Press ReleaseThe American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has announced its support of off-highway-vehicle enthusiasts in Riverside County, California, voicing its opposition to a proposal to severely curb off-highway riding on private property.The proposal, brought forward by a small number of local residents, would limit OHV riding to three days a week in unincorporated areas, and would restrict the number of OHVs on private property—arguably the harshest such rules in the nation.Edward Moreland, AMA Vice President for Government Relations, testified at a July 6 meeting of the Riverside County Planning Commission.”A dispute between neighbors sparked a brush fire that now threatens to consume responsible off-highway riding in all of Riverside County,” said Moreland. “What this fire needs is more light and less heat—the discussion needs to focus on the facts. The AMA believes that those facts clearly demonstrate that off-highway-vehicle enthusiasts should keep the right to ride on their own private property.”Jeremy McGrath, an eight-time AMA champion, two-time world champion, and member of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, is one of the riders who could be affected by the proposed rules.”I know that this issue is important to off-highway riders not only in California, but all across America,” said McGrath, who rides on his Riverside County property. “I’m glad we have the AMA standing beside us, helping us protect our right to ride.”A number of other OHV enthusiasts, as well as the California-based Off-Road Business Association and property-rights advocates, also testified at the meeting.After hearing hours of testimony, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to postpone its decision until August 31, 2005, and declined to consider proposals that included day-of-week restrictions.The AMA’s written comments to the Riverside County Planning Commission are available online in the AMA Rapid Response Center at www.amadirect.link.com/legisltn/downloads/riverside_comments.pdf.
OHV Ordinance Takes a Turn for the Better as Court Denies Injunction Against Jeremy McGrath Property Use
Press ReleaseSince October 2004, Riverside County, California has been embroiled with property owners, including Jeremy McGrath, over operation of OHVs on private property. McGrath has joined with the American Motorcyclist Association and the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), to support the rights of OHV riders who own private property in the County to utilize their property in a lawful fashion without being harassed by the extreme view of some residents that OHVs should be prohibited completely.After multiple hearings before the County Planning Commission, and re-drafts of a proposed OHV Ordinance, the off road community has moved closer to achieving its goals. As a result of opposition from McGrath and others, the Planning Commission has directed that the OHV Ordinance be re-drafted to eliminate unreasonable restrictions and impediments to property use by OHV owners. “Although we haven’t seen the latest revision, we are optimistic that the Planning Commission is finally headed in the right direction,” said McGrath’s attorney Bill Kuenzinger.McGrath got another boost on Thursday September 29, 2005, when Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Michael Kaiser denied requests for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would have prohibited McGrath from operating any OHV’s on his 98 acre ranch in the Aguanga area of Riverside County.The injunction was sought by a group of OHV opponents calling themselves “Rural Communities United” who claimed McGrath’s riding and grading activities on his property constituted a nuisance and posed immediate danger to the environment. The Court held there was no basis for granting the injunction, noting that the McGrath property had been utilized for OHV recreational use for decades.”We are obviously pleased that the Court refused to grant the injunction,” said Brett Jolley, one of the attorneys representing McGrath in the litigation. “We’ve always taken the position that Mr. McGrath has done the right thing in using his property, and will continue to do the right thing.”"I’m thankful the Court denied the injunction,” explained McGrath, “This is certainly a property rights issue as we’ve shown by our position on the proposed OHV Ordinance. As I’ve said before though, I’ll continue to abide by the law and do my best to be a good neighbor.”The Planning Commission has scheduled further hearings on the proposed OHV Ordinance on October 26, 2005. The Court scheduled a hearing on Rural Communities’ additional claims for May 2006.
ORBA Land Use Director, Bill Dart’s Letter to Dirt RiderDirt Rider Editor, Jimmy Lewis:First, let me say that I really do appreciate the fact that Dirt Rider is taking the sound issue more seriously all the time. As a motorized recreation land use professional for the last 17 years, I can unequivocally state that excessive sound is the most common complaint I hear about motorized recreation. Unfortunately, the conversion of most competition motorcycles from 2-strokes to 4-strokes has made this issue MUCH worse than ever before. We have traded a relatively insignificant emissions issue that most of the general public cares not one whit about for a serious noise problem that is turning the general public, who would otherwise not have much of an opinion about our sport, into very vocal opponents of our sport. Sure, we have a few very vocal critics who will seize upon any reason to attack our sport, but excessive noise is the one issue that is turning the general public against us.
