Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adrenaline with Pit Bikes - Need for Mini Speed

Maybe it was the game series or it was just me, but whichever the case, I now belong to the throng of people who have a need for speed. Well, it’s more like a need for fun and adventure. So when I first came upon a pit bike video on Youtube, it seemed I had found one more interesting thing to become an enthusiast of.

A pit bike is exactly what it looks like: a miniature motorcycle. The small frame does indeed come with a reduced amount of capabilities compared to normal motorcycles, but a 30-ish to 50-ish cc pit bike (or more generally, “minibike”) can pack up to 15 horsepower, enough to rocket the small bike and its rider from 30 to 70 kilometers per hour. It seems to be a perfect mini hobby for motorcycle enthusiasts. In a pit bike one can get a combination of assembly, tweaking, riding, and collecting hobbies. And of course, these bikes don’t look like motocross devils for no reason; they can race and do exhibitions too. Though a pit bike looks like a kid’s toy, the thrills it could bring a rider are often accompanied by danger, thus safety precautions similar to those employed when riding normal motorcycles need to be put in place. Ever since the drag racers of the 1950s brought their pit bikes home, kids have become fond of these bike that can fit them perfectly. Today, there are some kid racers who can do on a pit bike what a motocross racer can do with an actual motorcycle. It’s quite a feat for individuals in pre-pubescence, and it’s similarly quite a feat to see for anyone who witnesses it. Watching kids push their pit bikes hard on a racing circuit is pretty much like watching a miniature version of an actual professional race in progress. It’s queer though, because though the dangers of racing are even more acutely a threat since the racers are children, it somehow seems to fade in the background when they’re racing and doing what they do best. Now, I would rather not opine on giving a pit bike to a kid as a present for his birthday or for Christmas, but I’d rather see a fast albeit small machine being used by an adult. But getting the materials needed to assemble minibikes are easily within reach, even just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks away. The Internet is a source for virtually anything and everything one could possibly look for, and minibikes and their parts are no exception. In fact you don’t even have to buy the necessary parts, as probably most of them can be found in your own garage.

A mini hobby that sates the need for speed while fitting in the back of a pickup is a good deal. But as with anything else that can exceed human speeds and run the risk of taking lives in case of a crash, precautions need to be taken, and the best one is a mix of common sense and responsibility. If you’re not up to the task, just watch on the sidelines as minibikes speed past.

Pit Bikes: From the 1950s to the 21st Century

When pit bikes started appearing in the 1950s, they reached the summit of their era by the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Assembled from spare parts in enthusiasts’ garages, pit bikes were then used as a convenient and quite efficient means of transport in drag racing pits—thus the tag ‘pit bikes.’ They were highly maneuverable in harsh terrain, and any terrain for that matter, they were faster than other modes of transport back then, and they could easily fit in the back of a pickup with room to spare. As minibikes gained popularity, appealing and attracting kids and adults alike, they also gained market demand, and eventually companies sprouted up to meet this demand. Pit bikes, and the foremost companies that manufacture them and their spare parts, soon had themselves a cult of followers and enthusiasts. The minibike craze sure caught on pretty quick in those decades, but what about in the 21st century?

Today, though one doesn’t really encounter pit bike everyday, they can still be considered common. Their original use as handy and effective maneuverable, mini transports still hold, and even races and exhibitions using these small bikes still go on. Their legitimacy, on the other hand, became somewhat a complicated issue. Different countries treat pit bikes and their legal use equally differently. Indeed, it’s one thing to use a minibike in a local neighborhood or race circuit, and it’s another to use it on public highways and roads. So in some countries, they’re legitimate, in others, not quite. Strict laws on safety precautions also apply; though you don’t really need laws to remind people to be responsible and have common sense. Protective gear and measures are needed because though pit bike may be small, it can kill in an accident. With speeds from 30 to 70 kilometers per hour, even their small frames could crush a man.

