Pro scooters have officially arrived. There are still skateboarders and BMX enthusiasts, but scooters are the new kid on the block, so of course kids want to take their swing at riding them. After all, no kid thinks that something their 50 year old uncle did when he was a kid is cool. Of course, scooters coexist in a world of skaters and are most appreciated in skateparks, so in addition to knowing how to ride a scooter, it’s good to get to know skate culture so one can navigate the social rules of a skatepark without putting a foot wrong, so to speak.
Pro scooters have come a long way since you were a kid. Gone are the days of scooters being just a stepping stone to riding a skateboard. In fact, three or four wheel scooters are more or less a thing of the past. When you imagine scooters today, the comparison is more like the one between rollerblades and four-wheeled skates of yesteryear. By giving up some stability in the form of the extra wheels, modern scooters can go much faster (less friction with the road) and can do some pretty impressive tricks not unlike those done by skateboarders. In fact, barring a private setup in your back yard, your best bet for finding a place to do tricks with a pro scooter is likely the local skatepark.
Whether you ride regular (left foot in front) or goofy (right foot in front), you know that when it comes to pro scooters, all things boil down to the engineering and the feel of it. Of course, looks matter too. This is why no one rides a toddler’s scooter even if it is rated for up to 250 lbs. A great rider with a badly made or maintained scooter can get hurt, even if bundled up in helmets and other protective gear, so having a well built scooter designed with the rider in mind is key. Some just want something that they can commute with, their biggest stunt hopping over puddles or bumps in the road. Others demand infinite toughness, with scooters that can slide down a fifty foot rail, shooting sparks in every direction, and then cruise down the boardwalk for lunch. Adults are spoiled for choice when it comes to these machines, but kids, despite being the biggest demographic of riders, are usually stuck with either very expensive pro scooters designed for adult bodies, or kiddie scooters that not only look ridiculous with a 10 year old on them, but aren’t engineered for the kind of punishment that 10 year old will deliver.
To put it simply, the weight rating of a scooter doesn’t just have to support the mass of the rider, but the impact force of the rider in PSI. A good way of thinking of it is this: if you walk on level ground, the force (in PSI) exerted on your knees with each step is about 1.5 times your total weight. That’s just normal walking! Imagine the force if you’ve just lept into the air! That’s the kind of punishment a good pro scooter needs to withstand in order to be safe, and no one gets cookies just for being safe! Safety is just the low bar.
Here is the situation: You have a child. Perhaps they had a kiddie scooter as a toddler and they have grown out of it. Maybe they’ve never ridden a scooter before but now, at age 6, are interested in getting a scooter. They are too old for the scooters designed for toddlers, but they aren’t quite ready for an adult scooter, nor are you interested in making the kind of investment required for the purchase of an adult scooter. What should you do?
First of all, you may need a short primer on pro scooters and perhaps scooters in general, so here are some terms you should know.
Pro Scooter Lexicon
The deck is the part of the scooter on which the rider stands.
The handlebars are, as with bicycles, the part of the scooter held by the hands and used for steering. It’s worth noting that while the idea is the same as with bicycles, due to the physics of scooters, the steering technique must be different.
The steering column is the longest part of the scooter; the column going between the deck and the handlebars. It is an essential part of the construction, giving the scooter rigidity and control.
The headtube is the section of the frame that connects and buttresses the steering column and the deck. Some scooters connect the steering column directly with the deck while others do not, relying on a specially designed headtube to take the weight of the rider. This latter design is especially common to folding scooters.
The fork is the part of the scooter connecting the frame (which includes the deck and steering column) to the front wheel (and sometimes there is a fork on the rear wheel as well).
A rear fender brake is a neat little feature of scooters whereby the rear wheel’s fender, which keeps the wheel from kicking dirt up onto the rider, is hinged and thus can be used as a brake by stepping on it.
Pegs are short pieces of (usually) metal which are attached to the fulcrums of the wheels and are used for various tricks and stunts, having originated in the world of BMX stunt riding.
There are two kinds of clamps common to scooters: regular clamps, which have to be opened and closed with a tool, usually a hex wrench, and quick release clamps. Quick release clamps are like what you’d typically find on a bicycle, under the seat, allowing easy adjustments for the rider. Quick release clamps are usually what you’ll find on the steering column to adjust the height of the handlebars.
It’s also worth remembering that like bicycles, pro scooters are purpose built. No one would take velodrome bike to a mountain trail and no one would take a BMX to the Tour de France. Likewise, some pro scooters are intended more for certain kinds of riding. That means that a pro scooter having one feature can mean sacrificing another. For example, if you want a scooter that folds, it likely won’t be suited to certain kinds of hard riding like tricks because the folding mechanism makes the scooter less rigid and therefore less safe in certain use cases. Likewise, having a really hardcore scooter with reinforced joints will mean a safe, comfortable ride, but you may have to open a clamp with a hex wrench in order to take it apart enough to stick it in a bag at the airport. In buying a pro scooter for someone it is important to know how they will use it most of the time. If no folding ability is a deal-killer, then either you’ll end up having to buy two scooters (one for stunts) or just forego certain styles of riding and or tricks.
So now that you know some of the basic terminology, let’s get into the best pro scooters for kids, as well as why they are the best options.
Best Value Pro Scooter
Arcade Rogue Pro Scooter for Beginners
If you really don’t want to spend a lot on a pro scooter for a child, either because you think they’ll lose interest or for any other reason, your options are limited. Most pro scooters are designed with adults in mind and thus, go for adult prices. Under that class things descend to kiddie scooters pretty quickly, leaving only a small window of pro scooters aimed at kids and teens both in terms of engineering and price. It is important that you get a scooter that fits your child’s dimensions and mass, and while adult pro scooters may be fine in terms of weight bearing, they may be too tall for your child, meaning they are just as unsafe as any other unsafe pro scooter.
