Every once in a while, something comes along that just clicks with you. When you have those moments, it’s magic. That proverbial lightning-strike feeling hits, and you’re both invigorated and also wondering why you didn’t know about (insert cool thing here) before now. Friends, welcome to the inaugural run of Mini-Bike Panic, a mini-moto enduro event held in Japan in December, 2020.  

At first, you might think that mini-motos are woefully underequipped for enduro riding. Thing is, they’re actually perfect for how these riders are using them. What becomes clear as you watch is that it’s all about challenging themselves and their skills, as well as building camaraderie with other mini-moto enthusiasts. It’s less about outright competition (although there’s a streak of that, as well), and more about having fun. You remember “fun,” don’t you? 

Above all else, all the participants want to make it through this extremely challenging course. Also, absolutely no one here is taking themselves too seriously. That’s why you see some people competing in costumes, with a Santa Claus here or a Mario Mario there. Others are just dressed in appropriate off-road gear. Everyone here knows that they (and their bikes) are going to be completely filthy by the end of it all, and that’s fine. 

Tricky terrain, including boulders, rocks, ruts, and mud seems a whole lot less concerning than extreme verticality for these bikes. More than once, you’ll see a bottleneck appear, with a bunch of riders pausing as they figure out the best ways to get their tiny, piston-powered steeds up that very steep hill. In one case, our camera operator hops off his bike and starts helping out some of the riders behind him. He also apologizes more than once when he feels like he’s the one holding up the line.  

All in all, it’s just piles and piles of mini-moto fun. That feeling is amplified by the sheer number of riders and bikes participating on a fun day out romping through the forest and down those hillsides. It’s easy to feel relaxed and happy and live in the moment when you’re not living in mortal terror of dropping your extremely expensive adventure bike, too, we’d imagine.  

You’re going to fall down, so you might as well laugh, enjoy it, pick yourself up, and keep going. As in mini moto enduro, so too in life. Kampai! 

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