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what R you lookin' at?
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this was in today's HOuston Chronicle

i as well ask SQUID KILLER, know Jim White :D

Controversy on two wheels
Miniature motorcycles raise questions of safety on the streets
By KRISTIN FINAN
Houston Chronicle

It's tough not to stare

All across the city, little motorcycles -- some no more than 16 inches high and weighing only 50 pounds — can be found with riders four or five times their size.

"It kind of looks like a circus attraction," said Ruben Rios, an employee at Pep Boys at 7990 Bellfort, which sells several types of miniature sport bikes. "You see a big guy riding this tiny, tiny bike."

The sport bikes, called pocket bikes, are electric- or gas-powered vehicles that can go as fast as 50 mph. Because of their speed and availability, models can be found anywhere from automotive suppliers to used-car dealers to your local Randalls grocery stores. And buyers are overlooking the $200 to $700-plus price tags. "We can't stock enough of those," said Rios about the American Products Company red sport bike, which goes up to 30 mph and sells for $399. "There are days where we've sold 10 a day."

But the recent trend has raised questions for local and state law enforcement agencies, which remind parents that the vehicles are intended for adult use.

"In the past six weeks, calls have tripled or quadrupled in volume from people trying to figure out whether or not they can buy these things. We're getting calls from law enforcement asking about them," said Jim White, training specialist for the Texas Department of Public Safety Motorcycle Safety Unit. "I can see the writing on the wall. Somebody's going to have to address it."

On a recent evening, Jeri Chalmers, who manages Jeris Clothesline and More, revved up one of the sport bikes she sells in front of the store at 433 North Loop West. She said that after she noticed the bikes around town last fall, she decided to sell them herself.

"I watched the trend of these little motorcycles, so my friend and I said, 'Why don't we try a few and see what happens?' " Chalmers said. "We did that starting in August, and we just made a killing."

Chalmers said that because manufacturers continue to release new models that mimic actual motorcycles, demand for the bikes — which she sells for around $500 — remains high.

Eager to demonstrate the vehicles' speed, she sat awkwardly on a 16-inch-high bike made by CoolSport, twisted the right handlebar and took off down the sidewalk. After speeding around the block in 37 seconds, she stopped in the parking lot.

"I've gotten it up to 40, 45," Chalmers said. "They say that if you tinker with the motors, you can actually get them above 55 miles an hour."

As she spoke, Marvin Santamaria inspected a black Ninja-style sport bike that he intends to buy to race his friends. His wife, Magaly, just shook her head.

"They're very fast," Magaly Santamaria said. "It's very dangerous."

Although the faster sport bikes have been available for nearly a year, a slower, electric version that Razor USA released in May is increasing their visibility by selling at places such as Randalls and Wal-Mart for about $200.

Katherine Mahoney, vice president of marketing for Razor USA, said the electric "Pocket Rocket" is safer than the gas versions because it does not exceed 15 mph and still allows teens to have fun.

"It gives some sense of power and freedom," Mahoney said. "I wouldn't recommend it for under 12, but for a 12- to 14-year-old, they don't drive, so it really plays into what turns boys on."

But according to White, any vehicle that mimics a motorcycle is inappropriate for young teens.

"If kids aren't old enough to operate a motor vehicle until they're 15 or 16, they're not old enough to operate a machine that comes very close to being a motor vehicle, regardless of what the manufacturers might call it," White said.

Chalmers said that because of the bikes' size, many people come in believing they are appropriate toys for young children.

"You get a kid on it, and he goes as fast as he can go and he's going to crash," she said. "The only thing between him and the concrete is nothing."

But because laws are basically nonexistent for the miniature sport bikes, White said, regulating them is difficult.

They are not made with vehicle identification numbers — a requirement for any motorized vehicle on a public street — so they do not qualify as street-legal vehicles, he said.

This means they may be ridden only on private property or in places where the rider has received permission. But because this law is often ignored, White said, several cities and towns are working on ordinances to ban the vehicles altogether.

"In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, several of the smaller towns are passing city ordinances to completely prohibit them from use in the city limits," White said.

A Houston Police Department spokeswoman said she is unaware of any such proposal in the Houston area and has not heard any major complaints about the vehicles.

But according to White, the state DPS anticipates continued questions regarding the miniature sport bikes and expects laws addressing them to be an issue in the next legislative session.

"The Legislature is going to get pressure from somewhere to do something about motor-assisted vehicles," White said. "People need to realize that not everything with a motor is street-legal. At some point, something will have to be done."
 

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they seem like they'd be fun. Now riding one in traffic, or in congested area... that I do not agree with.
 

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I'm thinking about selling these myself... they are annoying as hell running up and down the street (sounds like my weedeater got away from me).

I think parents should be aware of the dangers and not let their 10 y.o. haul ass down the street at 50mph...
 

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uncomfortable

I just cannot imagine riding them, it looks as uncomfortable as hell. The fact that I am 6' 3" probably has something to do with my opinion .
 

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I thought they looked pretty cool at first. Now there all over the place. And after you get off a 600 and get on a little 50cc bike like that, I don't know about you guys but I'd feel a little stupid being seen on one!
 

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I was in OC MD. over the 4th of July weekend. The pocket bikes are all over the boardwalk being sold.
Some are pretty trick, even with undertail exhaust.
IMHO they are ghey.
I only saw one in five days being ridden on the street.
 

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I woudn't spend money on one, but if I won it somewhere, I sure as heck would ride it
 

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These are quite useful while trying to get around car shows but that is about it. I have never seen one on the street but they are all over car shows and other large events.
 

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Light it up! Light it up!
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i seem to recall seeing a 'documentary' on those little bikes, it focused on this one guy that raced them. it may have been on two wheel tuesday, or maybe ripley's...

anyway the guy took a nasty face plant on one that hurt him really bad.

no, i wouldn't buy one, and i haven't really seen any around. i would like to try one out tho :)
 

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There is a vid of some guys running Deals Gap on them, it's pretty cool. I think it was posted on SBN some time ago. I kinda like them myself, well, the real ones. I think Polini makes the badass ones for around 3-4 grand.
 

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Stupid

Man I hate when governments try to regulate this shit out of everything.

We should put a big fucking warning on all of the packages that says this shit is fast and u will get hurt BAD when u fuck up.

Then let people get hurt. A warning that says THEY are liable for all damage caused while riding them.

Whatever. But banning them? Why? Thats like trying to take away my guns because I might shoot myself. What business is it of theirs if I shoot myself in the foot hunting?

Man I hate red tape toting politicians.
 

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They race them at the local government center but they are the real things, not these cheap knockoffs. Pocket bikes have been around for a while but only now with the coming of these clones are average people aware of them.

Intended for private property use only. They are not street legal and they are not toys. Fall off one and it will hurt just as bad as a real motorcycle. I'm all for banning them on public streets. You want to ride a 50cc machine on the street? Buy a proper scooter. It's only a matter of time before someone gets run over by a truck on one of these things and then the fireworks will really start.
 

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Unless it's not a Polini/Blata/or any REAL pocket bike manufacturer, then it's a waste of money to me. Just another trend we're going through right now, kind of like those gay Razor scooters that were selling so well a few years back. Just give it another 6-12 months and you probably will have a hard time finding someone that sells them.
 

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These are quite useful while trying to get around car shows but that is about it. I have never seen one on the street but they are all over car shows and other large events.
they make for good pit bikes too.
 

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those things are very cool. If I had extra money, I'd buy one to ride around my neighborhood
 
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