Minibikes can be an exciting hobby for all ages and if used correctly, with the right safety gear and proper training, the chances of a mishap are greatly reduced. We've compiled a list of frequently-asked questions to help you get the best out of your minibiking experience.
A minibike is a small, petrol-driven motorcycle or scooter, normally fitted with a 50cc engine which can reach speeds of up to 60mph. Minibikes are classed as motor vehicles, but most models available in the UK do not meet European standards to be ridden on public roads.
Minibikes are not toys, although they are sometimes regarded as such. Used in the correct manner and location and with the right safety gear and proper training, minibikes can be a thrilling and fun hobby for all ages. But if used wrongly, they can put people’s safety at risk, be a nuisance to the community and harm the environment.
It is illegal to ride minibikes on public roads, or on public land such as parks, footpaths, pavements and rights of way.
You can ride a minibike on private land, but only with the permission of the landowner. There are clubs across the country offering training and safe-riding opportunities. They can be found through the sport’s governing body, the Auto Cycle Union.
Monthly riding events for 6 to 16-year-olds are held by Gloucestershire Youth Mini Bike Project in Cheltenham and Gloucester
Minibikes can be ridden on a road if certain conditions are met.
- have a valid driving licence and a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) certificate
- wear a helmet (if visors or goggles are used, they must comply with regulations for safety)
Your bike must:
- be taxed and insured and have an official registration plate
- have an MoT (if over 3 years old)
- have type approval: The Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval Scheme (MSVA) is a pre-registration inspection for motorcycles, three-wheeled and light four-wheeled vehicles that have not been ‘type-approved’ to European standards. The scheme ensures that these vehicles have been designed and constructed to modern safety and environmental standards before they can be used on a public road
- have an approved exhaust system
You are breaking the law if you are riding without a licence, valid insurance or a valid MoT. But you could also be prosecuted for:
- driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road (Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988)
- driving a motor vehicle without lawful authority, onto or upon any common land, moorland or land of any description, not being land forming part of a road or on any road being a footpath or bridleway
If the vehicle is being used illegally, irresponsibly or in an anti-social manner, police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) can seize it under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002.
If you are a parent of a young rider who has broken the law on a minibike, you may also be prosecuted for “aiding and abetting” or “permitting” its use.
The project was launched in Cheltenham in October 2009, to provide youths aged 6 to 16 somewhere to ride minibikes in a legal, safe, insured and controlled environment.
As well as learning new skills, young riders were taught about the effects that the misuse of minibikes can have on a community. Consequently, the number of police incidents regarding the antisocial use of motorcycles in the Cheltenham area fell significantly. Building on the success of the project, we recently expanded to a site in Gloucester in May 2014.
Events are currently held twice a month - one on a Saturday morning in Cheltenham and one on a Sunday morning in Gloucester.
The sessions also give partner agencies an opportunity to engage with youths in the community, educating them on the consequences of riding antisocially and teaching them important aspects of road safety.
The main aims of the project are:
- to reduce social disruption and safety concerns caused by inappropriate and often illegal use of motorcycles in public areas and on the highway
- to provide a legal and safe place for young people to ride at an affordable cost; each event is run by Auto Cycle Union accredited staff with fully-trained clerks of the course, minibike instructors and marshals working alongside volunteers and parents
- to engage with youths - particularly hard-to-reach groups who’ve had only a negative image or relationship with the police & other agencies - giving them positive role models, steering them away from antisocial behaviour and crime and teaching them road and vehicle safety, vehicle maintenance and respect for motor vehicles and the people around them
- to improve the quality of life for everyone living in or visiting the Gloucestershire area
Before 2009, incidents involving the illegal use of both ‘dirt’ bikes and minibikes were a daily occurrence in the Cheltenham area. Since the project began running in the town on 31 October 2009, these occurrences have decreased significantly and continue to drop.
Incidents which do occur are followed up with an invitation to the transgressor to come along to the project, to see that there is an alternative to riding illegally and to learn the consequences of continuing to offend.
2011 saw a 75% reduction in complaints about antisocial use of motorcycles across the Cheltenham area compared to 2009.
2012 saw a 45% reduction in complaints compared to 2009. The rise in incidents was attributed to a reduction in the number of project sessions being held due to operational commitments, such as the Olympics.
2013 saw a notable 88% reduction in complaints compared to 2009.
Other projects have been set up around the country and have had a huge impact on the antisocial use of motorbikes in the areas. Local authority run projects currently operate in Cardiff and Doncaster.
Between 2000 and 2004, Cardiff City Council received hundreds of complaints about illegal off-road riding. Also, police issued 2,500 section 59 notices to illegal riders aged between 11 and 20. Within a year of setting up their project, the city council experienced a 94% reduction in complaints and a 64% reduction in ASBO’s issued to young people.
Here in Gloucestershire, we have one rider who has progressed from the project to compete in the British Minimoto Championships, finishing third in his class in the 2013 season. Having won a number of trophies, he has now stepped up to the next class and is riding slightly larger geared bikes in the championships.
Two of our other riders have joined Scott Redding Young Riders Academy after starting minibikes with us. The academy teaches competitive riding and some members go on to ride in the academy team.