What to look for when buying a stunt scooter.
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If your child has requested a stunt scooter for performing tricks and jumps, you need a different type of scooter than one used for cruising. There are some important considerations to be aware of:
A One-Piece Fixed Bar (not height adjustable scooters / folding mechanisms)
All stunt scooters have one piece fixed bar. They never have a height-adjustable handlebar or folding mechanism. This is because the bar must be strong enough to withstand the impact of jumps and landings. Height adjustable handlebars and folding mechanisms weaken the scooter bar so it can't withstand these impacts on a regular basis.
Standard sized decks normally measure 50cm in length and 10cm in width. Most stunt scooters aimed at kids from aged 8 plus will feature a standard sized deck. Younger children may benefit from a slightly smaller deck as it is easier to control with a smaller height and feet. When choosing a scooter and looking at the decks it will be worth considering the child in question. You can find many scooters with smaller decks in the stunt scooters for 5, 6 and 7 year olds article.
There are many cases of younger children under 8 using the stunt scooters for over 8. This will depend on the child, how tall they are and how big their feet are. My 8 year old has size 3 ½ feet so a standard size deck is fine for him which we bought at age 7. How long do you want the scooter to last for? Obviously shorter decks will decrease the lifespan of the scooter for your child.
What are decks made of?
Stunt scooter decks tend to be made of aluminum which is strong but lightweight material. Some aluminum decks have been heat treated to add extra strength and durability. In general, the more the scooter costs the better the quality of the deck. Pro scooters have very strong decks which are lightweight.
What size handlebars should I get on a stunt scooter?
Sometimes it's difficult to answer this question as people have different preferences as to how high and wide they like the bars on their scooters, but generally, the handlebars should be around hip to waist height as this height offers better control. Some pro riders like their bars to sit low, but for the beginner between waist and hip height is optimal.
If you can get a measurement of the total height of the scooter you wish to buy, you can then measure how high it will come up on your child.
Bar width tends to run between 46cm to 56cm (18" - 22"). Scooters for younger children tend to have bars which are narrower. However, a wide bar for a young child isn't a bad thing, a wider bar can give them optimum control on the scooter.
As kids/teens get older a good suggestion when looking for bar width is to go by their shoulder width. So if they have 21" shoulder width, a bar of about 20"-21" shoulders will be an adequate size.
Rider Height and Size of Handlebars
The size of the person riding the scooter will have a huge bearing on the size of the bars to get. Smaller kids will want smaller bars than teenagers and adults.
For smaller and younger kids - There are some great scooters designed for smaller kids. Smaller scooters have heights which range from as low as 67cm for kids as young as 4 years old. With some of the taller scooters for the under 8s having heights around 75cm. Check out some option in this article on stunt scooters for 5, 6 and 7 years olds
From aged 8 - Age 8 plus is the recommended age for many first full sized pro stunt scooter. Scooters aimed at the age plus age group tend to be around 77cm to 83cm in height. The preference will depend on how high they want the bars (if they prefer hip or waist height). Check out some first stunt scooters for kids.
For teenagers - Some teenagers will have a preference for the bar size they prefer. Many will want their bar to sit low. It's worth asking them exactly what they would prefer, if they haven't told you. The best bar size for them will depend on how tall they are but to give an example of a stunt scooter aimed at teenagers, the MGP extreme scooter has an overall height of 85.5cm and the Blunt Prodigy S8 complete stunt scooter measures 84cm. Find more kick and stunt scooter suggestions for teenagers.
Most pro stunt scooters will have metal cores in their wheels and not plastic ones that you may find on a normal kick scooter. Again, this is because metal cores are stronger to withstand the extra punishment riders give their scooter at the skate park. Scooters for smaller and younger children (the 4 to 8 year old age range) sometimes have nylon core wheels. These aren't as strong as alloy core wheels but because younger kids are lighter they are normally strong enough to withstand the impact at the skate park for these children. On stunt scooters for older children it's best to avoid plastic core wheels of any type.
