Chinese Motorcycles-Mini pocket rockets-buying tips-maintenance and what to avoid.
Racing Bikes - Not Toys
Before I discuss the details of pocket bikes I would like to point out one very important issue. None of these bikes are toys for kids. They are very fast, very low to the ground and very powerful. They are primarily designed for teenagers to race on a racetrack with all of the protective gear that goes with that. The amount of kids I have seen riding these things on public roads and footpaths with little or no safety gear makes me shudder.
Two Stroke Pocket Bikes:
The overwhelming popularity of pocket racing bikes from China has meant a market full of these little weapons available for a few hundred bucks. For a real pocket racing bike like a Polini from Europe you can expect to spend a few thousand bucks...So what's the difference? Well it's like comparing a Ferrari to a ride on mower.
The Polini is a custom built serious racing bike, designed to be raced on a race track. It is extremely well engineered and made from the most expensive alloys. The frame is very strong and it needs to be because the water cooled engine projects the missile at speeds well over 100kilometers an hour. The bike is carefully constructed by very experienced staff and the quality control is superb. The brakes are state of the art as are the tires, wheels and very importantly the bearings. Expect to buy a Polini and race it on the track out of the box.
Chinese Pocket bikes may look very similar buy in truth are a very different prospect. They are manufactured by many different factories all over China. Most use the same motors and parts but the quality varies wildly. I purchased two of then year or so ago for my teenage daughter to ride. We had access to a private very long tar driveway and I purchased all the safety gear. Now I would like to point out that I have been riding and racing motorcycles for forty years and grew up with a mechanic for a Dad.
The first of the two bikes from different suppliers one was pretty well made. It had an air cooled 47cc motor, disk brakes and overall seemed quite well put together. I still spent an hour tightening the bolts, adjusting brakes, pumping up the tires, adjusting the chain and wheels, adjusting brake cables and throttle cable. I put in some fuel and away the little bike went. After a period of careful running in the bike proved to be reliable and easy to ride. It was still going well with no problems when I sold it recently. If I had not had a background in bike maintenance that bike would have been very dangerous if I had run it as it came out of the box.
The second bike was a mess. It had been hastily manufactured with some bad mistakes. The forks were assembled incorrectly, the foot pegs were faulty and actually manufactured in a bad position on the frame making a very difficult riding position. The motor would not start until I pulled apart the carbie which had been incorrectly assembled. I had to strip the bike and carefully reassemble it and it took several days. I purchased different foot pegs and mounted them differently. Finally I got the thing going and found that it actually performed and rode quite well for a week. Then the clutch literally fell apart.....back to Ebay for parts and a week later it was going again. The quality of the metal and fittings an these bikes is not really very good and the carburetors are woeful. They are cheap and nasty and prone to overflowing on a regular basis
I also purchased a mini trail bike with a 47cc motor and even though it had suspension and hydraulic brakes I still found that a lot of re engineering was required. The rear shocker was put in upside down and it bent. I have replaced this twice. The carburetor was rubbish and so badly manufactured I had to buy another one. The tires are wafer thin and last a few weeks of hard riding. After a lot of work though I ended up with a cheap fun bike for the kids to learn on. The trail bikes are far more user friendly for smaller children to learn on.
The Four stroke pocket bikes:
For the price however you are better to spend a little more money on a Chinese mini trail bike with a four stroke engine. These engines are based on the old Honda engines and are much better made with infinitely better carburetors. They range in size from the small 50cc models to the 140 and 150 cc models. I have purchase two of these as the kids got bigger so as they could learn before moving up to my Japanese full sized trail bikes. These bikes were cheap and apart from the usual careful hour spent tightening, checking and adjusting they were pretty good out of the box. I did replace the bolts on that hold on the rear cog on one bike with better steel bolts and I have put better rear shockers on both. Both bikes have been ridden hard by teenagers for two years and crashed regularly, they are both still going strong. These bikes are also made from a variety of different manufactures in China and the quality varies a lot. If you are buying them from Ebay then you are taking a bit of a risk so do your homework. I purchased my bikes from a supplier with a long track record of selling these bikes, the models I purchased had been on the market by that seller for some time. Don't be in a hurry, spend some time getting to see the trends from different suppliers and read the feedback.
There are bike shops who sell these bikes and they come properly assembled with warranty. You will pay twice as much as you can buy these bikes on Ebay though, but it is a better and safer way of getting these bikes if you have any misgivings about Ebay......which you should.
There are bigger sized pocket racing bikes with 125 cc four stroke engines, and these are better made, bigger and safer than the two stroke rockets. There are also better made water cooled Chinese bikes for twice the price of the air cooled ones. They are much faster and generally better made and if you are serious about racing on a race track, maybe this is a good starting point. The cheap air cooled pocket rockets are not a serious competitive racing bike. Which brings me to one point...Where do you intend riding these Pocket racing bikes?
If you are a confident mechanic with a solid background in motorcycle maintenance, then go ahead and buy on Ebay. If you are not then go buy from a dealer and buy something safe. As these things arrive from Ebay in a box they could kill someone....probably one of your kids.
Buy all the safety gear before anyone rides these things. Overall my experience with Chinese bikes has been good, especially when you consider how cheap they were to buy and they saved my Japanese bikes from being trashed by testosterone filled teenage boys.