The Buzz is All About Mini-Motorcycles
Pocket bikes are miniature motorcycles -- powered, for the most part, by oil- and gas-burning engines similar to those used in chain saws, weed whackers or other small motorized tools -- and they look just like the real thing.
The snazziest models cost thousands and are made in Italy, but the ones that are selling by the container load run from $200 to $500. They come from China, among other places, and are getting snapped up by eager teenagers and, in some cases, not-so-teenagers.
At Broadtek LLC, a South San Francisco firm that imports them, the cardboard cartons containing the small bikes are stacked to the ceiling of a tall warehouse and are quickly going out the door to eager customers.
In Walnut Creek, Eric Rahin, owner of Sonic Scooterz, says he's selling them in droves -- "from college students to people in their late 50s. It's basically a toy to have some fun with."
Manufacturers say the bikes are supposed to be used only on closed race tracks, private roads or any other place where there are no public traffic laws and, more important, no big cars or trucks to run into you. Many buyers follow that advice.
But now you see some of these new pocket bikes zinging in and out of parking lots, up and down residential streets and, occasionally into the side of a car. And therein lies the rub.
"It's very difficult for a driver (of a car) to see one on those bikes, because of their low height," said San Francisco police Lt. Kitt Crenshaw. "We've had several accidents in the last few weeks, and people went to the hospital."
The pocket bikes have a top speed of about 35 mph, but can be souped up to go faster. They evolved from tiny but highly sophisticated racing bikes that campaign on European race tracks and are sometimes used as training vehicles for Grand Prix motorcycle racers.
The bikes are faithful imitations of popular normal-size street motorcycles, which, for marketing reasons, are faithful imitations of pure race bikes, down to the disk brakes, handlebars, chain drives, twist-grip throttles and electronic ignition.
The little bikes weigh about 50 pounds, stand about a foot and a half high and can easily be put in the trunk of a car. They have tiny engines -- 47cc or 49cc displacement, less than 1/20th the size of a big motorcycle. And they are enticing.
"It's a fun little thing to ride," said Matt Damon, a 21-year-old salesman in a Martinez pet store. "It's a whole lot cheaper than a $6,000 or $7,000 big bike. For years now, I've been riding different types of motorcycles, but it's more like the small bikes are a fun thing, instead of just transportation. And it's easier to maintain and burns less gas."
But Damon did admit, "I took it for a ride down the street and got pulled over. The officer was kind of nice about it. But I got a ticket."
Police departments in the Bay Area and elsewhere in California have been cracking down on the little two-wheelers, saying they are a major accident waiting to happen. No police agency could come up with information about any deaths caused by pocket bike crashes, but police want them off the public roads before the inevitable happens.
"Their numbers are starting to increase," said Milpitas police Officer Jay Johnson, who was assigned by his department to look into the phenomenon and ultimately write about it for the weekly Milpitas Post. "Most of the complaints we're getting is that drivers can't see them or there'll be a group of them racing, or they're running stop signs."
For a while, though, until Johnson began studying up on the subject, and the California Highway Patrol sent out a memo clarifying just what is and what is not legal about the bikes, confusion seemed to be paramount.
In fact, it shouldn't be. On many bikes, there's a decal right there on the gas tank that says these things do not conform to "federal motor vehicle safety standards."
After a lengthy consult with the state Vehicle Code and the Department of Motor Vehicles, the CHP explained that the bikes do not meet a number of standards required for all vehicles registered in California -- the most telling example being the stipulation that "headlamp height (be) between 22 and 54 inches."
Technical problems aside, it's the safety issue that concerns authorities.
"We're really concerned about these things mixing with traffic," said CHP spokesman Steve Kohler. "If you think about it, something that small is difficult to see, when it's mixed in with cars, trucks and buses. Drivers don't even see full-size motorcycles. There's no way they're going to see these things."
Or, as David Edwards, editor in chief of Cycle World Magazine and a man who puts about 20,000 miles a year on motorcycles, said: "When you get out in city traffic, you'll be at more risk than on a full-size motorcycle. But they only hold (a little) gas, so you won't go too far. And they're noisy as hell, so at least people will hear you coming if not see you coming."
- Michael Taylor, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Motorcycle Tires - Why Should You Care?
One of the most important parts of any vehicle is its tires. Not only are the tires subject to a large amount of wear and tear, but also their durability depends largely upon how you maintain them. But before we go into the details of motorcycle tires maintenance, let us first understand how you should determine which tires are best for you.
People Are Crazy... and Everyone Is A Racer
?And everyone is a racer. If you doubt that, you've obviously never driven in New York City during rush hour. Look closely at the driver of that Japanese luxury car. He's just as miffed as you the racer is at having to drive fifty-five miles per hour when the speedometer on the car clearly reads one hundred and fifty. Why can't we drive it at that speed if the car can come close to it. Man, just look at him fiddling with the knobs pretending to be tuning the radio into a station. We racers know what he is really doing is setting the frequency of his imaginary laser beam roadblock remover system. You know the ones; they make little bomb sounds as we pretend we are obliterating our foes on the drive home.
