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Rad Company
Aug 05, 2013


         Every now and then, events spring from the cracks of society, starting with roots where laws have yet to infest. It's in these outlaw deserts where law and the pursuit of happiness battle it out in a moral showdown. Rad Company always has front row seats to these matches because more often than not, the power of the individual triumphs over restrictions, albeit sometimes altered. That's why we're all rooting for Spooky Tooth Cycles out in Tucson, Arizona.

By combining standard bicycles with small two stroke engines, Spooky Tooth reinvented the motorcycle for their own thrill seeking purposes "We started off building outlaw bikes that did 45 mph, 55-60 with a nitrous kit," explains Roland Bosma, co-founder of Spooky Tooth. "Then we had legal problems." Turns out that there's a law on the book about bikes traveling over 20 mph needing to be registered and licensed, which Spooky Tooth quickly realized would take the fun out of their operation. But even after regulating themselves to avoid clashes with police, the heat kept up, with many riders even having their bikes impounded on the spot.

After meeting with the Assistant City Manager, two prosecutors from the city's attorney's office, and Lt. Mike Pryor from the Transportation Division of the Tucson Police Department at a local state congressman's office, Roland basically told the police department to back off or face a lawsuit. The federal government states that under 48cc and 20 mph motorized vehicles are fine, ditto with the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles. The problem arises from a revised Arizona statute that classifies their bikes as mopeds. "So we're trying to start a little revolution around here to help people get to work, give them a cool ride for cheap, five or six hundred bucks, and it's fucking working," explains Roland. By the time of this article, there will be 300 riders in Tucson alone.

We here in New York take our public transportation for granted, but it's a different story in Tucson. "It's horrible for these people! Now, they have this really tricked stylish bike that they can take across town in a matter of minutes." When asked if he feels a bit dorky about pulling up to a real chopper, Roland scoffs at the idea; "Fuck no! These guys fucking love us. We have some hardcore bikers who are into our shit. Zig Zag (Spooky Tooth's other co-founder) used to build custom chopper motorcycles for a factory here. I mean, if you squint your eyes enough, it's like you're looking at a turn-of-the-century motorcycle."

rare Zig Zag photo

After pushing against the outdated 1969 revised statute in Tucson, Spooky Tooth actually got the Governor of Arizona to sign a bill on May 19th, 2006, stating that their custom bikes are totally legal without license and registration. Riders are still being hassled because the bill doesn't take effect until October, so Spooky Tooth is riding in outlaw limbo right now. Citations have reportedly been increasing at this time, with most of the harassment coming from three specific officers that are, you guessed it...motorcycle patrol officers.

At 150 mpg, Spooky Tooth Cycles are thankfully environmentally friendly in these apocalyptic days. But the future of the company is looking even greener after future EPA restrictions scheduled for 2008 deemed their Chinese motors too dirty, making Spooky Tooth look at electric in a way they never thought they would. "We have a design for electric that is so cool," exclaimed Roland. "It's hidden in the front wheel. When you look at it, you think you're looking at a drum brake. Ape hangers, low seat, raw steel frame. Quiet and stealthy, with your arms up, flying through a crowd. Someone turns, 'What the fuck was that!'" Once Spooky Tooth turns Tucson electric, legal issues will be a thing of the past also, as the federal definition of "bicycle" specifically includes an electric bicycle up to 20 mph. Anyway you look at it, Spooky Tooth Cycles are power for the people.

Aug 05, 2013

Arizona lawmakers are aiding a Tucson motorized-bicycle innovator by rewriting the law to differentiate between his reasonably priced contraptions and mopeds, the Tucson Weekly reports:

According to (Roland) Bosma, Spooky Tooth Cycles, which he co-founded, provides options to people who may not have the money to buy a car, but find it exhausting to manually bike around Tucson's sprawl in the summer heat. The "green" crowd also likes that the bicycles get 150 miles per gallon, polluting less and reducing dependence on The Man (i.e., oil companies), he said.

House Bill 2796, sponsored by Rep. Tom Prezelski, D-Tucson, unanimously passed the House on March 8 and is moving in the Senate.

