Trading Standards Institute Advice

Mini motos, quad bikes and off-road vehicles: a guide for consumers

In the guide

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

Mini motorcycles (commonly referred to as mini motos), quad bikes and similar off-road vehicles must satisfy the requirements of the law if they are ridden in a public place. Riders themselves must also satisfy the requirements of the law to ride in a public place. If these requirements are not met, the only places these vehicles can be ridden are on dedicated sites or on private land (with the permission of the landowner). 

When you buy a vehicle from a trader you are making a legally binding contract, which is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This law gives you rights and remedies against the trader if the vehicle fails to meet your expectations, possibly because it is faulty. If you buy privately you do not have the same legal rights as you do when you buy from a trader.

If you buy a vehicle from a trader by distance means, such as from their website, you have extra rights under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. You have the right to cancel most 'distance' contracts and the cancellation period is 14 days.

A trader must not mislead you - for example, telling you the vehicle is suitable for riding in a public place when it is not. Aggressive commercial practices are also prohibited, such as a trader pressurising you into going ahead with a purchase.

Where can I ride my vehicle?

Vehicles, including quad bikes and motorcycles, ridden on the road must be 'type approved' (which means compliant with construction regulations for use on the road), have road tax and, if the vehicle is over three years old, have a valid MOT. They must also have lights, brakes and an exhaust that meet the legal requirements, and must also carry a registration plate.

If you are driving a quad bike on the road you should have a full driving licence, insurance and you must wear a protective helmet. If you are driving a quad bike off-road then you do not need a driving licence and the bike does not have to be taxed. To ride a motorcycle on a public road, you must obtain a provisional licence and a compulsory basic training (CBT) certificate. You must take and pass the theory and motorcycle tests within two years. If you fail to do this within two years you will have to take all the tests again.

Most mini motos, quad bikes and other off-road vehicles cannot legally be ridden on the road, nor can they be used on pavements, footpaths, cycle paths, on parkland, common land or wasteland. They can only be ridden legally on dedicated sites or private land (with the permission of the landowner).

Anyone riding their off-road vehicle illegally runs the risk of prosecution for:

  • careless or dangerous driving
  • having no tax or insurance
  • riding without a licence
  • riding without a valid MOT
  • causing a nuisance or behaving anti-socially

They may also face having their vehicle confiscated by the police, following a warning, if they ride in an illegal or anti-social manner.

Further information on the use of these vehicles can be obtained from the police.

Are these vehicles safe?

The law states that any product sold to consumers must be safe. A safe product is one that, when used in a normal or reasonably foreseeable way, poses no or minimal risk (taking into consideration the type of product and its intended use).

There are a number of factors taken into account when assessing whether a product is safe, such as:

  • the composition of the product
  • packaging, instructions for installation, assembly or use, labelling and other information provided for the consumer
  • the types of consumers at risk when using the product, such as children
  • the effect the product may have on other products with which it might be used

If a product is designed or intended (whether or not exclusively) for children under the age of 14 years for use in play, then the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 apply. Toys have to comply with European standard EN 71: Safety of toys and must be CE-marked (opens in a new window). Vehicles such as electric scooters for children may be covered by these Regulations. Toy vehicles equipped with combustion engines are excluded.

The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 apply to off-road vehicles but they exclude vehicles intended for use in competitions or on the road. Vehicles that are manufactured to specific European standards are deemed to comply with the health and safety requirements set out in the Regulations. Vehicles to which the Regulations apply must be CE-marked.

Pre-shopping tips

  • do your homework and find the correct vehicle for your requirements at the right price
  • always ensure that the trader gives adequate written instructions on the specification of the vehicle, its use and maintenance
  • ask the trader if you can test drive the vehicle, legally of course
  • if the trader makes any specific claims about the vehicle, its capabilities or when and where it can be used, always make sure they are written down and signed by the trader
  • carry out thorough checks on the seller if you choose to buy privately
  • check that the person who is selling the vehicle actually owns it
  • check the vehicle thoroughly, especially if it is second-hand
  • ensure you have the appropriate safety equipment

What are my legal rights?

It is an important element of a contract that the trader must give you specific pre-contact information as set out in the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. The 'Buying from business premises - on-premises contracts explained', 'Buying by internet, phone & mail order - distance contracts explained' and 'Buying at home - off-premises contracts explained' guides explain what these pre-contract requirements are. If a trader does not provide the required information, you can make a claim to have your costs (if any) reimbursed.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out what you are entitled to expect from a vehicle supplied by a trader. These are commonly referred to as your 'statutory rights'. The law also gives you remedies against the trader if your rights are not met. 

