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Bicycles, Scooters, Hoverboards, and Skateboards: Ride On!

When you think about mankind's greatest inventions, the wheel has to rank pretty high on that list (along with fire, the printing press, and, of course, tacos). One of the most enjoyable ways we can make use of wheels is by riding a personal vehicle like a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or hoverboard

Everybody understands the appeal of hopping onto some wheels, cruising down the street, and reveling in the sensation of the breeze sweeping past your cheeks. And they're great for the environment, so it's a win-win. 

So what should you look for when you're shopping for a ride-on vehicle? Read on and we'll fill you in. 

Bicycles: What You Need to Know 

While it's tempting to buy the first (and least expensive) bike you see, it's best to stop and consider a few factors before you plunk down your hard-earned cash. 

Choosing the Right Bike 

The first thing to think about is what type of riding you're going to do. Are you riding through busy city streets on a daily basis, bumping your way down some extreme mountain trails, or simply going for a casual ride every once in a while? There are a few different types of bicycles – such as a mountain bike, road bike, or hybrid bike, just to name a few – and each one has features designed for specific types of riding. 

Electric Bikes 

One newer type of bicycle is the electric bike, also called an "e-bike".  Types of e-bikes range from models that provide some extra power while you're pedaling, to fully-powered bicycles that don't require any pedaling at all. The latter type of e-bikes might require a license, so check into that before you make a purchase.  

The benefits of e-bikes are pretty obvious, especially if you've ever struggled to peddle your way up a steep hill. The addition of an electric motor adds more oomph to your forward motion, making it easier to ride longer distances and up inclined slopes. 

Choosing Bicycle Accessories 

After you've picked out the right bike, you can start looking at useful bike accessories. A helmet is essential, not just because it helps protect your noggin but also because it's required by law in many areas. Depending on your riding habits, you might want to look into cycling shoes, gloves, glasses (to protect your eyes from bugs – ick!), a water bottle, and a bag rack if you need to carry stuff with you. 

If you have young kids who are too young for a bike of their own, consider getting a trailer so your tiny tots can ride along behind you and join in on the fun.  

Scooters: What You Need to Know 

Scooters are generally divided into 2 classes: kick and electric. Kick scooters are entirely muscle-powered, requiring a quick leg motion (the "kick") to get it moving, while electric scooters use a motor to help push forward. 

A lot of young children ride kick scooters because they don't require a high level of motor skills. These scooters come in 2- or 3-wheel models, and the latter type are able to balance on their own (kind of like a tricycle). 

Scooters are an ideal way for little kids to join in on the free-wheeling fun since they're easy (and fun!) to ride, with a very short learning curve. Just slap a helmet on your tot's head and hit the road. 

Hoverboards: What You Need to Know 

Today's hoverboards aren't the same as the ones we saw in Back to the Future II, but they're still a ton of fun. These self-balancing electric vehicles are operated by balance: tilt slightly forward to move straight ahead, or press forward with one foot and back with the other for a turn. 

Hoverboards are equipped with rechargeable batteries, and the latest models are UL2272 certified so you can ride with peace of mind. 

When you bring a hoverboard home, be aware that it'll take a while to get the hang of riding one. Don't expect to instantly hop on and start motoring around in complete control – it's best to take it slow and careful, and maybe have a friend nearby to catch you if you fall. 

A variation of the hoverboard called a hands-free personal transporter looks like a hoverboard with a vertical stem in the middle. This control bar is designed to be held between your knees and gives you the ability to better control the movement of the transporter. 

Skateboards: What You Need to Know 

If you're looking to pull off a sick madolly (it's the name of a cool skateboarding trick) at the local skate park, you'll need a good skateboard. Before you start shopping, consider the following factors: 

  • How tall are you (or your child)? You'll want to choose the right size of skateboard deck for your height.
  • Do you want to build your own skateboard or are you okay with a pre-assembled one? 

If you want to create your own board, you'll have to choose from a wide variety of pieces, including the deck (the main flat board), wheels, bearings, trucks (the T-shaped metal pieces that attach to the bottom of the deck), and more. And don't forget the visual design, because you'll definitely want a skateboard that speaks to your style and personality. 

Want more info? Check out this resource: 

Plug-in Blog: 5 Reasons to Pick Up an Electric Bicycle Right Now

Plug-in Blog: Find the Right Outdoor Toy for Your Active Child

Plug-in Blog: Hoverboard Riding Tips and Tricks