Perhaps one of the most notable differences in the use of minibikes between then and now is the fact that today, kids who’re barely teens can perform and race as good as professional motocross racers using their minibikes. Contests and competitions have sprouted in several countries where competitors are children and their racing thoroughbreds are perfectly tweaked minibikes. Though the danger posed by these races dramatically becomes more pronounced what with the competitors being kids, this seems to stray to the peripherals when the races begin. They can be quite engaging, and the kid racers do certainly have skill.

Most notably, though this might be a generalized observation, the craze that catapulted minibikes then and the way they are seen now is markedly different. Back in the 1950s to the 1970s, interest in the small machines ballooned into trend, where people got into minibikes to be in with the mainstream culture, whereas now, minibikes are more of a hobby. People get into an individual decision to engage in minibike sport, and are not drawn by popular choice or mainstream psychology. Well, whatever the reasons, minibikes are still around today, and would probably still be around for a while.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Riding a Pit Bike: An All-In-One Mini Hobby

Though reading is one of my best hobbies, I sometimes find it a bit lacking in the physical aspect. Sometimes finding a good hobby that can encompass and strike a balance between the physical, mental, and even thrill or fun factors can be hard, and actually maintaining one can be a challenge, but all in all it should be worth it. So when I came across the possible hobby of racing pit bikes, it crossed my mind that this could possibly sufficiently meet the demands of my mind, body, and testosterone levels.

Pit bikes or minibikes are in every sense, any way you look at it, smaller versions of regular motorcycles. From the reduced frame size to reduced capabilities, pit bikes really are like kids’ versions of racing bikes. But don’t be fooled. True enough, kids do enjoy minibikes as much as adults do, but the demands and dangers of these small, speedy machines are best dealt with by mature minds. Pit bikes can run as fast as 30 to 70 kilometers per hour, even more. At those speeds, a crash could definitely be fatal. Aside from protective gear and other safety precautions, responsibility and common sense is key—just like in using real motorcycles. The sort of fun and thrills pit bikes can provide may aptly sate some thrill-seeking, speed-needing hormones, but what about the mental and physical aspect? Well, where the physical aspect comes in should be pretty obvious, but the mental aspect, where does that fit in? The answer: assembly.

Lego and other assembly type toys are for children’s developing minds; for adults, we have engines and vehicles. This is where a minibike meets the need for some mental exercise or activity. Pit bike can be assembled from spare parts bought form companies, retailers, and even online, or from parts lying around in the garage. In fact minibikes were first assembled by enthusiasts from spare parts found in their garages, much like go-carts. They were first used as a convenient, efficient maneuvering mini vehicle in the drag racing pits of the 1950s, thereafter gaining popularity, market demand and eventually supply. At its height, the pit bike era was most popular in the late 1960s to the early 1970s. History aside, minibikes and their subsequent settings tweaks can also engage the mind. Taking all this into consideration, people who engage in the pit bike hobby can actually be considered to have an assembly, tweaking, racing and exhibition, and even collection hobby (if they have several or a collection of pit bikes) all rolled into one.

Getting all of the above possibly in exchange for just a bit of discomfort while riding the small motorcycles (especially if you have a bulky physique), I for one would definitely consider getting into minibikes as a mini hobby or sport. I would enjoy not only the speed and thrills while racing or doing exhibitions, but also the mental challenges I could come across when assembling or tweaking minibikes. Overall, it’s an all-in-one mini hobby.

Pit Bike Racing: Great Miniature Thrills

Having recently seen a pre-pubescent kid speed away like a professional motocross racer in a circuit on his pit bike, many people would easily switch from viewing the miniature motorcycles as kids’ toys to just really smaller versions of the originals—not to mention what they’d think of the kid driver.

