August 2005 | Vol. IV - No. 8
|"If something has a motor, it´s going to break down and need repair," —Jeff Bach of Extreme Toy|
Razor USA recalled all Razor Electric Scooters on June 14 due to a weld problem in the handlebars. The warning is cut and dried: “Consumers should stop using the scooters immediately and contact Razor to arrange a free repair,” advises the CPSC.
According to the CPSC, a majority of the injuries suffered from other power scooters can be chalked up to inadequate or absent safety gear. Retailers who keep motorized scooters and other vehicles in stock should lay in a good supply of helmets and knee and elbow pads, and encourage customers to buy them.
Meanwhile, W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) has little good to say about pocket bikes, ranking them #2 on its list of worst toys of 2004. In 2003, the CPSC attributed 2,345 hospital emergency visits to injuries resulting from motorized mini-bikes. Jeff Bach of Extreme Toy Store in St. Louis, Mo., won’t carry them anymore. He has one or two more in stock, but when they’re gone, he will not be reordering.
Bach expresses concern about cheaply made motorized bikes from China that cost around $350 and are purchased for use in the neighborhood cul-de-sac. The manufacturers don’t have the motors down yet, he says. To help compensate, he services what he sells.
“If something has a motor, it’s going to break down and need repair,” stresses Bach, who points out that this kind of personal service isn’t matched by the big box stores.
He claims that kids on the racing circuit are safer than those riding near home. First, kids on the racetrack ride bikes of far better quality than most consumers can afford. Second, riding in a controlled racetrack environment means that help isn’t far if the vehicle topples.
“The streets are the problem,” says Bach of the typical non-controlled neighborhood environment.
Racing small bikes is more of a phenomenon in Europe than it is here. The Italians love racing minis. “It’s like baseball in America,” says Ricky Lomonaco of Mid-South MiniMoto, a retailer in Olive Branch, Miss. “They live it and breathe it.”
Lomonaco sponsors drivers and races with Mid-South MinoMoto Racing Assocation. Races are in Alabama and Mississippi. “It’s a family sport,” he says, good for father and son or father and daughter, especially when it comes to keeping the equipment tuned up: “It’s bonding time.”
Lomonaco has seen kids as young as six riding pocket bikes. He recommends one of the cheaper base models for young riders starting out, something around $350. Then, if the interest is there, he suggests advancing to a more sophisticated model (such as CRC Motor, Blata or Polini; all Italian-made) as the child’s ability to judge speed and distance improves.
According to Grace O’Toole Armstrong of the online store Mobileation, some of the John Deere ride-ons are in the best seller category. Slightly more dangerous are Go-Karts, such as the Manco line, which come with a roll cage and seat belts. Plus, the retailer sells the gloves and the helmets to keep riders safe.
The following are a few products mentioned in this article:
Bandit 104D by MANCO
This single-seat Go-Kart has a maximum speed of 10 mph. The engine is a 4-cycle, 4 HP. Manco Go-Karts are powered by commercial grade Subaru engines with a 3-Year Warranty and nationwide service. Riders shouldn’t weigh any more than 125 pounds and there’s a lap belt for safety. 6/29/2005 (MSRP: $699; Age: 6 to 11)
Eliminator SS by MANCO
Kids can carry a buddy in this two seat Eliminator SS Go-Kart by Manco PowerSports. It's designed for kids 12 and over and powered by a commercial grade 169CC Subaru engine with a 3-year warranty. It features centrifugal clutch single wheel drive. Top speed is 22 to 24mph. For safety, it comes with dual running lights, overhead brush bars, an adjustable seat, three-point adjustable seat belts and a whip flag for high visibility. Dimensions: 69.25"L x 46"W x 51.5"H. Curb weight: 250 lbs. 7/29/2005 (MSRP: $1149.00; Age: 12 and Up)
Santa Fe Train by PEG PEREGO
This child-sized train comes with a 6’ round track in 12 sections and makes electronic whistle and steam engine sounds utilizing push-button controls. The train runs on a rechargeable six-volt battery (included, with charger) and moves at 1 ½ mph. Extra track is available, as are spare batteries. Weight capacity 45 pounds. 6/29/2005
John Deere Pedal Tractor with Front Loader & Trailer by PEG PEREGO
This pedal toy has an enclosed bicycle chain to keep a farmer’s overalls from getting caught in the works. The front loader actually scoops, hauls and dumps. It looks enough like the real thing to get any farm-minded child excited and eager to play. 6/29/2005 (MSRP: $159.95; Age: 2 to 6)
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