A pit bike is a small off-road/on-road motorcycle originally used for riding around the pits or staging area of a motocross race. Since the early 2000s pit bike racing, a sport similar to motocross, has become popular in the United States, especially in Southern California. The term pit bike can also be applied to the use of bicycles or motorcycles used to navigate any type of event staging area.
The name pit bike originated from the use of a Honda Z50 to ride around the pit areas of dirt bike races and race events across the United States. The fairly cheap price and the mobility of these bikes made them easy to use at racing events. Popular dirt bike movies like the 2001 Crusty Demons of Dirt 3 show how these small motorcycles can be used to do things other than just riding back and forth in the pits. A part of this movie shows people taking huge bicycle jumps on a Z50 in someone’s back yard. This movie and movies like it made people realize what these little bikes were capable of. It did not take long for the pit bike trend to catch on.
By the time the trend caught, Honda had changed the name from Z50 to XR50 in 1999 and made great changes to the bike. A few of these changes include a plastic gas tank, single rear shock, spoke wheels, seat, plastics, total redesign of the frame, and the total appearance of the bike. As teenagers and young adults began to show interest in The Z50, upgraded aftermarket parts for pit bikes became available to make them more powerful and comfortable for bigger riders. Some of these parts include heavy duty suspension, tall handle bars, tall seats, and big bore kits. As more and more people put these upgraded parts on their Z50s, their popularity grew and led to pit bike races across the United States.
Since 2003, starting with the SDG Speed Mini in the USA, Thumpstar in Australia , an alternative to upgraded kids’ bikes became available. In 2003 Xtreme Motor Corp, a company founded by ex-motocross champ Guy Cooper, SDG began producing fully upgraded Chinese pit bikes. These pit bikes were designed around the Honda CRF-50’s frame and used larger displacement engines, as well as tall handle bars, stronger suspension, and various other upgrades. The demand for these production minis was not quite as great as these companies had anticipated. SDG struck a deal with Tucker Rocky Distributing and their Speed Mini became instantly available to Tucker Rocky Dealers throughout the US.
In late 2004, a small Utah based minbike importer called USA Motortoys began importing a pit bike bearing many striking similarities to the SDG Speed Mini. They called this bike the Pitster Pro. Over time many more pit bike companies introduced bikes into the market. Currently available production pit bikes include Stomp Racing UK, Pitster Pro,Thumpstar, SSR Motorsports, Reaperbikes, Piranha, Braaap, G2 Moto and Pit Pro. Companies like OGM, Terra Moto and Sikk MX, either no longer have any pit bikes for sale, or no longer have any pit bikes available that are competitive with modern offerings.