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Planning to surprise your kid with a versatile outdoor toy that will keep them entertained and on the move? Children’s scooters are a great choice – more portable than bikes, but just as fun and helpful for developing physical skills and self-confidence.
When researching scooters for children, you’ll probably have questions about which type of scooter is the best. For example, the most common designs on the market are 2-wheeled scooters and 3-wheeled scooters – but what’s the difference between them, and which one is better?
When choosing between 3-wheeled scooters and 2-wheeled scooters, the right scooter for your child depends on several factors, such as their age and level of experience.
Here is a quick guide to these types of scooters and who they’re most suitable for, helping you to decide how many scooter wheels would be best for your child.
As the name of each scooter style suggests, a 2-wheeled scooter has two wheels, but a 3-wheeled scooter has one extra wheel than the standard design.
The traditional 2-wheeled scooter has 1 wheel at the front and 1 wheel at the back, with a twist-to-steer mechanism, so the rider has to turn the handlebars to direct the scooter.
A 3 wheel scooter typically has two wheels at the front, either side of the handlebar stem, and a third wheel at the back. Some alternative models may have one at the front and two at the back.
Having two wheels at the front improves balance, helping to keep the scooter upright – especially as these wheels are usually larger and wider. The lean-to-steer mechanism allows the rider to direct a 3-wheeled scooter by shifting their weight to the left or right.
These models are widely considered to be safer for younger children, as a greater wheel surface offers more grip on the ground, and they also tend to have a wider deck with a lower deck height, making them easier to stand on without falling off while riding.
Age of the rider
A child’s age is one of the most important considerations, because the younger a child is, the smaller and less experienced they are likely to be.
Having a lower height and weight and less developed motor skills will make it harder for younger children to ride and steer a 2 wheel scooter safely.
This is why it’s often recommended for younger kids to start with a 3-wheeled scooter, which will help them develop their physical skills and confidence, as it will be easier for them to control.
Once a child is comfortable and confident in riding their 3-wheeled scooter, they can transition to a 2-wheeled scooter as soon as they feel ready for a faster and more independent scootering experience.
If your child is already at an age and skill level where they’re capable of riding a bike without stabilisers, they may be able to ride a 2-wheeled scooter without needing to try a 3-wheeled model first.
Of course, as long as the particular scooter model is suitable for their age range, they don’t need to switch to 2 wheels if they are perfectly happy continuing to ride their 3 wheel scooter.
Little children who are still learning how to balance would benefit from the sturdy nature of a 3-wheeled scooter, as the extra wheel is the equivalent of stabilisers on a bike.
The lean-to-steer style is intuitive and simple to understand, allowing children to develop their coordination skills quickly as they learn the relationship between their position on the scooter and the direction and speed of its turns.
This can help a child to build up their confidence in their abilities until they have the appropriate level of balancing skills to learn how to steer a 2 wheel scooter by the handlebars.
Riding a 2 wheel scooter is closer to riding a bike than a 3-wheeled scooter, as children need to achieve and maintain speed while actively adjusting their weight on the footplate and continuously steering with the handlebars to maintain control.
Adjusting to a scooter may be a breeze for a child who can already ride a bike well, but for smaller kids with less experience in this activity, the stability of a 3-wheeled design would be much safer.
What age is appropriate for riding scooters?
There is no specific age when it’s best for kids to learn how to ride a scooter, but generally, children can start scootering as young as 3 years old.
Starting at this age with a beginner-friendly 3-wheeled scooter will offer a smoother and safer ride, while still encouraging kids to play outdoors, get exercise, and explore the world outside.
A 2-wheeled scooter is generally recommended for kids who are at least 6 years old who have developed the balance and coordination needed to master this steering style.
However, many 3-wheeled models are designed with adjustable handlebar stems that can grow with your child – meaning they can stick with their 3-wheeled scooter for years until they outgrow it.
Every children’s scooter you see will have a recommended height and weight range for riders, so as long as your child falls within the model’s range, they can ride the scooter to their heart’s content – whether it has three wheels or two!
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