collateral_damage_dvdIn warfare there is a term – collateral damage – that is used to describe damage to people and property which is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome. It is important we understand that, unlike land closures and noise ordinances, the latest threat to our vintage dirt bike hobby, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010, is not targeted toward vintage dirt bikes, or motorcycles, or even off-road vehicles in general.

It is targeted at the thousands of foreign manufacturers who ship electronics, toys, clothing, and consumer goods into the US. It is intended to make those companies subject to, and easily accessible by, the US tort system. It also includes any suppliers to those companies – such as companies that make boxes, pallets, packaging materials, straps, plastics, etc.

We, the vintage dirt bikers, are just a little invisible community that will be squashed if this bill passes. Continue reading logoWatch out. Congress is at it again and this time they may wipe out half the vintage dirt bike industry.

A couple of years ago the motorcycle industry was caught by surprise when Congress enacted, and then deployed, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) — almost immediately wiping out a $1 billion youth motorcycle and atv industry. Over the ensuing two years the CPSIA proved to be a massive screw job for all sorts of small businesses.

On Wednesday, June 30, 2010 the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed (by voice vote) another piece of legislation that could be equally devastating to the vintage dirt bike scene — the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010, H.R. 4678. The bill now moves to the larger Ways and Means Committee or perhaps to the floor for a vote.

This act is aimed at forcing foreign manufacturers into the US tort system for liability law suits. Like most laws, that sounds great in a sound byte on the news – force all those big Chinese and Taiwanese companies to be accessible to our thousands of personal injury lawyers.

The truth is that if you’re a vintage dirt bike fan and you buy or use any part that’s made in the UK, China, Taiwan, Australia, or Europe by a small manufacturer you may well find that part is no longer available to you. Those cool CZ parts Bertus brings in from Czechoslovakia? Not gonna happen if this bill passes. Nifty trials parts for your Ty250 or TL125 from Great Britain? Kiss them goodbye. Replica frames from GMC in Australia? Adios, amigo.

To get a little more insight into this bill I called Paul Vitrano, General Counsel for the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), to discuss it. Continue reading

It appears that storied Lake Whitney Cycle Park — the site of numerous National, International, and amateur motocross events since 1972 — has finally succumbed to economic pressures after years on life support.

This report is unconfirmed and based on this RacerX article. I also found this post from June 2006 and this LinkedIn profile for Bruce Whitehead.

Based on these sources the property on which the track sits is part of WB Ranch, a property owned by a limited partnership with Bruce Whitehead listed as General Partner.

Whitehead is a hunting enthusiast and investor and it appears the property is being converted into something that can make more money — a managed hunting preserve, corporate retreat, and housing development. Continue reading

1950-cars-shirtThere is an excellent article by P.J. O’Rourke, titled “The End of Our Love Affair with Cars,” out Saturday in the Wall Street Journal Online Edition. In his inimitable style, O’Rourke takes us back to the heyday of the automobile and, painfully, recounts the torturous path to modern bankruptcy. The path paved with political correctness for it’s own sake, with banality and bureaucrats and government mandates that don’t for a minute have anything to do with actually making our lives better.

I don’t believe the pointy-heads give a damn about climate change or gas mileage, much less about whether I survive a head-on with one of their tax-sucking mass-transit projects. All they want to is to make me hate my car. How proud and handsome would Bucephalas look, or Traveler or Rachel Alexandra, with seat and shoulder belts, air bags, 5-mph bumpers and a maze of pollution-control equipment under the tail?

And there’s the end of the American automobile industry. When it comes to dull, practical, ugly things that bore and annoy me, Japanese things cost less and the cup holders are more conveniently located.

We are witnessing an end to American idealism and individualism — and perversely this is all in the name of diversity. Even Pravda laments the loss of American freedoms in the face of this bureaucratic socialist onslaught that is taking our land, our cars, and our motorcycles:

It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

Never before have we seen the level of government meddling we witness now on a daily basis. No pursuit is too small to be regulated for our own good — see this article on Federal regulation of garage sales. Yes, our love of the automobile is dead, and there are millions of people in this country — people who lack imagination, guts, character, honesty, and integrity — who are glad to see it go.

But I am not one of those people. I am not one who is happy to see honest Americans barred from our own public lands. I am not one who is happy to see an overgrown toy regulation agency given total control over motorcycles. I am not one who wants to see a President who has never held an honest job now guiding an entire industry with the help of a cadre of unelected buffoons.

But that is what we have. As O’Rourke says, it’s time to put a bullet in the V-8.

The US House of Representatives unceremoniously approved H.R. 146: Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act last week. The eco-Nazi’s are ecstatic at all the new places they can put up “Do Not Enter” and “Keep Out” signs on 2.1 million acres of American public land.

Preserved for their use and their use only — the arrogant, self-anointed elitists and their faux moral superiority. All of them sit around in their electrically-heated homes — watching their TVs and playing on their computers — using all the things that hard-working American engineers and thinkers and businessmen designed and developed and produced.

They enjoy all this while complaining and carping and crying about it like like whining children. They do painfully stupid, meaningless things like turning their lights out for an hour and then parade around as if they’ve made a statement for mankind. Give me a break. It’s the same kind of do-nothing do-goodery that let’s people puff up over a “click this link and someone, somewhere will donate a penny to a starving child in Africa” campaigns.

