AskDefine | Define minibike

Dictionary Definition

minibike n : small motorcycle with a low frame and small wheels and elevated handlebars [syn: motorbike]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. A small motorcycle. (Rarely street-legal.)

Extensive Definition

A minibike, also recently known as a mini moto or pocketbike, is a miniature motorcycle. Most traditional minibikes use four stroke engine to turn the rear wheel via a chain. Small cheap gasoline engines like ones produced for yard equipment are most often used, though most designs require a horizontal crankshaft engine. This means that typical walk behind mowers, which use vertical crank engines, cannot be used. Some models use two stroke engine, and electric-powered models are also available. The 2-stroke motor produces a loud, whining buzz and a more polluting cloud of smoke as exhaust if not properly tuned. These features, along with the minibike's small size, mean that minibikes are rarely street-legal.

History

Like go-carts, the first minibikes were made by enthusiasts from spare parts found in their garages. They were first popularly used as "pit bikes", for drag racers to scoot around in the pits during races in the late 1950s. They were very useful for this purpose, as they could maneuver very well in the tight pit roads, fit in about the same space as a small bicycle in a trailer or pickup, and they were faster than most previous forms of transportation. As racers brought them home and used them around their neighborhoods, children thought they were cool and started building their own. A market for minibikes developed and many cottage and major industries developed to meet the demand. Famous minibike companies include Arctic-Cat, Rupp, Taco, Heath, and Fox, many of which also made other power toys such as go-carts, trikes and choppers. The height of the minibike/go-cart era was from the late 1960s to the early 1970s in America.
The concept of pocketbikes comes from Japan . The first pocketbikes appeared on the market in the 1970s and '80s , originally costing up to $4,000 .
Today minibikes have evolved into several specialized types, all around the concept of a mini motorcycle::These look like sport bikes and are used to race (Pocketbike racing) on tracks used for kart racing. The popularity grew due to the influx of cheap pocket bikes imported from China. A pocket bike is a miniature version of a Grand Prix (GP) motorcycle. GP moto is the nickname for a racing motorcycle. So, in general, a pocketbike is a scaled-down replica of a GP motorcycle. There are two engine types that pocketbikes come in. The most common pocketbikes are two-stroke engine ones, although newer designs are pointing towards the creation of four-stroke units - due to even-more restricting pollution laws.
True to the original concept of a small scooter used to quickly move around the pit areas of motor racing tracks and events. They look like motocross motorcycles and are also used in some motocross competitions. Recently the sport of mini moto (racing pit bikes on motocross and supercross tracks) has taken off. There are numerous series in the United States and there are also full fledged mini moto pros. The Las Vegas Mini Supercross is the biggest mini moto event of the year.
Pitbike Racing and Competitions takes the form of Supermoto racing using a form of Pitbike/minibike with a wheel size of 10inch front and rear with supermoto slick tyres fitted. The bikes are prepared for racing with precautions such as catch tanks to collect possible fluid spillages being dropped onto the tracks causing possible skidding hazards, to fellow competitors.
Mini choppers are mini bikes that look like Choppers.
Midi motos were then introduced, these are similar to the Pocket/Mini moto in style etc but they are slightly bigger. They are still tiny in comparison to a real bike of their replication but the seat height is about a foot to two foot higher than a mini motos seat height. They started off with 47cc 2 stroke engines (capable of around 48-64 kmh/30-40 mph) in the midi moto's and then all the way to 110cc 4 stroke engines (capable of around 86-105 kmh/55-65mph) - some sites selling them may say 113 kmh (70mph) but these chances are rare. Most midi bikes are made in China and most with a Honda engine or replication of a Honda style engine.
Mini bikes that look like quad bikes which are four wheeled off road motorcycles (all terrain vehicles).

Legal status

In the Netherlands, minibikes/midi motors are not allowed on the public road. Doing so will lead to a fine and possibility of confiscation, but it is more likely that only a warning will be given, followed by a fine and/or confiscation when a second violation has been made. It is legal to ride a minibike/ midi motor on private land at all ages.
In australia minibikes/ mini motors are not allowed on either highways where there is a great deal of traffic or on streets where lots of cars are travelling, rather pocketbikes are too be driven on either private property or on footpaths or can also be driven with care on streets where traffic is dead and no flow of cars are visible. Tthe fact that mini pocket bikes are illegal on highways and/or on streets with lots of traffic flow is because cars are unable to see these little pocket bikes and are dangerous in causeing accidents. Pocket bikes do not need to be driven with a license; they can be driven on any private property and areas where there is no site of cars and/or possibly on footpaths or parks (or even private parks such as reserves). Pocket bikes can reach speeds to about 30-50 km/h which is not considerably fast for mini bikes, mini bikes are suitable for children even under the age of 10, they do not need to be driven with a licence, neither do they create large amounts of sound. They are a good thing for many kids, teenages and even adults. They are also selling quikly and are becoming very popular in australia. Pocket bikes are very diffrent to your normal petrol scooters which create very irrative and annoying sounds, pocket bikes are sound efficient, and also look much nicer than petrol scooters.
In the US, minibikes are banned on public roads in some states such as California, and in many cities, including New York City. Penalties enforced by police departments may include the issue of a verbal reprimand by the officer or the confiscation of the vehicle.
In Canada's Ontario province, it is illegal for minibikes to be ridden on public roads.
In the UK, in virtually all cases, it is illegal for minibikes of 50cc to be ridden on the road. Minibikes that are 45cc are legal to be ridden in public fields, although the public areas must be at least 20 meters away from houses, as then they become illegal due to the noise. Minibikes 50cc or over are regarded as "motor vehicles" as defined by section 185 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and so to be ridden on the public road, a motor vehicle must comply with all aspects of road traffic law and meet the mandatory European construction requirements by having a "Certificate of Conformity" indicating that they have European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA).
Minibikes are not manufactured to meet these requirements, and would need to be modified significantly to do so. Reported instances of this occurring are incredibly rare, meaning that it is very unlikely that minibikes can actually be registered for road use. However, where a minibike or other vehicle does not have ECWVTA, it might conceivably pass a Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA) inspection which would result in a Ministerial Certificate of Approval, permitting it to be road-registered.
In addition to the Vehicle Type Approval, to be ridden on the road the minibike must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, display a valid road tax disc (vehicle excise duty), and the driver or rider must be aged 17 or over (or 16 if the vehicle meets the definition of a moped), have an appropriate driving license, have vehicle insurance covering the vehicle's use and wear a suitable motorcycle helmet. The only exceptions relate to electrically-assisted pedal cycles and mobility aids for disabled people.
In the UK in 2005 and 2006, minibikes became the focus of concern about road traffic safety and anti-social behaviour, when seven deaths – five young people and two adults – were attributed to them by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
During August 2006, the UK Government ran a campaign to highlight the dangers of minibike misuse on roads and their anti-social use. A guidance document was produced to provide police and other agencies with practical information to deal with the issues and prevent misuse. The guidance outlined the legal status of minibikes and included information on enforcement measures and the provision of legal sites.
In the United Kingdom, Minibikes are popularly thought of as a "chav" accessory or toy, bringing with it all the issues of anti-social behaviour and irresponsible use.

Legal sites

It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that they (or their children) use minibikes correctly but there is no specific obligation for local authorities to provide a facility to ride minibikes safely and legally.

See also

minibike in German: Pocket Bike
minibike in French: Pocket bike
minibike in Italian: Minimoto
minibike in Dutch: Minibike
minibike in Japanese: ポケットバイク
minibike in Finnish: Minimoto
minibike in Swedish: Minimoto
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