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.
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.