Have you heard of pocket bikes? If so, can you answer these questions: Is it legal to drive them on streets or sidewalks? Do you need a license to drive one? How can they be insured? I was recently asked these questions, and I’ve found the answers.
Published on July 14, 2014
What is a pocket bike?
A pocket bike, sometimes referred to as a minimoto, or mini bike, is a miniature version of a fully functional motorcycle. It looks like a shrunken model or a toy, but it’s actually a motorized vehicle capable of going up to 50 km/hr.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of these little numbers go, but they’re impressive to see. And they’re illegal to drive on the road.
Miniature motorcycles are simply too… small. The driver is practically at ground level, and out of the field of vision of other drivers. These vehicles are simply too dangerous to be allowed on public highways.
Two types of pocket bike, with two uses
Transport Canada imposes guidelines for importing these kinds of vehicles, and puts them into two categories: competition models and recreational models. Recreational models, complete with horns, speedometers, headlights and more, are designated as “restricted use motorcycles.”
Competition models must bear a label affixed by the manufacturer stating “This vehicle is a competition vehicle and is for use exclusively in closed-course competition” and can only ever be used as such. In passing, closed-course means completely closed off to the public. That means no country roads or shopping centre parking lots.
Recreational models need only to bear mention that they cannot be used on public highways.
Neither model can, under any pretext, be approved for use on public highways, or, consequently, be registered. Without registration, the Highway Safety Code is crystal clear: “No person may drive on a public highway a road vehicle exempted from registration […]” (section 421.1).
Finally, what, exactly, constitutes a public highway? Well, it’s any road, sidewalk - even a bike path.
We therefore have an answer to our first question: pocket bikes can’t be used on public highways.
Do I need a license?
It’s an off-road vehicle, so no license is necessary, unless you’re crossing a public highway. However, section 18 of the Off-Road Vehicles Act dictates “Every operator of an off-highway vehicle must be 16 years of age or over” and “If the operator is under 18 years of age, he must hold a certificate obtained from an officer authorized by the Government and that attests that the operator has the competence and knowledge required to operate an off-highway vehicle.”
There are of course exceptions, provided for by law. Among others, if the vehicle is designed by the manufacturer to be driven by a person under 16 years of age, the age restrictions no longer apply. Also, “a person under 16 years of age may operate an off-highway vehicle in a competition held in compliance with the standards prescribed in a regulation made or approved by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports under that Act.”
In short, it may not be simple – but it answers our second question.
Speaking of simple, what about insurance?
Pocket bikes designated for recreational use can be insured through car insurance, and are covered based on their use, the same as all recreational vehicles. However, it’s highly likely that the deductible will be equal to or higher than the total value of the vehicle. As a result, civil liability insurance might be the best way to go.
Pocket bikes for competitive use can’t be covered by car insurance, since the Quebec Automobile Insurance Policy - Owner's Form (Q.P.F. No. 1), the standard insurance policy, includes a general condition which stipulates, “Prohibited use […] c) for any race or speed test.”
Moreover, you have only a small chance of being able to get coverage through your home insurance, since there is a standard exclusion which states “We do not cover: […] 8. Motorized vehicles and trailers, except motorized vehicles described in Coverage C - Personal Property […].” No, pocket bikes are not included.
Finally, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec will in no circumstance cover the consequences of the bodily harm you may suffer in the case of an accident on a pocket bike.
Of course, each insurance company has their own rules, and while it’s possible, in theory, to insure these little rockets through car insurance, most insurers will either flat out refuse, or will analyse each case individually. If they agree to cover you, expect serious premiums or a high deductible…
Which answers our third and last question.
Little bike, big restrictions
With restrictions on age, use, where they can be used, insurance… Pocket bikes are a cheap thrill, but you have to wonder, are they worth the trouble? One thing is certain: these little bikes are not a viable mode of transportation, good as they may be on gas.
Read More Here: https://www.autogo.ca/en/articles/33...or-mini-bikes/