During the last couple of years, a new wave of local ordinances has been sweeping across the nation aimed at eliminating motorized recreation from even private property because of excessive noise. Right in your back yard, Riverside County is considering draconian limits on the use of private property because of excessive noise, and the city of Hesperia has already pretty much banned motorized use of private property. Dirt Rider has often editorialized about the need to keep motorcycle sound levels at reasonable levels, and I applaud you for that.BUTI have to say that I was very disappointed that Dirt Rider decided to set the bar at 102 db for your recent pipe shootout. While you clearly stated that this is the AMA Pro Racing standard, what most people don’t understand is the difference between true AMA licensed pro racers and what the local events call “pro” racing. First, there are only a few hundred licensed AMA pro racers, and I will bet that none of them actually buy pipes from anybody, as they are almost certainly sponsored, at least to the level of free product.Looking at last year’s AMA points standing for Supercross and Motocross, I find that 121 riders qualified for an AMA 250 Motocross race and of those only 56 scored any points, while 105 qualified for the 125 class and 60 scored points. In Supercross, only 45 riders qualified for a main event in the 250 class for the entire year. In off-road racing, there is no true “Pro Class” in any form of AMA racing, as even the pro class in the GNCC series is technically an amateur class and not a part of AMA Pro Racing. For all off-road events, the AMA rule is 96dbI feel the AMA amateur MX sound standard of 99 db should have been used. Non-Pro racers actually buy products, unlike real AMA licensed Pro racers. I can understand the pressure you get from your advertisers, because if the 99 db standard had been used, you would have disqualified 13 out of the 16 aftermarket pipes tested. Out of the three that were under 99, two of them were within either .3 or.2 db of 99 db when they were brand new, meaning they would fail within a month or two as the packing deteriorated.Even when the use of 99 db pipes on closed courses isn’t causing problems, almost every rider doesn’t stay on those closed course areas all the time. Practice tracks are often developed in areas that are causing problems with neighbors. Loud pipes used for trail riding are irritating people the riders may not even know are affected by their excessive noise.The bottom line is the aftermarket industry needs to take the noise issue much more seriously than they do now. Some companies do a pretty good job and have developed some good performing pipes that will test at 96 db or lower, but for every one of those pipes that is sold, many times more of the not-as-quiet pipes are sold. As we all know, sound laws are rarely enforced today, but if the aftermarket industry fails to get serious about reducing the sound level of their products, rather than try to enforce sound limits, we will see more and more total closures, even to quiet bikes. If not total closures, we are likely to see bans on all aftermarket exhaust products. For example, the state of Michigan has already totally banned all aftermarket exhaust systems on snowmobiles, regardless of their sound output.The industry and the enthusiasts have our fate in their hands. No motorcycle rights organization has the power to stop all of the laws and proposals sweeping the nation in reaction to excessive noise. No elected official or government bureaucrat is going to defend loud motorcycles. It is up to the industry to produce good, responsible products, and it is up to the riders to buy and maintain good products, and reject excessive noise. And it is the job of the enthusiast media to not promote excessively loud products, even with a “wink and a nod” such as your disclaimer in this test about the AMA 102 db Pro Racing rule. It is up to each of us to exert peer pressure on those who are using excessively loud pipes. If we all collectively don’t do the right thing, there is no shortage of critics that will take advantage of our failure, and I can guarantee we won’t like the long term results.Bill Dart
Land Use Director
Off-Road Business Association
Western States Office
7703 West Buckskin Road
Pocatello, ID 83201
More Letters…Dear Jimmy Lewis,Thank you for being the first magazine to hit the noise problem head on.The new four-stroke noise is not only going to shut dodwn more race tracks, it will hit each and every private riding track within an ear shot of a single non-riding person. Why the AMA and the manufacturers can’t comprehend this is beyond me.In Washington, by the end of 2006 we will have lost three quality tracks. Washington will only have nine outdoor tracks by the end of 2006. Seven of the nine tracks are in harm’s way from complaints about noise. Washougal spends thousands of dollars a year on legal expenses to keep it open.The four-stroke noise issue is a very serious threat to our way of life. I hope everyone puts pressure on the AMA and the Manufacturers to get the bikes quieter.Ted DeVol
