Freestyle scootering (also known as scootering, scooter riding, or simply riding) is an extreme sport which involves using stunt scooters to perform freestyle tricks, in a manner similar to a mix of BMXing and skateboarding.
Metal-framed scooters with pneumatic tyres were mass-produced by companies such as Radio Flyer and BMX and in widespread use by children until being eclipsed by the rise of the affordable higher status push bike and skateboard through the 1970s and early 1980s. The heavy and inflexible design and construction of such earlier scooters generally precluded the performance of tricks. In the 1990s, Gino Tsai with the Micro Mobility Systems and the JDBUG manufactured the first modern scooter. It was first distributed by The Sharper Image in 1999 and became popular in 2000. Razor USA was then founded in California,and quickly began to distribute Razor scooters as their own products. The company took off, quickly producing a lot of stylish and higher quality products. The first sponsored team was created in the same year, and released their first video titled "Razor Evolution." the scooter revolution began to get popular but then there was a noticeable decline in popularity of scootering in late 2001. Some riders continued and the sport began to grow again with a different image. One first major scooter competitions, SD1, was held in San Diego in 2006 and continues to one of the biggest scooter related events and competitions to date.
Proto scooters have done away with the welding entirely, using a tongue and groove design to lock the headtube in place; to further lock it in place, 3 bolts are used.
Kick scooters, due to their construction, can use most structures, or any structure that bikes or skateboards use, including rails, boxes, ledges, walls, half pipes and even vertical ramps that one would usually find in a skate park. Many riders enjoy riding 'flyout' to learn new tricks. Riders then take these tricks to different obstacles throughout the skatepark such as quarters, flyboxes, spines, rails, stairsets, ledges, hubbas, A-frames, banks and eurogaps. Many advanced tricks usually performed in a park setting include briflips, footless rewinds, and flips. Majority of scooter riders do not strictly ride street or park, however some may find park riding more enjoyable than street riding,
Inner city riders use structures such as stairs, ledges, hubbas, handrails, speedbumps, and gaps. Street riders can focus on technical tricks or on sliding down large stair sets and handrails. Streets are a versatile location to ride because they give the riders interesting obstacles to perform tricks on such as gap jumps, rail slides, combinations and lines that they would not normally do in a vertically styled skatepark. From late 2013 to present, there has a been a push for more people to ride ‘street’, much like skateboarding in the 90's. People still love riding skateparks for fun with their friends, but many scooterers ride street when they want to film a video part.
The ‘flatland’ genre of freestyle scooter riding takes place on flat surfaces such as parking lots, driveways, or tennis/basketball courts. Flatland riders prefer to link smaller tricks up in "combos", or combinations, such as barspins, tailwhips, manuals, hang fives, fakies, sliders, briflips and more.
Dirt Scootering is becoming increasingly popular. Many companies are releasing a model of scooter equipped for use on dirt jumps. These dirt scooters feature inflatable tires and inner tubes much like BMX bikes.
Freestyle scooter parts
Decks of freestyle scooters have come a long way since the very first Razor 'A' style decks. Nowadays, freestyle scooter decks are usually constructed without a folding mechanism like early model scooters. Most modern decks consist of two or three pieces of metal that are welded or bolted together.
Handlebars are usually made out of 4130 chromoly or 6061 aluminum. The original folding Razor Bars have been out of use for years now and are replaced with welded and often gusseted bars for extra strength. There are several different designs for bars including standard RAD "OG" or "T" Bars, and many other variations with different styles and angles. Bars can be custom cut to the preference of the rider and are generally between 18" and 30" Tall and 14" to 30" Wide.
Scooter Forks have developed a lot since the original Razor forks which often bent due to stresses and impacts that scootering causes to the components. Andrew Broussard, the owner of Proto Scooters and Freestyle Depot, following RADs footsteps in the DIY approach to aftermarket scooter parts, created the Proto Senior Fork in the mid-2000s. Nowadays, many companies make forks, each with their own advantages and innovations. Most forks are threadless, meaning that a compression system is used to hold the scooter bars and deck to the fork (discussed below), however, threaded forks are still available. The downside to these are that they cause the rider's scooter to become wobbly and not as strong as if a threadless system was used.
Early Scooter Wheels were composed of a plastic core and a urethane outside. However, these often cracked, broke, and dehubbed. This led to the development of metal-core wheels that are generally used by today's riders. Newer metal-core wheels are manufactured with a machined aluminum core and a durable urethane tyre. Companies who produce metal-core wheels include Envy Scooters, Fasen, Proto, RILLA, Root Industries, Havoc, Madd Gear, River Wheel Co and Eagle Sport Wheels.
