Editor’s note: we are very pleased to present another article by guest expert John Wyckoff. He profiles a red-hot trend affecting motorcycle dealers today: pocketbikes and pit bikes.
By John Wyckoff
It started when racers began bringing small 50cc bikes to get around in the pits. Most were Honda minibikes. Soon, being racers, they started to challenge each other. After a while they began to modify the bikes by changing suspension. After all, these bikes were designed for under 100 pound children. Next, they modified the engines to produce more torque and horsepower.
The European manufacturers have always been leaders when it came to race equipment. They began producing state-of-the-art pit bikes. These bikes were capable of being ridden by a 250-pound rider. Racing disc brakes, high-revving engines, adjustable front forks and race-quality swing arms soon pushed the prices to several thousand dollars.
Enter the Chinese manufacturers. Not knowing the history or market, they are producing 50cc minibikes for children. The cosmetics they incorporated make these pocketbikes look like shrunken road racers.
Although they are two different market niches, the names, “pocketbike” and “pit bike” are often used to describe both markets interchangeably.
Franchised motorcycle dealers who are into racing often sell pit bikes. Their racing customers are knowledgeable and know what they want. These dealers are often behind the scenes when promoting pit bike races. They are fun to watch, more fun to participate in and much safer when it comes to “stepping off at speed,” because the speeds are lower and the distance to the ground less.
Many of the big box retailers sell pocketbikes although there are legal ramifications. The Chinese manufacturers seldom have the necessary insurance policies to protect the reseller or the consumer.
There’s a difference between a trained racer using his or her pit bike and an untrained 8-year old child playing with his pocketbike.
If the market continues to grow, as I suspect it will, the government will soon take notice and try to establish laws governing the use of both pocketbikes and pit bikes in the hands of children.
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John Wyckoff is a true guru of the motorcycle industry. A sought-after speaker at motorcycle events and frequent contributor to the motorcycle press, he is the founder of Intersport Fashions West. He is an expert on the motorcycle business and dealerships and is known for having his finger on the pulse of the motorcycling public. He is the author of Mind Your Own Business, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Profitable Powersports Dealerships.
Like this article? Read more by John Wyckoff:
Powersports Industry Trends for 2005
How Harley Davidson Lost its “Cool”
Hope fully they will step in soon and lay down some rules for the Chinese to follow they have started to make some good quality Pit Bikes and parts but we need people here importing the good pit bikes not just the Cheapest they can find for those looking MonsterMoto sell a quality well performing Pit Bike
hi , im 44 years old and my son is 9 we both ride pocket bikes and pit bikes our pocketbikes are polini race 39 cc 2 stroke machines seat heigth about 18 inches off ground and top speed 40 t0 50 miles an hour we train and race we just completed the poliniusacup series in mid california 5 races total.that a lot of speed and power and the best motorcycle experience ever.the sport is up and down in growth.its mostly do to public awareness is not out there.if kids and aldults could see the track action that we have experienced.this sport would take off and sky rocket.ever kid wants to ride some form of motor bike mostly dirtbikes are at there local dealerships. the problem is dealers sell bikes to parents of kids at dealership prices a father and son purchase for dirtbikes can start at about 3 grand and as high as 8 grand for both bikes .an than where do they ride them.dealers sale bikes but not any local or race track info is passed on to the customer.now what do we do with bikes try to find areas to ride them and then is it safe tracks are controled open land and laws are extremly unprodictable.my sport my plan but funds are not at my disposal.i would sale pocketbikes pitbikes and service to buyers to provide them local roadrace tracks clubs involved proper bikes that fit there budget and which machine that fits there experience or that they handle safely total support for just weekend fun or wanting to race at all levels thats available out there and growth they want go to and as a motorcycle rider that fits them and not what fits my pockets with cash do to there lack of knowledge of this sport or any form of riding.public awareness and correct guidance and information where they can enjoy the fun of the bikes they buy and where and how to ride them.from beginners to race at professional and career future of the motorsport. motogp worldwide roadrace riders like valitino rossi started on pocketbikes as a jr rider at 8 to 12 years old.there are no pretraining or any large organisations out there that the public can go to to start there childs career on road racing. nascar drivers started at gocart tracks inthere area at 3yrs old. I LIVE IN PHX ARIZONA I KNOW WHAT POEPLE WANT THE PIONEERING START OF THIS SPORT AND THE FUTURE PROFITABLE AND MARKETING AND BIG MONEY MAKING IS WAITING FOR SOME ONE TO START WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY LIKE BOB BAUNDERANT ,YOU KNOW SHELBY FORD WHERE IT STARTED AND NOW WHERE ITS AT NOW MARIO ANDRETTI AND THE LIST GOES ON. I LACK THE FUNDS BUT MY GOAL AND IDEALS ARE BIGGER THAN DONAL TRUMPS TALLEST BUILDING..MY EMAIL IS TWSLACKER@msn.com any support for the sport and the future of our children to have this opportunity is what i have to chosen to spend all my time and effort and future financail income to support my family with…and my son is my insperation and drive to do so..thats all folks beep beep