Dealer Is Mad As Hell About Kid’s ATV Ban


*****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 “Due to numerous requests from Malcolm’s supporters far and wide, we have changed the timing of the event.”

So He’s Going To Sell Kid’s Machines on March 19

Remember that classic old movie from 1976, Network? If you do, you’ll remember the famous line from Howard Blake’s network anchor character, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

That’s the way Malcolm Smith feels about the current ban prohibiting the sale of kid’s ATVs, motorcycles, and related parts, garments and accessories. That’s why he plans to take some drastic action.

Malcolm is putting his money where his mouth is. Literally. He’s challenging the ban by selling

Malcolm Smith

Malcolm Smith

kid’s machines out of his dazzling powersports dealership in Riverside, Calif., on Thursday. (The sale begins at 6 am PST, March 19, 2009.)

The move could cost him big bucks, a lot more than he’ll get selling a few little dirt bikes. Fines can run as much as $100,000 per violation, up to $15 million, and there are criminal penalties involved, as well. For you non-lawyers, that means, worst case, that Malcolm could end up in jail, if authorities decide to get really nasty.

When I talked with Malcolm today, I asked him what would happen if the authorities come in Thursday and tell him to stop selling. The cagey veteran, avoided a direct answer, but I could almost see him smiling over the phone: “It’ll make a good show,” he said softly.”

He told me that he’s not certain what he’ll do after Thursday. “It depends on what other dealers do,” he says. “I don’t want to be the only one that is completely out of business.”

For those of you who have not been following the ban, here’s the deal: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), passed last year, put strict limits on the amount of lead contained in products made for youths aged 12 and younger. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was charged with implementing the law.

Fair enough, except that the agency folks said the law was so poorly written that they were being forced to ban the use of many products, such as books, and clothing, and, of course ATVs and motorcycles. That ban became effective Feb. 10, 2009, known as Black Tuesday to powersports business people. “We have no choice,” say agency representatives. “Yes, you do,” say Congressional leaders.

In the meantime, while the bickering continues in Washington, none of these units are moving out of dealerships during this, the top selling season in states such as California. The season for off-road riding ends in many states in the next month or so. And it’s costing dealers money they can’t afford to lose in this down economy.

There are 45 kid’s units sitting in Smith’s store today. “When Malcolm looks at all those units sitting in his showroom with ‘Not For Sale,’ tags on them,” says one person close to the situation, “it drives him crazy.”

Malcolm, 68, isn’t your average, seat-of-the-pants dealer, who runs his business out of a shoebox. He sold about 1,300 units in 2008, an off year, and rang up about $20 million in revenues. Malcolm Smith Motorsports recently was named the top dealership in the nation by Dealernews magazine, the oldest and largest business magazine serving the North American powersports industry.

He’s also an award-winning motorcycle racer and is a member of Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Oh, and he co-starred with actor Steve McQueen in the classic motorcycle movie, “On Any Sunday.”

Smith figures he’s lost at least $5,000 in net profit since Feb. 10, on lost revenues of more than $30,000 for units and parts and riding gear that he couldn’t sell. The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) estimates that the ban could cost the industry $1 billion this year, and Dealernews magazine estimates there is more than $100 million of unsold inventory sitting in dealer storage areas.

For all of his achievements, Malcolm Smith is a very quiet, soft-spoken gentleman. So, it was a shock to hear him answer quietly, when I asked him why he would do this: “The government is f_ _ _ _ _ up,” he said, simply.

“How in the world did they think kids would go licking their ATVs? I think you can go to any Target store and buy silverware from China that’s not lead tested and you can eat off that.” Hmmmm. Good point.

“This (law) is unbelievably not thought out,” says Smith, as he warms to the topic. “That’s the same government that couldn’t catch Bernie Madoff (who ran a $50 billion investment scam) for 20 years. We were told about two weeks before (the February deadline) that we couldn’t sell the things. If you’re going to do something like that, you’ve got to give the factories some warning.”

Smith says the current ban prevents parents from buying safety gear, such as helmets, for their kids and it encourages parents to buy machines that are too large for their children, a real safety hazard, one that’s much more dangerous than the remote possibility of lead ingestion.

Banning children’s machines also cuts off an important source of new riders, argues Smith. “We need to get people into the sport,” he says. “This is the biggest issue that I see this industry facing— there’s no way to feed new riders in. What are we, a Nanny state, where we need Big Brother out there telling us what’s safe for everybody?

“The bottom line,” says Smith, “is that the consumer protection protection people are trying to do away with ATVs and motorcycles for kids.” JD

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10 Responses to “Dealer Is Mad As Hell About Kid’s ATV Ban”

  1. Paul Furlong Says:

    Of course Malcolm is right. The government is out to kill the motorcycle industry. In fact, taking a broad view, government is out to kill our monetary system, our sovereignty and our constitution.

    It’s important that each of us with our own special interests support each other as Americans against this constant and not-so-subtle attack against our freedoms. We must recognize these aren’t just a bunch of stupid do-gooders…..they know what they’re doing and are getting good at it!

    It’s easy to call conspiracy theorists “paranoid” so let’s just say there’s no one after us. Let’s say these agency’s are truly out to save our children….Let’s just say that….

    ……but supposing someone really WAS out to get us, What Would they do differently???

  2. chuck rose Says:

    malcolm is right. and i call on all the reps in the powersports industry to call and email your representatives, governor, hell, call the mayor and make some noise.

  3. Bryan Pruitt Says:

    Malcolm is THE MAN!!!!! More power to him and our industry for standing up to the BS politics.
    Tell everyone you know to go buy from him on Thursday if they are shopping…Let’s ALL get behind him on this

  4. Jeff Donnelly Says:

    I have been reading online about how Malcolm Smith Motorcycles is going to be selling these youth ohv’s on 03-19-2009 in protest of this absurd federal ban. The facts are they are only going to be selling 3 vehicles to industry insiders and only taking deposits from normal consumers. Any consumer’s that do leave a deposit will have to wait like anyone else until the ban is removed before they can take home a new youth ohv. So if you are not one of the pre-selected industry insiders you will not be able to buy a bike during this protest. I think the buying public has a right to know the whole story. All dealers would love to be able to sell these products to the buying public but as things are now it is a violation of federal law and a violation of their dealer agreements with the manufacturer’s. Although I support what malcolm Smith is trying to do, I do believe that actually selling any of these vehicles at this time to anyone is wrong.

  5. Angie Says:

    I am very confused. I was able to purchase a Baja Motorsports 50cc youth atv on March 6, 2009. I’m not sure if they are not following the ban or what. I bought it from Pepboys and there weren’t any questions asked…How or why can they still sell these atv’s?

  6. Motorcycle Lift Says:

    “the law was so poorly written”

    Not that shocking at all, really….

  7. Classic Motorcycle Museum Says:

    Some of the most interesting, groundbreaking, or just plain weird motorcycles that have been built over the past 100 years.

  8. joseph Says:

    poor little dealers, this is the disabled and we are mad as hell that these idiot dealers do not see the true potential in the disabled to purchace motorcycles, our credit does not reflect our past, so the three credit agencies are descriminating against the disabled, we do not need your help we just want to be consumers, wake the hell up, tecknojo, disability 360

  9. Paul Furlong Says:

    Joseph, are you disabled? I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.
    Are dealers not willing to sell ATVs to you? You got the money, they should
    sell to you. If you don’t, then it’s not about dealers, it’s about people
    giving free shit away. Too much of that going on anyway. Take it up
    with the Chaplin…

  10. vicky Says:



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