Cheap Scooters vs. Pro Scooters: An Honest Comparison


kick scooter on a tennis court

If you’re in the market for purchasing a scooter, the options can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to the many variations in types, sizes, parts, and prices. Some are incredibly cheap, while others are expensive, elite pro scooters — so, what’s the difference?

Cheap scooters are different in design and durability than pro-scooters. A high-quality pro-scooter is made to last. It should be manufactured with high-quality materials and withstand hard street riding, tricks, and vert riding similar to a well-made skateboard. A cheap pro-scooter is made from cheap materials and is not likely to last.

Keep reading to understand more about the differences between lower-cost scooters and the variability in pricing for pro scooters, as well as what you can expect to find when it comes to quality, safety, and durability.

Pro Scooters versus Basic Scooters: the Facts

We’ve all heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” Most of the time, it’s true. The more you spend, the higher the quality. And while for some purchase decisions, value takes precedence, when it comes to getting the right scooter, you are likely to get what you pay for.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to break the bank to get what you want. It does mean that you’ll need to think about what you are going to do with your scooter and what you are looking to accomplish with it.

If you or your child are hoping to shred some vert walls and learn how to grind down a few rusty rails, you’ll need a high-quality pro scooter — not a cheap one. If you’re simply looking for something that is going to get you to and from the coffee shop with friends and family, you’ll, of course, be looking at something a lot simpler and a lot lower in cost, too.

What Is a Pro Scooter?

In one sense, a pro scooter is just the same as a traditional kick scooter. It has a handlebar, deck, and most often two (sometimes three) wheels propelled forward by your feet as you push off the ground.

But a pro-scooter is not intended simply for riding around town, though you certainly can do that. Pro scooters are made to withstand various stunts and tricks, including vert riding, and they are a lot more durable than a traditional kick or kid scooter (source).

Good pro scooters are also made from higher quality materials, which is one reason they are a lot more durable and more expensive than a plastic kick scooter. Another feature of most pro scooters is a wider handlebar, allowing for more stability riding ramps at your local skatepark (source).

When asked what the difference between a pro-scooter and a traditional, cheaper scooter is, the answer lies more in the purpose that each achieves. One is specifically made for stunts — that’s why they’re also often referred to as trick scooters. The other is seen more as a commuter scooter, with zero intention of hitting up a skatepark with it.

When it comes to cost, pro scooters can run a pretty wide range. And this is one case where you will want to consider the cost as an investment, and you should avoid cutting corners or choosing a cheap version of a pro scooter.

How Much Does a Pro Scooter Cost?

As with many other things, the options can seem endless when it comes to pro scooters and their component parts. You can get a cheap pro scooter, or you can invest in a really good one. This is where that “brutal” comparison comes into play. It’s also what we mean when we say that you get what you pay for.

If you are looking for a high-quality pro scooter, one that you can learn with and avoid paying more for in repairs to both the scooter and, potentially, yourself, you’re going to pay more. A cheap pro scooter will probably cost you around $100 US. A high-quality pro scooter will likely be at least double that, if not triple.

You should be prepared to pay between two and three hundred dollars for a high-quality pro scooter. You can get your scooter “complete,” meaning it is pre-assembled and all parts come from the same manufacturer, or you can customize your scooter, choosing the parts and pieces you want.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both, and we’ll get into that later on, particularly as it relates to cost.

Whether you get a scooter pre-assembled or choose to purchase each component part separately comes down to personal preference and your experience level. If you plan to master some epic tricks with your scooter, look at it as an investment — a long term one. Remember, good pro scooters are made to be durable.

First, let’s understand more about why trick scooters are more expensive and, contrary to what you might think, why it’s not simply that the industry can make more money off of you.

What Makes Pro Scooters so Expensive?

When it comes to pricing, it’s the materials used to make a quality scooter that makes it more expensive. Can you get a cheap one? Yes. And, if you are looking for an entry-level pro scooter that lacks craftsmanship and design, you’ll certainly pay less.

But, if you are looking for a high-end pro scooter, the component parts drive the cost. Good pro scooters are made from premium materials, particularly aluminum — though that may change as other materials are being tested, including titanium and carbon fiber.

