Southlake brothers Cody and Bryce Ford are not easy on their bikes.
They ride and race their four-wheelers so much that their parents are constantly repairing the Apex Quads -- and buying new ones each year.
If the replacement parts or new versions were no longer available, the family's racing days would end.
"These bikes don't last that long," said Robin Ford, mother of Cody, 11, and Bryce, 9. "It's like your car: Eventually you have to take it in for repair.
"If we couldn't repair or replace them ... we would sell our motor home," she said, adding that her family travels to races nationwide, taking vacations along the way. "It would be sad if we weren't able to do this again."
That no longer is an issue, since President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law a bill geared to give relief to some of those affected by a 2008 product safety law designed to keep lead-filled toys out of children's hands and mouths.
Key provisions of a law that went into effect this year inadvertently put dirt bikes and four-wheelers for youths 12 and younger in danger of not being sold.
Families who race and ride these recreational vehicles -- along with the businesses they buy from and the motocross industry -- were among those asking federal leaders for help. House Resolution 2715, passed by Congress this month, removed from the law youth all-terrain vehicles and parts and other items such as printed materials.
"We need lead standards for children's toys," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, one of the bill's sponsors. "Keeping kids safe should be our No. 1 priority, but at a certain point, common sense has to kick in.
"This new bill ... is a good-faith attempt to fix some of the problems."
Concerns over lead rose to a new level in 2007 after millions of toys made in China and elsewhere were recalled.
Congress took action, passing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Designed to protect children from high levels of lead in toys, it was broad and limited the amount of lead allowed in toys and other products for youths.
More than 300,000 children in the United States have elevated lead levels, which can cause brain damage, kidney damage, anemia and muscle weakness, health reports show.
But the federal law went further than some legislators said they intended, affecting items such as clothing, books and all-terrain vehicles such as dirt bikes and four-wheelers for youths 12 and younger.
"For more than two years, the power sports industry and its riders have urged Congress to categorically exclude youth dirt bikes and ATVs from the CPSIA's lead content provisions," said Paul Vitrano, general counsel of the Motorcycle Industry Council. "ATVs and dirt bikes do not present any lead-related health risk to young riders, and Congress has made it clear that it never intended the lead content restrictions and testing requirements for toys to apply to these vehicles."
Implementation of major pieces of the safety act was delayed until late this year. Without a legislative change, sales of youth ATVs and dirt bikes essentially would have been banned.
"It is time for this nearly three-year ordeal to be over so America's motorcycling and ATV-riding families can once again ride with the peace of mind that their lifestyle will no longer be threatened by this misguided lead law," said Rick Podliska, Washington representative for the American Motorcyclist Association.
'Chewing on dirt bikes'
North Texas congressional leaders voted for HR2715.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, urged colleagues for years to pass a bill to let stores sell these youth bikes, ATVs and replacement parts.
"It was important to give people some sort of tangible relief," Burgess said. "We really went too far with the [first] bill.
"One of the important lessons was that sometimes Congress, in trying to do something worthwhile, will overreach," he said. "It was good that people let us know the trouble this bill caused in their lives."
Craig Martin, owner and president of Action Motorsports KTM in Decatur, said the industry impact was "huge" because manufacturers produced fewer youth-size dirt bikes and four-wheelers to avoid sitting on a large inventory if the restrictions went into effect.
"We have still all been able to get what we needed," Martin said. "But we know if [the new bill] didn't pass, we would have to quit selling anything 12 and under. Every kid 12 and under would end up on an adult machine, and that's what we have worked so hard to avoid."
Safety data show that most ATV-related injuries and deaths happen on adult-size models, which are faster, larger and harder for younger riders to control.
"We've been hoping and praying that someone will use their head" and change the law, Martin said. "Everyone in the industry is all about not bringing lead into the country. But come on -- how many kids are chewing on dirt bikes?"
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610