Kids discuss minibike ban, part 1

Last month the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) delivered a stay order for the entire United States and its territories to ban the sale of all listed consumer products marketed for children 12 and under that, as stated in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), may contain traces of lead.

On that list was the hot-button item, the minibike, along with all related parts, safety gear and accessories, thus shutting down a (recently struggling) hundred-billion-dollar economic boutique industry.

The powersports industry, consumer groups, safety advocates and parents across the nation collectively asked for exemption before a majority of congressional leaders voted the recommendations of the CPSC into Public Law 110-314 on Feb. 10.

What do the local minibike kids think about the ban?

“I thought that [the ban] wouldn’t be good,” said Hunter Rastavan, 11, of Lake Elsinore. There’s a lot of people in this sport, all the kids out there on minibikes, and it wouldn’t be fair ’cause everybody wants to ride.”

Marcus Gaffner, 10, of Temecula, said sadly, “When I heard about the ban it made me feel really bad that I couldn’t get a new 85cc bike. I’m outgrowing my 65cc bike. Isn’t this about Chinese products and not American or European products anyway?”

Austin Madigan, 8, of Temecula, stated, “I don’t think that it’s fair that as my parts wear out I won’t be able to get any more. Then I can’t ride. It ruins the sport.

“We’d have to skip up to a 250cc bike for me to ride and that’s not safe. I’m not big enough yet for that size bike, but our family has discussed it anyway.”

Austin’s 9-year-old sister, Abbey, felt the same way: “This sucks, because if we grow out of a 65cc we can’t get an 85cc. I agree with my brother. It ruins the sport.”

Abbey and Austin’s mom, Valerie, mentioned that riding dirt bikes has been a positive reinforcement for her son.

“This is Austin’s second race,” she said. “Last week his teacher called me and she said, ‘There’s a 100-percent improvement in his classroom participation since he started racing.’

“It really makes a difference on what we expect of him in return for what he expects from us – to go racing.”

Recently, Alex Lamarr, 9, of San Diego, was on a desert ride with his family when his minibike broke.

“Oh, yeah,” said his mother, Michelle, “Alex knows plenty when it comes to the unintended consequences of this minibike ban.

“We clearly explained to him we could not get any parts to fix his bike. He cried, saying, ‘They’re messing with kids’ dreams.’

“Right now he’s on a borrowed bike for this race, and we’ve explained to him that if he breaks any parts we can’t fix the borrowed bike and he’s done with racing. He cried again.

“I promised my daughter that when I bought a toy hauler I would buy her a quad. I bought the toy hauler three weeks ago and had to sadly explain to her that I can’t get her the quad I promised… It’s really sad.”

According to Alex, “They’re messing up the kids’ dreams of becoming professional motocross riders. The CPSC was really rude and not nice in making their decision.

“It’s not fair for them to make a decision without the public’s vote – a decision that affects people who do this sport by people who don’t do this sport.

“I’ve earned the privilege to make good decisions and ride my bike. They were very irresponsible to do this.

“I wouldn’t eat a minibike part, anyway – I don’t eat much fast food.”

On the industry side

Amanda Langston, co-owner of Langston Racing in Lake Elsinore, knows all too well how it is to be a race parent.

Her son, Grant, is currently a professional Supercross racer.

“This minibike ban and the lead content thing is absurd,” she said. “I’m absolutely appalled. There are people in charge of this country who are directly inept at overseeing the public’s interest and economy.

“This has created a hardship on our business and we have to share the disappointment with our customers.

“We have race parents coming in needing a cylinder. I can get them aftermarket pistons, rings and heads, but the cylinders are only made by the bike manufacturers and they’re totally banned from supplying to us.

“I hate to have to tell loyal customers with hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars invested in their kid’s worn minibike, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t get you that part that you need. Your kid’s bike is as useless as the minibikes that were for sale on our showroom floor.’ This whole mess is very frustrating.

“I’ll support any legislation that is actively turning over this ridiculous law. Come on, a kid would have to consume an entire dirt bike in order to address the levels of lead stated in the CPSIA. Who’s to say if it really would be absorbed in their intestinal track, anyway?

“There’s more lead in tap water than there is on a minibike.”

On the political front

Seth Levy, a third grade student at Barnett Elementary School in Ramona, decided to address the issue in writing to US Congressman Duncan Hunter of the 52nd District, based in San Diego County.

Seth and his family got a response from Hunter. So did Levy’s classmates.

Hunter saw the opportunity to respond in twofold: first to the Seth in a thank you and explanation on his attempts to remedy this scenario, second with an hour-long Friday morning assembly with Seth’s classmates.

“The meeting with Duncan and the class was awesome,” said Seth’s dad, Ted. “The kids all had questions regarding the lead and minibike ban.

“[Hunter] spoke with all of the kids, basically to say that anything that had lead in it may be a hazard, and signed autographs. It was a great learning experience for the kids talking with a real elected official who cares.”

