Customizing A Scooter

Why should you or your child ride the same scooter as everyone else? Customize for a special ride.

Before scooters (or skateboards or any other wheeled kid-friendly items) became popular, bicycles were the be-all, end-all transportation for kids. And kids who really wanted to sport their own vehicular style customized those bikes, from painting them to putting tassels on the handlebars to putting cards in the spokes of the wheels to make just the right kind of noise.

The urge to customize didn't end when skateboards came on the scene. The boards might not have given a whole lot of room for custom work, but between massive coverage with decals and sometime wild-colored wheels, kids still found a way.

And kids often find their way to customizing with the help of parents and family friends. If you know a child who has a scooter and a personality that begs to be expressed in customizing that scooter, there is plenty you can do. They may not offer quite as much area to personalize as a bike, but they certainly offer a more expansive "canvas" than a skateboard. Here are a few tips to get you started:

STICK IT TO 'EM

What says "kid" more than stickers? Well, maybe a few things, but not many. Think of how often children jump at the chance to get stickers, how often you see them in the checkout aisles of major grocery stores, and so on. Some scooters may already come in the box with their own theme and stickers to go with them (such as Barbie or Power Rangers). But don't feel that you have to slavishly use only what they give you, or that you cannot go overboard with extra stickers should the child and would-be rider of the scooter want to do so.

While stickers are readily available, they may not readily stay stuck to the scooter. One of the best ways to ensure at least a degree of longevity is to clean the surface of the scooter before you stick the stickers on. Even a new, fresh-out-of-the-box scooter should get a wipe-down. There may be residual oils or dust from the factory, and those are the greatest enemies to stickers sticking. Cleanup is easy, though. All you need is a bottle of rubbing alcohol, which doesn't cost much, and some light rags or paper towels. Nice thing about alcohol is that you don't need to dry it off. A few moments, and it evaporates all by itself.

If you're going to surprise the child with the decal custom job on the scooter, make sure you do some sneaky research first to make sure you know what the child's interests are, so that you don't, say, embarrass a boy with some too-cutesy animal stickers when what he really wants are some superheroes. If it's not a surprise, let the child do the sticker-picking, and let him or her plan much of the final placement, with some sage advice from you when necessary.

Small stickers work best for the tubular frame. Larger stickers (maybe even bumper stickers) can work well for the foot area, though they aren't likely to last for very long with an active kid on top of them, particularly since that foot area may have a rubberized grip or other textured surface that will inhibit a good, flat, sticky fit. On the bright side, if they wear out, you have a chance for a renewed custom job with new materials.

PAINT LIFE GRAND?

You and the child may like the scooter itself, but that doesn't necessarily mean the color scheme is the first choice. If you have a shop nearby that does custom bike paint jobs, see if they can fix up your child's scooter with a flashy new look. If you want to do something yourself but don't happen to have airbrushing skills, consider little touches, like polka dots or stripes, with a can of paint and some small brushes. Do be sure to get a paint that will adhere to the scooter's surface, though.

GET A HANDLE ON THINGS

It works for bikes. Try to find store-bought handlegrips that suit the child's tastes, or simply decorate the ones that are there. Leather strips or braids, yarn and all sorts of other materials can give a personal touch to those handles. You might even consider mounting functional items to the handles, such as a small battery-powered light or a bell.

WHEEL AND DEAL

What about custom-colored wheels? It works for skateboarders. If you cannot find wheels to fit the child's scooter or tastes, consider some paint (though probably not on the tires themselves, since wear and tear will pull the paint off in short order. If you do find the right wheels from a shop or scooter manufacturer, consider getting them professionally installed if you don't already have skills in this area. After all, you don't want the rider to go flying because you botched the custom job, right?

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