March 10, 2008

ADVENTURES: June 05, AU Edition

Bike3.jpgWHEELY GOOD TIMES
Looking for a good time? Check out the new breed of pit bikes, advises Jamie Kaye and Ben Wyatt

When I was a teenager the thought of doing anything remotely dangerous filled me with excitement. Every night I would sit in the park with my mates talking about all the insane things we would do if we were old enough and had enough money, free fall, bungy jump, snowboard, scuba dive, you name it and we wanted to do it. As things were back then, the nearest to danger and excitement we could ever get was to ride my friend Paul’s grandfather’s 50cc moped around a field.

As with most people when I was old enough and had enough money to do the things I spent so many evenings talking about, life just kind of got in the way. Time and money never seemed to stretch far enough to accommodate my childhood dreams of extreme adventures while also leaving enough cash in the kitty to buy beer and take perspective wives out for dinner.

Or maybe I just forgot all of my thrill-seeking plans.
That was until just recently while walking my dog one evening I spotted a Thumpstar in the window of a local motorbike store. The minute I got home I jumped online to find out as much as I could about these mean looking little machines. It wasn’t long before I discovered that I wasn’t the only thirty-something bloke to have had his eye caught by these pocket-sized monsters.

In every state in Australia there is now a Thumpstar club of some description, with regular race meets where anyone who owns one can rock up and race. It really amazed me just how big this little sub culture of seemingly normal every day office types had become, it was at this point that the decision was made, I simply had to try one.

My Thumpstar arrived last Wednesday. I immediately threw it on the back of my mates ute and headed for the hills. At this point it is important to note that I had not ridden a motor bike since my teenage years. Once started the noise that came out of this deceptive little toy was so exciting, it was like turning over a Harley, and suddenly this little bike didn’t seem so little!

We hurtled through the forest and fields for the entire afternoon. I hadn’t had that much fun for years. It was very easy to ride, anyone whose ridden a motorbike before can jump straight on it and go and for anyone whose not ridden before it really is a piece of cake to learn, the real beauty of it is, its so small that if you do manage to fall off you dont have far to fall.

The Thumpstar mini bike will sure help you abandon any lingering frustrations you might have. This is a neat little off road mo-torbike; one that you just look at and know it will be a lot of fun!

Tim Hunter, director of the company developed the first model and now deals with one of the largest production lines in Taiwan, which produces 2.2 million motorbikes per year. This 215,000-square metre factory operates six production lines with one solely for the Thumpstar model.

Stoney Creek is the main dealership in Australia distributing to 115 outlets throughout the country. Cameron Newman reports that the first interest came from motorbike events and competitions where organisers and the professionals would need to get around the often large arenas, so small customised bikes were used. The term ‘pit bike’ is Thumpstars true description, and still sales in this particular area hold a strong percentage of the market.

For anyone wanting to relive the careless wildness of their teenage years, this could be the answer: ‘These bikes are kids’ bikes beefed up for adults to race around back yards all over our country, and with mini race tracks popping up all over the place, our sport that was basically unknown now gets the same attention as a national motocross event’, says Andrew Reid, president of the mini bike association.

These bikes are for people who know how to have fun, and for those who don’t want to break their bank balance. With the bike priced at $3,000, this is an affordable piece of equipment. Being small almost gives them a jovial slant on motorbike riding. ‘When you watch an event you come away with aching cheeks’, Cameron tells me, ‘with a lot of close racing, barging and hilarious wipe-outs.’ Being low to the ground and small bikes limits the damage caused by otherwise heavy crashing metal.

Greg ‘The Godfather’ Timmons is one of Thumpstars most experienced team riders. He won the 110cc 10hp Import Class of the Mini Bike Motocross Titles, Gold Coast 2004. He explains that the pressure in competing in this class is far less, ‘because there’s no training involved, whereas if your riding big bikes, rigorous commitment is necessary.’ It’s an open class event and anyone can enter, making the events ever-increasing spectacles. ‘We would put races on, 20 to 30 riders would turn up and we were excited at the turn out. In 2003 we had a race and 80 riders came, it blew a lot of the people away to see that many minis in one place and little did we know it would turn out like this!’, explains Reid.

Now in 2005 a five-round event takes place from Sydney to Brisbane. There are to date 300 entries for the Australian title. The sport has also gained exposure and recognition through the ‘Gold Coast Bike Week’, which is held in September with 250 entries last year racing round a man made mini motocross track. ‘There was an over under bridge, two wooden ski jumps, a 6-metre finish line table top jump, and technical layout to challenge the best of rider and machine. Twenty riders race at a time battling over four to five laps. The racing is promoted in a fun way so we don’t take things too seriously’, Reid says. ‘We try to cater for most people and 90% of riders are there just to do battle with their mates or the get the feel of racing dirt bikes.’

The Gold Coast Bike Week will be held on the 3rd and 4th of September, so any potential enthusiasts should turn up to see what this sport has to offer. Mini biking seems to be set to become a great new hobby that allows everyone to enjoy the exhilaration, excitement even competition of an adrenaline fuelled sport. Watch this space.


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