might be able to handle small bumps but may give a harsher ride.
Scooters Design and Construction.The best cheap kids scooters are colorful, lightweight, and foldable. Some also have handlebars that can be adjusted to suit the rider's height. Tot-size kick scooters don't take quite the beating meted out to kids scooters used by older children and often are made with lots of plastic. (By way of contrast, the Dora Three-Wheel Scooter is made entirely of metal and starts at $25) The Razor Kiddie Kick features a plastic body that weighs 6.5 pounds; it comes in pink or blue. Specs for the Radio Flyer My First scooter indicate it's 80% plastic and 20% metal, a combination that may account for its 12-pound weight. Both models fold for easy storage and portability.
Cheap two-wheeled kick scooters and electric scooters are built with metal. In the case of the Razor A and Razor A2, that means aircraft-grade aluminum. The Razor A weighs six pounds and comes in an assortment of colors, including red and green. The Razor A2, with its springless suspension and wheelie bar, weighs in at seven pounds and is available in purple, among other colors. Both models fold and feature adjustable handlebars. The motorized E100 weighs a hefty 29 pounds while the X-Treme X-140 is a comparatively svelte 19 pounds, a weight that appealed to a family of girls who need to carry the scooter up three flights of stairs. Again, both models fold and have adjustable handlebars and offer a couple of color choices.
A few kids scooters, like the Radio Flyer My First Scooter, come fully assembled; others require minimal assembly, a task that reviews say can be accomplished in minutes. Where a tool is needed, it comes in the package.
Scooter Reviews, Best Scooters
According to the scooter reviews we read, the hallmark of the best scooters is the quality of the ride and the model's longevity. We also noted in scooter reviews on a variety of websites that Razor scooters far and away outrank other labels in the hearts and eyes of young riders. Some models with cartoon themes by makers like Huffy earn decent reviews, but parents casually comment in posts how their children have been lusting after a Razor like those used by older siblings or kids in the neighborhood. Our picks for best scooters reflect this widely reported sentiment.
Scooters Ride.For young riders in particular, ease of use is critical. We read many scooter reviews noting how eager toddlers are to imitate older brothers and sisters, and three-wheeled scooters fit the bill perfectly. The Radio Flyer My First Scooter is a hit with parents and children alike. Scooter reviews on Amazon, for example, note how safe the Radio Flyer seems: the wide deck and well-spaced front wheels provide stability and the relatively slow rate of travel ensures the child will be able to maintain control. A review of the best scooters at Target points out that the single back wheel design makes it unlikely that the child will hit his/ her foot while kicking. On the other hand, the wide turning radius on the Radio Flyer is a turn-off for some parents, who note in scooter reviews that it's hard to round corners in the house; a few also say the relatively slow speed saps some of the fun. The Razor Kiddie Kick finds plenty of fans for its two-back-wheel configuration, again because of the stability it ensures. Scooter reviews on Meijer say little children quickly learn scooting basics on the Kiddie Kick but add that they'll quickly outgrow this model, which can't be adjusted for height. Parents also report in scooter reviews on Toys R Us that the Kiddie Kick is slower than you'd expect for a tot's scooter, requires too much effort to get going, and doesn't coast very far, even on a slight slope.
The best kick scooters for older children score for their easy riding performance. Safe and smooth are adjectives used to describe the Razor A in scooter reviews. Parents commenting on Walmart report that 5-and 6-year-olds learn to ride almost immediately, and the low deck gives confidence to children who might otherwise fear falling. This scooter handles well and apparently gets lots of indoor workouts during winter months, with no telltale marks left on floors. The Razor A2 likewise earns accolades, with scooter reviews on Sports Authority saying youngsters take to it so quickly and regularly that they wind up getting plenty of exercise. Some riders use the Razor A2 for entry-level tricks, like jumping, but one parent reports having removed the wheelie bar because it blocked easy access to the brakes.
In the motorized scooter department, Razor lands on top again with its E100. Scooter reviews on sites like Drugstore.com comment on the speed with which kids learn to ride and the thrill of their newly acquired mobility. Other reviews note the success of the Razor E100 as gifts, in part because it elevates the rider's cool status within the neighborhood posse. The X-Treme X-140 runs quietly and is lighter than electric Razors and thus easier to maneuver, according to reviews of the best scooters on Amazon. On the downside, says one parent, the solid rubber front tire makes for a slightly rough ride.
Scooters Durability.Given the simplicity of design and construction, there's not much that can go wrong with the best cheap kick scooters. And those on our list -- the models made by Razor and Radio Flyer -- pass the durability test without much sweat. Many scooter reviews say the Razor kick scooters are sturdy, relatively long-lived, and seemingly impervious to being kicked around. We did, however, come across a report about rusting joints on the Razor A2 in a scooters review on the Target site, and another report on Sports Authority about sharp edges. The Radio Flyer likewise proves solid, well-built, and durable, according to scooter reviews. The one caveat concerning the two entry-level scooters we researched, the Radio Flyer and Razor Kiddie Kick, is that tots quickly outgrow them in terms of size (length of deck and height of handlebars) and appeal (after a while, they just seem babyish).
Aside from a few comments about the battery on the Razor E100 running down quickly, and one report on Walmart about its inability to hold a charge within a year of purchase, scooter reviews say this electric scooter boasts a solid build and overall quality construction that holds up for at least several years. The X-treme X-140 doesn't fare quite as well on the durability front. A scooters review on Amazon reports the drive belt broke on the scooter's second outing and the replacement failed quickly, as well. Another says the scooter arrived with a broken on/off switch, and a third says the electrical wiring failed after the scooter was thrown to the ground. Other reviewers, however, like what they term the scooter's solid build.
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