Is there a kids electric scooter that's more than a toy, but is still safe enough not to scare Mom to death?
Here's another item from the email bag...Angie from Minneapolis wrote this the other day: My 11-year-old is a bit of a daredevil, and while he's gonna need a scooter that can stand up to heavy use, it shouldn't be too much of a rocket. I don't want to make any unscheduled trips to the emergency room. Got any tips?
Answer: Well, yes..but.
The "yes" is I like the Razor scooters (they come in small, medium, large, and heavy-d) for the intersection of quality, price, safety features, and availability.
The "but"? We've still got to pick the right size scooter for the kid, outfit them in helmet and knee pads and such, and pray. I'm learning it's not easy being a mom...
Oh, and the scooters all look pretty much alike! While I was looking around, I found MANY a cheapo kids electric scooter out there in the standard-issue electric scooter body style. So it's hard to tell which are good enough from the outside, but I've got some tips.
Tip #1: You'll want to avoid off-brand and no-name scooters.
This is always a pretty good rule but especially important if you're planning to put your kids on them. I really understand the urge to save money, believe me, however...the high-watt, low-safety, fall-apart cough*Chinese*cough copies are not worth the money you'll spend on them.
Now, that doesn't mean all Chinese scooters are evil. But I like "Made in USA" pretty well, too. Anything made here doesn't have to be shipped across the ocean using dirty fossil fuels! Right??
Tip #2: Some safety features are not optional.
In my opinion, safety features on a kids electric scooter that I would never compromise on are a twist throttle and hand-squeeze rear brakes.
Personally, I try to keep the visions of my Little Pumpkin going head-over-headlight into tire-squealing traffic to a strict minimum, and this is how I do it: I'm paranoid about safety features.
The twist throttle has variable speeds, meaning, you go faster when you twist forward harder, just like a motorcycle. Some cheap scooters have on-off switch throttles rather than variable speed, so if the rider encounters a downhill stretch or some obstacle, she can't slow down.
If the rider falls off, the twist throttle automatically slows to a stop.
I've seen some scooters with variable speed switch throttles, which is easy to confuse with the twist throttle (also variable speed), but not easy to use in an emergency.
The hand-squeeze rear brakes on a kids electric scooter work just like the brakes on most bicycles, and help the rider come to a safe stop without flipping. They're easy to use and intuitive for a bike-riding kid.
Tip #3: For the money, I like these Razor scooters.
Now, the high-end scooters like the Go-ped have excellent, aircraft-quality construction, but are considerably more expensive (they start at about 1200 USD and go up from there) and are designed with the adult commuter or the scooter-competitor in mind. If your kid is a beginner, why spend the money?
I was looking for a kids electric scooter that would be suitable for a beginner, price-wise, but safe, strong, and adequate. I was impressed with the Razor scooters, and these are made in California.
Tip #4: Where you buy your kids electric scooter matters.
I've talked about this elsewhere, but the big box stores and ebay merchants have a strong tendency to be lacking in two key areas: customer service, and battery care.
Because they don't know anything about scooters, and they don't know anything about batteries. Not their fault, just the nature of things.
Why does this matter?
Batteries have a shelf life, and generally speaking, they need to stay charged to avoid premature aging. Another point is that the box stores tend to look at these as toys rather than vehicles, but I guess I don't look at them that way. I see a kids electric scooter as a gateway EV, designed to get the kids addicted to electric transportation.
Furthermore, the big box store won't let your kid test-drive the scooter anyway, for liability reasons...
...so I think we're better off getting the lower prices from a reputable online store. Just my opinion.