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New off-road conversion rules announced

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association announced that the California Department of Motor Vehicles has agreed to allow motorcyclists to convert off-highway motorcycles to dual-sport use through the end of January under new ...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association announced that the California Department of Motor Vehicles has agreed to allow motorcyclists to convert off-highway motorcycles to dual-sport use through the end of January under new rules.

The announcement is the result of an agreement between the Department of Motor Vehicles and the AMA, the BlueRibbon Coalition, the Off Road Business Association, the California Off Road Vehicle Association, the AMA District 36 Motorsports Committee, and the AMA District 37 Competition and Dual Sport committees.

"The AMA wants to acknowledge the efforts of all the groups involved, and especially thank the staff of the California Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Division who helped with the negotiations," said AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris. "These new rules will allow ample time for riders to buy off-highway motorcycles and convert the bikes for dual-sport use."

In July, the California Department of Motor Vehicles stopped allowing the conversion of off-road motorcycles built since 1978 into street-legal motorcycles. This represented a major change in policy for the agency, since the DMV's own registration manual, and a California Highway Patrol bulletin, spelled out procedures for legally making such conversions.

The policy change stemmed from California Air Resources Board emissions regulations for on-highway motorcycles that went into effect with 1978-year models. DMV officials contend that because off-highway motorcycles don't have an emissions label indicating they are certified by the manufacturer to meet those emissions regulations, they can't be converted for on-highway or dual registration.

Under the new rules, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2004, an off-highway motorcycle that will be converted for dual-sport use must be bought before Jan. 1, 2004, and the conversion paperwork must begin at the California Department of Motor Vehicles before Feb. 1, 2004.

Also, no non-compliant (red sticker) 2003 model year or newer motorcycles will be allowed to be converted. Bikes that have already been converted remain legal.

When the California Department of Motor Vehicles changed the policy for converting off-highway motorcycles to on-road and dual-sport use without any public notice or comment, the off-road community was stunned, Haris said. A public outcry followed, and the AMA and other organizations quickly asked officials to delay implementing the policy shift to address issues raised by the change.

"Thanks to the riders who flooded Department of Motor Vehicles officials with letters and e-mails in protest, the department agreed to modify its stance," Haris added. "This is a real example of the power of our AMA members and of the dual-sport community as a whole."

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