You will need a scooter with harder wheels (around ) again to withstand the impact of the tricks. You will see the hardness of wheels given as a durometer (followed by an A). With scooter wheels you tend to get durometers ranging from 74A to 88A. Stunt scooters tend to have wheels around the 84A to 88A mark. They are a little bit more hardwearing than wheels of other scooters.
Wheels on cheaper stunt scooters tend to be 1oomm. It's best to go for slightly bigger wheels (110 to 120mm) if your budget allows for it. The bigger wheels have more urethane on them so they last longer. Beginners will do well with 110mm wheels . Many pro riders prefer 120mm wheels because they are faster.
Additionally, the bigger the wheel the smoother the ride as they absorb the impact from uneven bumps better.
As the construction of a stunt scooter has to be stronger, stunt scooters are heavier than kick scooters. This means they are not great for carrying around if your child has had enough scooting. Most stunt scooters weigh between 3.4 and 4.5kg. Pro riders prefer lighter stunt scooters as they are easier to control and manipulate. Likewise the lighter the stunt scooters the easier it will be for younger kids to control and use. However, lighter but strong stunt scooters are more expensive.
Higher End Scooters
As scooters get better specs (bigger wheels, stronger decks and bars), scooters can get heavier. A lot of what goes into designing higher end scooters is to provide stronger scooters but also keeping them lightweight to get the best performance when doing tricks. This is often what you are paying the higher prices for on the pro scooters. Very strong scooter with bigger 120mm wheels but just as light
You will see two different types of brakes when buying a stunt scooter. A spring brake and a flex brake. A flex brake is superior as spring brakes may get rattly with lots of use (due to springs loosing their tension over time). Having said this, a spring brake may be fine for a younger child who isn't going to put lots of pressure on it when they use it.
Threaded vs Threadless Forks
Forks connect the wheels to the frame of the scooter. You will often see forks described as threaded forks or threadless forks. A threaded fork uses a thread cut into the top of the scooter fork to add compression to the headset and keep it all in place, which means they have a weaker point that can snap under lots of pressure. A threadless fork is stronger and is found on more expensive scooters. Threadless forks are better and are what the professionals use as they last for longer but what you get will depend on the budget.
The headset is the part that enables the fork tube to rotate within the head tube is the headset. The top pro scooters often come with a sealed headset which needs a threadless fork and a compression system. This helps the scooter run smoothly.
Many pro scooters have a compression system which is basically how the bars, forks and deck are all mechanically attached on your scooter. So, if the scooter has a threadless fork it will also have a compression system to hold the fork in place. There are three main types of compression systems: HIC (hidden compression system), SCS (standard compression system) and ICS (internal compression system). They all have their advantages and disadvantages but if you are buying a scooter with a threadless headset, you will need a compression system.
SCS compression - is the strongest compression system. It stays tightest the longest, you don't have to mess with it too often. It doesn't wiggle loose as some of the other might. The downside to SCS compression is that it's the most expensive. It's also the heaviest. It doesn't add that much weight but younger, smaller riders might be better with one of other compression systems. If you're a bigger rider and breaking parts - the durability of the SCS will probably be better for you.
HIC compression - if you prefer the look of a double clamp, HIC compression is for you. It's one of the most inexpensive compression systems. You have to run oversized bars with HIC compression. It's weaker than SCS compression but should be fine for most riders but if you're snapping parts go for a SCS compression.
IHC compression - is the lightest compression system out there. You can run oversize and standard bars. It's easy to maintain and tighten the compression. It's very affordable too. It's the weakest compression out of all three. But if you're a smaller rider not throwing the biggest tricks it can be a good choice.
As stunt scooters are built out of stronger material they cost more too. However, they also last longer, so over time they may actually work out as a better investment. You should also be able to replace parts on many stunt scooters so that even when wheels and other parts have worn out you can still use the scooter for years to come if you replace just certain parts.