Kazuma Meerkat 50
In late summer of 2005, I started thinking about something for my oldest son, David (then 4) to ride. He was obviously too young for the XR50, but given his frailty due to chronic anemia, I'm not really sure if he'll ever be riding a dirt bike anyway. My daughter and I started talking about a youth-sized ATV for her and looked at a few 80's and 125's. That's when I decided that really the best thing to do would be to start both boys on a 50cc ATV. This way, they can learn steering, throttle and brake control, and lines w/out having to worry as much about balance and falling over. I researched 50cc ATV's on the net and was pleased with what I read about Kazuma, Redcat, etc. Sure, they have limitations, but so do the boys and when the boy outgrow the little ATV, then they'll move to the much more rugged XR50. Ebay was once again my friend and I found this left-over Kazuma 50 at an excellent price, just 150 miles away. I won the auction and David and I went up and got it!
|Here's 4.5 yr old David on his Kazuma! Note that he wears a helmet and goggles at all time. I bought a TDC youth helmet from Rocky Mountain ATV/MC. I like it because the chin guard is just plastic, is removable, and it's a light-weight helmet. We quickly found that Roko Quick-Straps are the way to go with kid's goggles. I can snap his goggles on w/out having to pull the strap over the back of the helmet and they don't put as much pressure on his small nose. Note the other bikes in the garage...|
|Here's the front of the Kazuma. There's no front suspension, but this little bike really doesn't need any. David rides it strictly in 1st gear right now and only on the flat, relatively smooth ground that you can see behind the bike in this picture.|
|Here's the rear. The bike has a lot of rear suspension,
although it's very stiff. Again, doesn't really matter for a kid
David's size. The rope is attached to a pull kill switch. This is
a great feature- you can let the rope drag and if the rider gets out of
control just grab the rope and pull the kill switch and the bike stops.
For the first several rides, I followed David, either on the XR50 or on
my mountain bike (on ground). He never got out of control and now
rides w/out a rope.
As you can see, the Kazuma is chain driven. The parts are pretty cheap and the rubber strap on the battery already shows decay, even though the bike is always stored in the garage. The Kazuma has a simple foot-operated rear brake only. Makes it easy. The bike wants to creep while in gear, so I've taught David to let go of the throttle when using the brake.
|Here's a close-up of the rear mounted kill switch.
The ATV is extremely quiet, as you'd suspect with that tiny little muffler opening. A person could easily run this in a suburban area w/out disturbing the neighbors.
|David is rounding a corner on his track and you can see how far back the rope drags. I often just sat on the inside of the track and could reach the rope in about 10 steps at any given time.|
|This has been a really good thing for David, if you ask me. It
gives him quite a bit of balance and front/rear muscle control. He
loves riding the thing.
Oh, and if you look carefully, you'll see that I replaced the stock thumb throttle with a twist throttle. The stock throttle had a stop-screw, but the slide spring is so stiff that David couldn't really use it and it make his thumb really sore. I use a twist throttle on my ATV's, too, so I just ordered a universal Motion Pro twist throttle and make it work. It doesn't have a throttle stop, but in 1st gear, the Kazuma doesn't go any faster than a fast walk, so throttle stop hasn't been a problem at all.
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