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Bikes or Motorcycles are vehicles used mainly in the Mario Kart series, alongside Karts and ATVs. They come in many different styles and have features that set them apart from normal Karts. They first appeared in Mario Kart Wii and returned in Mario Kart 8.
During the development of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Hideki Konno presented the idea of putting bikes in the game. The idea was rejected, because the concept of Mario riding a motorbike was doubtful. However, when Mario Kart Wii came around, they decided to put bikes in and call it Mario Kart X, a name that got changed because Super Smash Bros. Brawl was called Dairantō Smash Brothers X in Japan.
The concept of bikes in the Mario Kart series may have been inspired by the Satellaview game, Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium.
While bikes do not appear as a class of vehicles in Mario Kart DS, one of Waluigi's special karts, the Zipper, is a tricycle. Also, R.O.B.'s ROB-LGS has three wheels and therefore can also be considered a tricycle.
Bikes first make an appearance in Mario Kart Wii. The game is the first Mario racing game in which the characters could race in a non-kart vehicle. Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina have alternate biker outfits if riding a bike (as it would've been very difficult for them to ride a bike while wearing a dress like when they are driving karts).
The basic model of the bike for all characters is the Standard Bike, a motocross motorcycle showing the emblem of the character over the plate of the front and the sides of the rear. The color of a standard bike also changes, matching the character's custom color. These bikes are the only available to use in Battle modes along with the Standard Karts. These bikes appear to be based on the bikes in Excitebike.
The large bikes are given design differences, depending on which large-sized characters are using them. Except for the Standard Bike L, each large bike has three design differences.
Additionally, the Bit Bike has a design difference that's only seen when the player is using a small-sized Mii; the Bit Bike's exhaust pipes are positioned lower for the small-sized Miis, than for the other small-sized characters.
All bikes differ from karts in many ways. While driving a bike, characters are able to perform wheelies, which boost the player's speed temporarily. If a bike is rammed into while doing a wheelie, the player will lose speed and have to accelerate again. Also, bikes only emit blue sparks when drifting and release a small mini-turbo, thus making them unable to emit yellow sparks for powerful mini-turbos. Statwise, bikes have slightly lower speed and much lower weight compared to karts, but excel in every other stat (acceleration, handling, drift, off-road and Mini-Turbo). Additionally, bikes have six trick variants while karts only have three.
In terms of gameplay, bikes are divided into drift type (「ドリフトタイプ」) bikes, that are able to drift and are commonly referred to as outside drifting bikes or outward drifting bikes, and hang-on type (「ハングオンタイプ」) bikes, that commit to the turn instead of drifting and are commonly referred to as inside drifting bikes or inward drifting bikes due to their significantly different lines when they commit to the turn.
After their absence in Mario Kart 7, Bikes return in Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the ability to go underwater, use gliders, and utilize anti-gravity. Also, in this installment, just like the karts, bikes are able to perform a Super Mini-Turbo and the bikers only perform wheelies during the boosts obtained via a Mushroom, a Dash Panel, a Trick, or a Rocket Start, unlike in Mario Kart Wii. As with karts, the bikes in this game can be customized with different bodies, wheels and gliders. Both drift type bikes, now known as standard bikes, and hang-on type bikes, now known as sport bikes, return and they again respectively drift or commit to the turn when the player attempts to drift with them. Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina retain their alternate biker outfits from Mario Kart Wii. Also, Pink Gold Peach wears a biker outfit while riding bikes as well.
Names in parentheses are European variants.
Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart 8 / Mario Kart 8 Deluxe