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Malcolm Smith Goes Through With Promise to Sell Banned Motorcycles

by Richard Backus

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Malcolm Smith at dealership
Malcolm Smith and kids at his dealership,
protesting the 2008 Consumer Safety Act
banning sales of motorcycles and ATVs
to kids under 12 years of age.

Last week, we reported that Motorcycle Hall of Fame offroad racing champ Malcolm Smith was planning to protest the federal government's ban on selling motorcycles and ATVs to kids under 12, a ban enacted as part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Not that anyone doubted he would, but Smith stuck to his word, setting up a table in the middle of his Riverside, Calif., dealership and selling the banned bikes to three industry friends - Jeff Ward, Troy Lee and Bud Feldkamp - who turned out with dozens of others to support his protest against the CPSIA.

Smith went through with his protest March 19, and sold the banned machines to Ward, Lee and Feldkamp; so far, there's been no official reaction from officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has been under increasing pressure to amend the act to allow sales of motorcycles and ATVs to kids under 12. The machines were included in the act because they contain components with lead contents that exceed government mandates for children. Targeted toward keeping toys with high lead content away from children who might put the objects (such as small plastic toys) in their mouths, the act has angered motorcyclists across the country and put dealerships selling the machines under increased financial pressure, with youth-oriented dirt bikes and ATVs sitting on dealers' showrooms. Smith says he currently has 45 of the banned machines in storage.

It does appear the CPSC is taking the matter seriously. According to a follow-up report in Dealer News, the agency has apparently agreed, at least in principle, that youth motorcycles and ATVs pose little actual threat to children. We fully anticipate this issue will eventually be settled in favor of future sales to children under 12. For an excellent update on the sale and Smith's position, go here to read Dennis Johnson's report in Dealer News. -- Richard Backus