Michigan Mini-Bike ATV History
Mini-Bike & Misc Manufactures 

Dedication | Scroll or Select  | Snowmobiles/OSVs/Inventors | Sleighs Cutters Misc | Michigan Branded

Mini-Bikes / MPVs
Is a Mini-Bike with a ski a snowmobile or a Mini-Bike with a ski? What about Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV) in snow?  Maybe not a snowmobile you might think of, but these made in Michigan vehicles are deserve their own special section. Thank you Cliff S for all the help.

    Amphicat 
Manufactured in Auburn Heights by Mobility Unlimited.  The Amphicat was great in hard pack to medium snow depths.
amphicat.jpg (169951 bytes)

    Brooks 
Production Products Company made Brooks (sometimes in advertising Brook's or Brooks') Trail Bikes. Made in the Brooklyn / Jackson area these were well built with ski, windshield, and luggage rack as options. 
brooks1.jpg (58780 bytes) brooks2.jpg (123556 bytes)

    Cricket
Fleming Manufacturing Company, in Jackson, who made the Cricket started out as Fleming Service Company in 1960. They changed the name to Fleming Manufacturing Company in 1972. The Cricket was somewhat unique at the time because of the 2x1 (two front wheels) configuration making it very stable and reduced ground pressure on snow.
cricket_1.png (1404230 bytes) cricket_2.png (1073441 bytes) cricket_3.png (637076 bytes)

    El Burro
Sand 'n' Sno Bike made by WIPCO in Lexington was one of the best Sno Bikes.  High ground clearance and with equipped with huge tubeless chevron tires helped moved this true All-Terrain bike very well on hard pack and low-medium snow conditions. 
el_buro_1.jpg (268192 bytes) el_buro_2.jpg (408074 bytes)

el_buro_3.jpg (144401 bytes)  el_buro_4.jpg (180190 bytes)

    Eel Wheel
This Mini-Bike was made by Majineering Corporation in Pontiac.  One of the most cutting edge and radical designs of the day was an off-shoot of the Vaverek Scooter (patent PDF) for summer use on ski slopes .  It was front-wheel drive with rear articulated wheel, it was so efficient you could turn figure 8s until the gas ran out or you went dizzy on a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Looking for a picture with a rear ski installed.  In the meantime, check out this video.

    Engray
Engray was a joint venture with Maico (Motorcycles) to develop a Miniature Motorcycle. They hit a grand slam homerun with the Spitfire. Rightly named, it had a 16hp Maico motorcycle engine! They were made in Detroit.
engray_spitfire_1.jpg (154584 bytes) engray_spitfire_2.jpg (502797 bytes)

    Explorer 
Owosso Explorer Corporation, in Owosso, was incorporated in 1973 to 1979 made seven different B.D.I. Explorer models. One even had a Sachs 23hp rotary engine! They also made two street legal Trikes, an Explorer 800R (Tecumseh 8hp with a top speed of 50 mph) and the Exalter (12hp Tecumseh). The one you see here is the Explorer 500 with ski. 
explorer_1.jpg (237302 bytes) explorer_2.jpg (43020 bytes) explorer_3.JPG (218461 bytes)

    Harrison 
Made by Harrison Research in Utica. The company started in the late 1960s and made a few different model Mini-Bikes. Of note, the Wildcat 400 had a really wide rear tire and an optional ski.  
harrison_2.jpg (385084 bytes)
harrison_4.jpg (221007 bytes) 

harrison_1.jpg (79685 bytes) harrison_3.png (28273 bytes)  

    Heald
Carl Heald, Inc. and Heald Inc. out of Benton Harbor made what was known as Kits by Heald starting in 1969. They were Mini-Bikes, Trail Bikes, Trikes, and Haulers, They made an optional Front Ski. Of note, for the SST-16 Super Trike and and VT-840 Super Bronc Trail Bike with the Standard Chevron or an optional Knobby tire worked excellent in the snow.  Of note, the Super Bronc even came with a tow bar to pull skiers!   All Heald products were high quality, very little is known about them after the mid-'80s. 
heald_1.jpg (210629 bytes) heald_2.jpg (204573 bytes) heald3.jpg (73762 bytes)

    Heathkit
The same Heathkit as all the electronic gadgets you could put together? You bet! The Boonie-Bike was an All-Season Trail and Snow Bike made in Benton Harbor.
heathkit_1.jpg (357005 bytes)heathkit_2.jpg (225525 bytes) heathkit_3.jpg (287492 bytes)

      Lil' Indian
One of the most popular and beloved Mini-Bike, Mini-Cycle, and Go-Kart makers in Michigan. Made out of various cities in Metro Detroit Michrina (Brothers) Enterprises, Inc were never to settle on good enough. As kids grew out of Mini-Bikes they developed Mini-Cycles. When they came out with the Back-Tracker it truly was an all-season machine for adults. When equipped with the 7hp mated to a torque converter with its huge flotation tires was great on sand, mud, snow, and even ice! It was big enough to ride Two-Up. If you would like to know more about Lil' Indian history check out this link.
lil_indian_1.jpg (110775 bytes)

