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CPSIA Lead Ban Update - What Now?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

August 14, 2008 is not a date that’s burned into the American psyche. Unfortunately, for those who ride motorcycles and ATVs with their kids, it marked the beginning of a long, frustrating battle to preserve our way of life. It’s been a long time since the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) started a major uproar in the powersports
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See the affected bikes in action and hear from families that are built around riding motorcycles together in our CPSIA Lead Law Update Video.
industry, but where do things stand now? It’s been almost three years since the CPSIA became public law and our industry and lawmakers are still in a state of limbo. MotoUSA borrowed some of the most popular machines for young riders to see what we’d all be missing out on, and talked to families to get their take on this ridiculous law.

First off, let’s revisit exactly what the CPSIA involves.

Title I of the Act spells out the details and it doesn’t take much to be over the proposed limit. That limit also drops over time. Originally it was set to be “600 parts per million total lead content by weight for any part of the product.” One year after the date of enactment it lowers to 300 ppm and down to 100 ppm after three years. The purpose of the so-called Lead Law was to prevent children from the dangers of ingesting lead. Obviously it was well-intended, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was too broad with its application to any product intended for children age 12 and under. Lead is found in many parts of an OHV such as battery terminals, tire valve stems, frames, engine cases, fasteners, carburetors, etc.

Once the reality began to settle in, OEMs started to realize that not only was the lead content a problem, but the cost associated with mandatory third-party testing was going to be unfeasible as well. When the ban went into effect on Feb 10, 2009, not only did it prohibit the sale of new motorcycles and ATVs, but also aftermarket components, replacement parts and used machines.
MotoUSA borrowed some of the most popular machines for young riders to see what wed all be missing out on  and talked to families to get their take on this ridiculous law.
Most manufacturers, including the Big 5 of Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, KTM and Honda, would suffer major losses without their childrens' models. Merely testing for lead would be cost prohibitive enough for manufacturers to shut the small bikes down.

Malcolm Smith staged a popular protest in the face of heavy fines when he decided to sell a trio of banned motorcycles in March of 2009 to Jeff Ward and Troy Lee. He was never assessed the $100,000 penalty per bike.

Rider rights advocates like the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) jumped on board immediately with campaigns against the ban. The initial uproar of concerned motorcyclists and ATV riders put the CPSC on guard and so the finger pointing began. Congress enacted the law and charged the CPSC federal agency with enforcing it. The Lead Law was written with a clause that allowed

Having small machines to learn on is critical for the health of our sport. Eliminating them creates a bigger problem than lead by forcing kids onto bikes that are too large and powerful for their skill.
the CPSC to exclude products which were deemed safe based on the “best-available, objective, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence.” In order to be excluded the product cannot contribute to the absorption of any lead into the human body. Sounds great, but not really… The CPSC won’t pull the trigger on exclusions because of the way the clause is written. It says “any lead” which means absolutely zero, and that’s tough to prove.

Congress says “we gave you the power, don’t look at us.” CPSC says “you tied our hands.” And so nothing has come to change. The first stay of enforcement expired and another was put in its place which is set to run out on December 31, 2011. That means if nothing changes in the next six months this might be the last time to surprise Junior with a new bike on Christmas morning. At least for a while – we could see another temporary band aid or Congress could go in and fix the law.

There have been several pieces of legislation which attempt to amend the CPSIA. So far they have not been successful, but positive feedback in recent months shows that the effort to get this situation fixed is gaining popularity with lawmakers and with the public. In the past three years, not only have people realized that the lead content is not truly a concern for this type of product, but the inappropriate law itself has caused a real danger to children. Even though kids’ bikes are still being sold at the moment, if they were to be fully banned, that isn’t going to stop kids from riding dirt bikes and ATVs. They’ll just be riding the wrong type of machine – machines much too large for their skill and ability.

MotorcycleUSA had a very informative interview with AMA Vice President for Government Relations, Ed Moreland, which filled in a lot of questions about the political landscape. But, with the changing of Congressional sessions, new legislation had to be introduced and now the bills have new names or numbers, making it a bit more confusing than

The future is still uncertain. We need to urge our legislators to support bills like H.R. 412 - Kids Just Want to Ride Act.
usual. For instance, Senate bill 608, the Common Sense in Consumer Product Safety Act of 2009, was removed from the table at the start of the 112th (current) Congressional session. The new reiteration is S. 69 (Common Sense in Consumer Product Safety Act of 2011).

The best option at the moment is the Kids Just Want to Ride Act (H.R. 412). This bill was introduced by Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), who also sponsored H.R. 1510 and 1587.
"I feel pretty confident that we're on the right side of the issue," Rehberg in an AMA release. "People say to me, 'This just lacks common sense -- what is going on here?' This is what gives Congress a bad name... You're putting our children at risk, and we're not going to allow you to do that."

