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Are mini motorcycles legal to ride in your neighborhood?

What is a mini motorcycle?

Adult riding pocket bikes

You have probably seen these things on the street; the boy or girl cruising along what looks to be a tiny motorized bike. As you look at the rider, hunched over, knees pointing out at both sides, going pretty quick, especially on something so small. And you have to ask yourself, "Are those things legal?" Maybe you are looking to own, or already own, one of these "mini motorcycles" and want to learn more of the laws behind their usage.

Mini motorcycles -- also called "pocket bikes" or "pocket rockets" -- are minature gas powered bikes that look like small replicas of full sized motorcycles. Despite their tiny size (roughly 2 feet high, weighing around 40 pounds), pocket bikes usually come equipped with at least 40cc 2-stroke engines and can reach speeds up to 45-50 miles per hour with performance parts added.

Mentioned below you will find information on the laws of these mini pocket bikes, including restrictions on where pocket bikes can be ridden and things to keep in mind by mini bike owners and riders.

Are these mini pocket bikes legal to ride where you live?

Many states and cities have passed laws that permit the operation of mini-motorcycles and pocket bikes on public roads, streets, and trails. For some states, this is simply because mini pocket rockets typically do not come equipped with features like mirrors, turn signals, horns, and head lights. These are required in order for a vehicle to be considered "street legal" under some states' vehicle and traffic codes. Since these mini bikes cannot be insured or registered, this alone makes them unable to be driven on public roads in many states.

California & Texas Operation of mini motorcycles and pocket bikes are best advised to operate these on private property and not on public roads. As it is legal to own a pocket bike, the operation in these states only permit permission to ride on private property, private roads, and driveways.
New Jersey Some states that regulate the operation of mini motorcycles and pocket bikes also mandate the age restrictions for riders. New Jersey is one state that enforces age of at least 12 years old to ride a pocket bike.
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.

Many states and cities have passed laws that permit the operation of mini-motorcycles and pocket bikes on public roads, streets, and trails. For some states, this is simply because mini pocket rockets typically do not come equipped with features like mirrors, turn signals, horns, and head lights. These are required in order for a vehicle to be considered "street legal" under some states' vehicle and traffic codes. Since these mini bikes cannot be insured or registered, this alone makes them unable to be driven on public roads in many states.

WORKING ON POCKET BIKES

Many people have found an exhilarating hobby modifying and upgrading pocket bikes. There is no more fun way to learn the basics of a working engine than to rebuild or upgrade your pocket bike's two stroke motor. It is so simple that anyone with a little bit of patience and some basic tools can work on it. If you would like to read some tech articles please check out the pocket bike tech support section of our site.

Most pocket bikes are powered by a two-stroke engine. This ensures that the bike is incredibly light, has as little moving parts as possible, and is highly tunable and upgradeable. 2-cycle engines are incredibly easy to work on. There is no better feeling than riding your pocket bike for the fist time on a freshly rebuilt engine with an upgraded head kit, beefed-up carb and air intake, and a souped up exhaust. All you need are some performance parts, a standard tool set, and no fear to get your hands dirty for an hour.

Pocket bikes can teach a new rider a lot of skills: proper engine maintenance, break-in, and tuning, chassis care and maintenance, tire care, brake care & maintenance, and responsibility that comes behind the throttle. For younger riders, with proper parental supervision, it can teach a great sense of responsibility while providing an active outdoor hobby that can be enjoyed at any age and is just really cool.

Typical things that need to be checked and adjusted on pocket bikes regularly:

Tires Always check tire pressure. Make sure it never exceeds the maximum PSI written on the side-wall. Some wheels are designed to be tubeless, others have tubes in them. Under-inflated tires can cause unnecessary strain on your engine and wear out your clutch prematurely.
Wheel alignment All pocket bikes have two rear-wheel axle adjusters that that you must adjust to ensure the wheel spins without a wobble.
Chain adjustment Always ensure that the chain has 1/4 to 1/2 inch slack, is lubricated with chain grease, and is free of dirt, sand or dust.
Handlebars Most brand new pocket bikes come with handlebars either loose or disconnected. Always ensure that handlebars are completely tightened in a comfortable position. Remember: just like on a real motorcycle, you will lean into your turns. Therefore, it is not necessary to have a big turning radius on the front wheel. This is a common misconception that many unexperienced riders point out.
Throttle & brake levers Your left and right hand will control everything on the bike. It is therefore important that they are mounted in positions comfortable and within easy reach to you. It is critical to tighten all controls before riding to ensure you don't lose control while riding.
Kill switch The big red button on the handle-bars is your "Mission Abort" button - the fastest way to shut off your engine. Follow the wire that connects from it to the ignition coil on the engine. Check regularly that there is no damage to this wire, and that it works - because you never want to ride if you can't come to a quick, safe stop!
Carburetor The carburetor is perhaps the single most important part in your bike. The fuel line and throttle cable are attached to it. It regulates air and gas intake into the engine, and also contains the choke (necessary for starting a cold engine) and the fuel shut-off switch. Be sure to keep it clean, check for gasket leaks, and tighten when needed.
Brake tension Most pocket bikes come with quality front and rear disc brakes. As the pads wear out over time, the tension on the brake cables need to be adjusted. The brake cables themselves should also be inspected for damage which can occur over time or with the elements.
Fuel lines & fuel filter A corroded fuel line can cause a gas leak, which can be dangerous. So be sure to check the fuel lines and replace at the first sign of cracks or leaks. When fueling your pocket bike, you should always only put as much gas as you plan to consume while riding. While you won't guess it right every time, leaving less (or no) gas in the gas tank when your pocket bike is a good (thesaurus: ritual).
Gas cap Never force a gas cap on the gas tank as you could damage the threads causing gas to spill out.

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 cart 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. It is also a little bit smaller than the standard minimoto size. For an older child (12-15 yrs of age), if you wish to stick with electric pocket bikes, you may consider something like 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 can be achieved. A lot of internet retailers exaggerate the top speeds on their pocket bike models.

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