There are many brakes available for the freestyle scooter rider, with flex fenders being the most popular. Older style spring brakes use a spring to allow the solid metal brake to press against the wheel and pop back up again. These brakes often rattle, which led the invention of the flex-fender type brake system. This is essentially just a flat or curved piece of metal that is bolted to the deck, and the rider depresses it against the rear wheel which slows the scooter down. The downside of this system is that the flex steel used to construct the brake often gets fatigued and snaps. Further into the present; today we have hard closed fenders to prevent touching of the wheel, for more precise manuals, and the prevention of landing on your brake/ wheel ruining a trick.
There are a few brands who specialize in making pegs out of both alloy and chromoly. These companies include Ethic, Havoc, District, Tilt, and 81 Customs. Scooter pegs are used for stalling on ledges and other obstacles. Their appearance resembles a vastly smaller version of BMX pegs.
Headsets on freestyle scooters have no difference to those on BMX bikes. These scooters are designed to fit a 1 1/8" sized headset. A threaded headset is used for a threaded fork only. Their main use is for riders running threaded forks on their scooter. Threadless headsets are used with a compression system on threadless forks. These systems include SCS (Standard compression system), HIC (Hidden internal compression system, which requires oversized bars), IHC (Integrated Headset Compression), and ICS (Inverted compression system). The compression used on threaded forks consists of a locknut that can be taken off a stock fork. Threadless headsets are used to accommodate threadless forks, which were created because threads compromise the strength of the fork tube. Other than the threaded headset, there are integrated and non-integrated headsets which are the more common headsets. Integrated is preferences by most riders because the installation is easier. The kind of headset that you use depends on your deck if it is an integrated version or non-integrated version.
- Standard Compression System (SCS)
- - scs clamp, compression bolt, starnut, headset cap, shim (use with thin bar)
The SCS system resembles an oversized clamp but internally works much like a bicycle stem. There are two slots to fit the bars and fork, the smaller of which is located on the bottom and is for the fork. A starnut is installed into the fork and the SCS clamp is placed over the fork tube. The compression bolt is screwed into the headset cap and then into the starnut. The cap is caught on the lip that is located internally in the SCS. The bars are placed into the top slot and bolts externally located on the SCS are tightened to act as a clamp.
- Main manufacturers include: Proto, Tilt, Phoenix, Apex, Lucky, Unfair, District, Dominator scooters
- Inverted Compression System (ICS)
- - compression bolt, starnut, headset cap
ICS Compression consists of a starnut which is installed into the bars. A compression bolt is screwed into the headset cap and is placed into the fork tube from below. It is then screwed into the starnut located in the bars. The headset cap is larger than the inner diameter of the fork tube so it catches and compresses the system to create a rattle-free scooter.
- Main manufacturers include: District, French ID, Dominator scooters, Addict scootering
- Hidden Internal Compression system (HIC)
- - compression bolt, headset cap, starnut, compression shim
A starnut is installed into the fork tube. A compression shim is placed over/around the fork tube and the compression bolt is screwed into the top of the fork tube through the headset cap and into the starnut. The shim is the component that causes the compression. As the headset cap is pushing down on the shim, the shim pushes down on the headset. Using HIC requires oversized bars and a larger diameter (34.9mm) clamp.
- Thread Lock Compression (TLC)
A HIC-like compression system/fork made by Phoenix Pro Scooters, which involves the fork and compression shim to screw on together.
- Integrated Headset Compression (IHC)
A HIC-like compression system and specially designed fork that was developed by Envy Scooters. The fork tube is more narrow than usual so that standard sized bars fit on the compression shim.
While not strictly a freestyle scooter part, there are freestyle scooter specific footwear brands: Vex and Elyts Footwear are major freestyle scooter footwear brands. Borrowing heavily from the skate shoe, scooter shoes are made to last through the rigors of modern riding. Skate shoes such as Vans, Nike SB, and Globe are commonly worn for this sport, unlike sport or sneaker shoes.
This section possibly contains original research. (May 2015)
Many people think that scooters could be phased out much like Aggressive inline skating. They think that it could just be a fad and people will be over it in a few years. Whilst nobody really knows what is going to happen to scootering in the future, many people think that a decline in popularity is unforeseeable. Blading had a decline in popularity because people (mainly skateboarders) began making fun of rollerblading calling roller bladers names, amongst many other forms of derision, both physical and mental. This caused people to stop inlining which contributed to the decline of the industry. People (mainly skateboarders and BMXers) have had contempt for people who ride scooters since the sport began and the sport has been growing since. The other possible problem is companies could go bankrupt due to a lack of support from the riders. This is fairly unforeseeable as well, because, unlike rollerblading in the 90's, the scooter industry has been experiencing slow but continuous growth. The scooter industry has a stable group of rider owned companies along with companies run by people who have respect for the sport but also know how to properly run a business. Riders hope that a decline in scootering is unlikely.