My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t start riding motorcycles until I was 20, and didn’t start seriously until I was 25 or so. Starting young builds in muscle memory and skills I worked hard to catch up on. But motorcycles for children can be hard to find and hard to find places to ride—until you see this kid’s electric trials bike.
This story comes from that nut who convinced his local fairgrounds to let him have a Uralcross race. When Tyler told me he’d started his son off on an electric trials bike, I demanded to know more.
Sean MacDonald: How did you find these wonderdful things?
Tyler Klassen: We started out with a Strider Bike when he was a year and half old. Before he was three, he was riding a pedal bike, never having used training wheels. As he turned four, I added a Ural to the stable so I could haul the family around and enjoy riding together, which is a blast! Once he turned 5 I knew it was time for him to get his own motorcycle.
I looked at the usual Yamaha PW50, but we live in the suburbs and don’t have land to really ride at home. Hauling the bike to riding areas is an option, but I worried we wouldn’t ride as much with that option. During my hunt, I discovered Oset Electric Trials Bikes.
SM: Did you order one and have it shipped from England?
TK: I was able to find a used older Oset 16.0 24v on Craigslist. The bike is fantastic for my son. We are able to just roll it out of the garage and ride around the yard after school. No loading up and hauling a bike out to the country or local riding area. I was so impressed with his bike, I had to find one for myself so we could ride together. I was concerned the Oset 20.0 wouldn’t be big enough for an adult, but this video reivew from Dirt Rider, using a professional trials rider, sold me.
I was able to find a used Oset 20.0 48v for myself a few weeks after my son got his. We then snagged some old pallets, some firewood logs, and some surveyors tape to build a trials course in the back yard. It takes about 10 minutes to set up the course each time we ride, but the course really adds more fun to our suburban backyard riding.
SM: Was it hard for your son to get the hang of? Does the the “always-on” torque of the electric make it easier or harder for him to learn?
TK: The Oset 16.0 does have a rheostat to control the top speed of the bike. When my son was learning to ride we turned it down just a bit. Now that he is hopping pallets and comfortable standing all the time, I have it turned up full. It is a trials bike, so it isn’t fast, but the instant torque is plenty to do an accidental burn out in the yard and easily power up any obstacle.
My Oset 20.0 doesn’t have a top speed rheostat, but has a throttle response rheostat and a normal/advanced riding power mode. The 48v on the 20.0 puts out an amazing amount of silent power. Even in normal mode, the bike can loop out from underneath you with a wack of three quarters power, just ask my non-motorcycle riding friend who ended up in the ER after taking the 20.0 for a spin and going full throttle. The 20.0 wheelies without hesitation and endos pretty easily. The wheelbase is short, so an adult is just a little hunched over. I am anxiously awaiting the new 24.0 adult version to be released, but until then the 20.0 is an absolute silent blast!
My only critique is the rear brake lever location. On both bikes the rear brake is operated using the left handle bar lever instead of a right foot operated rear brake lever. Perhaps this makes it easier for kids since the brake set up is the same as a bicycle. I personally would rather have the traditional motorcycle rear brake set up.
SM: What about the range? Or I guess in this case, time. How long does it last?
TK: The Oset 16.0 24v we have, takes two batteries hooked up in series. The 20.0 48v has four batteries in series. When my son is riding the 16.0, on fresh batteries, the batteries usually outlast him. Battery life all depends on how you are riding. If you are riding the bike like a motocross bike, battery life is greatly diminished. But when my son rides like a true trials rider, slow speed with bursts of power to climb obstacles, it will easily last over an hour and a half.
My 20.0 usually lasts about 45 minutes of trials riding. The 20.0 batteries would most likely last much longer with a 12 year old riding it versus hauling my 200+ pounds around doing wheelies. But get a second set of batteries. Changing the batteries takes less than four minutes and you are back out riding. The bikes come with a built in charger, so when you are done riding just plug them in and usually within 2 hours they are ready to ride again.
SM: I don’t even have kids and I might be sold. How do people get one?
TK: The price of the Oset bikes are a little higher than a PW50 and finding a used Oset is much more difficult than a 50. But if you don’t have trails to ride on your land, and you don’t want to tick off the neighbors with noise, get an Oset. They are much lighter than a 50cc bike, no oil to change, no carbs to clean, always start, no winterizing and both easily fit inside my Honda Element with no gas dripping.
If you can’t find them used, the Oset site has a page with a contact list for the importers.
Get an Oset, get your yard trials course set up, then find a local trials club. We found Trials Inc www.trialsinc.org here in the Midwest. They had an AMA trials event going on close to us, and even had a free kids’ event. We loaded up the Oset 16.0 and headed down to Stoney Lonesome Motorcycle Club outside of Columbus, Indiana. The trials community is fantastic and incredibly family friendly.
The kids’ course had five sections. We did each section four times. The section judges were incredibly friendly and encouraging, as were the other families. The adult courses they had laid out looked like an absolute blast and were open to all skill levels.
Next time there is an event close by, I really want to participate myself. Why should my son get to have all the fun?
Photos: Tyler Klassen