Click here for part 2 after you check part one out.
It seems like every forum you look at lately there is something about this new lead testing law. The discussion is always lead by kids who probably don’t work in the industry, and are probably mis-informed in one way or another. I also was reading about 10 articles about this whole deal, I really didn’t find many answers towards what I personally wanted to know. So, I went and power bombed out a mass email to a bunch of the companies with the same questions, and this is their responses. I hope this makes a little more sense to you now. All I know is before this I thought the Apocalypse was coming. I don’t even know how to spell Apocalypse either!
There was a real good response from the companies too so here are the guys who responded so far! There will be a second round of these as I continue to keep receiving responses.
Those are toys kids can eat… I don’t know how many kids want to eat a BMX frame.
What company do you run, and explain a little about it for those unaware:
Brand Manager for Felt BMX, I hope you know about us already. www.feltbmx.com
What company do you run, and explain a little about it for those unaware: Alienation; We are a U.S. based design house for bicycle parts established in 2006 with a emphasis on grips, hubs, rims, seats & tires and other products under development. AlienationBMX.com
What company do you run, and explain a little about it for those unaware:
Mutiny Bikes. We are based in Austin, Texas and have been around for 10 years. Joe Simon and I are the sole owners and work hard to bring you the best BMX products money can buy. We have a awesome team who are; Josh Bedford, Niki Croft, Brandon Hoerres, Mat Roe, Justin Simpson, Ryan Smith, Randy Taylor and Morgan Wade. Along side the pro team we have a amazing flow team too. You can find more info about us at http://www.Mutinybikes.com
Charles “Charlie” Fernandez
What company do you run, and explain a little about it for those unaware:
I am the marketing person for Profile Racing. Profile manufactures after-market, high quality BMX components (cranks, hubs, stems, etc.). All our manufacturing is done in the USA at our St. Petersburg, Florida factory. ProfileRacing.com
The lead testing law place in the United States that is coming into effect in about a month will really change the industry. Could you explain what this law is doing in easier to understand words?
I know I have seen about 20 articles and it’s hard to get a full understanding of this from those.
Let me start by saying all of my answers of from “Felt’s understanding” We have had legal advice, have read many articles and have had discussions with CPSC and parts makers to better understand the rules, the guidelines get fuzzy in some areas and may get interpreted different ways. The whole reason behind it is not a bad reason, the reason is to make sure kid’s are safe and someone/something does not cause child safety problems. We cannot argue the intention is good but it get’s questionable when a valve stem with lead in it becomes a safety issue to a child. I believe the rules were put into place pretty fast and CPSC is not targeting bicycles, they are targeting the Gerber, Fisher Price, Toys-R-Us type companies, BMX bikes just got sucked into it. -Alan
This merely my assessment and a simply an overview. Most will recall lead paint being discovered in hundreds of thousands of imported toys specifically from China in Y2007. It was a wide spread topic among major news outlets. Leaving many to believe most companies do not know what materials suppliers are using. Hence congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 to set strict limits on lead and removal of certain Phthalates in children’s (ages 12 or younger) products thus forcing manufacturers to certify compliance. The CPSC made a ruling the week of December 5th regarding what is and is not a toy as the phthalate testing is required only for toys. It appears to exempt bicycles and tricycles. Leaving lead as the primary issue we are now dealing with. Beginning February 10, 2009 all products sold within the U.S. must be tested regardless of country of origin. This also includes merchandise manufactured prior to such date. This will force manufacturers to either prove that merchandise already in stores meets the requirements or pull it from shelves. After Feb. 10, it will be illegal to sell the banned products, even to export them. Current test are subject to 600ppm (parts per million); however, the limits will be reduced yet again August 14, 2009 to 300ppm for lead content by weight & 90ppm for lead paint & subsequently lowered again at a date to be determined. -Zach
I could write something very cynical here but I won’t. Somehow BMX bikes have been thrown into the category as children’s toy so we now have to make sure that are products do not contain Lead/Phthalates. Although there is a date for when we must comply with everything right now there are still a lot of gray areas that we are looking into. -Gaz
Mutiny Glam Bars
Actually, the lead standards law has been in effect for awhile but was aimed at “children’s products.” The CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) of 2008, that you refer to, makes manufacturers (all, domestic and international) prove that their finished products meet certain new minimum standards for lead content and prove their plastic components are phthalates free. Because the Congress, in their infinite wisdom, labeled BMX bikes as “toys” our niche bicycle industry is going to suffer through imposed testing laws. The consumer will suffer by the passed along added costs of these tests. -Charlie
How will this affect you depending on where you are located?
