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Tel: 301-504-7519
Fax: 301-504-0008

August 9, 2001

Re: Mini/Clown Style Bicycles

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter addresses the regulatory status of the bicycles referenced above ("mini-bicycles") and any similar bicycles under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), 15 U.S.C. § 1261 et seq. The bicycles in question are typically chain-driven, with front and rear wheels less than 8" in diameter and a maximum seat height of less than 30". A picture of a representative bicycle is attached to this letter. All of these bicycles are subject to the safety requirements for bicycles issued under the FHSA, 16 CFR 1512. If a mini-bicycle has a maximum seat height of greater than 25" when the seat is adjusted to its highest position, it must meet all of the requirements the bicycle standard. Mini-bicycles that have a maximum seat height of 25" or less when the seat is adjusted to its highest position are subject to the requirements in 16 C.F.R. 1512 for sidewalk bicycles. Bicycles that do not meet applicable requirements are banned hazardous substances and the manufacture, importation distribution, or sale of such items is prohibited under section 4 of the FHSA, 15 U.S.C. § 1263.

With respect to mini-bicycles that are classified as sidewalk bicycles, the preamble of the bicycle regulation, at 40 FR 25481, indicates that the Commission intended the sidewalk bicycle provisions to apply only to bicycles ridden by very young children inside houses or on sidewalks. Because of this, the Commission specifically exempted those bicycles from the more rigorous requirements that apply to bicycles suitable for use by older children on streets. Even though some of the mini-bicycles that are the subject of this letter may technically meet the definition of a sidewalk bicycle because of their maximum seat height, the Commission staff believes that their primary users will be older children who may use the bicycles on streets and at night. In some instances, advertising and marketing information concerning specific bicycles of this type has confirmed that they are intended in part for use by older riders. However, little data currently exists on actual user ages and patterns of use for mini-bicycles in general.

In view of the foregoing, the Commission staff is commencing an investigation to determine whether and how older children are in fact using mini-bicycles, especially those classified as sidewalk bicycles. Should the investigation establish that older children use mini-bicycles classified as sidewalk bikes in a manner that would support the need to have those bicycles incorporate features, such as those in 16 CFR 1512, designed to protect such older users, we will consider taking action under section 15(c) of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1274(c). Such action could require firms to recall the bicycles to provide the necessary additional safety features. Accordingly, we believe that it would be prudent for firms, at a minimum, to assure that all mini-bicycles classified as sidewalk bicycles comply with the reflector and fork and frame strength requirements of the bicycle standard. We are not, however, requesting that firms provide wheel reflectors for molded wheels less than 6" in diameter because the small diameter of the wheels would tend to minimize the safety benefits of adding those reflectors. To improve rider visibility, however, firms may wish to incorporate reflectors in the ends of the handlebars in future production.

Please contact James DeMarco, Senior Compliance Officer by telephone at (301) 504-7594, or by E-mail at, if you have any questions or need additional information.

Alan H. Schoem