More from the kids

Team Cobra rider Skylar Smith, 7, of Huntington Beach, said, “I think it’s not fair if I had to wait five years to ride a bike again. Without proper training and practice I probably won’t be very safe at that age to pick up at the level where I’m at today.”

Moreno Valley’s Cory Ferguson, 8, stated, “I’m not that dumb that I’d eat a battery terminal. We don’t even have batteries on our minibikes. It’s stupid ’cause they – the government – doesn’t even know that.”

Cory’s grandfather, Mark Swanson, is a teacher and an advocate of parent-child interaction and community involvement.

“About 50 of the 700 kids in our school do motorized sports with their families,” he said. “I can only speak about the kids in my class. Their parents who are sticklers on expectations and rules – that reflects on their grades.”

“Cory has issues with reading,” continued Swanson, lovingly patting his grandson on the back. “We’ve tried football, baseball and karate. It’s this incentive [motocross] to do well in school that caught Cory’s total attention.

“It’s a full-blown family plan to keep him focused in an activity where the entire family unit gets to vote on the weekend’s activities by utilizing choice.”

Dustin Barnes, 8, of Aliso Viejo, said, “My favorite part about being in my pit with my mom and dad with my minibike is just sitting on it.”

Lake Elsinore brothers Kyle, 8, and Kody Van Tienen, 7, are also disappointed.

“I’ve been riding for three years,” said Kody. “I would feel sad if I couldn’t ride anymore with my brother. I like riding on Sundays with my mom, dad and brothers.”

“I didn’t really like the idea of the ban,” stated Kyle. “I’ve talked to my best friend across the street, Shane. It’s too bad Shane can’t get a bike now and ride with me like we had planned.”

Kyle’s advice for other kids across the country: “Keep pushing your limit on your dirt bikes and never give up.”

From the big kids

To protest the ban, some big kids are stepping up to the plate.

As of press time, Malcolm Smith was set to defy the CPSIA at his dealership near the auto row area of Riverside at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, selling banned minibikes to race celebrities Jeff Ward and Jeremy McGrath.

To comment on this article online, visit

For updates on the ban, visit the following:

• Motorcycle Industry Council,

• American Motorcycle Association,

• Americans for Responsible Recreation Access,

• Congressman Darrell Issa,

25 Responses to "Kids discuss minibike ban, part 1"

  1. Charlie   March 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    The first thing that comes to mind is a lack of statistical data to support the fact these out of control children actually consumer their motorcycles. I stared out riding at age 11 and have now been riding 46 seasons. During that time I have yet to find it necessary to even think about eating all or part of any motorcycle I have owned and this would include the first Briggs powered minibike I have in the early 60’s. Had we had the support and equipment kids do now I truly believe the learning curve and medical expenses would have been far shorter and much less.

    Today, virtually every manufacturer that sells motorcycles has some form of educational support program and not simply for kids, these programs like the MSF classes are for adults too. The system is far removed from that of the toy industry which often operates out of control until some issue happens to come up after injury has already occurred.
    Motorcyclist parents, kids and riders in general know these are not toys and operating them without proper instruction and gear often does cause injury so the general level of preparedness is beyond toy land and for just causes. Now, kids will be forced to learn and they will learn, on bikes that are as it used to be, too big and often overpowered for their respective skill levels. This in turn once again places the child’s safety needs on the back burner.

    Placing the youth machines was simply another government attempt to right something it obviously knows nothing about nor has it researched youth motorcycles enough to know just how safe they are relative to what they accomplish.

  2. Dale   March 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I currently have a cracked case, guess what i can’t get the parts i need to fix it. I wonder what do i do with the junk i can’t fix ? Should i melt it down and turn it into scrap metal

  3. Catherine Jaime   March 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Great comments, and great quotes. If only Congress had as much sense as some of these kids.
    (Though I do think the first sentence of the article is slightly inaccurate — the stay that was issued only impacted the testing requirements of the law — the ban on selling things with "too much lead" still went into effect on February 10 of this year.

  4. Brian L   March 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    If you need parts, call Canada. While I realize this will not help our local dealers, our neighbors to the north are more than willing to send us what we need. God Bless Loopholes!!! Here is the contact info for the Suzuki dealer I am using in BC:
    Suzuki of Nicola, attn Wilf (250) 378-2234

  5. DL   March 23, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I need these to hit my number

  6. Kevin   March 23, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I think the dealers should just sell the bikes anyway! Afer all the dealers are not selling the bikes to 12 year olds, they are selling them to the parents. I don’t know any kids that can walk into a dealer buy a bike on there own.

  7. Deebo   March 23, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Well, at least we wont have any of these little monsters on the tracks, getting in the way of adult riders. Plus, kids fall down way too much…probably those big heads throw them off balance. I for one dont really care i these kids get to ride or not. It is only a matter of time before this ban is lifted, so stop whining!!!

