Mini-Bike Laws

By Patrick Niederriter

Mini bikes are small, motorized bikes that usually have an engine size of less than 50 cc's. The laws governing them vary from state to state so before purchasing one of these fun little vehicles you should check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles. The rule of thumb is that no mini bike is legal for use on public roads in the United States. Canada and the United Kingdom have similar laws concerning mini bikes as well.

California

The state of California boasts some of the strictest emissions standards in the country. As a result of these laws, 99 percent of all motorized scooters and mini bikes are illegal for sale or use in the state. To legally own, sell, or operate a mini bike in California, the vehicle must undergo the C.A.R.B tier 2 emissions tests and receive a state compliance sticker for small off road or small non-road engines.

Requirements

Mini bikes are illegal on most public roads because they do not meet a number of requirements. In most states, the seat must be 25 inches off the ground, which completely nulls out the fact the any motorized vehicle also needs side and rear view mirrors, indicator lights, horn, headlights, registration stickers and a license plate. Also, the mufflers on mini bikes are too small and subsequently create too much noise pollution.

Exceptions

Some of the "super" mini bikes can meet all the requirements, but normally not right off the showroom floor. They have larger frames and can meet the height requirements, and the necessary lights, brakes, and license plate brackets can be added after market. The bike must be registered and have the proper insurance as well. Because of their height, it is debatable whether these bikes are truly mini bikes.

Places To Ride

Because mini bikes were never manufactured to meet road standards, the only places to ride them are designated tracks or on private property. Even though they are small, mini bikes can still reach speeds of 40 mph and the proper state safety regulations should be regarded. This normally entails helmets, proper brakes and tires. States have different age minimums to ride motorized vehicles as well. There are also no laws that require any cities or towns to provide places to ride mini bikes.

Penalties

Like the laws regarding mini bikes, the penalties vary from state to state and even from city to city. The penalties may be as simple as a verbal reprimand from local authorities but fines can be accrued for every infraction, which can total upwards of around $2,500. The bike can even be confiscated by authorities under the right circumstances.

About the Author

Patrick Niederriter was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He attended West Virginia University where he majored in journalism and minored in English. He currently lives in Philadelphia. Apart from writing articles he also writes fiction in forms of screenplays, short stories, and novels.