US Senate Establishes Motorcycle Caucus

04/05/2017 @ 10:06 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

The motorcycle industry has found more allies on Capital Hill this week, with the creation of the first “motorcycle caucus” in the United States Senate.

Established so motorcycle manufacturers and motorcyclists would have a greater voice in the upper chamber of the American legislature, the Senate Motorcycle Caucus is the work of Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan).

Motorcyclists typically aren’t single-issue voter – not for issues pertaining to motorcycles, at least – but with several important political issues currently affecting the motorcycle industry, the formation of the Senate Motorcycle Caucus comes at an advantageous time.

The most pressing issue right now is the mounting pressure over the beef trade war brewing between the United States and European Union, as the US Trade Representative is threatening to levy a 100% tariff on small-displacement motorcycles from European manufacturers, if the EU doesn’t repeal its ban on hormone-fed beef imports from the USA.

Other pressing issues of concern for motorcyclists are motorcycle-only checkpoints, ethanol-blended gasoline, helmet laws, off-highway riding areas, and of course lane-splitting.

For motorcycle manufacturers, emission and noise standards from the EPA are an obvious concern, as are incentives for manufacturing and other corporate advantages.

Recently too, several motorcycle manufacturers have been trying to revoke “right to repair” laws, which would make it illegal for many motorcyclists to work on their own motorcycles.

Looking further down the road (no pun intended), the Senate Motorcycle Caucus will play an important role for the motorcycle industry, as autonomous vehicles gain in popularity, and we see the advancement of vehicle-to-vehicle communications in the cityscape.

Having not only more political voices, but also advocates for motorcycles and motorcyclists has never been more important, as transportation is about to be fundamentally changed in the coming decades. Hopefully the Senate Motorcycle Caucus can grow not only in numbers, but also in influence.

Source: American Motorcyclist Association

  • Jason Channell

    Time to start the lobbying and campaign donations. :)

  • Jack Meoph

    Ethanol, I hate thee. The “right to repair” is consequential as well. Having to pay an authorized dealership up to $100 to have a service light turned off is redonkulous. I will now send a e-mail to my Senator and demand stuff.

  • coreyvwc

    So it’s probably safe to say that these two Senators from the Midwest will be in the pocket of and beholden to Harley Davidson and only Harley Davidson?

  • Peter

    Well, that’s the trick, isn’t it, Jack? Motorcycle manufacturers are behind the push to end motorcyclists’ rights to repair their own bikes. Would supporting the caucus be good for motorcyclists… or manufacturers? We best be aware of the real intentions behind the people “fighting for us”.

  • aweds1

    Only if they move their districts to Wisconsin.

  • Starmag

    Bi partisan caucus looking out for our interests? Woo hoo, one time in a row!

    If I were a cynic, I’d say this is too good to be true and probably has ulterior motives given past lying politician, (I repeat myself), performances.

  • Last I checked, Harley-Davidson didn’t have any business positions in Iowa and Michigan. I am doubtful about a representative from Iowa being anti-ethanol though…but we’ll see.

  • ZeroCold

    Politicians on our side is a good thing . . . right?

  • coreyvwc

    You are right that HD is based outside of their respective districts, but HD does have the most money to throw around, and most to gain from relaxed MC emissions standards as their current offerings probably will not be able meet the stricter emissions standards that the coming years will undoubtedly bring. Then there’s the whole helmet law thing. HD customers really seem to hate helmets. HD wants to keep things in the past, and I can only imagine that they will pay lots of money to help make that happen.

  • Wayne Thomas

    I contacted SEMA about lobbying the gub’mint about adjusting the 25 year rule to be more in line with Canada’s 15 year rule. Never got a reply.

  • pidgin

    Yeah lets lobby for decreased regulations so the japs don’t have to update their bikes this century anymore.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Indians are manufactured in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

  • Jason

    I’m not even slightly concerned about ethanol, helmets, or emission standards. In fact, the AMA’s stupid stance on helmet laws and loud pipes is the reason I’m a former member.

    How about we focus of something that matters like lane splitting.

  • motoguru.

    Peters rides a BMW (at least he did when I was still in MI), and I think it’s pretty rad that he is using his position to help us common folk.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Even 10% ethanol is damaging plastic parts such as fuel gauges and hoses. Anything more will also damage the engine. Also if the bike sits more than two months, the fuel goes bad,

  • Jason

    Ethanol is only a problem in vehicles because manufacturers refuse to spend the tiny amount of money required to make them compatible. Instead they spend millions lobbying against ethanol. The Model T was a flex fuel vehicle that ran find on any blend of ethanol. That was 100 year old technology.