  8. lilman's mom   March 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Weren’t you a kid once!!!!! Or did you just come out an ingnorant adult. Sounds to me like someone has gotten his butt beat by some little monster somewhere. I know mine go around alot of the adults like thier standing still, and very rarely does he fall down.

  9. rob fox   March 23, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    that not right to ban minibike

  10. chadley75   March 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Deebo …. your a putz.

    This ban will ruin our sport eventually if something is done soon. My hats off to Malcom smith for saying "ta-hell-with-it" and selling anyway.

  11. chase davis   March 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    where is the help from the ama they have plenty of monster energy t shirt stands at the supercross but where is a table to sign a petion

  12. Shad   March 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Deebo, you are a complete moron. The new administration is pushing all sorts of new bans from dirt bikes to guns and assault weapons. The country is in for some serious bumps in the not too distant future.

  13. Alexander   March 23, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    uhh yeah!! this school was the school i used to go to. i wish i was there when this happended.

  14. Rocko   March 23, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    well i tell you what the people who got this going just want your kids and mine to get in trouble and drift away from family fun, riding and racing bring familys together so i thought. congress phooey heads want our kids to steal, cheat, rob, and get in trouble,and even kill. this is so stupid kids cant ride,STUPID!!!!!!!! whats next take cars away from adults??? well all congress has to do every day is sit around and do nothing but pick on kids,because thay are scared of doing the right thing. let the kids ride! when they are at the tracks they are with family and not on the street breaking into your house or dooing drugs…. i could go on and on but congress can only get together on two things 1-pay raises,2-trying to take over the world.. you guys were never kids with dreams were you????

  15. Dare 31   March 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    I am an A Class rider that has many years of racing experience. I didn’t start riding until I was 20 years old. My son on the other hand started riding when he was 2. He’s 9 now. I wanted him to have what I never had as a kid and something to keep him out of trouble and off the streets when he is older. My son within his first 4 seasons won 2 championships and riding really put a good head on his shoulders. It made him more responsible and gave him drive. In this economy, I think the government should be worried about other things than taking more jobs away and hurting kids. It’s really pathetic. Is this the great country that we all think we live in? F—ing Amazing! God Bless The USA!!!!!!

  16. Dare 31   March 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Oh and Deebo……… are a tool!

  17. E.S.   March 23, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Well, I hate to say I told you so, but so many people voted for "CHANGE" last year and now you’re getting it. I thought the gov’t was to be voted by the people for the people. Why are these putz’s still in office? Not that that is going to change this bill at the current time, but to hell with this ban. Sell the bikes to the adults who are paying for them and the parts as well. How is anyone going to know that the little 50 is going to be ridden by any kid. Heck I have one that we ride in our back yard. This ban sucks and I say lets get rid of the ban, then get rid of the dumbass’s that got this ban in place to begin with.

  18.   March 24, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    SINGLE TERM LIMITS are the answer! Instead of petitions pitifully pleading these bozo’s to "Let the kids ride" we should be organizing STATEWIDE referendums to bring SINGLE TERM LIMITS to ballot!

    Frank Z

  19. N.N.   March 24, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    This ban is ridiculous. Everybody knows it.

  20. SQ   March 24, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    In response to chase davis:
    I’m not sure who sponsored them but there was a very vocal group in the pits at the Saint Louis SX asking people to sign their petition and send letters.

  21. A concerned parent that will now seek to break the law.   March 25, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Thank you US GOVERNMENT for this ban, I could not stop my 8 year old son from chewing on the battery terminals of his Quad.

    This fixed that terrible, horrible human tragedy.

    The economy is in the toilet, and this is what our government is doing about it. NOT TOO SMART GUYS. How about solving some REAL PROBLEMS?

  22. Jason   March 25, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    "We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. "With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. "Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny." ~ Abraham Lincoln

  23. Dare 31   March 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    What if we staged a protest on Congress for the industry and the kids dreams? Kind of like a million man march for the whole entire motorcycle industry. Would anybody show up? I would, but how many people would actually take action like Malcolm Smith and a few others have? …..Not that many

  24. Pissed   April 2, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I guess most of you don’t realize that this bill was signed into legislation in 2008……by G. effen W. Bush. I voted for Obama and am just as pissed about this ban but ya’ll need to get your facts straight before blaming the current administration. There are two lawmakers that have recently vowed to overturn this ban…..and one them is a Dem!

  25. Martin   April 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Bull crap.
    Mini Bikes are awesome, and shouldn’t need a ban. I’ve rided in one before. These are just too many little soccer moms/dads who are worrying about their little kids. I ride bikes in KTM racing, this should NOT BE HAPPING PEOPLE. DON’T BAN STUFF THAT IS NOT SUTIBLE FOR YOUR KIDS. LEARN THE LESSON.

    Like again, this is the same thing that goes to U.S. law.
    Emailing people like Duncan D. Hunter won’t make a single diffrence.


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