Pit Bikes in various forms have been around for years. Racers of all types have used small bikes to navigate the “Pits” (the off-track staging area at a race track––the word ‘pit’ came from a hole dug in the ground that a race car could park over, so the mechanics could work on the undercarriage). At Supercross races, the classic ‘Pit Bike’ evolved to 50cc dirt bikes that replicated, on a smaller scale, the general look of the racer’s full-on factory bike. Because racers like to race (just about anything with a motor), things then evolved to where the “big boy” Supercrossers started impromptu races with each other on these pint-sized Pit Bikes. Of course, some guys got busy hopping them up with bigger motors and stuff like all-aluminum frames––but still retaining the tossaround fun of the smallish proportions. Pit Bikes now have a full race series with numerous classes, five AMA National #1 plates up for grabs, and as many as 500 bikes showing up to the events. It’s the latest craze 'cause Pit Bikes are such a blast to ride. The first Pit Bikes were simply bicycles. Schwinn StingRays (first produced in 1963) were quite popular because they were small wheeled, but stretched to fit even a full-sized adult (sound familiar?). StingRays are credited with starting the BMX craze. (Note: this slick StingRay has the classic ‘banana’ seat, ‘ape-hanger’ handle bars, ‘Racer’ chainguard, and rare aluminum ‘MotoMag®’ wheels.) Of course, lightweight “10-speeds” (as they were called because of their gearing) were used by a few racers who wanted something that looked more like a race bicycle. The extra gears gave them more speed and greater range--thus more usability. (The photo shows a 1976 made-in-Chicago Schwinn Varsity.) The classic “mini-bike” was also a great way to navigate the pits. They typically had a 3HP Briggs & Stratton engine, pull starter, no suspension, and a brake that rubs on the rear tire to stop it. (Note: this particular one has the larger 5HP B&S--it’s scary fast...especially, with such whimpy brakes.) The Honda Cub 50 came to the USA in the mid1960s. This simple 50cc motorcycle started the entire Japanese motorcycle invasion. Millions upon millions were produced. The 4-stroke, horizontal engine layout is the basis for most Pit Bike engines of today. (The bike in the photo was used as a Pit Bike by a racer of vintage Lotus Elans.) Honda Z50 Mini Trail started it all. It was the first Honda produced to go off-road. Introduced to North America in 1968, it saw numerous updates over the 30 years it was produced. For instance, in 1970 rear shocks were added. In the rest of the world they are called “Monkey Bikes.” Early Z50s, like the one in this photo (w/o rear shocks), are highly-collectible and when restored can sell for thousands of dollars. During the 1980s, the Honda Spree was the standard in Pit Bikes for car racers. The Spree’s 2stroke 50cc engine had an electric starter, and made for a lightweight and zippy scooter. Sprees fell out of favor just like most 2-strokes...due to emissions, smell, and noise. (Sprees, and the similar Elite, still have quite a following on eBay and the web--the one in the photo has an extra large rack for hauling stuff around in the pits.) The Honda XR-50F/CRF-50F mini-moto was the bike that most every motorcrosser started out riding. These 4-stroke 50cc engined dirt bikes (along with their many counterparts from Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, etc.) are the inspirational starting point for the Pit Bike craze. The Pit Bikes of today retain the small wheel size and basic 4-stroke motor configuration of a minimoto; but in order to fit a full-sized adult, Pit Bikes are engineered to have a longer wheelbase, taller/wider handlebars, way more suspension, and many, many other tweaks. There is something about a Pit Bike’s toss-able size that make them hard to take too seriously...and a big reason why they are such a frickin’ blast to ride.