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Kids discuss minibike ban, part 1
Friday, March 20th, 2009
Issue 12, Volume 13.
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] wouldnít be good," said Hunter Rastavan, 11, of Lake Elsinore. Thereís a lot of people in this sport, all the kids out there on minibikes, and it wouldnít be fair ícause 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 couldnít get a new 85cc bike. Iím outgrowing my 65cc bike. Isnít this about Chinese products and not American or European products anyway?"
Austin Madigan, 8, of Temecula, stated, "I donít think that itís fair that as my parts wear out I wonít be able to get any more. Then I canít ride. It ruins the sport.
"Weíd have to skip up to a 250cc bike for me to ride and thatís not safe. Iím not big enough yet for that size bike, but our family has discussed it anyway."
Austinís 9-year-old sister, Abbey, felt the same way: "This sucks, because if we grow out of a 65cc we canít get an 85cc. I agree with my brother. It ruins the sport."
Abbey and Austinís mom, Valerie, mentioned that riding dirt bikes has been a positive reinforcement for her son.
"This is Austinís second race," she said. "Last week his teacher called me and she said, ĎThereís a 100-percent improvement in his classroom participation since he started racing.í
"It really makes a difference on what we expect of him in return for what he expects from us Ė 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, ĎTheyíre messing with kidsí dreams.í
"Right now heís on a borrowed bike for this race, and weíve explained to him that if he breaks any parts we canít fix the borrowed bike and heís 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 canít get her the quad I promisedÖ Itís really sad."
According to Alex, "Theyíre messing up the kidsí dreams of becoming professional motocross riders. The CPSC was really rude and not nice in making their decision.
"Itís not fair for them to make a decision without the publicís vote Ė a decision that affects people who do this sport by people who donít do this sport.
"Iíve earned the privilege to make good decisions and ride my bike. They were very irresponsible to do this.
"I wouldnít eat a minibike part, anyway Ė I donít 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. "Iím absolutely appalled. There are people in charge of this country who are directly inept at overseeing the publicís 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 theyíre totally banned from supplying to us.
"I hate to have to tell loyal customers with hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars invested in their kidís worn minibike, ĎIím sorry, I canít get you that part that you need. Your kidís bike is as useless as the minibikes that were for sale on our showroom floor.í This whole mess is very frustrating.
"Iíll 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. Whoís to say if it really would be absorbed in their intestinal track, anyway?
"Thereís 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 Levyís 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 Sethís classmates.
"The meeting with Duncan and the class was awesome," said Sethís 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 itís not fair if I had to wait five years to ride a bike again. Without proper training and practice I probably wonít be very safe at that age to pick up at the level where Iím at today."
Moreno Valleyís Cory Ferguson, 8, stated, "Iím not that dumb that Iíd eat a battery terminal. We donít even have batteries on our minibikes. Itís stupid ícause they Ė the government Ė doesnít even know that."
Coryís 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 Ė that reflects on their grades."
"Cory has issues with reading," continued Swanson, lovingly patting his grandson on the back. "Weíve tried football, baseball and karate. Itís this incentive [motocross] to do well in school that caught Coryís total attention.
"Itís a full-blown family plan to keep him focused in an activity where the entire family unit gets to vote on the weekendís 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.
"Iíve been riding for three years," said Kody. "I would feel sad if I couldnít ride anymore with my brother. I like riding on Sundays with my mom, dad and brothers."
"I didnít really like the idea of the ban," stated Kyle. "Iíve talked to my best friend across the street, Shane. Itís too bad Shane canít get a bike now and ride with me like we had planned."
Kyleís 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.
For updates on the ban, visit the following:
ē Motorcycle Industry Council, www.mic.org
ē American Motorcycle Association, www.amadirectlink.com
ē Americans for Responsible Recreation Access, www.arra-access.com
ē Congressman Darrell Issa, www.issa.house.gov
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