Motorcycles don’t have to be just for grown ups. Children’s motorcycles have been around for decades and, used responsibly, can provide endless hours of fun and teach valuable life skills.
But what to get? There are loads of kids bikes on the market for Christmas, so here are a selection of 10 first bikes to meet a whole range of ages and bank balances…
Injusa 6v Honda Africa Twin – £79.96
Honda’s Africa Twin is a bit on the tall side for some adults, but this scaled down kiddie bike from Spanish toy maker Injusa looks just like mum and dad’s, right down to the decals (which have to be stuck on at the time of assembly) and top box (presumably if your toddler wants to go touring on his new steed).
It looks the part and with stabilisers fitted can be ridden by kids as young as three. www.toysrus.co.uk
Avigo 6v BMW R1200GS – £99.96
Of course, there’s plenty of competition in the big adventure bike market. So if your toddler doesn’t fancy an Africa Twin, how about the ubiquitous BMW R1200GS?
The German giants like to start ‘em young. This GS replica has pretty authentic styling and a top speed of 2.5mph. Stabilisers will keep junior upright and the ‘realistic’ sounds will definitely not be annoying as he charges around the living room on Christmas Day. www.toysrus.co.uk
Kiddimoto Superbike – £119.99
Ok, so these are not actually motorbikes but Kiddimoto’s balance bikes are so cool we just couldn’t miss it out.
Somerset company Kiddimoto set up shop in 2003, creating wooden balance bikes that help toddlers improve their strength and coordination. They’re quality products, with designs inspired by mum and dad’s bikes and officially licenced racer liveries. www.kiddimoto.co.uk
BMW S1000RR 12v Ride On Motorcycle – £134.99
Whatever you do, don’t get your kid a real 200bhp BMW superbike. Yeah, we know you really want one yourself, but it’s not like that video game you bought under the premise of being for little Johnny.
However, head on down to electronics emporium Maplin and they will sort you out with a miniature electric superbike for kids up to eight years old. It’s officially licenced from BMW and has a top speed of just over 3mph. Charge it up over night and you’ll get 45 minutes playtime from the mini superbike. There are also removable stabilisers and buttons that make brum brum and horn noises. www.maplin.co.uk
Kuberg Start – £875
Along with British brand Oset, Czech company Kuberg have been at the forefront of producing little electric bikes for little people.
The Start is their entry level model and designed for kids as young as three. With the equivalent of 4bhp on hand, this 21kg machine has the potential to be a real pocket rocket with a youngster on board.
Thankfully the Start has three power settings, top speed limiter and kill switch to allow parents to control how fast the bike can go and increase performance as the rider gains skills and experience. www.kuberg.co.uk
Polini 910 Carena RS – £996
If your offspring is a budding Valentino Rossi they’ll surely love to find a mini moto wrapped up under the tree later this month.
Mini motos, also known as pocket bikes, can be raced competitive by kids as young as six, either locally or nationally as part of the FAB Racing series.
Most events take place on karting tracks and many of today’s top racers, including MotoGP star Scott Redding, have come through the FAB Racing route.
Polini is one of the main mini bike manufacturers, notable as the bike Valentino Rossi rode as a youngster. The 910 is the entry level model, the 40cc two-stroke engine making 4.2bhp, but the company makes a variety of other models for racing in various other race classes.
It’s a serious race machine, not a toy, and like all the machines here should only be ridden under adult supervision and on private land (with the landowner’s permission, of course). www.polini.co.uk
Yamaha PW50 – £1399
The motorcycle that launched a thousand careers, Yamaha’s Pee Wee is one of the great unsung heroes of the motorbike world.
Essentially unchanged since its introduction in 1981, the PW50 is a fully-automatic twist and go motorcycle powered by a simple shaft driven air cooled two-stroke motor that started life in Yamaha’s QT50 step through.
Easy to ride, low maintenance and with a lower seat than all the other petrol powered kids bikes on the market, the PW50 also has a throttle restrictor for parents who want to limit their offspring’s need for speed. It’s also whisper quiet, meaning that it’s unlikely to upset the neighbours, and at 39kg it can be lifted into the boot of most family cars.
MotoGP champions Marc Marquez and Casey Stoner are just two of the top racers to have had their first taste of two wheels on a PW. It’s got some pedigree. www.yamaha-motor.eu/uk
Honda CRF50F – £1550
While Yamaha’s PW50 has been the market leader in recent years, Honda too has quite a heritage in the children’s bike market that goes back to the iconic Z50R monkey bike of 1979.
The current CRF50F was introduced over a decade ago, but the basic design can be traced back to those early monkeys. It’s got the same basic two-valve 49cc Cub derived engine with a three speed semi automatic gearbox, which means that the rider still has to change gear, but with no clutch to worry about it’s an absolute doddle for even the littlest riders. It’s a bullet proof design which has been much copied over the years and is standard fitment in the numerous ‘pit bikes’ currently on the market.
Power wise, it makes the same sort of power as the Yamaha PW50 – around 3bhp – but it is a little heavier at 50kg. That said, it is physically bigger than the Yamaha, making it a better choice for older kids who might quickly outgrow the PW. www.honda.co.uk
Oset MX-10 – £2799
Electric motorcycles are still a rare sight on the roads, but one area where they have really taken off is in the world of kids’ bikes.
Unlike many of the other electric vehicles listed here, these are not exactly toys. Oset started life in 2004, making trails bikes for little ones and have emerged as one of the market leaders in children’s bikes.
The reason for the success of electric bikes is that they are silent in operation, making them more neighbour friendly when ridden in the back garden. The electric motors can also offer a lot of controllability for the parents, as the power delivery can be controlled and adjusted to make the bikes go quicker as the rider gains experience.
Oset’s range starts at £949 for one of their basic trials type bikes, with bigger and faster bikes retailing for up to £3299.
This MX-10 model is a motocross style machine in the vein of the venerable Yamaha PW50. It’s physically only a tiny bit bigger than the petrol bike, and it has an adjustable seat that should mean it won’t be outgrown too quickly. Oset say that it’s aimed at four to seven years old. www.osetbikes.com
KTM 50SX – £3399
KTM don’t do things by halves and nowhere is this more apparent than with the 50SX. The Austrian brand is by far and away the market leader when it comes to motocross and enduro bikes and their 50cc is every bit a pukka dirt bike that’s aimed at kids aged between four and 10.
The 50 SX is a fully automatic two-stroke twist and go that’s dripping with top spec components, such as the 35mm upside down front forks and rear shock, both adjustable and from famous race suppliers WP.
It’s a serious device and the first step on the road to motocross racing stardom. At £3399, it’s not cheap, and that’s before the inevitable tuning parts you’ll be investing in if your kid shows promise and wants to do some youth racing. KTM don’t quote official power figures, however experts suggest stock ones make in excess of 10bhp. If that sounds too scary, your dealer can fit a power restrictor kit, capping output to 5.5bhp. KTM also makes the 65 SX, with six-speed manual gearbox and even more power, priced at £3899. www.ktm.com