The Act has been referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) is one of 73 cosponsors and called the issue “one of those very simple things to take on." Getting people angry about the CPSIA has never been the problem. Getting the proper legislation and large amounts of support behind it has been. Fortunately, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act looks to be headed down the right path. After almost three years the mood is one of careful optimism. Yamaha just announced that it is bringing back the TT-R50E and PW50, which is great for kids and a good sign that the big companies have some faith in a future solution.

Details of the Kids OHV Bikes Tested
Bikes of the CPSIA
Thursday, June 16, 2011
We sampled some of the motorcycles and ATVs that will be affected by the CPSC Lead Ban. Take a look at these machines and some of the alternates from major manufacturers.
Basically, the answer is that we still don’t have an answer. The lead limit is now 100 ppm and it’s illegal to sell bikes and parts for kids under 13. However, the law enforcement is postponed along with testing requirements at least until the end of the year, which means we can still get these bikes and ATVs without problem.

We took advantage of this and borrowed some of the bikes that would potentially become illegal, as well as some of the larger bikes that our kids would likely be forced to ride. The idea of ingesting any part of their motorcycles was pretty ridiculous to every kid we've talked to, and parents aren’t very concerned about lead either. What they are concerned about is whether or not they’re going to have to find black-market parts to support their favorite family pastime.

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Lead Law Timeline
August 14, 2008 – Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 becomes public law. It goes into effect on February 10, 2009.

March 16, 2009 – H.R. 1510 was introduced by Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) with no cosponsors with the intent to exempt OHVs from the CPSIA enforcement if the parts in question are require for safety or functionality. This bill is no longer active because it was introduced in a previous session of Congress.

March 17, 2009 – S. 608 was introduced by Jon Tester (D-MT) with three cosponsors. The purpose was to exclude OHVs as well as secondary sales and repair services. This bill is no longer active because it was introduced in a previous session of Congress.

March 18, 2009 – H.R. 1587 was introduced by Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) with 70 cosponsors and the purpose of amending the CPSIA to prohibit the CPSC from spending their appropriated funds to enforce the law on any product relating to kids’ motorcycles and ATVs. This bill is no longer active because it was introduced in a previous session of Congress.

April 3, 2009 – CPSC grants a one-year stay of enforcement.

January 25, 2011 – H.R. 412 introduced by Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) and has 73 cosponsors. It amends the CPSIA by exempting OHVs from the lead limits. It specifically addresses the motorcycle and ATV community by defining an OHV as “(1) any motorized vehicle designed to travel on two, three, or four wheels and having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control; and (2) a snowmobile.” It was referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade on February 9.

February 1, 2011 – CPSC delays enforcement and testing and certification requirements until December 31, 2011.

March 29, 2011 – Senate Amendment 264, introduced by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) with two cosponsors, would amend S. 493.

May 23, 2011 – Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) introduced HR 1939: Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011 (ECADA) is the latest bill and it seeks to alter the CPSIA significantly. Among the many proposed changes are lowering the age to six and under as well as clarifying that the product or product part must be able to be kept in the child’s mouth and sucked or chewed. A product that can only be licked would not count as being able to be placed in the mouth.
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TonyDee   June 17, 2011 11:18 AM
Thanks to every parent who supports real childrens safty by having their young riders wear all the right gear, ride the right size motorcycle, and supervise EVERY time the kids get on a bike. Special thanks to all the young riders who have promised their parents that they won't chew on the gears in the transmission or eat the valve stems.
Hutchy   June 17, 2011 10:48 AM
Buzz - Part of the lead issue is that the engine cases on the low-cost bikes contain low-levels of lead. I presume as a filler in the casting process. It is my understanding that this is where the majority of the lead content comes into play on these small bikes.
BuzzinNH   June 17, 2011 07:55 AM
From what I have read it's not that they can't make a bike without lead, but the cost of testing. The law does not make any sense to me. Kids ride in cars all the time, will they also need to be tested for lead content? I have sent a few emails to my reps, but all I ever get back is a form letter telling me how important kid safety is. They never address my questions.
van12   June 16, 2011 10:19 PM
I've read a few of the article on this now, but I still don't understand why manufacturers can't make children's dirtbikes without lead??
Hutchy   June 16, 2011 03:45 PM
I know my kids had a really great time during our test day and I hope that everyone who rides with their children, has friends that ride or simply rides motorcycles will band together and help us out. The potential damage to the industry is bad enough but the effect it has on the kids is just plain silly. It was a law intended to help protect kids. We just need to let our representatives know that we, as motorcycle riders, want them to change this law. The only way they will know we feel that way is if you tell them so please, let them know.