Archive for March, 2009

AMA Urges Action on Youth Vehicle Ban

March 16, 2009

The American Motorcyclist Association has made available a video public service announcement regarding the ban on the sale of youth OHVs intended for kids 12 and under.

It seems that just about every day, the motorcycle industry gets more vocal (here and here) about the lead content ban. Now, AMA president and CEO Rob Dingman is urging viewers to contact their representatives. Here’s Dingman:


Top Dealer To Challenge CPSC Lead Content Rule

March 14, 2009

*****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.

malcolmsmith_2008jpg-copy34And, 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.

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One Small Word Ties Up ATV, Motorcycle Industry

March 12, 2009

CPSC Is Hung Up on Terminology In Child Safety Law
Battle Between Agency and Congress Continues

The Devil is in the details, they say, and that seems to be the case in the latest episode in the lingering battle between the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the rest of the world.

Yesterday (March 11, 2009) the CPSC published a final rule covering lead content in toys designed for children aged 12 and younger that virtually slams the door on industry efforts to avoid the foolish ban on kid’s quads, motorcycles and related parts, accessories and apparel items. The ban on kid’s toys was effective Feb. 10, 2009.

It all hinges on the three-letter word “any” that appears twice in the wide-ranging Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that became law last August.

The CPSIA was written to protect young children from eating small toys and jewelry that contained excessive amounts of lead, more than 600 parts per million. Good idea, but poor execution. It’s in those little detail thingees.

In its excitement and enthusiasm, Congress got carried away and extended the safety rules to everything from clothing and cribs to ATVs and motorcycles. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was one of the leading proponents of the bill.

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Beemer Shop Owner Tells It Like It Is

March 12, 2009

The other night on The Story, a radio program that runs on one of our local NPR stations the host interviewed Ted Porter, the owner of Ted Porter’s BeemerShop. It’s an independent BMW shop up near Santa Cruz, Calif.

The show itself is simply long-form interviews with (mostly) ordinary people whose livesbeemer intersect with current issues. With Porter, the obvious hook was the economy and its effect on the motorcycle industry. During the interview with host Dick Gordon, Porter talked about his business and laid out one of the most compelling descriptions of running a motorcycle business that I’ve ever heard.

Porter’s tale was like a primer on doing EVERYTHING right, an approach that he said centered around that Business 101 basic — customer service. He explained in great detail why he ties the success of livelihood to this simple business concept (which doesn’t seem so simple for some shops). He also gave a ground level view of just how scary it is to be a small-business owner right now. Here’s a snippet from The Story’s website:

Ted Porter runs a motorcycle repair shop in California. He used to be a tinkerer. He fixed bikes on the weekends and worked a day job. But when his “hobby” grew a waiting list, he took the plunge and opened his own shop. These days, though motorcycle dealerships in his area have gone under, Ted’s business is thriving. He tells Dick Gordon about the one business decision he made that was crucial to his success in this wavering economy: staying true to the ideals of customer service he learned from his dad.

I highly recommend giving this interview a listen. It’s available as a podcast by going here or by looking it up on iTunes (search American Public Media: The Story).

Inventor Patents Passenger ‘Safety Grips’

March 9, 2009

An inventor from Portland, Ore., has patented an accessory that he says would help passengers of motorcycles, ATVs and personal watercraft hold on to the operator.

Inventor service company InventHelp publicized the product, but failed to name its inventor client. outmax800refixt1

The “Safety Grips” (not to be confused with the previously released “Buddy Belt”) consist of a nylon, padded belt that is secured via hook-and-loop fasteners. Sewn into the rear of the belt would be a pair of upright handles facing the passenger. In use, the operator would adjust the belt to fit his or her waist, and the passenger grips the handles throughout the duration of the ride.

According to InventHelp, the inventor was inspired to create the Safety Grips after an off-roading trip. “We used this belt while riding quads on sand dunes at the beach, and we got a lot of positive feedback from both passengers and operators,” he said.

Lets hope the inventor was riding the ATV in the prescribed manner – in other words, not riding two-up on a single rider vehicle. Existing two-up ATVs, from BRP and Arctic Cat, come supplied with multi-position passenger grab rails and backrest.

Get This Bike and Help Andrew Trevitt

March 4, 2009
One of the many, many items up for grabs in a fund-raising auction benefitting moto-journo Andrew Trevitt.

One of the many, many items up for grabs in a fund-raising auction benefitting moto-journo Andrew Trevitt.

OK. When I first heard about what happened to Sport Rider editor Andrew Trevitt I had a very familiar “there but for the grace of god …” moments. It’s one I have anytime I read a report about a rider going down as the result of a bike/car accident, something that happens with alarming frequency unfortunately. It’s a bald, scary fact that the things that separate me (and you) from eternity (or else) are a driver’s attention span or my riding skills. This is something I keep in the forefront of my thoughts anytime I hit the road on two or four wheels. My heart goes out to Andrew and his family.

Andrew survived his accident but not without some horrific injuries. And as a tribute to his character and a testament to the close-knit nature of the motorcycle industry, Kawasaki has put together a huge auction in Daytona to raise money for him. There is also an eBay auction. Andrew’s currently undergoing extensive rehabilitation and has already run a marathon of medical procedures. Check out the details of the auction over at Dealernews.com, including information on this custom V-twin and other items up for grab. There is also a link to the blog Andrew is keeping during his recuperation.

God speed Andrew.

Malcolm Smith is Dealernews’ Dealer of the Year

March 4, 2009

In case you missed it: Malcolm Smith Motorsports was named “Dealer of the Year” by Dealernews magazine’s Top 100 Dealer Program.malcolmsmith_2008jpg-copy

Malcolm is one of the most impressive and best-loved legends in motorcycling. As the raucous applause at the Indiana Roof Ballroom attested to, Mr. Smith and his team were more than deserving of the top prize at the 18th annual Top 100 Awards.

I had the pleasure of joining Malcolm and his family and team members at dinner following the festivities. Much to my delight, we were also joined by Bruce Brown. For those who don’t know, Bruce is a filmmaker perhaps best known for the surf film The Endless Summer (1964) and the motorcycle film On Any Sunday (1971). As Malcolm told me of On Any Sunday, “Bruce put me on the map with that movie.”

Sitting between those two, listening to an evening of stories about Steve McQueen, Hawaii, Dakar and a zany cast of characters, was perhaps the greatest treat I’ve been allowed to have during my time in the industry.

Ducati’s Michael Lock Speaks …

March 4, 2009

to who else but our favorite industry cad and all-around good guy, Robert Pandya, during a quick tete-a-tete (except for the camera man and those guys in the background) at Dealer Expo.

Lock has interesting take on what dealers need to be doing right now as the economy continues to ooze and drip. Lock suggests “Don’t sell a product, sell an entrance to a club.” Make sure customers are happy and engaged and know that there’s much more to motorcycling than two-wheels and a motor. It’s all about the lifestyle baby (that last bit was mine.)

heeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeee’ssssssss Robert and Michael