Whatever Happened To...Taco Mini Bikes?

Returning soon to a sidewalk near you

Photos by nMedia3

If you were alive in America in the 1960s, you probably had your first two-wheeled experience on a rigid-framed, lawnmower-powered mini-bike. These contraptions were as trendy as Slinkies or Sidewalk Surfer skateboards, and everyone’s big brother or uncle had one stashed in the garage. Most likely it was made by Taco, the biggest—and most randomly named—mini-bike manufacturer of that era. Taco Mini Bikes were the brainchild of John Steen, a top off-road racer (he teamed with Steve McQueen and the Ekins brothers for the 1964 International Six Days Trial) and the inventor of Steen C, the first 100-percent synthetic motor oil. Steen’s company built countless thousands of its Tacquito, Burrito and Frijole-model mini-bikes between ’63 and ’71, until more sophisticated Honda Z50 and Kawasaki Coyote mini-cycles put the mini-bike makers out of business.

SoCal entrepreneur Joe Rivello has recently revived the Taco name with a new line of minis built in the spirit of the originals, but updated with more modern construction and components. Taco’s new 100B is cosmetically identical to the old bikes—frame tubes are bent and squashed in the exact same places, and the re-pop pleated vinyl seat and block-pattern tires look like NOS parts—but modern coil-over shocks and a 6-bhp, ohv engine offer a level of comfort and performance unimaginable back in the day.

The first limited-production run of 25 examples sold out in days, priced at $1995. Rivello is gearing up now for a second run, and also offers rolling chassis for $895 if you want to spec your own powerplant.

Find out more at www.tacominibikes.com.

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