Key rights:

  • the trader must have the right to supply the vehicle to you. If they do not, perhaps they did not actually own it and could not therefore legally sell it to you. If this is the case you would be entitled to a remedy
  • the vehicle must be of satisfactory quality. The description, price, condition of the vehicle, fitness for purpose, appearance and finish, safety, durability and freedom from minor defects are all important factors when considering quality. Public statements (such as those in advertising or on labelling made by the trader, the producer or their representative) about the vehicle must be accurate and can also be taken into account when deciding if it is of satisfactory quality. If the vehicle is not of satisfactory quality then you would be entitled to a remedy
  • if you make a trader aware that you want the vehicle to be fit for a particular purpose - even if it is something that it is not usually supplied for - then you have the right to expect it is fit for that purpose. If the vehicle is not fit for a particular specified purpose then you would be entitled to a remedy
  • you have the right to expect that the vehicle is as described. For example, does it have all the features claimed? If the vehicle is not as described then you would be entitled to a remedy
  • if you see or examine a sample, then the vehicle must match the sample
  • if you see or examine a model, then the vehicle must match the model. For example, the model you are supplied with must be the same as the one you examined and agreed to buy

Key remedies:

  • short-term right to reject (30 days) the vehicle and obtain a full refund
  • right to a repair or replacement
  • right to a price reduction or a final right to reject the vehicle. Take note that under the final right to reject (where you are entitled to reject the vehicle for a refund) a trader can make a deduction from the refund for the use you have had from it (applies if the vehicle is a 'motor vehicle' as defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988)

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 does not entitle you to anything if:

  • you were told of any faults before you bought the vehicle
  • the fault was obvious and it would have been reasonable to have noticed it on examination before buying it
  • you caused any damage yourself
  • you made a mistake - for example, you ordered the wrong engine size
  • you have changed your mind about the vehicle or seen it cheaper elsewhere

See the 'Sale & supply of goods - your consumer rights' guide for more information on your rights and which remedy you are entitled to. The 'Sale & supply of goods - what to do if things go wrong' guide explains the practical steps you can take when complaining to a trader about a faulty vehicle.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibit commercial practices that are unfair to consumers. If a trader misleads you or engages in an aggressive commercial practice, and you make a decision to purchase a motorcycle that you would not otherwise have done, the trader may be in breach of the Regulations. For example, a trader may fail to inform you that the motorcycle has previously been accident-damaged or may claim it is 'sold as seen' to try and avoid their responsibilities to you. If you have been misled or the trader has behaved aggressively, report your complaint to Citizens Advice consumer service for referral to trading standards.

If you enter a contract because a trader misled you or because the trader used an aggressive commercial practice, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 give you rights to redress: the right to unwind the contract, the right to a discount and the right to damages. See 'Misleading & aggressive practices - your right to redress' for more information.

What about the guarantee?

There are rules that apply when a trader or a manufacturer offers a free guarantee with the vehicle that is supplied to you.

So what is a guarantee? This is a statement given by a trader or a manufacturer that the motorcycle will meet certain standards and that you will be entitled to claim a refund, replacement or repair if it does not meet those standards. There is no obligation on a trader or a manufacturer to offer a guarantee but if they do so, it is legally binding. For example, if a trader refuses to repair the motorcycle when the guarantee states that they will, the trader will be in breach of contract and you can make a claim. This might be for the cost of getting it repaired elsewhere. See 'Guarantees & warranties' for more information on these rules.

Do I have the same protection when I buy online or privately?

If you decide to buy a vehicle from a trader by distance means, such as from a website, you have the same legal rights as you have when buying from a trader's premises. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 give you extra protection because the contract you enter into is concluded at a distance and without face-to-face contact. You have the right to cancel most 'distance' contracts and the cancellation period is 14 days. See our guide 'Buying by internet, phone & mail order - distance contracts explained' for more information.

You do not have the same legal rights when buying from a private seller as you do when buying from a trader and the general rule is 'let the buyer beware'. You are entitled to expect that the vehicle is 'as described'. You do not have the right to expect that it is of satisfactory quality or fit for its purpose, unless the seller informed you that it was. For example, if an advertisement says 'one previous owner', that must be correct. This also applies if you buy from a private seller online or through an internet auction. You should check the vehicle thoroughly before you buy it.

What about internet auctions?

Most internet auctions only provide the site for the auctions to be held and are not generally liable for goods bought and sold privately. You should check the terms and conditions of the internet auction for full details.

You have the same legal rights when buying from a trader via an internet auction site as you have when buying from their premises. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 also apply to internet auctions. You may have the right to cancel a purchase from a trader if you change your mind, regardless of whether it is sold through the auction or via 'buy it now'.

As you have fewer rights against private online sellers, research the seller carefully - for example, check their feedback - before you go ahead with a purchase.

Do I have any more protection?

If you paid for the vehicle on finance arranged by a trader, or if you paid using your credit card and it cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, you have rights under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Section 75 of the Act makes the finance / card provider as responsible as the trader for a breach of contract or misrepresentation. This could include supplying a faulty vehicle, non-delivery or making false claims about it. You are entitled to take action against the trader, the finance / card provider or both. If the cost of the vehicle exceeds £30,000 and is less than £60,260, and the finance was arranged specifically to buy that vehicle, you may be able to claim against the finance company under section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If you are unhappy with the finance provider's response, seek the advice of the Financial Ombudsman Service (opens in a new window).

If you bought the vehicle on hire purchase and you have a problem with it, you should contact the finance provider. This is because, under the terms of the agreement, they own the vehicle until you make the final payment.

I think my mini moto is counterfeit - what can I do?

You may come across mini motos with badges of well-known motorcycle manufacturers on them. You should contact the manufacturer or its UK representative to establish if the vehicle is genuine. If you believe it may be counterfeit report it to Citizens Advice consumer service for the matter to be referred to trading standards.

Can my 14-year-old son buy petrol for his mini moto?

It is illegal to sell petrol to children under the age of 16.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: May 2016

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

For further information please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service, which provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit the Citizens Advice website (opens in a new window) or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.

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