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New Motorcycle Law Taking Hold in Texas Has Riders Furious

Posted on January 7, 2015 by Eric Ellis.

800px-Texas_flag_map.svgA motorcycle law in Texas requiring passenger footrests and handholds went into effect at the start of the New Year and has many motorcycle enthusiasts pretty upset. House Bill 3838, also known as Malorie’s law (named after 19 year old college student Malorie Bullock when she was killed in a motorcycle accident back in 2010), requires a motorcycle that is designed to carry more than one person must be equipped with footrests and handholds for use by the passenger. The new law falls under Section 547.617 of the Texas Transportation Code.

Solid mount passenger handles on a Kawasaki Ninja Solid mount passenger handles on a Kawasaki Ninja

Many riders have been posting all over social media about the new law and are furious because they think they’ll have to install some kind of passenger handle bar or grab bar onto their bike or face getting hit with a misdemeanor and a fine. Motorcycle riders should be upset with any legislation requiring that additional parts or equipment be installed on their bike that didn’t come as original equipment. However, from the comments people have been making it seems many are overreacting as most if not all new bikes sold in the US already meet the requirements specified in the new law. What many people seem to be overlooking and what isn’t properly identified in the new law is, what constitutes a “handhold”?

Pretty much every motorcycle sold in the US that is designed for two up riding comes with [mageProductLink sku="025-4388" title=""]passenger footpegs[/mageProductLink] and something for the passenger to grab onto. Many sport bikes have metal or hard plastic handles mounted to the side or incorporated into the rear of the bike or passenger seating area. If there aren’t grab handles present on the sides then there is most likely a grab strap over the front portion of the passenger seat or pillion. Even scooters designed for two-up riding have passenger handles on the side or a grab bar over the back of the seat. So, technically the motorcycles should already be legal to carry a passenger. That is unless of course the ambiguity of the term “handhold” doesn’t account for the grab strap, then we can see where having to install additional passenger bars or solid handholds would be a major concern. What’s also not clearly defined is whether or not the passenger has to be holding the handles/strap at all times? Or does the bike just have to be equipped with said part(s)?

Now, from a customization/comfort standpoint we can see the big concern with this new legislation when it comes to swapping out your stock seat. Many cruiser riders like to replace their stock motorcycle seat and when doing so often leave the stock grab strap off the bike because either the new seat and grab strap don’t fit together, don’t look good together (a thinner profile seat can result in a loose/floppy strap), or they just don’t want the strap on the bike any more. In any of these this situations with this new law you then have the issue of the government forcing you to install some kind of extra safety component to your bike.

While the government, state, and local agencies have been working towards making motorcycle riders safer on the roads it often feels their efforts miss the mark (ie motorcycle-only check points). Rider safety goes well beyond equipment on the motorcycle, it’s about rider education, passenger education, and driver awareness of motorcycles. Unfortunately there’s an underlying “us against them” mentality that cuts both ways between motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists, and until everyone realizes that no matter what your method of chosen transportation is, to do so legally on the open road is a privilege and not a right.

  • What next Bicycles!!!!!!!!!!
  • Debra Padgett Ratzlaff January 21, 2015 at 8:37 am
    So does the sissy bar on the back count? Passenger can grab it.
  • Nice they show hand holds for mostly all Japanese bikes and one victory. But not for a Harley. The strap across most Harleys is considered a hand hold by the manufacturer.
  • Shelley Lambchops Mayes-McCormick January 21, 2015 at 9:27 am
    IDIOTS!!!! because the natural reaction is to grab an to an awkward placed handle and not the person in front of you!!!!!???? Gimme a break
  • They should give vouchers for new seats for harleys
  • Shelley Lambchops Mayes-McCormick January 21, 2015 at 2:31 pm
    after a lil more thought, why would you want to hold on to a bike that was on its way down?? Wouldn't you want to get out from underneath it if at all possible?!?!? THESE PPL....
  • I would like to know what if you have a sissy bar if it counts cause I have an old Harley and there is no place for any hand holds and there is no seat strap and never was one.
  • We are the wrong demographic ...
  • It's so easy for someone that has probably never been on a bike to make dumb new laws for motorcycles. Idiots!!
  • Can't believe peaple own bikes and are to stupid to know how to take off the seat and drill and bolt a strap off a purse or even a belt!
  • Why get in an uproar? If you carry a passenger you should have foot pegs!!! Now as far as something to hold on to!! The sissy bar could count!! The law doesn't specify what counts as a hand hold
  • It's bullshit! This law comes from people that drive Volvo's and know nothing about the open road motorcycles are not for everybody they are for people that know the consequences of riding if a semi loses control and is coming right at me trust me a handle bar is not gonna save my passenger.
  • The stupid morons that dream up these stupid laws should atleast take a riders safty education coarse or something and learn about motorcycles. You go down you either get on top of the bike or tuck and roll. You don't hold on to it. Dumb ass morons!!
  • The requirement regarding the passenger hand-holds of motorcycle
    14.1 Effective date and Scope:
    14.1.1 Effective date from 2005/1/1, the all vehicle variants of category symbols L1, L2, L3 and L5, shall comply with this regulation.
    14.1.2 The applicants applying for low volume safety approval or vehicle-by-vehicle low volume safety approval could exempt from regulation of “The requirement regarding the passenger hand-holds of motorcycle”.
    14.2 The requirement regarding the passenger hand-holds of motorcycle shall according to suitable types and range of principle are as below:
    14.2.1 The same vehicle category symbol.
    14.2.2 The same brand and vehicle type series.
    14.3 If motorcycle is equipped with passenger seat, the vehicle must be fitted with passenger hand-hold. The hand-hold must take the form of strap or hand-grip. The hand-holds shall conform to the following requirements:
    14.3.1 Strap: The strap and its attachment must be designed in such a way that they can withstand, without breaking, a vertical traction force of 2,000 N (the maximum traction force per unit area is 200N/cm2) applied statically to the centre of the surface of the strap.
    14.3.2 Hand-grip: It must be symmetrical to the median longitudinal plane of the motorcycle, and can withstand a vertical traction force of 2,000 N (the maximum traction force per unit area is 200N/cm2) applied statically to the center of the surface of the hand-grip without breaking. If two hand-grips are used, they must be fitted separately on each side in a symmetrical manner. These hand-grips must be designed in such a way that each is able to withstand, without breaking, a vertical traction force of 1,000 N (the max. traction force per unit area is 100N/cm2) applied statically to the center of the surface of the hand grip. "

    Everyone is bitching, however as much as I dont want to change my bike or add anything to it. A firm place for my passenger to stabilize themselves while taking off, stopping, turning, emergency maneuvers, etc. is a good thing, Sometimes, them holding me or grabbing at me cause well maybe I take off to fast or see something they dont. anybody ever slide or swerved from your passengers? so no your a liar! I dont believe in a citation for this, however i do and can understand the use of it. NOw everyone can smash me for agreeing with a safety issue.

    No this wont save your life from a sign or a curb or a bumper for that matter. But you might feel safer in general movement and use of the bike in everyday riding. and its kinda optional on what ya use, driver or hand hold or straps. Hell straps been on most bikes for years and a few years back bikes are being produced with the handles.
    Now if they said you must have a seat belt holding you to the bike, ummm nope!!!!!!!
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