On Friday, President Obama signed an amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 into law, categorically excluding motorcycles and ATVs from the list of lead-containing, child-targeted products banned from sale. We broke the story that CPSIA would ban children’s bikes back in January, 2009, a move that’s estimated to have cost the industry up to $1 billion a year in lost sales. This news should mark a financial uptick for dealers and OEMs still struggling to move product post cheap credit. But, it could be a short lived lifeline.
CPSIA was railroaded through congress back at the end of 2008 in a knee jerk reaction to all sorts of news stories about childrens toys from China containing unhealthy amounts of lead. As it was written, any product intended for use by people 12 years old or younger couldn’t contain even trace amounts of lead. This immediately became a problem for dirt bikes and ATVs, which use lead in batteries and in metal alloys used throughout their construction. Never mind that kids would probably have a hard time ingesting a frame or battery, the law was all-encompassing in its scope.
Since that time there’s been a stay of enforcement granted by the federal government, but many OEMs and dealers held back on sales, as states could still selectively choose to enforce the law. This amendment permanently resolves that issue.
Dealer News reports that many dealers and manufacturers are planning special promotions to celebrate the end of the ban, hopefully informing customers of the ruling and ending years of consumer confusion.
But, even while bikes are now permanently excluded from the silly lead law, another problem is potentially arising. CPSIA also dictates that products intended for 12s and under must pass federal certification testing by November 27 of this year. Many companies are reporting a shortage of accredited labs capable of performing that testing, so some bikes and ATVs may again need be withdrawn from sale later this year. This further confusion and mandated testing is indicative of the increasingly difficult legislative waters the motorcycle industry must now navigate and imposes a further obstacle on the importation and sale of niche products. For consumers, each additional hurdle a new product must clear increases cost and reduces choice in the market place. Still, at least its again legal to put kids on brand new motorcycles.