Oset 20.0

Kids – Read This! I KNOW you’ve looked at the pictures, and they look ‘funny’.
I know, I know: but you want one anyway. Never mind riding one will make you a much more confident, better, rider; the reason you want one of these is they are so much fun.

That’s right, there’s no seat, but you can sit on the plastic panels while you learn, and once you’re standing up, you won’t want a seat again, not on an Oset trials bike.

In the backyard you can ride over rocks, shipping pallets and tear up Mum’s mulch. You can follow Dad down trails. And with a bit of practice you can climb walls, leap fences, charm the girls. OK, maybe I was exaggerating a little, but here’s the thing: more exciting than Playstation, less noise than a drum kit, cooler than a BMX.

What’s not to love?
Oset kids’ trials bikes are all about teaching children throttle control, balance and technique in a package which is inexpensive, easy to maintain and, possibly best of all, almost silent.

Oset makes electric bikes in a variety of sizes, and Cycle Torque has been out on the biggest of the bunch, the 20.0 – which is its size, in inches. Designed as competitive trials machines, Oset electric bikes have won numerous titles against petrol-powered machines although in Australia they have been primarily selling because of their low-impact footprint – noise, damage and cost.

The Oset 20.0 retails at $2750 and is aimed at 8-12 year-olds, although it’s just big enough to be ridden by adults, and is a lot of fun for ageing children who want to throw a leg over one.

For those in the target age range, the Oset 20.0 is a machine which is a lot of fun, provides incredible opportunities for gaining skills which will last a lifetime and the bike can be ridden in a decent-sized backyard – without upsetting the neighbours.

What’s trials?
Observed Trials is a niche part of motorcycle sport in Australia, but wildly popular in Britain and Spain. It involves riding bikes over challenging courses which involve seemingly impossibly steep inclines, jumps over rocks and rock ledges, riding through fast-flowing water or jumping gaps with little or no run-up.

The winners are the riders who lose the least amount of points, which are scored for putting feet down or crashing. Speed is not a major factor in determining winners.

While there’s nothing stopping you entering an Oset in an appropriate trials event, few people in Australia have bought them for competition – they have been selling well because they are light, easy to ride, offer a lot of fun to young riders and are virtually silent thanks to the electric motor.

Powering the 20.0 A 48-volt electric motor putting out 1200 watts of electrical energy can drive the Oset 20.0 at speeds up to 50kmh/h – which is way fast on a super-lightweight machine you’re supposed to ride standing up.

It has a low/full-power rocker switch and a dial for controlling the power delivery – so the machine can be easily set up for a parent looking to make the bike less lively for a learner – but as the rider’s skill improves, the performance can be increased, easily and without cost.

Oset machines are configured with front and rear disc brakes controlled by hand levers, like a pushbike, a twist throttle like a motorcycle and that’s about it – the direct-drive electric motor means there’s no transmission, so no gear lever or clutch.

Throttle response is awesome, for electric motors make great torque, so a skilful rider can loft the front wheel easily, essential for trials. The riding position is standing – you’re not really supposed to sit down on a trials bike, and there’s no seat on the Oset 20.0 (although Oset has announced a seat kit, to convert the bike into a more motocross-style machine, coming soon).

The forks and chassis remind me more of a mountain bike than a motorcycle, primarily because the Oset doesn’t need the size and bulk typical of a dirt bike. Oset supplies the 20.0 with a second, heavier, rear suspension spring for larger riders.

Running costs
With no petrol engine to keep supplied with fuel, oil, filters etc, the Oset is easy and cheap to own. The bike is supplied with a dedicated 48v wall charger – from dead flat you’re looking at about 5 hours for a full charge. Run time is 2-4 hours depending on the weight of the rider and the way it’s being ridden.

The lifespan of the four batteries is going to vary a lot on usage, but if the bike is used regularly you’ll be up for a new set within a couple of years.

At $99 each it’s a not-insignificant cost, but it’s probably less than the fuel alone for a petrol-driven machine. Oset offer a lithium replacement battery pack which charges quicker, runs about twice as long and saves a massive 10kg – but unfortunately costs $948.

The good news there is you get a lot more charges from it before it dies, which means the overall cost is similar to the standard batteries, and well worth considering when the stock batteries eventually die.

Fun for all
For the raw learner, sitting on the plastic is fine, indeed the manual suggests using booted feet as outriggers as a learner gets their confidence up. From there they graduate to feet on the pegs then standing, moving bodyweight around to help control the machine.

For anyone coming off a petrol-powered machine the electric motor throws out a few challenges, for the engine braking feels quite different – backing off the throttle slows down the drive to the back wheel, but doesn’t kill it completely, so throttle control is important and something learnt quickly.

Like all electric motors, maximum torque is available right off the bottom, so throttle response can be sharp – which is why Oset built a controller in.

All the family
Oset has three bike in the range – 12.5″ ($1540), 16″ ($1980) and 20.0. Many are being sold in pairs, often for a father and son to go riding together, and often purchased by people who specifically want to avoid the noise of other bikes.

Although some electric-assisted bikes are legal for use on roads, only machines limited to 200 watts are legal – and all the Oset machines put out more than that, so legally you can only use them on private property – but if you’re being sensible you’re far less likely to get in trouble if you’re not making any noise.

If all dirt bikes were silent, there would be a lot more places to ride – so electric bikes have the potential to really grow the motorcycle market, especially for anyone with a little bit of backyard for the kids to ride in. The Oset 20.0 has been a huge load of fun for everyone who’s ridden it at the Cycle Torque office, aged 8-48.

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