Mini or pocket motorcycles are fun and cute, but they are a potential danger and usually illegal to use anywhere except on private property.
In most countries, these machines are categorised as novelty toys and are not regulated by the same conditions as other vehicles.
In Australia, the importers are not members of the Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and their only control is through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
FCAI motorcycle spokesman Rhys Griffiths says they don’t want to be involved with them or encourage their sale. “They are not made to any standard and therefore potentially dangerous,” he says.
This point is driven home by the ACCC’s recent recall of the Mirza Miniature road and dirt style motorbikes with model numbers SKD-PB06 and SKD-MD02 sold in Victoria by Domeit Pty Ltd.
“The ‘minibikes’ do not comply with the requirements set out in Consumer Protection Notice No. 24 of 2011. There is a permanent ban on miniature motorbikes with unsafe design features,” the ACCC notice says.
“Non-conformities in the braking system may result in loss of control at speed, possibly causing serious injury or death.
“Consumers should immediately stop using the minibikes and contact Domeit Pty Ltd to receive a full refund of the purchase price.”
This follows recalls in 2014 of the Big Aussie Deals 49cc petrol-powered 2013 Petersea PB201 “Pocket Motorbike” for non-conformity in the brakes, footpegs and steering.
Owners were also advised to “immediately stop using the Pocket Bike and contact Big Aussie Deals to receive a full refund of the purchase price”. The importer can be contacted on 0418 387 527 or online.
Rhys says many pocket motorcycles are bought by parents as a cheap want to introduce their children to motorcycles. However, he says it is safer to buy an approved mini bike from a respected manufacturer through an authorised dealer. “Many motorcycle manufacturers have mini bikes with good build quality, a warranty and a dealer network for back-up,” he says.
“In contrast, at the point of distribution of pocket motorcycles, there is very little salesmanship in terms of looking after the customer and advising whether it is the right product them, any training, safety advice about protective clothing etc,” he says. “A lot are being sold in supermarkets and no one is looking after the customer, or sold over the internet with no customer contact. Shopping on the internet is great until such time as you need some back-up.”
Pocket motorcycles are banned in some jurisdictions around the world, but those powered by electricity fall into a “grey area” where they can be ridden on the street under bicycle rules. However, petrol-powered pocket motorcycles are usually restricted to private property. It should be noted that shopping centre carparks may be private property, but they are also subject to the normal rules of the road, so pocket motorcycles are banned there as well.
Rhys says he would like to see pocket motorcycles better regulated and doesn’t believe the ACCC has the necessary resources to control importers. “The laws simply haven’t kept pace with this type of product coming on the market,” he says. “Even mobility scooters are a problem. You see them careening down the footpath and they are now being involved in accidents.”