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.
In 2002 Kawasaki came out with the KLX110. This bike, as with Honda’s XR50, was designed for smaller riders. The 110 is faster and larger than an XR50, so it needs fewer modifications to make it comfortable for bigger riders. Pit bike riders realized this and started moving to the KLX110.
Due to the popularity of the sport, many pit bike race series have appeared in various parts of the United States. Some examples of such series are the 2-Up Minis and Masters of Minis race series, both located in the North East, the Sho-Me series in Missouri, and the annual Mini Moto Supercross race held the day before the final round of the AMA Pro Supercross series in Las Vegas, NV.