While walking the floor of the 2009 Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana, in February, Associate Editor Eli Madero and I came across something that just about had us rolling on the floor with intense laughter. So naturally, I felt it appropriate to share with our readers in light of some recent harsh news our industry is facing. Here's how the sign read: "Caution, if you are under the age of 13 years old, do not lick, eat, stroke, caress, slurp, fondle, suck, gulp, swallow, sip, taste, gobble, swig, scarf or in any way ingest any part of this motorcycle." We want to thank the great guys at Cobra for helping to lighten a bit of the sadness we've been staring in the face lately with their sign in reference to their youth-model motorcycles and ATVs.
During tough times, I'll be the first to admit that a little humor can help me get through the frustrations. But there is truly nil on the funny factor about the situation our industry currently finds itself up against. And the reason I started this column off in a joking manner is because all of the good news ends here. For those of you not in the know, the youth motorcycle and ATV industry has been unfairly attacked and basically has been brought to a complete and utter halt. On February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) went into effect prohibiting the sale of any products that contain lead that are marketed to children 12 and under. This is a law that blankets all toys and products marketed toward children including ATVs, motorcycles and many if not most of the parts that you'd need to keep these machines maintained and running.
The CPSIA is a nightmare on so many levels. And for those who have nothing to do with or do not really care about the youth segment of the off-road community, please listen up as truly this law affects us all. First off, in this already painful economy, dealers are taking a hit right now as they've had to pull all youth ATVs and motorcycles marketed for anyone under the age of 13 off the showroom floor. Yes, that means many if not most of the parts for these machines have come off the shelves as well. If you already own a youth ATV, finding parts to maintain your kid's ride is going to become very difficult from this point forward-unless something drastic happens. As if things weren't bad enough, I also expect that many dealers are going to be going out of business over the next several months due to the economy and being capped off by this new law.
Second, these kids are the future of the sport we're so passionate about. I don't know about you guys, but this one is personal for me. I've dreamed for many years about sharing the joys of this sport with my son just like it was shared with me when I was growing up. He is almost 4 years old and his days of being able to ride are drawing very near. Now, that dream is quickly being destroyed for absolutely no good reason. Just think about all of the kids across the United States who look forward to Saturday morning and hitting the trails with dad. Imagine how they'll feel when dad is loading up and getting ready to head out for a day ride while they have to stay back at home.
I could probably go on and on about what ill effects will come of this horrible decision to outlaw these machines, such as the fact that many children will just end up riding ATVs that they should not be riding, therefore further damaging the community beyond repair. But it's time to shift focus on what you and I can do to turn this situation around. I know that all of the manufacturers, race event promoters, AMA, ATVA and organizations such as the NOHVCC are doing everything they can on their end, but without the power of the people, it will be difficult to reverse the damage to our sport.
First, we all need to band together and let our senators and congressmen know of our displeasure and disapproval of this new law and how it unfairly targets the youth off-road industry. Another thing you can do is to visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov and send the commission an e-mail urging it to exclude the youth model ATVs and motorcycles from the CPSIA. It's also important to stay on top of the continually changing news on this subject by visiting our site at www.atvrideronline.com or checking in on the AMA at www.amadirectlink.com as it helps fight the good fight. We'll do our best to keep you updated and fill you in on further actions that can be taken.
As I mentioned previously, it will take the power of the people to turn back the damage. This feat will require each and every single one of us doing our part and caring enough to save our children's favorite sport. Will you stand up and take action? We know we will!