As we said earlier, all of the component parts of both pro scooters and traditional kick scooters are the same — the handlebars, the deck, the wheels, etc. The main difference in structure and shape lies in the size and spacing of each, as well as the materials used. For instance, a pro scooter made for tricks will usually have a smaller deck.

The most important aspect of determining that the pro scooter you purchase is of good quality is identifying each part and the subsequent materials used in construction. Next, we’ll look more closely at some of the more critical parts of your pro scooter and what you should look for when it comes to the materials used in manufacturing.

Bars

When it comes to the bars on your pro scooter, you want them to be comfortable — the dimensions, style, and spacing are all personal preference. However, the material should be of high quality.

Many are made from steel tubing, but aluminum is the industry standard when it comes to quality and durability. Other materials you may see are titanium or carbon fiber, as mentioned above. But, look for aluminum, minimally.

If you think about your grip on the bars as you perform tricks and stunts, the wrong bars, or ones that are not made to withstand impact, are not going to last, and your performance will almost certainly suffer.

Fork

The fork on your scooter is an important piece. It essentially connects your bars, deck, and front-wheel. All scooters have one of two types of forks, either a threaded fork or a threadless one. A high-end scooter should use a threadless fork, not threaded. A threaded fork is more commonly found on entry-level or intermediate-level scooters (source).

It’s not uncommon for a fork to snap, particularly the threaded version, during jumps and tricks. So, if you are looking to upgrade and avoid this, you definitely want to make sure that the fork on your scooter is threadless.

A threadless fork allows for maximum strength, durability, and performance when it comes to making it down vert walls in one piece. Because a threaded fork has been drilled into for threaded headsets to screw onto, the pieces naturally become weaker at those points.

Most forks for good, high-quality pro scooters will also be made from aluminum. Again, it is the industry standard, and a cheap scooter may not use aluminum, so it’s another characteristic to look for.

Headset: Threaded versus Threadless

There are also two types of headsets — again, threaded and threadless. Similar to the fork on your scooter, if you are looking for maximum durability and quality, you will want a threadless headset. And if you are using a threadless fork, you will also need a threadless headset, not a threaded one.

A threaded headset is the basic version when it comes to headsets — it’s the cheapest, and it is also most often considered for “entry-level” scooters. This piece is integral to the performance of your scooter, too. In a sense, it’s responsible for the feel you get from the tricks you perform — the better the headset, the better the feel.

The headset allows the fork to rotate, and a high-quality one should be smooth and silent, rotating a full 360 degrees for steering and performing various maneuvers.

Threaded headsets are used in combination with threaded forks and are generally made of steel. They are not as smooth nor as silent as the threadless counterpart, which is more commonly made from aluminum and should have bearing cups that are already installed into the tube, resulting in a smoother fork rotation (source).

The last thing you want when you are midair is a headset that doesn’t transition or turn well, and if you buy a cheap pro scooter, that’s exactly what you are going to get over time. With that in mind, invest in a threadless headset along with a threadless fork — you won’t regret it.

Deck

The right deck is quite possibly one of the most important pieces of your scooter. Similar to a skateboard deck, scooter decks come in various sizes, shapes, and styles. Both the length and width can vary, as well as the concave of the deck itself.

A standardized deck is one piece that includes both the deck and the head tube. It is the component that all other parts are built around. It should give you a well-balanced feel and performance, and it needs to be able to withstand a bit of abuse from hard riding.

You will want to look for a somewhat lightweight aluminum deck while also very durable. The length will depend on both your height as well as your riding style. Some pro scooter riders prefer a shorter deck for faster spinning and maneuvering.

A longer deck can often be more comfortable and provide more balance, however. When it comes to the weight of the deck, for most riders, the lighter, the better. It makes for easier technical tricks. If you are larger in stature or stronger, a heavier deck may be suitable.

At the same time, don’t sacrifice quality to achieve lighter weight — that is where the materials used to build the deck are important. It also needs to be solid. Many good quality decks can also be made from heat-treated alloy, making them stronger and longer-lasting while also ensuring a quality, vibrant finish.

Another factor to consider when looking at the deck is the width. You can get a wider deck or a narrower one. A wider deck will allow for a better ride down rails and ledges, while a more narrow, thinner deck can sometimes be both lighter and better for particular tricks.

