Freestyle or Park Scooters have really taken off in the last couple of years, as more and more people use them not only to attempt the latest tricks in the park or on ramps, but also for the commute to school, work or quick trips to the local stores.
In the main, but not exclusively, freestyle scooters are used by youths, and often purchased or funded by parents and/or family to some degree. So we have written a brief guide to help ensure you buy a freestyle park scooter that will last for the longest period of time, but also and importantly satisfy the needs of the end user!
How much to spend
With freestyle scooters, the mantra ‘you get what you pay for’ holds very true. Scooters can be purchased from £30 to £300+, the most expensive being for professional and expert use. It is a false economy to go for the cheapest option I am afraid; once the scooter is purchased, it will be used. A LOT! This means it will put a fair few miles in, be thrown around and dropped a fair amount, and subject to a lot of (ab)use, whilst being loved.When buying a freestyle scooter make sure to consider the following, and tick as many of these boxes as you can with your budget:
The scooter needs to be serviceable, there needs to be easy availability of spare parts and upgrades as items wear out, such as bearings and wheels. All the more expensive scooters can share parts and spares, making servicing easier, giving you more value for money
The scooter needs to be durable. Take a look at other people’s scooters to see how certain brands fair. Scratches are fine, but do the wheels wear out, are the bearings dying quickly, is the brake rattling, and does the headset constantly come loose? Yes to any of this indicates the scooter will not last, especially if spares are hard to find
The scooter needs to be light. Not as light as a feather, but ultimately freestyle scooters are designed to do tricks, so there has to be a balance of light weight and strength, as lighter scooters are easier to move around when learning to do all those wonderful stunts! It also makes it easy to be carried. Don’t be fooled by folding mechanisms, these might make it easier to carry, but a folding mechanism creates a weakness that over time can fail!
And most importantly, THE SCOOTER NEEDS TO BE SAFE. Failure of wheels or bearings, the headset (steering) components or the rear brake can lead to serious injury! That is why we always say to look at the headset, wheels and brake first, and why we identify what is on each of the scooters we sell to make your choice safely.
So we consider all of the above when selecting the freestyle scooters we stock, and the first thing ask is about spare parts, and then make sure to keep a stock of them! All of this allows you to buy a freestyle scooter knowing it will last longer than Christmas day, and that when things do get knocked or worn, spares are available.
SIZING UP A SCOOTER
Although some scooters are available in different sizes, a true freestyle scooter will come in a single size. The handlebar styles will vary, some with a bit of back sweep, some a little shorter. These tend to be the scooters aimed at new scooter enthusiasts, to allow them to get to grips with a freestyle scooter in safety. Generally from the Scooters we stock, the scooters we tag as “Ideal 1st Scooters” suit ages 5-6 upwards depending on height, and the more advanced scooters should be kept for ages 8-9 upwards. And by upwards we mean all the way up to adults! We can also supply handlebars of different heights to make adjustments for those who are shorter or taller for their age.
Regards to weight, true freestyle scooters like the ones we sell have weight limits of up to 100KG, and some beyond! So if the temptation for dad to take one for a spin proves too much, you should be fine, just make sure you don’t fall over!
WEARING A HELMET
We recommend wearing a helmet. It isn’t so much the damage you can do to yourself, but the damage that can be done if someone or something hits you. Play it safe, wear a helmet. If you are practicing advanced tricks on a ramp or in a park, then elbow and knee pads can be handy, as can wrist protectors.
USEFUL THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN BUYING A FREESTYLE SCOOTER, OR UPGRADING A PART
There are literally hundred of wheels available. Colour is of course important, but we are often asked why the wheels we sell are more expensive than some found elsewhere such as eBay:
Cheap Wheels: These are often smaller (80mm) with less effective rubber. The rubber will be either super hard to make it last (making teeth rattle) or stupidly soft, leading it to wearing out very quickly, although you will keep your teeth. The wheel itself will be plastic. This is a weakness, and also flexes. Flex in the wheels leads to bearing wear and axle wear. The tyres (rubber) will have a basic mounting to the wheel, and glue might have been used. Long term, this can weaken and lead to separation. Finally the bearings will either be a simply brass sleeve, or basic unsealed bearings
Better Wheels: These can be a variety of sizes, larger ones mean more roll, and suit cruising better. They may feature alloy wheels, much stronger and stiffer than plastic, without being heavy. The interface between the rubber and wheel will be more advanced, maybe with interlocking grooves to prevent separation as gluing rubber to anything never really works! The rubber itself can be different ratings, so you can choose comfort, or durability, or a mixture. Some are super grippy for ramps too. And finally the bearings will be high quality and sealed, the leading brand being ABEC. ABEX bearings are numbered, and generally the higher the number the higher the quality, with 5 being basic sealing, and 9 being super smooth, greased and double sealed
The rear brake is a critical component so it is important that it always works 100%. If you think your brake is damaged or it is not working, you MUST get it repaired! There are two key styles of scooter brake:
Cheap Brakes: Generally, the cheaper brakes mounted to scooters used a spring, and you press down on the wheel to slow the scooter. This works well, but there is a tendency for the brake to come loose over time and start to rattle.
Better Brakes: The better brake option is a non sprung brake, or a flex brake. This is a section of metal bolted to the scooter with a couple of bolts, and this presses onto the wheel. The advantage here is there are no moving parts or spring, and the part is cheap to replace when it wears. So you do not get any rattling noises with this style of spring either
HEADSETS & FORKS
Another critical area which gets a fair amount of abuse, the front end of a freestyle scooter consists of the Fork, Headset and a Handlebar, all clamped together with a Handlebar Clamp. All of these parts on better quality scooters can be repaired or upgraded:
Cheap Headsets & Forks: Cheaper versions will be of the threaded variety. Tried and tested for many years on bicycles, two nuts tighten together to adjust the headset, and there are threads on the fork. A great basic design, the limitations are weight, and on lower quality versions the headset constantly comes loose! The good news is that on many scooters you can upgrade to a threadless version as parts wear out or are being upgraded.
Better Headsets & Forks: The better freeride scooters will feature a threadless (Also known as a compression) design. These can be ‘semi integrated’ where the bearing cups sit outside the head tube, or ‘fully integrated’ where they sit within the head tube. Parts and spares are very easy to obtain too! Threadless headsets and forks is becoming the most sought after feature on freestyle scooters, as they hardly ever come loose, are lighter, and in most cases a lot smoother
We hope you find this basic guide useful, if you need any further assistance please contact us and we will be happy to assist.
Author: Scott Hargrave
About the Author: Scott is the buyer and owner of Bliss Outdoor LTD, and formerly ran a skate store in Stratford Upon Avon selling rollerblades, skateboards and scooters along with BMX. His focus is always on quality products that last, giving hours of fun!
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