INTRO TO POCKET BIKES
In Europe, pocket bikes are an organized sport. Many professional Grand Prix motorcycle racers start their careers while still young on pocket bikes. Some never grow up, and pursue racing the little bikes as adults, for either pleasure or competition. Despite their small size, pocket bikes handle much like their larger counterparts. The same skills must be acquired: leaning and following through on turns, distinguishing the difference between front and rear brake usage, and proper vehicle care and maintenance. Nobody is exactly sure where it originated, but scaled-down versions of Japanese street bikes were raced in Japan and parts of Europe since the 1960's. In the U.S., most people have not heard about pocket bikes before 2003, when more affordable engine technology made pocket bikes within the reach of anyone. Last year, over 200,000 gas powered pocket bikes were purchased nationwide.
The American market got introduced to pocket bikes thanks to three prominent companies: Blata Corporation, Italian firm Polini, and another Italian company GRC Moto. Each engineer race-ready pocket rockets of superb power-to-weight ratios. The prices for these units, however, start at around $1700, something the average pocket bike enthusiast may not afford or want to spend on their first bike.
Luckily for the customer, costs on entry-level pocket bikes have come down so much that everyone can enjoy the thrill of riding a gas or electric powered minibike at hair-rising speeds without shelling out a couple thousand dollars.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POCKET BIKES
There are different "flavors" of bikes on the market, distinguishable by engine (usually 47cc or 110cc), and physical size (crotch rockets or full size super pocket bikes). The table below will give you a broad idea of the different kinds of contraptions that you could call "pocket bikes". Remember: all pocket bikes, regardless of size, are intended for racing off-highway, in controlled environments, on private property.
|Pocket Rockets:||Miniature pocket bikes, usually not exceeding 2 feet in height, and lacking features such as lights or electric start. They are usually powered by high-rpm 2-stroke engines with an automatic centrifugal clutch connecting it to a chain drive.|
|Mini Dirt Bikes:||Also known as "mini motards" in Europe, Mini dirt bikes, or Mini MX as we call them here, are essentially slightly larger pocket rockets in pit bike form. They are intended to be ridden much the same way as pocket bikes but offer a more comfortable ride with suspension. Note: mini dirt bikes have a little less power and weight capacity than pocket rockets.|
|Super Pocket Bikes||While this is an official name for them, "super" bikes have evolved as larger, faster, but much heavier bikes. They are about half to 3/4 the size of a real motorcycle, and usually feature road-ready features like headlight, brake lights, turn signals & horn. In some states, they can be registered for street use, however, they are always sold as "off-road use only" because laws on these bad boys do vary state by state. The best-known super-bike in the US right now is the X18 Superbike. These models are equipped with 110cc four-stroke motors which are quieter and produce higher top speeds|
|Pocket Quads||Not quite an ATV, quads can be enjoyed by everyone. Because they have four wheels, they are safer for younger riders. Some models, like the Cobra S4, are equipped with speed governors to restrict the top speed to that of a brisk walk.|
|Race-ready Mini Motos||The leading racetrack-ready versions of European Mini Motos is the Elite 14 Mini Bike series.|
|Race-ready Midi Motos||Midi- standing for medium-size (or larger) European mini bikes takes shape in the form of the Origami B1 Pocket Rocket. Call it the 747 or the Lamborghini of pocket bikes, it is a powerful machine suitable for experienced riders who must have the best.|
Are pocket bikes legal? Where can I ride one?
This is a free country and a pocket bike is completely legal to own & operate as long as you use it in appropriate places responsibly. This doesn't mean that you can ride the Cagllari Daytona to school, or work, however.
In California, for example, section 21720 of California vehicle code states that this kind of bike cannot operate on public lands such as bike paths or highways because it is an "off highway" vehicle. As long as you are racing the pocket bike on your private property, or places where you were allowed to ride, such as a private parking lot, and obeying all local laws, you will have a fabulous time, especially if your friends bring their bikes too. Remember: you are low to the ground when riding a pocket bike. Never operate it where cars could be driving as the driver may not see you!
Many people buy pocket bikes to start local racing clubs. Thanks to heavy competition over the past few years, pocket bikes have come down in cost so much that just about anyone can get in the sport. You may find it a true passion and either upgrade your bike for the races, or invest into one of our Blata European high-end racing minimotos.
Local go-kart tracks are also a very popular destination spot for pocket bikes and pocket quads. Read more about the sport here.
How fast do pocket bikes go? How can I make them faster?
The slowest pocket bikes around are the Razor Pocket Bikes. They go up to 10-12 miles per hour and are perfect for younger riders. They are also a little bit smaller than the standard minimoto size. For an older child (12-15 yrs of age), if you wish to go with electric pocket bikes, you may consider the XP707 Electric Pocket Bike, which is much faster (up to 20 mph) and has much more power, carrying riders up to 250 lbs.
For those serious about pocket bikes, gas is the only way to go. Gas models go usually around 35 mph stock, and with performance modifications, speeds of 55 mph and higher are achievable. A lot of internet retailers exaggerate the top speeds on their pocket bike models to make them stand out from competitors. But when you actually ride the bike, you will realize that when you are so low to the ground, going even 20 miles per hour feels like a breakneck speed. Professional racers that race $2000 - $3000 bikes rarely go faster than 55 mph.