    The USA has had E10 as our standard fuel for years but small engine manufacturers tell us not to use it and instead try to sell us fuel in a can for $20 a quart. Motorcycle manufacturers have made their vehicles only compatible with E10 instead of building in a safety factor so they could be used with E15, E20, etc in the future.

    Brazil has been using E25 as their MINIMUM fuel blend for a decade and E10 since 1977. Vehicles sold there are fully compatible with it. About 1/3 of motorcycle sold in Brazil are fully flex-fuel vehicles that can run on any blend of ethanol. The technology is available (and cheap).

    Ethanol fuel goes bad quickly only in carbureted vehicles where the lighter compounds are open to the air and can evaporate. In fuel injected vehicles with sealed fuel systems E10 works fine for a year or more.

    As a practical example, my 1976 Kawasaki runs fine on E10. I had to change the fuel line and petcock. I run the carbs empty before I park it and I’ve had no issues. My small engines have all stock parts and do fine with me just running them empty before storage. My 2002 BMW sat idle with E10 in the tank for 18 months while I recovered from a motorcycle accident and it started up and ran fine when I hit the starter. I have an RV that only gets used infrequently and it to starts right up as long as I keep the battery charged.

  • vinko_s

    Good to know Jason. My problem with ethanol is it has less calories than gasoline so your mileage will drop. It makes sense to use in brazil as they use sugar cane. Although they are clear cutting a lot of land for ethanol they mostly export to europe.The US uses corn with their lobby. Corn prices doubled in 2007 due to increased ethanol production…that we don’t need. Ethanol is a good additive to help cleaner burning, but i suspect we could get by with less than 10%

  • Jason

    The difference is fuel economy between E10 and E0 is about 3%. It is even less in the summer time when E0 has other oxygenators. The difference for E85 is much larger but also hindered because of the stupid way we use E85. The best use of E85 is in turbocharged engines that can use the extra octane available in ethanol. However auto manufacturers mainly implement E85 in large trucks and SUVs with naturally aspirated / low compression engines that don’t need the extra octane. They do this because they get CAFE credits for flex fuel engines and they need credits for low compression V8’s.

    The US does use Corn which is one of the least efficient ways to make ethanol. I don’t buy your claim that corn prices doubled in 2007 due to ethanol. Corn did spike but it then came right back down. It spiked again in 2010 and again in 2012 up to 850 but today it is back down to 350. If you lay the graphs of corn prices over US ethanol production they don’t match. The production of ethanol is a steady increase year over year while corn prices are boom / bust cycles.

    The other question is what we would do with the corn if we didn’t turn it into ethanol. The answer is feed it to livestock. That is a massively wasteful process with a very negative EREI (Energy Returned for Energy Invested).

  • TM

    AMA Helmet laws…really?

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Jason, you seem to be very well informed about ethanol. My issues (apart from all my lawn equipment going bad after just one or two seasons) are two: European bikes are not made to deal with U.S. ethanol. Any plastic parts go bad. Secondly corn should be used to feed livestock instead of making ethanol, thus reducing the price of beef for which there is a high demand in the U.S..

  • Jason

    If your lawn equipment is going bad in one to two seasons you are storing fuel in the carburetor. That isn’t recommended even for straight gas as the fuel goes bad and gums up the carb. In my experience it is rubber parts that go bad when exposed to ethanol and the solution is spending pennies more for parts made from rubber compounds compatible with ethanol. My 4-stroke line trimmer was purchased in 2002 and still runs like new after a steady diet of E10.

    If European bikes aren’t made to deal with ethanol it is because those manufacturers have made a conscience decision to not make their bikes compatible. The technology to do so is readily available. My BMWs have done fine with E10 even siting with fuel in the tank.

    Feeding corn to cattle is incredibly inefficient. It takes 10lbs of corn to produce 1 lb of edible beef. (That is from the beef research council and their estimate is on the low side). On the other hand turning it into ethanol has a net return with a slightly larger amount of energy available in the ethanol than was needed to make the fuel. Ethanol production also only uses the starches and the left over grain is sold to farmers as high protein feed. So grain used for ethanol is used to make fuel and food.