But the Senate Transportation Committee attached an amendment that would allow cities and towns to regulate or ban the little motor-bikes.

Governor Signs Bill
Aug 05, 2013
Commuters save money on high gas prices

(Tucson, AZ) What do you call a mutant vehicle with hybrid pedal/gas power that gets close to 20 MPH at a dirt-cheap 150 miles a gallon? According to Arizona House Bill 2796, signed by the Governor on May 19 2006, it's not a moped or a motorcycle, but a motorized bicycle. And if it's a Spooky Tooth motorized bike, you could call it the most unique looking transportation revolution to hit America since the pogo stick.

From humble beginnings as an in-home shop on Bean St. surviving on word of mouth alone, Spooky Tooth just turned "2" with a new shop on St. Mary's. With over 300 bikes on the street, Spooky Tooth's cycles have been turning heads all over Tucson—including the heads of a few traffic cops. When police began ticketing Spooky Tooth riders here in Tucson, shop owner Roland Bosma fought for his customers' rights to cheap transportation by successfully lobbying Rep. Tom Prezelski to pass HB 2796. The bill removed a major roadblock to Bosma's vision of a desert town with no cars – just sleek, efficient motorized bikes cruising beneath the vast, rainless sky. It also paved the way for Spooky Tooth to become a household name.

Bosma's Bill defines Spooky Tooth and other motorized bikes as categorically different from motor vehicles like mopeds. Since Spooky Tooth bikes are not designed to exceed 20 MPH, they are now exempt from the legal baggage of insurance, license, and registration. Thanks to the bill, motorized bicycles, gas and electric, are defined in Arizona statute the same as they are in federal regulation and MVD policy, completely street legal.

Bosma sees the bill as a first step in an alternative transportation revolution. On top of freedom from insurance bills, Spooky Tooth riders enjoy a healthy, fun, and practical solution to their daily commute. Older riders praise the low-impact workout and increased range of distances Spooky Tooth bikes provide. With the price of gas in a vicious upward spiral, Spooky Tooth cycles save riders money by using it ten times less than leading automobiles. It seems that HB2796 could not have come at a more appropriate time.

Spooky Tooth transplants over sixty years of Asian motovelocipede technology to Tucson, offering high quality, hand-built motorized bikes at third world prices! Choose from five models with customizable features, including the rugged "Bare Bones" and the stylish "Lowrider," a proud Tucson classic. All models combine undeniable style with extreme efficiency for half the price of leading eBikes. Models range from $525 - $700, with most bikes going for less than $600, tax included. Custom bikes are built to order within a week. Other Spooky Tooth options include converting an existing bike or taking home a do-it-yourself engine kit.

Best of all, thanks to Bosma's Bill, Spooky Tooth bikes require no license, registration, or insurance, making them street legal straight from the shop – and about a hundred times faster than the pogo sticks of yore!

REFERENCE TITLE: motorized electric; gas powered bicycles

State of Arizona

House of Representatives

Forty-seventh Legislature

Second Regular Session


HB 2796

Introduced by

Representatives Prezelski: Biggs, Chase, Lopes, Paton, Weiers JP



amending title 28, chapter 7, article 15, Arizona Revised Statutes, by adding section 28-2516; relating to distinctive vehicles.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1. Title 28, chapter 7, article 15, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 28-2516, to read:

START_STATUTE28-2516. Motorized electric or gas powered bicycles or tricycles; definition

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title:

1. A certificate of title is not required for a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.

2. Registration is not required for a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.

3. Vehicle license tax is not imposed on a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.

4. A motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle is exempt from the provisions of section 28-964 relating to required equipment on motorcycles and motor-driven cycles and from the provisions of title 49, chapter 3, article 5 relating to vehicle emissions inspections.

5. A driver license is not required to operate a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.

6. A motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle may use rights-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles.

