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Scooter craze

January 11, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

Sleek. Cool. Freedom. The thing to have.

Whatever spin manufacturers put on it, Isaias Sanchez, 9, isn't thinking too much about marketing as he zips around his El Centro neighborhood on his green-wheeled scooter.

"They're fun to ride," Isaias said during a break in scooter-riding Tuesday.

The marketing of scooters, most often targeting young males, creates an image associated with the product.

Words like "sleek" and "cool" appear frequently in advertisements as though to suggest some of the scooter's traits will rub off on its owner.

"IT'S THE ONE TO RIDE! Tell your friends, too," boasts one ad.

But for all the hype, scooters still need to appeal to the people paying for them: parents.

Stressing the quality of construction and parts, scooter manufacturers and retailers work to convince adults their products are safe and sturdy.

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Though manufacturers suggest riders wear protective helmets and wrist, knee and elbow guards, Isaias wasn't wearing any special gear Tuesday.

"I wear my helmet when I go jumping," Isaias said, pointing to a nearby concrete parking curb like the ones over which he likes to vault.

For Isaias and others like him, the new scooter trend is a practical way to get from one place to another.

"You can fold them up and bring them inside the store," Isaias said.

Unlike bulky bicycles, the modern scooter is highly portable. Most fold down to a compact size and weigh no more than 7 pounds. Some even have their own carrying cases, a feature students at Calipatria's Bill E. Young Jr. Middle School use nearly every day.

"They ride them to school and fold them up and put them in their backpacks," said Principal Joe Derma of scooter-riding students.

Because of their size, students can store them inside classrooms or the main office until the final bell rings, Derma said.

Pablo Perez, 10, appreciates his scooter's speed.

"It's faster than walking," Pablo said.

On his way home from 7-Eleven in El Centro, Pablo stopped his scooter long enough to explain he often rides it to stores and school.

Though he has a bike, too, Pablo prefers his scooter because he "can do more tricks with it."

While scooters retail in the $50-$100 range, manufacturers have plenty of accessories to help you spend more.

So, you want clear wheels with colorful red, blue, orange and green lights flashing inside? A pair of disco wheels can be yours for the bargain price of just $24.95!

The Scooterbeam scooter light with flashing or steady beam visible up to 2,000 feet retails for $29.95.

Include a set of grip handles for $9.95 and a helmet and wheelie bar running at $29.95 each and you've got yourself one pricey piece of mobility.

Whatever the cost, Pablo would argue it's worth it. After more than a year on his scooter, it still holds his interest.

Longevity, in the world of children's toys, is a valuable commodity indeed.

Staff writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

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