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					                                     Mini-Bike Dreams:
            Reading the virtual community of Baby-boom era mini-bike enthusiasts
                          forged by the publication Mini Bike Guide

                                   by Michael B. Kassel
                              The University of Michigan-Flint


        Between 1969 and 1971, 541 readers, many of them adolescents, sent letters to

the editor of Mini Bike Guide, a national magazine dedicated to the tiny, two-wheeled

motorized vehicles for which it was named. While the magazine clearly existed to

promote the sale and use of mini bikes, which were quite popular among baby-boom era

adolescent males, its letters provide an interesting glimpse into the lives of baby-boom

era youth. While some youthful readers asked the magazine for help in convincing their

reluctant parents to buy them a mini bike, others looked to the magazine for advice on

how to handle local law enforcement and government officials who posed restrictions on

these noisy, dangerous vehicles. While it is often difficult to recapture the thoughts and

feelings of children in their own words and time, these letters not only show how the

mini-bike complicated relations between parent and child, but how it helped politicize a

number of youths who struggled—and often failed—to change local laws. Whether or

not the letters in Mini Bike Guide spoke for all of the three-million mini-bikers on

American roads and trails by 1973, the magazine served as a virtual community in which

writers of all ages discussed the dreams and realities of this baby-boom era material

artifact.

				
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