2016 OSET 12.5 Racing: FULL TEST
On the scale of awesome things in life, the OSET 12.5 electric trials bike ranks above any measurable mark—if you’re three years old, that is.
Oset, which got its feet when building bikes in America but has since moved to the United Kingdom where trials riding is an everyday way of life, is a manufacture of electric trials-style dirt bikes designed for kids aged two through 12, who want to get an early start on two-wheeling. In all, Oset has six models to chose from, the smallest being the 12.5 Eco and 12.5 Racing (aka “R”); we focused on the R model for this test. The R, including the Eco, is specifically designed for riders 2-5 years of age. Our test bike is a 2016 R model, which is nearly identical to the 2017 R that has slightly different graphics, thinner grips, an updated handlebar (aka “chin”) pad, black-colored footpegs and stronger wheels.
Click here to read this in the Cycle News Digital Edition Magazine.
Story and Photography by Adam Booth
Plug Me In
As mentioned, there are two 12.5 models from OSET, the 12.5 Eco and the 12.5 Racing. The Eco is designed for the absolute beginner, and the Racing for the youngster who is ready for a little more performance, which he’ll get mainly from the suspension and brakes.
The Eco and Racing are similar machines that use the same drive system—a 24v 600w motor and a two-dial controller that is housed in the identical frames. Differences between the two come down to the component set, such as wheels, tires, forks, shock, handlebars and stem. The Eco uses a V-brake (similar to the brakes on your bicycle) up front and a band brake in the rear. The 12.5 Racing uses two disc brakes.
There are a few safety features built in, such as a magnetic lanyard cutout switch that straps onto the child’s wrist, so when little Johnny gets a little too excited, you (the parent) can kill the motor before things get out of hand—literally. A separate key switch is easily removable by the parent when the kid (err, you) could use a rest.
The Oset power controller has a two-dial system, which means you can easily adjust the characteristics—speed and response—of the motor. It can be set to a very mellow and low (walking pace), kind-of-power, all the way up to maximum power for the more accomplished rider. For those just learning how to ride, the throttle response can be set very softly.
Sweet Silent Fun
My son first rode an Oset 12.5 Eco model when he was just three-years old. He learned balance and how to ride a bicycle without training wheels using a Strider balance bike, which led into his first time on the OSET 12.5. This made it easier to concentrate on throttle and braking without the worry of learning balance at the same time. The ultra low seat height gave him the ability to keep his feet on the ground and that was a huge plus in learning to ride. After a year of seemingly non-stop riding on the 12.5 Eco, he moved onto the 12.5 Racing model.
The difference came in the way of better suspension and improved braking performance. The boost in performance with the 12.5 Racing was indeed welcomed, but far from necessary for a new rider. The 12.5 Eco offers a ton of performance for brand-new and beginning riders as they hone their skills.
A feature I love as a parent is the ability to change the top speed and, more importantly, the ability to dial in the amount reaction from the throttle. Electric motors respond instantly to throttle input and the Oset 12.5 has plenty of power to take off in a hurry! Even with a few years of experience under his belt, my son keeps the response dialed back a bit to avoid the head-jerking capabilities of the electric motor and making it easier to make traction, not wheel spin.
Riding the Oset 12.5 for countless hours helped him transition onto the popular gas-powered Yamaha PW50, and Honda CRF50, without issue. He still loves to ride in the backyard on a mini EnduroCross course we made, even at night, never disturbing our neighbors in close proximity.
It takes about four hours to fully charge the batteries from nearly dead and the average run time is anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the speed and load on the motor. When the batteries get down to almost dead, the bike just slows down and eventually stops moving when the batteries are completely done. We’ve been using the Oset 12.5 Eco for a few years and haven’t had to replace the batteries yet.
We take the Oset 12.5 Racing bike everywhere and have no problems hauling it around in a regular car since there is no gas to spill and can be laid on its side in the trunk.
The public’s perception of electric anything is so open that we had no qualms about riding the bike on bike paths, in public parks, on sidewalks and in any open field. Since it makes no real noise and is “cute,” we rode it in places that a gas-powered bike would’ve lasted two-minutes before the cops showed up.
Some might think the retail price is a bit steep at $1199 for the 12.5 Eco and $1499 for the 12.5 Racing, but there isn’t any other cost involved, unless you wear out the tires. The resale value appears to be good, too, so when kids out grow out of them, the initial cost is a lot easier to swallow. CN
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 OSET 12.5 R ($1499) / OSET 12.5 Eco ($1199)
600W 24V OSET neodymium magnet DC motor
24V OSET, adjustable for speed/response
2 amp 24V
Telescopic; 1.6 in. wheel travel
Shock, preload adjustable, oil-dampened.
160mm disc, cable actuated / V-brake
140mm disc, cable actuated / band brake
12.5 in. alloy rims/hubs /
12.5 in. alloy rims/steel hubs
Rider weight limit:
2-5 years old