5 Of The Best Mini-Bikes That Are Actually Street-Legal

When you hear "mini bike," you might harken back to your youth, zipping around on a contraption with bicycle handlebars, a seat made from an old couch cushion, and powered by a repurposed lawn mower engine. If you were lucky, you might've had a "luxury" model properly built by Sears, Go Kart, CAT, or other regional mini-bike makers. And if you were rich, you probably had something from Honda, like a Z50A.

What that term means today, however, has become convoluted. In the same way that all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon, mini bikes can be miniature motorcycles and pocket bikes, but they're very different beasts.

Pocket bikes are those itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie two-wheelers that typically have a 40-49cc gas or electric engine (although it can be higher) and require the rider to be Yoga flexible because the rider's knees will be comically pivoted away from the bike at a ridiculous angle.

Most (if not all) states mandate that motor-driven cycles meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Pocket bikes do not meet these requirements, and while they can be owned and driven on private property, they are not street-legal.

So, if pocket bikes are miniature motorcycles that aren't street-legal... what is allowed? Glad you asked. There are "mini bikes" slightly smaller than standard motorcycles but otherwise completely legal.

Honda Grom

You can't start this list without giving a nod to what should be considered the grandfather of the mini motos modern movement — the Honda Grom. It first appeared in 2014 and is still going strong today, meaning it's been around long enough to have an extensive array of third-party aftermarket parts available.

In surfing parlance, "grommet" (or grom) means a young or amateur surfer, which is appropriate since this Grom is perfectly suited for novice mini-bikers who may wish to graduate to bigger bikes eventually.

It has modest 12-inch wheels with a 47.2 inches wheelbase, a 30-inch seat height, and weighs only 224 pounds. The single-cylinder 124cc SOHC air-cooled fuel-injected four-stroke engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox with a meager 1.6-gallon fuel tank that will get you an estimated 166.5 miles per gallon. All at a top speed of about 60 mph.

Its suspension is — shockingly — like the big boys, with an inverted hydraulic front fork and a single hydraulic rear shock. Honda actively promotes hands-on do-it-yourself maintenance by giving it a replaceable oil filter and two-piece downpipe/muffler. Not only that, but the four body panels can be removed and customized.

The newest model comes in three trims — standard (base MSRP of $3,599), ABS (base MSRP of $3,799), and SP (base MSRP of $3,699). As you might expect, the ABS version has an anti-lock braking system, while the SP is just the standard model with a special (SP) graphics package.

Honda Monkey ABS

In 1961 Honda tested out the 49cc powered Z100 bike at its Tama Tech motorsports-themed amusement park in Tokyo, Japan. While it was never meant to be mass-produced, the overwhelmingly positive response changed their mind. These minis soon became known as "Monkey Bikes" due to their diminutive, monkey-like appearance. Thus began Honda's globally famous line of Z-series bikes that many people of a certain age fondly remember.

There is only one version of the newest Monkey,  which conveniently uses the same 124cc engine found in the Grom. It also has a five-speed transmission and front wheel-only anti-lock brakes (thus the ABS identifier), fuel injection, high-rise handlebars, disc brakes, and a 30.6-inch seat height. 

Like the Grom, it has 12-inch wheels but a slightly smaller wheelbase at 45 inches. Unlike the Grom, though, the Monkey has dual rear shocks. It comes with a Pearl Nebula Red paint job, or if you really want to keep the theme going, Banana Yellow (of course).

If you feel like monkeying around with such a cute little beast (that weighs 231 pounds), prepare to pay an MSRP of $4,249, which is substantially more than the Grom. However, while the Grom might not do so well off-road, this Monkey will have no problem getting down and dirty.

Benelli TNT135

If Hondas aren't your jam, maybe something with a little European flair will tickle your fancy. The pint-sized Benelli TNT135, with a 30.7-inch seat height, is the biggest mini on the list. It still rolls on 12-inch wheels but has a wheelbase of 47.8 inches and weighs almost 256 pounds.

This Italian-designed (but Chinese-built) firecracker has a lattice-steel frame that acts like a part of the suspension system, keeping the bike rigid while giving it the right amount of flex. It packs a 4-valve air-cooled (with oil radiator) 135cc SOHC engine producing 13 horsepower mated to a 5-speed gearbox. It has a racing-inspired telescopic 41mm inverted front fork, an adjustable single rear shock, and front and rear disk brakes. 

The Benelli's gas tank holds 1.9 gallons of fuel, gets 63 miles per gallon, and has a top speed of 73 mph.  

If you want the paint scheme in white, black, or red, the MSRP is $3,199, but if you want it in green, it'll cost you $70 more at $3,269.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro

When Kawasaki dropped its first Z125 in 2015, it was immediately compared to the Honda Grom because it's similar in many ways. However, whereas the Grom looks more like an entry-level two-wheeler, the Z125 boasts a much sportier, high-performance look. 

The Z125 is fitted with a 4-stroke, one-cylinder, SOHC, 2-valve, fuel-injected 125cc air-cooled engine pushing it to a top speed of 64 miles per hour. It's mated to a four-speed manual transmission with a cable-actuated clutch. The Z125 has a curb weight of almost 225 pounds (nearly identical to the Grom) and comes with a two-gallon gas tank, roughly half a gallon bigger than the Grom.

A full-length seat sits at 31.7 inches – over an inch and a half higher than the Grom — giving taller riders a more comfortable position. The Z also has 12-inch cast wheels and a 46.3-inch wheelbase, making it nearly an inch shorter than the Grom yet providing exceptional handling and maneuverability. The front shock is a 30mm inverted telescoping fork. In contrast, the rear has an offset single-shock with four-way preload adjusts that can be calibrated specifically to the driver's or extra passenger's weight.

The 2023 model of Team Green's smallest Z is only available in one version with an MSRP of $3,399.

Honda Super Cub C125

In 1958, Honda introduced the first iteration of the Super Cub to the public back, and in 2017 reached the milestone of selling 100 million units worldwide. It's considered the best-selling and most popular motor vehicle (not just motorcycle) of all time. By comparison, the Toyota Corolla is regarded as the best-selling car ever, and only 50 million of those have been sold.

The 2023 Super Cub uses the same 124cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke found in both the Monkey and the Grom and only comes in one model that features front-wheel ABS, an electric starter, and fuel injection. However, unlike the other Honda minis, this one has a four-speed semi-automatic transmission that ditches the clutch. Gears are shifted using just the left foot, or as Honda puts it, "toe and go."

With a curb weight of 238 pounds, the Super Cub tops out at 65mph but can cruise at the posted 55mph speed limit just fine. One potential pitfall might be the one-gallon gas tank, the smallest on this list. Honda claims it can go 188 miles per gallon, but if driven swiftly drops to 124mpg. 

It has a 30.7-inch seat height (like the Benelli TNT135) with a wheelbase of 48.9 inches. Unlike the other mini bikes on the list, the Super Cub has gargantuan (by comparison) 17-inch cast wheels. MSRP for the Cub is $3,849.