I first saw the blata mini moto back at a race meet in Snetterton race circuit years ago. At this time the mini motos were not readily available to the general public, unlike now....................
My first mini moto was a cheap Chinese imitation bought from a small shop in Stalham, which has subsequently closed down. It was an impulse buy - the shop had just opened and I only went in for a browse. Ten minutes later I was walking out with a mini moto costing £200 - you can now get the same ones for under a £100.
Luckily my parents have a tarmac tennis court cum hockey pitch so I had somewhere legal to ride it.
What fun it was. Being so low down to the ground 30mph feels at least three times as fast. The problem with the Chinese mini moto was it was built on a shoe-string budget. The frame was weak, the bars bent, the foot pegs came loose, however the worst thing was the pull starter. It consisted of a plastic cog which kept shearing the teeth. A new cog was £5. If the teeth didn't shear the spring retractor broke and you then had to recoil the spring.
I was riding at a track in Cromer, which has subsequently closed to mini motos due to the local people of Cromer whinging about the noise. The closest house is over half a mile away!!! Anyway, the pull starter broke on the second session. I had no spares whatsoever. The nice guys at the track started the engine with an electric drill so I could complete all my sessions.
That night I was looking through Boystoys magazine and saw it - the Blata mini moto. Kicking out a massive 3 hp it was on offer for £500 and you could get credit for it. I was sold, but What design to choose from? The Lucky Strike Suzuki, the Corona Suzuki, a 1970 (Sheen Suzuki), Camel Honda, Kawasaki ZX7, Ducati - the list was endless. Of course there was one only choice - the baby version of my beloved ZX7 Ninja. The Blata was delivered the following week............
The build quality of the Blata is second to none. The frame is strong, the starter is metal - as opposed to plastic. It started after only a few pulls and it purred from the word go.
The Blata I bought was an air-cooled, 3hp standard one. It is labelled the beginner bike. The Blata is a lot smaller than the Chinese equivalent, and as such is very cramped. I have no real problems due to my stumpy legs - I knew something good would come out of being vertically challenged!
The next day I went to Cromer to test the Blata out round a proper outdoor kart track. The first thing I noticed was how much further the Blata could be leaned in to the bends. This is due to the very short foot pegs. These are fixed units - and non-adjustable like the Chinese's. The problem with the Chinese bike was the pegs were far too long - even at the shortest setting. They kept digging in the tarmac as you leaned - which pitches the rider over the handle bars! No such problems with the Blata. You could lean it, and lean it, and lean it some more.
The other thing I noticed about the Blata was how smooth the engine was. It did not rattle all the bolts and bodywork off the bike, unlike the Chinese version.
30mph on a Blata is a scary, but exhilarating experience - believe me. However, if this is not fast enough for you then there are several trick bits that can be bought - up-rated springs so you get a better "hole-shot" and accelerate better, bigger jets and a bigger carb to make it go better, trick exhausts etc. the list is endless. You can even fit nitrous oxide (although after seeing two separate bikes blow up at a meet I would advise against this).
If you have any queries or problems with your Blata then there are several forums that offer very good help and assistance. From starting issues to how to ride one to tuning to local meets. It is all in there.
You'd think that mini motos are for kids - Wrong! I was the youngest rider there, at the tender age of 26! The rest were men well in their late thirties and forties. It is a good crack although be prepared for several bruises (as you knock knees and elbows at most corners), bashed fairings, feeling numb when you stop the race (there is 'real' suspension to soak up the bumps - and you feel everyone) and the banter after the session. It is all in good jest but the language does tend to get blue as everyone accuses everyone else of being dangerous or a road hog etc.
It was then that Cromer was closed down to Mini motos :( The nearest out door track became Ellough which at a 150 mile round trip is to far to do on a regular basis. In addition, Ellough is massive. There are long straights and sweeping bends and a fast bike is required. Cromer is small, tight and twisty and a 3hp air-cooled can keep up with most mini motos - even the water cooled £1,200 B1 - The "Daddy" of mini motos.
I tried the indoor track of Great Yarmouth but indoor is not as good as out door. Besides, Yarmouth is a rough place and if you cut someone up (which is always unintentional) you're likely to get a smack in the face after the session. It takes the fun away. The best part of Cromer was the atmosphere - racing total strangers - pulling silly overtakes and manouvres and then having a soft drink in the pub afterwards and laughing about it.
I understand that they now do a 4.2hp (?) air cooled Blata which is meant to be very fast. The early versions of these had problems with overheating - and they would not start again until cool. I don't know if they still suffer the same problem or not.
My mini moto now sits as an ornament in the conservatory. Every now and again I run a tank of fuel through her just to make sure that it still works ok. Guess what - it starts on the second or third pull every time. The bloke who owns the kart track in Cromer keeps saying that hew will lobby the council to get the licence back for mini motos - but who knows?
One thing I will not do is ride the mini moto illegally round car parks, park and rides etc. I see many people do that - most of them kids. It makes me shudder when they are riding all over the place - no set direction or track without any helmets, boots, gloves or protective clothing. I crashed mine a couple of times and each time I lose a load of skin - and I wear jeans and overalls. These kids are in shorts.
As for riding them on the road - again I totally disagree with this and fully support the police's move to crush any that are caught.
It is a shame that a few mindless people wreck it for all. Mini motos have got a bad reputation and that is why few Kart track owners are willing to let them on. What a shame :(