7. A motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle is not subject to chapter 9 of this title.

B. For the purposes of this section, "motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle" means a bicycle or tricycle that is equipped with a helper motor that has a maximum piston displacement of forty-eight cubic centimeters or less, that may also be self-propelled and that is operated at speeds of less than twenty miles per hour.END_STATUTE

City to Regulate
Oct 02, 2006
City to Regulate Motorized Bicycles

By Bud Foster KOLD News Anchor/Reporter [email protected]

They scoot down the street at 150 miles to the gallon. That's part of the allure of a motorized bicycle.

With the price of gas sky high, small engines propel the bikes up hills, through traffic and around town with a minimum of energy, both fuel and people power.

But is it a motorbike or just a bicycle? Is it a bicycle with a small motor or a motorcycle in disguise? Maybe it's a moped.

The new state law says if it stays under 20 miles an hour, it's a bicycle. But if it goes over 20, it's definitely a moped and falls under different regulations.

But the motorized bikes don't have speedometers, so it's hard to tell how fast it's going.

That still raises a lot of unanswered questions.

The way the law is written you can't make restrictions to say this is the kind of thing we do allow and this is the kind of things that we don't," says Diana Tolton, Queen Bitch of the Tucson Pima County bicycle advisory committee.

She thinks the motorbikes are a safety hazard because they can be modified to go a lot faster than 20 miles per hour. She's clocked them at over 30 miles an hour. She asked one driver how fast he was going, and was shocked when he thought it was less than 20.

She doesn't want them banned, she wants them governed.

"There are electric motors that are on bicycles in other countries that will shut down at 18 miles an hour before they reach 20. That kind of thing they would be no problem," she told us in a one on one interview.

The city must come up with some new regulations for motorized bicycles by Thursday. A new state law takes effect this week defining what a motorized bike is or isn't, but doesn't set up rules. The law leaves that up to the cities.

And speed is not the only issue.

Tolton asks, "Do we want people who have lost their licenses because of a DUI, now driving a motorized bike? Do we want someone who is legally disabled and unable to get a drivers license to be on a motorized bike?"

The city will tackle the issue in a public hearing Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at city hall. The hearing begins at 5:30pm.


Sep 20, 2006

Motorized bikes get the green light

Council votes to let them on streets but approves some basic road rules.

The transportation options that gas-powered and electric bicycles provide Tucson residents are more important than the potential safety issues they create, the Tucson City Council said Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously to institute basic regulations on the bikes, including prohibiting them on multiuse paths and on sidewalks, but allowing them on city streets, including in bike lanes and other areas where pedal-powered bikes can go.

The regulations the council implemented were those put forth by city staff members, with the council only adding provisions that required a review in a year's time and mandating that the makers of gas bikes disclose the 20 mph speed limit for the bikes when making a sale.

Councilwoman Carol West said she was concerned about the safety issues that the motorized bikes - which are powered by two-stroke motors similar to the engines that power chain saws, leaf blowers and some Jet Skis - could present. But she said she sided with the fact that the bikes are important transportation for low-income residents.

About 50 people attended the meeting and more than 15 motorized-bike users spoke, mainly to say that the motorized bikes were their primary form of transportation.

That included Stacy DeLancey, who said the gas-powered bike is the way she gets home from work at night after bus service has stopped running. "We get them (motorized bikes) because we need them," DeLancey said.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich said users "so persuasively argued for them" but urged users to ride the bikes in accordance with the law that only permits the bikes to travel less than 20 mph. Bikes traveling 20 mph or faster are considered motor vehicles and require licenses and insurance and are prohibited in bike lanes.

Traditional bike enthusiasts showed up in smaller numbers and asked that the bikes be banned except on private property.

The regulations were being considered because of a new state law that takes effect on Thursday that exempts these bikes from state motor-vehicle laws but opens the door for city rules. The new city restrictions take effect immediately.

Those restrictions include requiring helmets for operators younger than 18; prohibiting use by people younger than 16; allowing only one rider per bike, prohibiting use on sidewalks; limiting their operations to places where regular bikes are currently allowed; barring them from multiuse paths such as the one around Reid Park or the trail next to the Rillito River; mandating the use of a headlamp and red rear reflector at night; and requiring merchants who sell the bikes to disclose city operating regulations.


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