If you sell 24” wheel and below bicycles in the USA then it affects you.-Alan
New Scotty Cranmer XL bars
Location matters not in this circumstance as long as you want to sell into the U.S. market. The long term effect is lower margins for said company as it will be extremely difficult to pass these additional costs onto the consumer especially in this global economic down turn we are currently reeling from. In addition, we are in an extremely saturated market so competition is strong & the end users are mostly children with less disposal income. We cannot blatantly increase prices. -Zach
It’s is going to hit everyone in the Industry hard, if your goods are sold in the USA then you will have to comply with these new guide lines. -Gaz
We will abide by the new law by having our products tested by a Federally approved lab. We are fortunate in that our BMX parts are metal and we only have to test for lead content. -Charlie
When you first heard about this new law, what was your first thought of the whole situation?
That the CPSC is in an urgent need to cut down on un-safe toys and BMX bikes got thrown into the mix by mistake. -Alan
Why haven’t we tested for this in the past? As a father of three I do not want my children exposed to anything harmful especially when it can be easily prevented. From the beginning Alienation has tested our materials for chemistry and hardness not to mention the physical products to comply with CEN, ETRTO, ISO, JIS and other tests we feel are necessary. -Zach
I heard rumors right after Interbike. As for for thoughts, here we go….. -Gaz
“I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you.” -Charlie
If you could give us a rough estimate on how this testing will affect you on let’s say, a shipment of frames? or How about something a little smaller like handle bars?
First focus is complete bikes, I do not know the frame/bar answer today. It may affect color choices and may cut down on the variety of colors (each color needs a separate test) -Alan
Let’s use hubs as example as I do not have frames or bars in my line. We do not complete with the complete bicycle brands. Anyhow, we have several SKU’s (say 10 on order at 50 each). I will test one or two hubs from the batch under CPSIA Sec 101 which is for lead content in material. Then I will test one of each color under CPSIA 16 CFR 1303 which is lead paint seeing we powder coat the hubs. Thus I have four to five tests in all which totals USD$110. The tests will be performed thru an accredited CPSC lab in Taiwan given this is the C/O and will take no more than two weeks.
I will say this, I will purchase products in larger quantities & fewer times each year to keep test cost down across the board.
The law states you must test each batch. It too states you must test each SKU or have a reasonable testing program. We are going with the later of the two. We believe in objective testing. For instance, the only difference in most cases is hole count so why test each SKU? There are ways to keep costs down yet comply with the law to the letter. I suggest every owner or manager to hire an attorney to review the law as we did. I was very revealing & too you have some recourse to fall back on. -Zach
I’m not in a position right now to give a figure, we are looking at many different factors and working with all our vendors and suppliers to keep pricing down. -Gaz
We don’t think anyone knows how this will all sort out. They are still figuring out compliance issues and we’ve heard that it might be 2-weeks or 6-months before definitive explanations are given to compliance questions being asked today. We do know that a hub needs to have all of it’s components tested and not just the shell. So, we talking about approximately 7 to 10 tests per hub for lead content. -Charlie
There has been a lot of talk of smaller brands going under from this, do you feel like that will actually happen or is the “gossip” getting to be a little overboard?
I think people are over reacting, possibly getting mis-information. Felt BMX is not a huge BMX company but we do have connections in Taiwan that are taking care of us to make sure things are legit. I could see some of the newer smaller guys just entering the complete bike game, not having the partners or resources, having a hard time finding the right resources to get the correct information and correct testing. -Alan
It’s highly possible. Look there are a lot of new brands in the market which are still trying to recoup their start-up cost. This will only place greater burden on them. Complete bicycle brands have it the worse in my opinion because there are so many parts to be tested per each bicycle model. -Zach
There is gossip everyday on every subject. I’m sure there is the potential for some brands to have problems but I don’t have any idea about other brands situation’s. -Gaz
Mutiny Frame Line Up
Anything is possible in our present economy. However, Profile is fortunate in the volume of product we make. It allows us spread the additional cost over larger quantities. Smaller companies with volume will take a harder hit. -Charlie
How will this affect your team, travel budgets, advertising, and extra things like helping people out with prizes for contests?
The extra cost will have to get absorbed somehow, is it the consumer, the team rider, the magazine/website advertising?, not sure yet. Everyone for sure has their cautious hat on to see how it plays out. -Alan
It will not. It’s business as usual. -Zach
Every year we do what we can for each of these expenses. We will continue to support BMX as it supports us. -Gaz
Our (US) economy in 2009 will determine that and not this issue. So far, the CPSIA looks like an additional cost of manufacturing that the consumer will bear for “safer” products. -Charlie
Do you feel like companies will start to make better quality products because of this, or will there start to be a decrease in quality due to less money?