It’s quite sad that we have all sat on our asses for so long and let these self-serving fools get in charge. If you want my respect live on a farm. Grow your own damn food. Weave your own cotton. Get off the grid and stop sucking electricity from coal-fired power plants. Ride a fucking horse and stop parading around in your battery-powered hybrid that has a lower overall energy efficiency rating that a well-maintained internal combustion engine you useless, hypocritical piece of human refuse.

But do not run around here claiming you’re saving the planet. Some poor, nearsighted sportsman who’s forced to hunt near residential areas now may mistake you for a nice, fat doe…

As noted in the post below, the Senate is holding the final vote on H.R. 146: Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act, the vehicle used to sneak in the Omnibus Lands Bill of 2009 as a 1,300-page amendment, tomorrow.

This bill is very likely to pass, and summarily lock up 2.1 million acres of Public Land, eliminating motorized access for responsible Americans. This is a travesty, foisted on us by eco-Nazis and politicians that are either gutless or wrongheaded.

It’s not too late. Please call your Senators’ Washington D.C. office tomorrow morning and urge them to vote NO on this devastating bill. Here is where you can find your Senator’s phone number.

senate-vote-on-lands-bill-smallYesterday the U.S. Senate voted to proceed with a back-door, sneak attack to lock up more than 2.1 million acres of Public Lands making it illegal for responsible Americans to use them. The vote was 73 Yeas, 21 Nays.

The vote was actually a vote on cloture – a way to see if the Senate is ready to vote on a bill. The bill is H.R. 146: Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act and “other purposes.” The other purpose being to serve as a carrier for a 1,300-page amendment that is the Omnibus Lands Bill — a measure that was defeated in the house last week — to deprive responsible Americans of access to 2 million acres of public land.

Given the huge margin of victory for the eco-nazi-Democrats and their Republican-In-Name-Only colleagues, this bill could pass easily. And responsible Americans will be deprived of hundreds of individual areas, comprising 2 million more acres of public lands, without so much as a minute’s discussion or debate on whether the individual parcels need that designation.

Pay attention to how your Senators voted. 15 Republicans voted for this motion, and could vote in favor of the bill. Four Republicans, including my own Saxby Chambliss, did not vote.

We need 15 Republicans to stand up like men (forget about Olympia Snow, who ought to be disowned by the party) and vote against taking away our right as Americans to use American public land. Had they voted Nay on this motion the bill would have been stalled and likely died. But they didn’t. And it didn’t. GovTrack has a full voting record on the motion for cloture.

It is still possible that this bill will not pass, if at least 15 Republicans vote Nay on the actual bill. This vote will show how your Senators feel about you, your right to ride, and your right to responsible use of public lands. Pay attention. And then let your Senator know you won’t forget their vote when your turn comes at the polls.

Cobra Motorcycles president Sean Hilier was on the Rush Limbaugh program yesterday, to discuss the notorious Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) and its devastating effect on his company.

I didn’t hear the show but you can read the transcript here. According to Hillier, Cobra employs fewer than 50 people, but there are about 100 companies around the country that depend on Cobra for business (probably contractors for the manufacturing of various parts.)

Hillier also noted that when similar, game-changing legislation hit the auto industry back in the 1980s the industry had years to react and re-engineer. The CPSIA was passed in August of 2008 and put into law six months later. With catastrophic effects.

This is not the last we have heard about this law. This is another fine example of people who don’t know what their doing, passing a law on a topic they don’t know anything about, with absolutely no consideration for its consequences. This is what happens when government “works”.

We have written here before about what price fixing in the rubber market means to the motorcycle industry. The corporate corruption on the part of our beloved suppliers continues.

According to this Oligopoly Watch post “Getting hosed“, the EU competition commission recently issued $173 million in fines to six global corporations for conspiring to fix the price of marine hose. Included in the list:

  • Bridgestone Tire and Rubber (Japan)
  • Trelleborg SA(Sweden)
  • Manuli Rubber Industries (Italy)
  • Dunlop Oil and Marine (UK-based, but a part of Herman conglomerate Continental Tire Group)
  • Parker ITR (Us/Italy)

Any of those names sound familiar? Getting credit for an also-ran position is Japan’s Yokohama, which chose to expose the cartel to avoid fines. These companies control the great majority of a world-wide commodity product — rubber — that is used for a lot of motorcycle parts besides tires.

According to the article, there is some hope as the UK appears to be moving more aggressively toward criminal investigations of complicit executives. It’s about time. After a dozen years of letting companies do whatever they want we need a serious redirection of anti-trust action.

As a side note we, as motorcyclists, need to be extremely cynical that global corporations have our best interests at heart. They do not. Not Honda. Not Suzuki. Not Yamaha. Not Kawasaki. Not BMW. Not HD. None of them. And we need to be extremely vigilant that these companies do not co-opt our rider organizations for their own goals just because they have the money.

The 2008 Vintage Dirt Bike Survey on the AMA is now closed. We exceeded our goal of 150 respondents last week. We have taken the survey offline and are now analyzing the results.

Prize winners will be notified shortly and results will be posted as soon as possible. It may be a couple of weeks, as sorting and organizing all the answers into a meaningful picture is a bit of a challenge. But I can tell you already it will be interesting, and there are some surprises (at least for me.)Stand by for more…