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Pocket Rockets, Pit Bikes and Mini-Bikes; What's the Difference?


Thinking about getting a mini motorcycle or dirt bike to hit the trails, track or city streets? With so many different options on the market, including pocket rockets, pit bikes and minibikes, it can be hard to determine which model is best for how and where you want to ride. Read on for a quick breakdown of these different bikes, so you can pick the best option for your needs.

pocket bike

Pocket bikes

Pocket bikes are small-scale replicas of full-size production motorcycles, generally one-quarter the size. They originated in Japan in the 1980s and have grown in popularity around the world ever since. Pocket bikes typically have 2-stroke engines that are 50cc or less. The 2-stroke engine provides tons of torque that results in excellent acceleration, hitting top speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour. Newer models are essentially clones of street bikes, featuring working lights, signals, speedometer, an electric start and—in some cases—alarm systems.

Pocket bikes are fun to race, but can you ride them on city streets? It depends on the state and local jurisdiction you’re driving them in. Several states ban operation of pocket bikes on public roads, so you can only drive them on private property. Some states do allow street legal pocket bikes on public roads, so long as they comply with city and state regulations. Check in with your local law enforcement or your state’s department of motor vehicles to determine whether you can ride your pocket bike on city streets.

pit bikes

Pit bikes

Pit bikes look like minibikes, and technically they are. They’re much smaller than standard 250 or 450 dirt bikes, as they’re mostly used to ride around in the pits. Newer models have more power and are much more capable, with upgrades that make them more appealing to riders. Today’s pit bikes have engines that range between 50 and 150ccs, while standard dirt bikes often have engines with 140cc’s at minimum. Pit bikes also have far less torque than standard dirt bikes, but more than pocket bikes or minibikes.

Pit bikes are cheaper to buy and maintain than dirt bikes, especially for beginners who are just starting out in the world of motocross. While pit bikes are designed for children, teenagers and adults with smaller body frames, regular-sized adults love them, too.

Pit bikes are not street legal from the factory, but you can make some simple changes to gearing and fuel delivery to ride them on the city streets, as long as your jurisdiction allows it. To make your pit bike street legal, it needs to have all the features a normal motorcycle has: blinkers, a headlight, horn, mirrors, taillights, and—in some cases—license plate lights.


In simplest terms, a minibike is a small one-passenger motorcycle that has raised handlebars and a low frame. They were developed alongside go-karts after World War II. Today, people enjoy minibikes for short trips around the block or zips across campsites. Their limited power makes them more forgiving and easy to handle than full-size bikes, making them a great option for riders who have little or no experience in the world of motorcycling.

Most minibikes have micro-displacement engines that run around 50cc’s, but newer models have larger engines and larger powertrains, so you’ll often find minibikes that are capable of achieving speeds of 50 to 75 miles per hour.

While laws vary from state to state, in many states minibikes are street legal as long as they have the required modifications. Getting street-legal certification takes much more than having a manufacturer add a headlight, license plate, mirrors and blinkers—you also have to get it registered and take out an insurance policy. Once your bike is registered, you’ll get a set of plates for it, then you can take the bike to have it inspected and receive a valid inspection sticker.

Whether you’re just starting out in the world of motocross or you’re an experienced rider, you have plenty of choices when it comes to the bike you invest in. From tiny but mighty pocket bikes to larger minibikes that have tons of power, you’re sure to have a blast no matter what model you choose. Looking for the right motocross gear to transport, maintain, store and care for your bike? Black Widow Pro has it all, from ramps to wheel chocks, lifts, carriers and much more. Reach out to our experienced team to find the best gear for your ride.

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