A pit bike is easily as fun as its larger counterpart, maybe even more. They really were not meant to be toys for children when they were made. Like go-carts, pit bikes came to life in enthusiasts’ garages from spare parts they could muster and put together. Having found a practical and effective use as a pit bike in the 1950’s drag racing pits, minibikes soon were making their way into local neighborhoods. Gaining popularity and market demand, companies began producing pit bikes among other power toys. The pit bike era soon saw its height from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Of course, practicality would dictate that men with larger built physiques would require normal sized motorcycles, but even when it comes to normally built men, there would still be some difficulty in comfortably sitting on a pit bike, controlling it and maneuvering it, but it somehow seems more fun that way. In fact rallies and races similar to motocross competitions have been set up for these mini speedsters, so aside from their original use as an efficient pit bike, they are being used for racing and stunts. They can also be encountered on a normal day, if you’re in a country where they are legitimate. Different governments have different positions when it comes to the legality of the little bikes. Maybe they took into consideration that the minibikes, though obviously miniscule compared to normal motorcycles, could pack enough horsepower to be able to kill in case of a crash—and then there’s the image of such a small vehicle whirling through freeways. That would tend to cause alarm among other motorists, maybe adding to the potential danger of accidents. Indeed, a small 30-50cc pit bike could have as much as 15 horsepower or possibly more, enabling the machine to go anywhere from 30 to 70 kilometers per hour. Safety precautions—virtually the same as those taken when driving regular motorcycles—are very important when it comes to minibike racing or even menial use. So in racing competitions or stunts, pit bikes can give as much a performance as a real motorcycle, and as much danger too.

Keeping these in mind and watching that 12 year old kid round the circuit corners and tackle skids like they were second nature really was a sight. Pit bikes driven by kids seem more natural than when adults use them—they seem like crude, fallible toys when a fully grown man squats on them and tries to ride (and even race) around. It may be a bit out of the norm, but even now kids compete in dangerous competitions and races using minibikes, and this may possibly be soon become trend.

Pit Bike 101: Speed and Fun in a Small Package

In our world where everyone seems to only care about “thinking big,” it’s somewhat refreshing to come across big thrills in small packages. While having a ‘big bike’ of 300 to 400cc really catches attention, a pit bike or mini bike peaks an observer’s interest more—and with good reason. A pit bike is not just a kid’s toy miniature motorcycle, and it definitely was not meant to be one when it was conceived, because the little motorcycles pack their own speed and thrills, along with dangers.

Mini bikes are by all means smaller versions of motorcycles. Traditionally running on four stroke engines (though some run on two stroke engines and electricity-powered motors), nowadays they’re more or less normal to encounter every once in a while. The pit bike is pretty much like go-carts in that they were made from spare parts in enthusiasts’ garages. Taking up their first informal label ‘pit bike’ from their use as pit bikes in the drag racing pits of the 1950s, they proved quite useful in the tight pits as they maneuvered well, were small enough to fit in the back of a pickup, and were faster than previous modes of transportation. Soon enough, neighborhoods have seen these mini motorcycles when the racers brought them home. As interest for the pit bike rose, so did the demand for it. Soon companies such as Rupp, Fox, and Arctic Cat took up the yoke of supplying for the new demand for mini, speedy pit bikes and other power toys. Come the late 1960s to the early 1970s, the pit bike era was at its summit. Famous brands gained a cult following of enthusiasts and owners, and pit bikes, having more people patronizing them, faced new uses and misuses.

Mini bikes’ legitimacy differs from country to country, and of course where they are cleared for public use, safety precautions similarly employed in using their larger counterparts should be taken. The several varieties of mini bikes may be small, but in their 30-something to 50-something cc frames they could pack as much as 15 horsepower, thus being able to whirl past at 30 to 70 kilometers per hour. Pit bikes have also been used in racing competitions resembling motocross rallies and such, aside from being used for their original purpose. Being small, convenient modes of transport, they can also be seen being used in neighborhoods and in virtually all terrains (in the countries where they’re legal, of course), as they efficiently tackle even difficult and challenging terrain.

All in all, from the looks to the uses, mini bikes could even rival their original motorcycle counterparts if not for practicality reasons (where a larger built man would probably need a larger bike). Kids have taken a liking to these miniatures too, and some have even become akin to pro-racers in circuits where they come and race. These small pit bikes do big things, perhaps a fitting reminder for us today that not everything significant needs to come in big packages—the small things matter as much.