    Metro Recreational Vehicles 
Based in Taylor AKA "Wheels & Trails" and "MRV" made the Hunter 500 Trail Bike, the Warrior 777 Sport Three-Wheeler, and the NTW 333 large scale sport trike.  Of note, the Hunter 500 and the Trapper (see below) looked very much alike.  However, the engines were different:  Hunter 500 5hp four-stroke; Trapper 10hp Chrysler Two-Stroke.   Both the Hunter and Warrior were great on hard pack and light snow conditions and the Sales literature touted them both as a four-season vehicle.  Interesting that the Warrior 777: Had a synco-mesh differential rear end that put MRV way ahead of other Trikes and Three-Wheelers of the day; Had fairings over the left and right rear tires to help keep the mud and snow off the driver. 
mrv_1.jpg (53680 bytes)mrv_2.png (853184 bytes)mrv_3.jpg (122724 bytes)

    Ruttman Enterprises
They started building Mini-Bikes in the 1960s out of Dearborn Heights, incorporated in 1974 and dissolved the corporation in 1978. Not much is known about them after that. But, one this is for sure, they did the best job of promoting a ski kit than any other Mini-Bike manufacture in the world! Call a Ski Trac, the moto was "All the Fun of a Snowmobile." Used not only for their bikes, but for any using 5/8" front axles. Also, could be used Trikes and Dune Cycles. Of note, in 1971 Ruttman came out with the Pak Mule Mini-Bike, with their Ski Trac it was one of the best "Four Season" Mini-Bikes ever made. 
ruttman_1.jpg (147626 bytes)

    Sierra Trail Boss
Manufactured in Lapeer by the Vesely Company. This nimble Amphi' 6x6 was great in hard pack to medium snow depths.  Of note, the Vesely Company's claim to fame was it made one of the first Pop-Up Campers.
sierra.jpg (64072 bytes) sierra_1.jpg (63441 bytes) 

    Sport-King 
Sport-King was based out of Metro Detroit. The made Snowmobiles (Ski-Kat with optional wheel kit), Trail Bikes, and Trikes in Rogers City. The Trail Bikes were some of the best state made, very high quality. The Trike's best feature was a full body that keep dust, dirt, mud, and snow off the driver. Both were great in hard pack to light-medium snow conditions.  Of note, the Ski-Kat and Sport-King main graphics are some of the best loved among Michigan Snowmobile and ORV collectors.  Special thanks to Dan D, Cliff S, Presque Isle County Advance, and members of the Rogers City Snowmobile Facebook Page for the help. 
sport_king_1.jpg (50968 bytes) sport_king_2.jpg (93626 bytes) 

sport_king_3.jpg (108074 bytes) sport_king_4.jpg (593443 bytes) sport_king_5.jpg (337864 bytes)

sport_king_trike_1.jpg (288448 bytes) sport_king_trike_2.jpg (92571 bytes)

sport_king_trike_3.jpg (76888 bytes) sport_king_trike_4.jpg (87885 bytes)

    Stephens Ski Kit
While not a Mini-Bike Manufacture, Stephens in Bridgman is listed because they offered a kit to convert a Mini-Bike into a "Ski-Bike". The ski utilized quick clasp lock install requiring no tools, rear traction chain, and steel steering runners.
stephens_1.jpg (172744 bytes) stephens_2.jpg (204620 bytes) stephens_3.jpg (186596 bytes)

    Terra Cat
From Rankin Manufacturing Inc. in Durand. The Flaming Red Cat model was great in the sand and snow. Tires were huge, 11x20 and no ply bonded to the rim!  The 10hp two-stroke engine also helped.  Also, some were painted Yellow.  Thanks Tom and Linda D for the three additional pictures. 
terra_cat_1.jpg (258758 bytes) terra_cat_2.png (267220 bytes)

terra_cat_3.png (480417 bytes) terra_cat_4.png (543924 bytes)

    Thomas 
Thomas Company in Clinton made a handful of different models. They offered an optional ski and the Explorer was excellent on hard pack.  Talk about Multi-Use vehicles, the  Explorer had an optional mower kit, yes you read it right.   
thomas_1.jpg (110392 bytes) thoms_2.jpg (435816 bytes)

    Trapper
Made in Dearborn Heights by Track & Sports Inc. they were a workhorse type Trail Bike that did very well on hard pack and light snow. They also made a Three-Wheeler. 
trapper_1.jpg (20606 bytes) trapper_2.jpg (19301 bytes) trapper_4.jpg (81801 bytes)

trapper_3.jpg (38567 bytes)  trapper_5.jpg (91968 bytes)  trapper_6.png (229946 bytes)

    Wheel Trac
Lakeside Machine in Lakeview, Michigan built the Wheel Track. It had a two-speed gear box somewhat like the Lil' Indian's. These are very hard to find Trail Bikes.  Looking for a picture, can you help?

Dedication and Thank You
Dedicated to those who invented; designed; made; sold; serviced; and owned Snowmobiles, Over Snow Vehicles (OSV), and End Item related OSV products made in Michigan. Thanks to those who helped contribute with special mention US Patent Office, Google Patents, Lisa from the Lakeview Area Museum, Oakland County Historical Resources, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum, Richard L (Editor and Publisher of the Presque Isle County Advance), twintrackworld web site, the late Bud Knapp for inspiration, Chris B of Premier RPC, Bob H, Bob W, Charlie and Marilyn V, Cliff S (Mini-Bike OSV Section), Doug L, Doug M, Edward J, John Gendregske, Les H, Richard H, Roger and Karen J, and John M for access to his extensive research and photos.