October 19th 2005.
In the lead up to the Christmas buying frenzy, the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) is warning parents to be cautious about buying mini bikes and quads for off-road use by their children.
Approximately 7,000 approved children's bikes are sold annually. These machines are sold with proper advice and back-up from reputable suppliers. However, the MCI is aware of the massive increase in sales of poor-quality, imported machines - from about 10,000 in 2002 to 70,000 in 2003. These machines are often sold at very low prices (from as little as £100) via mail-order or internet outlets with no local presence or specialist training. Others are sold at local outlets which do not take responsibility for safety or maintenance.
Many of these low-cost machines are of lower quality, produced by unregulated factories in the Far East, many of which do not meet European standards for safety, reliability, noise or pollution. Parts supply is also often problematic.
The illegal use of these machines on prohibited areas is also causing widespread problems. Riding in unauthorised areas poses a serious risk to public safety and presents a huge challenge for Police.
The MCI provides the following guidelines for prospective buyers:
1) Check for European Approval of safety, noise, pollution
2) Buy from a reputable dealer
3) Parks, playing fields and other grassy areas are not suitable off-road areas. They are public places
4) Illegal use can lead to bikes seized, arrest and prosecution. Owners and riders can be prosecuted
5) Maintenance - Consider the lack of parts and service opportunities
Craig Carey-Clinch, MCI's Director of Public Affairs, said: "The vast majority of young people act legally and responsibly. However, the MCI recognises there is a problem with some illegal use of these bikes.
"It would be a huge mistake to tar these youngster, parents and other adults in a position of responsibility, with the same brush, as those who through negligence or encouragement, allow their youngsters to abuse the street and other public places with illegal use of vehicles or through vandalism.
"Therefore it is important that parents and young people are fully aware of the legal requirements and responsibilities of owning and riding a mini-bike designed for off-road activity."