The deck is the most personalized piece on your scooter. Some decks include options to accessorize, or they come with removable deck ends, allowing you to modify depending on your riding style. There should be a wide range of colors and styles available if you are looking at high-quality decks — ones that reflect good craftsmanship, too.

Again, these are all personal preferences and ones you’ll be able to decide on based on your riding style. But don’t sacrifice quality for price when it comes to your deck.

Wheels

There are two parts to the wheel on your scooter — the urethane or polyurethane external portion and the core. You want good, quality wheels on your pro scooter that are made with an aluminum core or the newer hollow-core technology. You should not buy wheels made with a plastic core.

Plastic will not withstand stunts and tricks, and they will break much more easily. Remember, the wheels are going to take on the brunt of force during landing, so the strength of the wheel is paramount. You also want wheels that provide a good grip to reduce and eliminate any unintended sliding as you ride.

You can look for the “durometer” of the wheel, which is a measurement of how hard the wheel is. It is also used to highlight the urethane surface properties — the lower the rating, the more grip the wheel will have. The higher the rating, the more speed the wheel will carry.

Like the shape and size of the deck, the wheel’s particular size comes down to personal preference. While larger wheels will allow for faster, smoother speeds, the wheel’s size also depends on the fork on your scooter, and you need a proper fit. Scooter wheels are generally between 100 – 125 mm, with 100 mm and 110 mm being the most common.

Most beginner riders and entry-level scooters will have 100 mm wheels, while more advanced pro scooters should have 110 mm wheels or larger. The smaller the wheel, the lighter it is. Smaller wheels will keep you lower to the ground, which is ideal for beginner riders. In contrast, larger wheels allow for more momentum and are usually paired with a larger deck for more aggressive pro-style riding.

Similar to the style of your deck, most wheels come in a variety of designs and colors, and if you are looking at high-quality wheels, you should expect the options to be a lot broader.

Choosing the Right Pro Scooter

Having gone through some of the key parts to a pro scooter, the main takeaway is that materials matter. What you are paying for when you purchase a high-quality scooter is the material used to make each component — the cheaper the material, the cheaper the scooter — and the faster it will break.

Remember, a cheap pro scooter will inevitably cost you a lot more in the long run. The cost of having to replace scooter parts frequently, especially wheels and decks, adds up — and it adds up fast.

Don’t be overly concerned with the upfront cost of scooter parts or a well-made, fully assembled scooter. It’s simply more efficient to purchase a high-quality scooter upfront at a higher price. It will save you money in the long run.

As we’ve mentioned, you can go about doing that in two ways — either buy a pre-assembled, complete scooter, or you can customize your scooter, designing and building it from its various component parts.

The advantage of customizing your scooter is the ability to control each aspect, from the handlebars to the wheels to the fork. You can choose custom pieces, personalize your scooter style and design, and ensure that each aspect is of the highest quality.

However, building your own scooter is no easy feat, and it is something that you’ll likely want to hold off on doing until you are an experienced rider. You’ll also need special tools to assemble it and a good understanding of what parts you need and how they fit together.

If you have been mastering tricks on your pro scooter for a while, though, and you want to invest in a new one customized to your particular preferences, there are plenty of scooter builder tools and guides online that will help you to make the right decisions. There are even companies that will build your customized scooter for you. Remember to look for high-quality materials in each component.

Because it has a lot of movable pieces, even the best pro scooter can break — after all, a trick scooter is used for an extreme sport, and it is a piece of equipment that, while designed to withstand stunts, is not indestructible.

To take care of it well, avoid water and sand. Don’t store it or ride it under humid or wet conditions. If you notice loose parts, tighten them before you ride, and keep the wheels and bearings lubricated to keep your scooter running smoothly.

Once you’ve found the right pro scooter, take it to a local skatepark for your first ride, or look for a new one in “The Best Skateparks in the World.”

Final Thoughts

It is vital to invest in a high-quality pro scooter. Remember, a cheap one will cost more in the long run, and you are more likely to get hurt riding it.

Scooters are unique in that while there are quite a few different styles and types, so choosing the right one is essential. A traditional kick scooter is not a pro scooter and should not be used as such. A cheap pro scooter, to put it plainly, is not going to last. Invest more upfront and get the quality you are paying for — a durable and long-lasting scooter.

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Ruben Vee

I'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can. Insta @skateboardershq

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