The Motorcycle Riders Foundation would like to thank Congressman Michael Burgess (TX) and Congressman Tim Walberg (MI) for a letter they sent this week to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeking clarification regarding the definition of a motorcycle. In addition to Congressman Burgess and Congressman Wahlberg, the following U.S. Representatives joined their colleagues in signing the letter: Congressman Troy Balderson (OH), Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO), Congressman Collin Peterson (MN), Congressman Steve Stivers (OH) and Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA). The current definition is decades old and so broad that new vehicles on our roadways, with numerous carlike features, are defined as motorcycles.
“As you know, NHTSA has long defined a motorcycle as a ‘motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground.’ While this was a clear characterization for many years, the recent emergence of a new class of vehicle that has attributes of both automobiles and motorcycles has created confusion,” the members wrote. “We respectfully request a response that describes whether NHTSA believes the current federal definition of a motorcycle is appropriate and if not, what NHTSA is doing to address this issue.”
The ambiguity of the classification of these new vehicles as either motorcycles or autocycles has created a patchwork of rules and regulations at the state level for licensing, registration and insurance. The MRF believes that a review of this definition is needed and would help provide clarity to states when making decisions on how to appropriately regulate them. We thank these seven members of Congress for seeking clarification from NHTSA on this issue of importance to motorcyclists.
President of the MRF, Kirk “Hardtail” Willard, stated “For three years our members have asked us to tackle the federal definition of a motorcycle. This letter is the first step in helping us understand the current thought process of NHTSA and hopefully opens up a dialogue on the topic. We thank this bipartisan group of Congressmen for their leadership on this issue.”