These rules aren’t going to make a bike lighter or stronger but on the other hand I do not see any legit companies bumping down quality, if they had the chance to do it before they would already have. -Alan
Felt Sheriff Frame
Products are improving all the time. This law should not affect the way parts are made. In the end we all better for this. -Zach
I remember 15 years ago the bikes we were all riding were complete pieces of shit, products just were not up to the job! Things have got so much better, yes there is always room for improvement and revision but the products you can buy now are designed for modern day BMX.I can see the new standards causing problems but I don’t see products getting better or worse for it. Maybe you will be able to chew on your grips and know your not going to get Lead poisoning. -Gaz
This Act has nothing to do with making better products. It’s all about small kids touching and putting parts in their mouths. -Charlie
Will you be changing who makes your products overseas? Or if you are a U.S.A made brand changing the materials you work with?
If the current makers do not comply then we will switch makers, from all the talks so far we have not run into any maker who we see being a problem. -Alan
NO, we will continue to work with all existing vendors. In the numerous tests we have already conducted we haven’t exceeded 90ppm. -Zach
All of our vendors in Taiwan we have been working with for years. We have been working with them to get up to speed on the CPSIA rulings. So no big changers for us there. -Gaz
Our material vendors are now being required to present toxic elements analysis certification. They all are able to comply with our requests. -Charlie
Will your brand have to bump up prices to cover the costs?
It really depends on how much it ends up being, signs now show it may not be too bad. We do not see it being that much of a jump, nothing compared to the material cost increases we saw last year. -Alan
See my response above… -Zach
Yes. How much? I don’t know yet…. -Gaz
Since the law only applies to the United States (as far as I am aware), does this mean you will be focusing on the rest of the world a little more to keep sales up?
CPSC is only concerned with USA but the predictions are that other countries will follow shortly. We do not make country specific product so everything made will be made is being planned to pass for any new country that may add testing regulations. -Alan
No, the U.S. market makes up the vast majority of BMX sales. Too, the U.S. dollar continues to appreciate against foreign currencies which are hurting exports for anyone dealing in USD. -Zach
International sales are hard right now as the dollar is so strong. There are issues everyday that come up working here and our mind set is to deal with it. -Gaz
This will not change our marketing plan. -Charlie
Do you feel that as time goes on, and companies are repetitively coming through with clean products the government will begin giving price breaks or even allowing them to skip the testing all together?
I do not see testing being skipped all together but as the system get more streamlined and all the bugs get worked out we will see the testing fees being lowered. Also the amount of items that need to be tested may decrease. An organization called BPSA is currently discussing with CPSC on what parts may not need to be tested, is a brass spoke nipple accessible for a kid to get his mouth on?, maybe we will see requirements on only certain parts? -Alan
There is a rumor floating that the BPSA (Bicycle Product Supplier Association) is attempting to have bicycles re-classed to Sporting Goods thru lobbyist which would exempt the industry from testing. Even so, the law is the law and we must abide by it for the time being.
To answer the question directly, No. The government wouldn’t change the national drinking age from 21 if less minors were caught drinking or there were less automobile accidents from underage drinking nor are they just going to eliminate testing for good behavior on the manufactures part. -Zach
No chance, they have made their minds up and are not going to allow anyone to skip testing. As I said earlier BMX fell into this through definition so we companies involved need to find the best solutions to the problems.One of the reason’s we have never done chrome is because of it’s environmental issues that come with it. We try to make the cleanest products we can and I’m very happy so far with all of the testing results that have come back from the lab as everything surpasses the new standards. -Gaz
What? That only happens in in our dreams. -Charlie
Do you have any other words you would like to say about this “crisis”?
Compared to last year’s material price increase this situation will not affect the bike industry as much, last year was insane. What it is causing is a lot of people to really look into it and make sure they are protected. The larger companies will share this with the parts maker or assembly factory.
I myself have not been the person looking closely into the details, I only know bits and pieces (see how I am covering my ass now..) My eyes and ears are open because I am a BMXer who deals with bikes with 20” wheels, I am not too worried about it. From what I have been told and heard from others is that by next year this will not even be something to talk about and just be an accepted part of doing business. -Alan
NUTS! No really, the industry needs to band together to eliminate confusion & adopted uniformity. -Zach
If it’s sunny outside, go ride your bike. -Gaz
This became a “crisis” because of how the laws were implemented. We had literally 2-months to comply with the first requirements of the Act. Other industry or manufacturing Acts the US government has inacted have been phased in over longer periods of time. What our BMX industry needs to do is get our US representatives to change the ACT to define our bicycles (20″) and components as “Sport Bicycles” rather than “Toys.” -Charlie