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AMA Hall of Famer Malcolm Smith thumbs his nose at federal law and sells a youth ATV

March 23, 2009


In an act of defiance against what he says is a ridiculous law, AMA Hall of Famer Malcolm Smith sold three youth OHVs on March 19 despite a federal ban on the sale of those vehicles.

Smith sold two 65cc motorcycles and a youth ATV at a rally he organized at his Malcolm Smith Motorsports motorcycle and ATV dealership in Riverside, Calif. Among those attending the rally were fellow AMA Hall of Famers Jeff Ward, Jeremy McGrath and Scot Harden. AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris, Troy Lee and Glen Helen Raceway owner Bud Feldkamp also were there to show support, as well as many other off-road riders and motorized recreation enthusiasts.

A new law -- the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 -- has effectively banned the sale of youth off-highway vehicles (OHVs) as of Feb. 10, 2009. Under the law, which is administered by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers are barred from making, importing, distributing or selling any product intended for children 12 and under that contains more than 600 parts per million of lead in any accessible part.

Smith was a pioneer in off-road motorcycling. He gained fame for his accomplishments in the Baja 1000 and for his gold-medal winning rides in the International Six Day Enduro competitions, but by far his biggest claim to fame was being a star of the influential 1970s motorcycle movie, "On Any Sunday." The scenes of Smith play-riding with his buddies, which included popular actor Steve McQueen, showed people across the country just how fun motorcycling could be. The movie helped launch an explosion in the popularity of off-road motorcycling in America.

Smith said he decided to sell youth machines despite the ban after a woman approached him to buy a motorcycle for her child so that the whole family could ride dirt bikes, and he was forced to tell her she couldn't buy the bike.

At that point, Smith said, he had had enough of the law.

He also said he planned more civil disobedience to bring attention to the law.

Smith and others speaking at the rally urged those attending to contact their federal lawmakers to change the law to allow the sale of kids' motorcycles and ATVs. The AMA also is calling for action to help reverse the potentially devastating effect this could have on the sport of OHV recreation.

Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, said he fears that if this issue isn't addressed immediately, irreparable harm will be done to family motorized recreational activities, youth racing and the powersports industry.

"Many of the small dealers and suppliers are already struggling with an unfavorable economy and may not survive the loss of their youth vehicle and parts sales," he added.

"Furthermore, it is of utmost importance that young riders only ride appropriately sized machines," he said. "To eliminate the availability of ATVs and motorcycles designed for riders 12 and under will likely cause some consumers to buy OHVs that are physically too large for young riders.

"It makes no sense to trade an effective safety measure like right-sized machines for kids for a theoretical one that prevents them from ingesting lead in the event they eat their motorcycle," Moreland said. "That simply doesn’t happen and youth model motorcycles and ATVs should be put back on the market before someone really does get hurt."
 
You can help. Write to the CPSC and ask its members to exclude OHVs from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Write to:

Chairwoman Nancy Nord
Commissioner Thomas Moore
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East-West Highway 
Bethesda, MD 20814.

Also, contact your federal lawmakers and ask them to support legislation to exempt youth motorcycles and ATVs from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. You can contact your federal legislators by going to the "Rights" and then "Issues and Legislation" section of this website.

Plus, there you can sign up for the AMA Government Relations Department's Action E-list so that you can be notified by e-mail when you can make a difference on important issues.

If you would like to circulate a petition to change the law, contact Jessica Irving, AMA grassroots coordinator, at jirving@ama-cycle.org.


Former AMA Supercross champ Jeff Ward was one of the people who bought a youth dirt bike from Malcolm Smith.

Malcolm Smith has a large dealership and a lot of youth ATVs sitting idle.

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