Minimoto Dirt Bikes, Miniture Motards - The Next Step Up from Battery Powered Toys
As your child grows out of their little bicycle and wants more than a battery powered car to get them 'cruising' along. It can be a head scratching thought as what would be the next step up...
Kids Like to Ride Motorcycles Too
Roaring up on a motorcycle has a strong draw for all of us who have adopted the biker lifestyle. This draw often hits our children too. I know that for me my kids love to ride and probably want to do it as much as I do. I love taking them for rides and sharing the experience with them. But there are some additional considerations that have to be taken into account when loading them on the back of your motorcycle.
Yamaha Motorcycles - Creativity and Spirit of Challenge
"If you are going to do something, be the best" Ginichi Kawakami, Yamaha Motor Company First President.
Mini Moto Tips
These are some quick adjustments and tips for the B1 liquid cooled minimoto that I have found helpful.
Mini Moto Mayhem
Mini Motos have been around in the UK for around ten years now. The first bikes we're cobbled together with parts that were already available. Small 2 stroke engines, mainly from garden machinery, were used. This type of engine is still used today for a few models and is referred to as an 'industrial' engine. But now the mini moto has been given an overhaul and has taken off in popularity.
0 to 60 in 4.5 Seconds
Speeding is illegal, yet we sell racing motorcycles and cars which are so powerful and look so intimidating that a police man could write the owner a ticket even if it were parked. Take today's crotch rocket, nearly all of these motorcycles can barely get out of second or third gear going sixty miles per hour. We complain when our teenagers drive these bikes like they are meant to be driven. Silly of us to think that anyone is going to drive these bikes and never speed?
So You Want To Be A Custom Bike Builder? Start With A Motorcycle Kit!
So you want to be a custom bike builder? Well friend, before you rush out and buy that motorcycle kit, the one that will set you on the road to riches and fame, stop and think about the level of expertise and artistry the top builders have attained. More importantly think about how long it has taken them to attain it! Let's look at a few key issues?
Kawasaki Motorcycles - Independent in Thoughts and Actions
The story of Kawasaki Company goes back to 1924, at that time involved into metallurgy and the aircraft industry.
Avoiding Excessive or Uneven Front Tire Wear
All rubber tires wear down over time, whether they're on a motorcycle or automobile. However, you want to watch out for uneven or excessive wear, both of which can cause serious problems for motorcycle riders. If you pay attention to the following causes of excessive and uneven wear, you will extend the life of your tires and keep yourself safe:
The Motorcycle Helmet You Want May Not Be As Safe As You Think!
Choosing the right Motorcycle helmet can make a difference?.
Know Your Mini Moto
The Mini Moto is a small scale replica of the World Super Bikes used by the likes of Valentino Rossi and ex champion Carl Fogarty. The Mini Moto comes equipped with either a two stroke air or water cooled engine which are, depending on the model, capable of speeds of up to 60Mph.
Take Care of Her and Shell Do the Same ( How to start out the riding season)
Has your scoot been sitting in the garage all winter, just dying to be ridden? Or have you had the chance to only get her out a couple of times? If you answer yes to either of these questions, then this article will intrest you. This article lets you know what I do every year right before riding season starts.
How To Make Your Own Vintage Motor Cycle & Automotive Spare Parts
Vintage Car & Motorcycle restoration enthusiasts all share one thing in common...
Motorcycle Parts - OEM or Aftermarket ?
This is always a difficult one to answer when shopping for motorcycle parts and I firmly believe that each one of us must decide what's best for our bikes AFTER carefully evaluating each of the possibilities.
A Great Motorcycle Ride in Mexico: Queretaro
A beautiful ride across cities and places named World Heritage by the Unesco, through an splendid protected natural area and ending in a surrealistic garden by artist Sir Edward James. Just keep reading... The ride starts in Queretaro City at 5,970 ft above sea level.
Frame Slider Design and Selection
Call them crash protectors, crash bobbins, fairing protectors or frame sliders, all these products ultimately seek to do one thing - protect your expensive bodywork or the essential and often expensive structural parts of your motorcycle from damage in the even of a fall or tip-over. The frame slider concept is as old as the proverbial 'crash bar' and today there are as many designs and brands as there are models of bikes. The proliferation of these types of products testify to the success of the idea of providing a sacrificial item to absorb some of the damage in the event of a fall. We are by no means experts on this concept nor were we the first to come up with it, but in this article we hope to provide you with an unbiased view so that you can make an informed decision when you're ready to put down your hard earned cash.
Auctions and Car Transport: Everything You Need To Know
Everyone has wanted to sell a car at some point and in the age of Internet auctions, there are more options than ever when it comes to selling your car whether it's an '05, '78 or a '20. With this ever expanding world of options comes the need to make delivery after you've sold the vehicle and that requires a car transport service.
Ghost Minimoto Moto GP Reps ? What Are They?
What are Mini moto's? A Minimoto is a miniature version of a real GP racing motorcycle; it just doesn't go as fast as one. There pocket bikes are available in many different makes and styles, many of which look just like real racing bikes but in a miniture version such as those found on GhostRacingSeries website.
|home | site map|