Electric trials bikes are the TY80s of the digital age – but how easy is it to get your kids on two wheels?
aving spent most of my adult life juggling work and family commitments in order to make more time to ride motorbikes, it was music to my ears to hear my two daughters – aged seven and ten – telling me how much they love their bikes and asking when they could go riding again.
Six weeks ago the Guy family took delivery of two electric Oset trials bikes. These bikes are dominating the British championship D-class (for riders between six and nine), comfortably beating petrol bikes, and filling the top five places in the final championship.
A gimmick they are not. These are cutting edge competition bikes, and the new weapon of choice for the next generation. But my motivation has nothing to do with competition – unless the kids want to take that step further along the line – I’m not suffering from competitive dad syndrome. This is just about teaching them to ride and letting them enjoy it. Six weeks in and they are nagging me to go riding – and improving every time.
Watching my offspring head off on motorbikes for the first time was nerve-wracking, but I was amazed by the pace of their progress. A huge part of that is down to how easy the bikes are to ride. There is no noise, vibration, heat or smells to intimidate a young rider. It’s an easy transition from a bicycle with no clutch, no gears and both the front and rear brakes mounted on the handlebars.
Unlike a traditional motorbike where the throttle is king in regulating your speed, each Oset has three dials to allow you to govern the performance before sending your kids out into the dirt. There is a dial for Speed, Power and Response meaning that by starting them with the dials turned right down you can limit the young riders to walking pace while giving them soft, linear twistgrip response and limited power. It’s good for them and reassuring for anxious parents.
Get on up
First time out both of my girls were standing up on the footpegs and looking like they’d been riding for months, not minutes. They started on a flat field, progressed to doing a slalom and then figure-of-eights, before heading into the woods to tackle some modest hills.
And even more important than their rapid progress on two wheels was the fact that they both had huge smiles on their faces.
“I like it because it’s easy to ride, it’s like my mountain bike but it’s much cooler because you don’t have to pedal,” explained Nissa, aged ten. “It’s also not noisy and it doesn’t smell!”
“I like going up and down dips and that you can go fast when my dad turns up the speed! It’s a bit scary doing new things, but great fun when I’ve done them once,” said Laria, who’s seven. With each ride they have both got better, gaining confidence, trying new challenges and slowly but surely having the dials turned up to give them more power and speed.
Hit, or miss?
Where we go now with their riding is up to them, but within the space of a few weeks they have gone from never riding a motorbike to confidently standing up, understanding body positioning and tackling obstacles that they would never have dreamed about riding when they first started.
Having competed in trials myself from the age of ten to 19, and having reaped the benefits from what I learned by transferring those skills to my road riding, short circuit racing, and the enduro and rally events I compete in now – I’m thrilled that they now have a basic grounding.
The bikes aren’t cheap (£2099 and £1699) but neither are they expensive for what you get. These are state-of-the-art trials bikes in terms chassis, brakes and suspension. And being near silent opens up a whole world of opportunities for where you can ride. Even practice in areas where you would normally get a lot of unwanted attention with a petrol bike, you’re met with smiles and interest. Is it the future? It certainly feels like it.
What’ll it cost to get started?
Oset produce bikes for every size and age, starting with the 12.5ECO for riders as young as three. With a current line up of seven bikes there really is a model for everyone. We tested the 20.0 Lite and 20.0 Racing. Osets start at £849 and go up to £2099, while entries for club trials and the Oset Cup are approximately £15 – for more information visit www.osetbikes.com. Beta, Mecatecno and Kuberg also make electric trials/off-road bikes, so the range of choice is enormous.
There is a plethora of kit but helmets, boots and gloves are a must. Thanks to Alpinestars and Malcolm Rathmell Motorsport for the kit we used:
- Alpinestars Youth Racer Braap jersey £22.99
- Alpinestars Youth Braap pants £69.99
- Alpinestars gloves £19.99
- Alpinestars Tech 3S boots £129.99
- NAU trials helmet £85
Contact: www.alpinestars.com and www.mrsltd.co.uk
Oset 20.0 Racing, £2099
|Age range||8+ years old|
|Wheels||Front alloy rim/hubs. Rear 14in alloy motorcycle rim|
|Suspension||Front telescopic air fork. Rear shock with preload adjustment, oil damping|
|Brakes||Front and rear 160mm hydraulic disc brakes.|
|Motor||1200w OSET neodymium magnet DC|
|Controller||48v OSET, adjustable for power, speed and response.|
|Batteries||4 x 10ah AGM SLA|
|Charger||2 amp, 48v|
|OSET 20.0 Lite, £1699|
|Age range||6-9 years|
|Wheels||20in Alloy rims/hubs|
|Suspension||Front telescopic air/spring fork. Rear shock with preload adjustment, oil damping|
|Brakes||Front and rear 160mm hydraulic disc brakes|
|Motor||900w 36v OSET neodymium magnet DC|
|Controller||36v OSET, adjustable for power, speed and response|
|Batteries||3 x 10ah AGM SLA|
|Charger||2 amp, 36v|
Photos: Mykel Nicolaou