It’s legal to sell dirt bikes to kids again

Dailies -



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reporting a shortage of accredited labs capable of performing that testing, so some bikes and ATVs may again need be withdrawn from sale later this year.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.

  • Ted

    I’m so glad they are there to keep us safe from ourselves.

    • dux

      Welcome to the USSA – No Fun Allowed.
      And please, let your children enjoy the TSA groping at the airport.

  • Jeremy

    Hey Government, why don’t you leave the parenting to the parents and focus on what your currently failing at. And besides when I was a kid and there was no food on the table my parents fed us batteries and paint and we turned out okay…

  • Case

    Congress: solving problems that don’t exist with solutions that don’t work.

    Full disclosure: I lean wayyy to the left politically, and am generally not anti-government. I’m anti-stupid.

    • Roman

      Until someone catches a case of salmonella or lead poisoning and then everyone’s screaming bloody murder about where was the FDA, EPA, (insert acronym here). Yeah, it was a stupid law and now it’s fixed, but let’s not let one dumb kneejerk reaction beget another.

      • Case

        @ Roman: I agree with you. There are plenty of government agencies that provide essential services and improve our quality of life. This particular piece of legislation was just absurdly short-sighted. It happens, but that’s typical of short-sighted, knee-jerk reactive responses.

    • Coreyvwc

      If it ain’t broke, fix it till it is. I’ve been a govt. employee for almost a decade now, and that is our motto.

  • CG

    These laws are all passed by people my age, in other words, people who somehow managed to live through their youths when NONE of these types of nanny state rules existed. How are we all still alive? Given that we live in the brokest country in the history of the world, how are they planning on paying all the administrators of these rules?

    • aristurtle

      The law in question was passed because toys for three year olds kept showing up full of lead paint. The law wasn’t designed to ban small-displacement dirt bikes, that was an unintentional side effect that has now been corrected.

      Sidenote: when I first heard about the issue I assumed that manufacturers would start to make lead-free dirtbikes on the assumption that Congress would be too dysfunctional to ever fix the law. Clearly that wasn’t necessary, but what would that require, anyway? A nickel-based battery and lead-free wiring solder, certainly. Anything else?

      • pplassm

        It’s a bit more complicated than that. Lead is used in minute quantities directly and indirectly throughout the manufacturing process. The law specified that there could be NO lead involved. The AMA website has articles that explain the conflict.

  • R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    Ah, well that was a short three years.

  • Heather (aka Sportbikechic)

    Not a huge fan of the AMA, but they lobbied long and hard to get this changed, and I think we all owe them a collective thanks. Well, at least the kids do.

    • Artful

      No, we all do. Kids that have a chance to grow up with motorcycles turn into adults with motorcycles, which represents the younger demographic that the motorcycle industry needs to stay relevant into the future.