I'm back with more answers to your questions with Volume 2 of Ask ScooterDad. If you missed the first volume, you can find it here: Ask ScooterDad - Volume 1.
If you have any questions or topics you'd like me to cover, just let me know. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, post on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ScooterDadBlog, or message me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ScooterDadBlog. Look for more installments to come!
Plastic core scooter wheels are great for beginners because they are cheap and they come on most beginner scooters. Unfortunately, as you improve, you will quickly discover that they can't stand up to the punishment of freestyle scootering. Once you can land a tailwhip or jump more than a foot or two, it's time to invest in some metal core wheels. You can start inexpensive with some Yak Scat wheels (available in many colors, but I think the purple ones are really cool) or you can go all the way up to the best wheels on the market, Phoenix Pro Scooters Integra 110mm (also available in multiple colors, but I like orange).
You can replace the brake spring with a more heavy duty spring, but they can be difficult to find. Your best bet is remove the stock brake and install a Phoenix Pro Scooters Switchblade brake. Look for an upcoming article on how to install these on a Razor Ultra Pro deck
Nearly all scooter decks are made of aluminum. The bars are steel or aluminum (I recommend steel). The clamps can made of steel or aluminum. The brakes can be aluminum, steel, or spring steel. Scooter wheels are made of various compounds of urethane (plastic) and the cores are aluminum or plastic. Forks can be made of steel or aluminum.
For the most part, no. Scooter wheels and bearings are sold separately. You may find a couple exceptions, but the rule is that bearings are not included with wheels...except for the awesome wheels made by Phoenix Pro Scooters which come with bearings pre-installed!
As described in the Scooter Lingo - Volume 1 article, a scooter is "dialed" if it doesn't rattle. That means that all of the parts are fitting snug and secure. To a certain degree, it's a mental thing. That is, if you can hear and feel your scooter rattling, the less confident you will be in its abilities to support you in the tricks you are trying to do. There is a physical aspect, however. If a scooter isn't solidly built, the energy you put into riding will be expended through the rattles and gaps in the parts resulting in a less efficient ride.
The headset is the collection of bearings and fittings that allow the fork to spin freely within the headtube of the deck. The headset is comprised of several parts and they are a set of rings, fittings, bearings, and cups located at the top and bottom of the deck's headtube.
Bar ends on a scooter are important for the same reason that they are important on a bike: your handle bars are essentially a hollow pipe without bar ends. Do you know what else is a hollow pipe? A needle! Your handle bars, without bar ends, can act like a GIANT needle. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is real. If your body comes down on the end of your handlebars without bar ends, that hollow metal end can do some real damage to you, so always make sure you have good bar ends. If you need new bar ends, you probably need new grips too, and grips usually come with bar ends. If not, you can probably find cheap replacement bar ends at a bike shop.
I wish I could say, "YES! By all means, take your scooters and ride any skate park you can find!", but the sad reality is that some parks don't allow scooters. Hopefully that will change some day, but in the meantime, check the posted rules at skate parks or call ahead if it's a managed park and make sure that it's okay to bring your scooter. As much as we would love to see scooters at all parks, these things take time to change, so don't ride parks that don't allow scooters. You will do more damage to the sport by being a jerk and not following the rules. Politely write letters or talk to the people about changing the rules, but don't make us all look bad by choosing to ignore the rules. Be respectful.
On most decks non-Phoenix, you do need to use both bolts to prevent the brake from slipping side to side and rotating away from perfect alignment. The internal channel in the Phoenix scooters are designed in such a way that the "legs" of the Switchblade hold it in place and keep it from rotating, but other scooter decks aren't necessarily built like that, so you probably need to use both bolts.
This is a much bigger discussion about compression and all the parts needed for which setups, but the short answer is this: you need a threadless fork, a threadless headset, and bars that do NOT have a slit cut in them. Typically, your SCS will add 2 inches to the overall height of your bars, so you can easily cut 2 inches off to remove the slit. Some SCS clamps allow for standard size bars with a shim OR oversized bars without the shim, so make sure that you check to see what kind of bars your SCS clamp will accommodate.
You can make it work...sorta...kinda, but it's a hacky way of building a scooter and you're better off just taking the leap and upgrading to a threadless headset and fork at the same time, plus whatever clamp/compression and bar parts you will need to make it all work together. I do not recommend trying to make a threaded fork work with a threadless headset, even though I have done that for someone.
Yes and no. Putting a little machine grease on out outside of the bearing can help them slip easier into metal core wheels. As far as the inside of the bearings with regard to spin, I do not recommend grease. You should use Bones Speed Cream if you feel like you need to lubricate your bearings. You can buy Bones Speed Cream through Inward Scooters or at a local skate shop and it's worth the money.
Mothership Distribution / ScootAndDestroy.com has moved to a store in Everett, WA at 7529 Beverly Blvd #2, Everett, WA 98203. I've heard rumors that they may move back into Skatebarn at some point, which would be great!
The headset itself, for the most part, is the same in both models. What this really refers to is the way that the bearing cups (the channels that contain the headset bearings) attach to the scooter. In a non-integrated headset, bearing cups have to be pressed (or hammered!) into the headetube of the deck. In an integrated headset, the bearing cups are machined into the headtube of the deck as one piece. That is, it's more about buying an integrated deck than an integrated headset. I really wish all scooters would come with integrated bearing cups because installing and removing bearing cups is one of the most difficult things to do in scooter maintenance.
There are lots of things you need to learn! But thankfully, you're in just the right place. Keep checking back here at ScooterDad for new articles and videos for everything you need to know about getting into the sport of freestyle scootering. Also, be sure to check out our sponsors that advertise on the site as they help make all of this possible. :o)