*****EDITOR’S NOTE: Malcolm Smith has changed the time of his protest to 4 p.m. rather than 6 a.m. to accommodate those who want to attend. From his website kidslove2ride.wordpress.com “Due to numerous requests from Malcolm’s supporters far and wide, we have changed the timing of the event.”
Malcolm Smith To Sell ATVs Next Thursday In Protest
Fines Could Be $100,000 Per Violation
Well, the battle for the right to sell kid’s ATVs and motorcycles continues to heat up, and it could come to a boil next week.
California motorcycle dealer and industry icon Malcolm Smith says he plans to sell kid’s ATVs and motorcycles to consumers next Thursday (6 am PST, March 19, 2009) in protest against a federal law that limits the amount of lead that can be contained in products made for children 12 and younger.
The sales could be expensive. The law calls for fines up to $100,000 per violation and a maximum of $15 million for a series of related violations. Jail time also is called for.
And, according to one attorney who is very familiar with the law, there are also criminal penalties of up to five years in jail for a willful violation of the law.
The so called “lead content” provision is part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) passed last year. The law is enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The CPSIA and related rules developed by the CPSC ban the sale of ATVs and dirt bikes designed for children, ages 12 and younger. The ban became effective Feb. 10, 2009.
By one estimate developed by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the ban could cost the powersports industry as much as $1 billion this year.
Dealernews magazine, a leading industry business publication, estimates that the unsold inventory of machines and related parts, accessories and apparel that dealers have pulled off their showrooms and dumped in storage areas totals more than $100 million.
Smith’s planned protest is the latest step in the battle for the right to sell these small machines to youths.
The CPSC last week, in effect, tightened the restriction when it ruled that, under the law as written, products for children can’t contain ANY lead absorption into the human body, nor have ANY adverse impact on public health and safety, a seeming departure from the limit of 600 parts per million specified by the law.
Most machines have accessible components that contain some lead, especially those made with alloys such as aluminum and copper—valve stems, brakes, engine parts, for example.
This tough standard makes it virtually impossible for powersports companies to gain any exceptions, ones that Congressional leaders say are available under the law. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), a leading proponent of the CPSIA, told me that the agency has the authority to grant exceptions for ATVs and motorcycles.
The CPSC claims it can’t do that, and our industry is caught in the middle.
Perhaps more importantly, the stand-off could push children into riding adult-size machines that are too big for them to handle. Do we have to see children injured by riding inappropriate machines before this problem is solved?
Apparently Malcolm Smith isn’t going to wait for that to happen. I haven’t spoken to Malcolm about his protest yet, but it looks as though he intends to force the government’s hand in this matter.
Smith isn’t just your run-of-the-mill motorcycle dealer. He’s an industry legend— a winning racer and star of the movie classic, “On Any Sunday.”
Smith, 68, was a pioneer in off-road motorcycling. He gained fame for his accomplishments in the Baja 1000 and for his gold-medal winning rides in the International Six Day Enduro competitions, but by far his biggest claim to fame was being a star of the influential 1970s motorcycle movie, “On Any Sunday.”
The scenes of Smith play-riding with his buddies, which included popular actor Steve McQueen, showed people across the country just how fun motorcycling could be. The movie helped launch an explosion in the popularity of off-road motorcycling in America, notes the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), in discussing Smith, who is a member of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Smith’s dealership, Malcolm Smith Motorsports, recently was named the top dealer in the country by Dealernews magazine.
In announcing plans for the protest, Smith said industry celebrities including Jeff Ward, Jeremy McGrath, Bud Feldkamp and Troy Lee plan to be on hand at the Riverside, Calif., dealership to purchase kid’s products.
So, here we have an industry icon, who is a small business owner, and arguably, the Number One motorcycle dealer in the country, challenging the authority of a federal agency which is enforcing a lousy law that threatens to put a lot of people out of work and, possibly, unnecessarily endangering a lot young off-r0ad riders.
I’m not sure where we go from here. You don’t suppose we’re going to see Malcolm Smith hauled off in chains next Thursday, do you? JD
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Tags: 2009, AMA, American Motorcyclist Association, ATV, Baja 1000, Bud Feldkamp, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Consumer Product Safety Improvementd Act, CPSC, CPSIA, dealernews, Delmont, dirt bike, Feb. 10, International Six Day Enduro, Jeff Ward, Jeremy McGrath, lead content, linkedin, Malcolm Smith, March 19, MIC, Motorcycle, Motorcycle Hall of Fame, Motorcycle Industry Council, On Any Sunday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Steve McQueen, Troy Lee