Mini motos, quad bikes and off-road vehicles - a guide for retailers
Off-road vehicles, such as mini motorbikes, quad bikes and powered scooters, have become increasingly popular in recent years as recreational vehicles for both adults and children. As a wider variety of vehicles have become available at affordable prices, concerns have been raised about vehicle safety and associated nuisance and anti-social behaviour.
When assessing the safety of a product a number of matters are taken into consideration and anyone in the supply chain, including retailers, can be held liable for the supply of unsafe products.
Traders should carry out basic checks on vehicles before supply including checking the frame is not damaged, that nuts and bolts are secure, tyres are properly inflated, and steering is aligned. The vehicle sold must be of satisfactory quality, fit for the purpose, and as described. There are rules relating to the legal and illegal use of off-road vehicles which should be passed on to the consumer.
In the guide
Where there are national, European or international standards relating to the product, these standards will also need to be taken into account.
Anyone in the supply chain, including retailers, can be held liable for the supply of unsafe products. In general, it is a criminal offence to supply unsafe products and you could also be liable to pay compensation for any injury or property damage caused. You should be prepared to carry out checks on the product and/or on your suppliers to ensure product safety - doing nothing is not enough.
Special safety requirements
All other off-road vehicles are covered by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. They specifically exclude vehicles that are intended for use in competitions or on the road. Compliance with the health and safety requirements of these Regulations can be achieved by manufacturing to European or British standards.
There is a British Standard (BS EN 16029 : 2012) for ride on motorised vehicles intended for the transportation of persons and not intended for use on public roads. This standard could be taken into account when assessing whether the product complies with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.
Where vehicles are intended for adult use, there are no specific standards. Nevertheless, the product must still be safe, and standards such as BS7407 might be used as a guide for assessing safety, even if they do not apply directly.
All vehicles which are covered by the Regulations will need to be CE marked, and to comply with the health and safety requirements outlined in the Regulations.
Particular safety concerns
You should ensure that each vehicle is supplied with adequate written instructions. If you rely only on verbal instructions, it will be very difficult to prove what you have said, and your instructions may not reach the end user (for example, if the vehicle is a gift). If there are parts of the instructions, which have a particular relevance to safety, you may wish to highlight these.
You should also examine each vehicle before you supply it, and carry out basic checks. The following are examples:
You may wish to offer advice on the appropriate safety equipment that needs to be used with the vehicle, such as a helmet and suitable clothing, and to offer to supply this equipment. Any such advice should also be included in the written instructions.
If a vehicle fails prematurely, the consumer may be entitled to claim their losses from the retailer. This could include a repair, replacement, full or partial refund and/or compensation.
If the manufacturer offers a guarantee, remember that this does not take away a consumer's rights. Your consumer may still have a claim against you even after the manufacturer's guarantee has expired.
Legal and illegal use of off-road vehicles - information for your consumers
There are also provisions in law against nuisance, including noise nuisance caused by the inappropriate or illegal use of off-road vehicles. In some cases the police can impound and even destroy vehicles which are being used in an anti-social manner.
There are special tracks and facilities for off-road vehicle use, but your consumer may not live near to one of these, or he/she may find it difficult to transport a vehicle there.
Consumers may not be fully aware of the legal restrictions that apply to the use of off-road vehicles. They may well be disappointed if they buy a vehicle, expecting to be able to ride it on a local park or common, only to find out later that they cannot do so. It would, therefore, be advisable to check with your consumer, at least in general terms, that he/she understands where and how the vehicles can be used.
Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, retailers are obliged to disclose information that might affect a consumer's decision to buy, even if the consumer does not ask for it. You should therefore make it clear to prospective customers that the vehicle can only be used on private land, and then only with the landowner's permission and only if it does not cause a nuisance.
Petrol - underage sales
Outside the scope of this leaflet
Vehicles that are sold for use both on and off the road (such as some quad bikes) are designed to comply with the regulations that deal with the construction and use of vehicles on the road. To be used on the road, of course, the vehicles and riders will require the correct form of licence and insurance.
Electrically assisted bicycles are also subject to their own special rules.
Last reviewed/updated: November 2012
London Boroughs of Brent and Harrow, Trading Standards Service,