For the money, the best value pro scooter for your child is the Arcade Rogue Pro Scooter. Suited for kids between 6 and 12 (bearing in mind this age bracket is more about the size of the rider than the age) the Arcade Rogue Pro Scooter is a big step up from the foam rubber padded kiddie scooter you got for your four year old when they demanded features like interchangeable magnetic flower stickers. In other words, this is still for kids, but it is much more grown up than what most little kids use.
Made using a welded aircraft aluminum box deck, this scooter can take a beating, which is good because your kid will probably give it a beating. It comes with a sure fire rear fender brake, smooth ABEC 7 bearings in the wheels (don’t worry, your kid knows what that means) and 100mm PU pro scooter wheels. The handlebars are comfortable and simple, and the whole thing can be had for between about $50-$60. For an entry level ride, that’s a lot of scooter for the money. Moreover, if your kid actually bashes it enough to break it, they’re clearly serious enough about riding that making the investment in a more robust pro scooter (see below) is actually worth the expense.
While your kid may not need to ride it to school, they easily could (weather providing) and it is equally at home in a skate park, where its lightness, toughness, and versatility will shine.
Best Mid-range Pro Scooter
Arcade Defender Pro Scooter
Now we step up from the entry level into the purview of the truly committed rider. At this point, your kid isn’t a nube. Your kid has likely already had an entry level scooter, but either they aren’t ready for the really hardcore stunt scooters, or you’re just not quite ready to cough up the money for one of those. In either case, what you are looking for is a pro scooter that is reasonably priced, but not a beginner scooter. You want something that’s a little more deluxe than the base model and will give your kid a little more room to grow as a scooter rider.
The pro scooter you should consider is the Arcade Defender Pro Scooter. Like the Arcade Rogue, it’s still for kids (in this case, kids 8 years old and up) but the engineering just a bit better, the styling just a bit more mature, and the performance possibilities a few steps higher.
While some of the aesthetic differences between the Arcade Defender and the Arcade Rogue are visible from a distance, the structural engineering of the Arcade Defender really sets it apart upon close inspection. For a start, the headtube is 3D stamped, not just cast or milled. This makes a big difference when it comes to structural rigidity and flexibility. The 3D shape of the structural members of the headtube are shaped like I-beams used in construction, making the whole structure stiffer, lighter, and capable of flexing enough that it won’t bend or break as easily as it might were it not shaped as it is.
The scooter has ABEC 7 bearings, but the wheels are 100mm (10cm) of polycarbonate like the Arcade Rogue, but because of structural improvements to the aircraft aluminum deck, headtube, and steering column, the Arcade Defender is significantly lighter than the Arcade Rogue.
What all this adds up to is a pro scooter that is fully capable of doing tricks at the skatepark, but more importantly, it is fine for someone still just starting out. Those things may be important to you, but what will be important to your child is that it also looks much more mature than even the Arcade Rogue, with exposed spokes in the wheels, and coming in a variety of colors including some great high contrast designs like yellow and black. The price for this model steps up to about $70, but the step up in quality and durability is totally worth the extra money if you’ve got it.
Best Deluxe Pro Scooter
Arcade Plus Pro Scooter
Short of getting a pro scooter designed for adults, there is nothing better than the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter. We’re talking a huge step up from even the Arcade Defender Pro Scooter. The first thing you’ll likely notice about the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter is that its frame and even its wheels (save the tires) are made out of aluminum.
The second detail you are likely to notice are foot pegs attached to the fulcrums of both the front and back wheel. This bit of design originated in the world of BMX stunt riding, where certain tricks are performed with the rider’s weight on one or more of the pegs, allowing riders to perform balancing stunts like wheelies, or just strike a cool pose while getting some air. The other use of foot pegs is to use them in grinding on surface edges, as one does with the trucks of a skateboard. As a result, the foot pegs on the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter are engineered to take incredible punishment: sudden shocks, impacts, and friction. For more advanced tricks, this is the kind of pro scooter feature riders look for from the word go, and it also makes a major visual statement.
Another cool functional detail that separates the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter from the herd is its hidden internal compression or “IHC system”. Essentially this means the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter has an internal shock absorber like on a mountain bike or off-road car, hidden inside the steering column. It doesn’t stick out in any way, but it makes it possible for the rider to attempt tricks which, were one to land them without an IHC system, would feel bone-shattering even if no injury occurred. That means more time in the skatepark and less time taking a break to catch one’s breath.
Like the Arcade Defender Pro Scooter, the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter is designed to be a step up in terms of toughness, but unlike the Arcade Defender Pro Scooter, the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter has handlebars which are reinforced with welded aluminum buttressing. That means that if the scooter really gets bashed around you won’t need to worry about having to replace or fix bent handlebars.
The wheels, milled out of aluminum, are encased in 85a polycarbonate tires which, combined with the line’s ABEC 7 bearings, give it a smooth ride when you’re not looking to grind down a railing. The rear wheel features a nylon and steel fender brake designed with plenty of bite for quick stops. It’s especially important to have a good rear brake on a stunt scooter because generally you’ll be moving faster and of course you don’t want the stopping force to come from anywhere but the rear of the scooter.
Aimed at riders 10 years old and up, the Arcade Plus Pro Scooter, the best pro scooter short of getting one for adults, comes in at only about $99, making even the most deluxe item in the lineup a real bargain.