Malcolm Smith and his son, Alexander
It’s not often we find motorcyclists – especially famous motorcyclists like Motorcycle Hall of Fame offroad racing champ and “On Any Sunday” star Malcolm Smith – publicly protesting against the feds. But that’s exactly what Smith is doing, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is, literally, declaring he’ll start selling youth motorcycles and ATVs to kids under 12 in defiance of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
The obvious question is, why? The act in question prohibits the sale of youth motorcycles and ATVs to kids under 12, deeming them unhealthy because of suspected high levels of lead content, which it’s charged can be found in brake parts, battery terminals and other components. Fair enough, you say. The problem is, the act is directed at limiting lead content in toys, especially the kind little kids might put in their mouths, not youth-oriented recreational machines likes motorcycles and ATVs. I seriously doubt we’ll ever encounter a 10-year-old trying to stuff a 50cc Honda in his or her mouth, and it’s doubtful any kid clued in enough to be riding at 10 will be trying to lick a battery post, either.
While this type of over-reaching legislation may not shock the non-riding population, its potential effect on the motorcycle industry is huge. Kawasaki, Honda and other companies have been forced to pull their youth-oriented machines from further sale, and incredibly, they can’t even sell parts for already sold machines that fall under the banned category, a situation noted by the Kingsport, Tenn., timesnews.net in a recent article on the subject.
The new act is obviously absurd, and clearly underscores the complexity of trying to craft catch-all legislation incorporating broad protection measures. And that’s exactly why dealers like Smith and others are protesting, with plans to sell the prohibited machines regardless. We can’t quote Smith on his reasons, but it’s pretty clear why he’s going down the path he’s chosen, launching a campaign he calls Kids Love 2 Ride and with plans to sell banned bikes to the under 12 crowd starting Thursday, March 19, at 4 p.m. Pacific time.
On Monday, March 16, Smith issued a press release reading as follows:
Protest Event Fact Sheet
Who: Malcolm Smith
What: Kids Love 2 Ride Protest
When: Thursday, March 19, 2009, 4:00pm PST
Where: Malcolm Smith Motorsports
7599 Indiana Avenue, Riverside, CA 92504
Why: In defiance of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 which prohibits the sale of youth motorcycles and ATVs deemed unhealthy for children under 12 due to suspected high-levels of lead content, motorcycle dealer Malcolm Smith will sell these banned vehicles as a sign of protest. As a sign of support, a group of small business people and high-profile motorcycle industry celebrities, including racers Jeff Ward and Jeremy McGrath, Glen Helen Raceway owner Bud Feldkamp, and motorsport design guru Troy Lee have all agreed to be on hand to purchase banned units for use by their own children and grandchildren.
Stayed tuned, because you know this is going to get interesting. And get involved, because you know this is wrong, threatening our rights as riders and owners, and our right to introduce our children to motorsports as we see fit, when we see fit. – Richard Backus
AMA President Rob Dingham speaks out against the act on YouTube