Tom,Thanks for the information. It is ironic that after getting back from the Labor Day weekend and reading my e-mails from you and others, that the noise of our motorized use of public lands was being discussed. Noise was a major conversation topic amongst folks on the Grand Mesa near the Resort area where my family just spent its holiday ATVing, hiking, fishing, etc. There were many ATV riders, motorcyclists, jeepers, and non-motorized users enjoying their sport in the area. No one commented on the use or presence of the motorized modes of travel, until the ones came through with little—if any—effective noise reduction. The negative comments were the same from all present (motorized users included): The noise (primarily dirt bikes) will kill our access to many more areas if nothing is done to curb it on public lands.The concern is real, I can still hear the echoing sound of culprit riders long before their arrival and long after their departure. None of the trails in this area need high performance exhaust systems to enhance horsepower, as only a fraction of “standard” and “muffled” engine horsepower is needed to exceed the safe use of the trails. The noise seems to be more for the benefit of the rider’s experience than a necessity.We’ve all had to change our earlier individual manners of riding our preferred steed in order to maintain access to controversial areas. It is time that the noise issue is addressed straight on. It would be hard to for us offroaders to take, if noise became the determining factor to close more of the areas we have fought hard to keep open.Better to be able to ride in an area quietly than not be able to ride at all.Bruce Bertram
(avid ATV’er, Jeeper, and outdoor enthusiast)
Dear fellow trail riders,I wish that I had good news to report but the fact is that there is overwhelming opposition to motorcycles being used on the trails in the Rico area. I can’t say that I am surprised as the opinions of the Rico area residents are consistent with what has been said at most if not all of the meetings that I have attended dealing with the San Juan Forest revision plan that is currently taking place.The number one issue they have with us is the noise we make. The number two issue they have with us is the noise we make and the number three issue they have with us is the noise we make. The first thing we all need to do is make our bikes quiet. Their is no excuse for doing otherwise. In addition, there are other issues we have to deal with such as trail etiquette and erosion damage.I hope that the thought of this small group of locals conceivably eliminating your ability to ride the best trails in southwestern Colorado will make your blood boil.I hope that you will pass the word on to your riding buddies and ask them to join San Juan Trail Riders. They can join online at www.sanjuantrailriders.orgThis is our battle to win or lose.Thanks,
In a previous life, my ad agency handled the advertising and marketing of Husky motorcycles as well as Torsten Hallman accessories, Sun Rims and Bilstein shocks. Quite frankly, a lot of the blame for loud bikes has to go to the jerk-offs in the media. How many times have you seen a story in DIRT BIKE about switching exhaust system for more power? In a monkey-see, monkey-do world of marketing, those “how to do it” stories have a great deal of influence on riders. As I sit here writing this, the roar of Harleys going up 550 has just started. Certain Durango city officials admit that the word is out not to enforce noise laws during the bike rally weekend as to not hurt the business bikers bring to the area.As an avid Jeeper, I’ve about had it up to here with noisy dirt bike riders on the trails doing stupid things. I write a column for FOUR WHEELER magazine and in the May issue, I defended ATV and dirt bike access to the pass roads in San Miguel county. However, I just spent two days jeeping around Lake City and doing the Alpine Loop and my tolerance for noisy dirt bikes and ATVs is at an end.Quite frankly, I would support a USFS program that included the mandatory confiscation of ORVs not meeting the noise levels as measured by law enforcement on the pass roads. Put a couple of $50,000 rock crawlers on the end of a tow truck hook and a dozen or so dirt bikes behind a fence at a USFS equipment yard, and the word on noise would get out.Dennis Pierce