Hope is ALIVE! ...a phone call from my Legislator

...and not just "any" State Legislator, he just happens to have owned the local Harley dealership for many years (his son still does) and he has built 4 motorcycles of his own and Titled and Registered them. He loves bikes.

I sent Representative Richard Myers (D), a 7 page letter explaining my stalemated battle with the Iowa DOT that is now one year old. He called today and is going to have a talk with the Director of the DOT this next week.

When he comes home next weekend, he wants to see my bike (wish he could/would ride it!). Wonder how much of this snow might melt by then...

It is apparent, as Chair of the Administration and Rules Committee, that he sees a need for Legislative intervention to help clarify and resolve this issue. He was clear about making no promises at this point, but my optimism is getting the best of me after so much frustration and dead-ends and deaf ears for the past year.

Outside of the members of this forum and Alan Roach of Baja Designs, I have been alone in this battle for dual-sports. But, hey! That is a pretty powerful support base in itself! Thanks to all who have provided both actual and moral support over the past year!! :)

Part and parcel to my case is the fact that Iowa is accomplishing nothing by seizing it's own citizens' Titles and plates since most states allow conversions and Iowa must honor their Registrations and plates when they are on Iowa roads. Convincing legislators that this is an acceptable thing is a big part the challenge.

Once again, I ask all of my fellow TT'ers with dual-sported bikes of any flavor, or even homebuilt/reconstructed bikes of any type to please email me pictures and/or letters of support for these vehicles. It all helps; more than you may think! I want my ducks in a row and the bases covered by next weekend. What happens from this point will decide the future of dual-sport (home built) bikes in Iowa.

Even if you don't have such a bike, or live in the USA, but believe in guarding your liberty to own or build one, send a letter. PLEASE!

Let's win one, boys!!!!!


My email is: rathfamily@mindspring.com

Thank you for your diligence. In Michigan we don't many problems making our moto bikes street legal, but those things can change in a hurry.

The next time you meet with Representative Myers make sure to mention Yamaha's woodruff key capable of mass destruction.

I should have recapped the situation in my post, but he called just as I was heading out the door for work. Here goes:

Chapter One: (forgive me if this sounds condescending and windy, but it is important) "The History of Dual-sport Conversions in Iowa"

Iowa used to Title (as a "Reconstructed Vehicle") and Register (license plate) dual-sport conversions along with just about anything else you cared to put wheels, motor, and required safety equipment on. The key here being the required process and it's very specific order.

You also need to know that ATV's,dirt bikes,boats,snowmobiles, etc. DO NOT have "Vehicle Titles" in Iowa; just 'registrations' (of a totally different type) through the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) if the owner wishes to operate them on any public land or waters. They cannot be operated on public roads. You also cannot obtain a Dept. of Transportation (DOT street-legal) Registration (license plate) without FIRST having a legal Vehicle Title. Therefore, you cannot get a plate for these vehicles. A DNR "registration" does not qualify.

If you decide to build, rebuild from component parts, construct, reconstruct or in any way produce a vehicle intended for street use, you must first have it inspected by a specialized DOT Vehicle Inspection Officer (complete with badge and gun!) upon it's completion. The Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) sets forth very specific standards and requirements to guide you in it's construction. The DOT, upon request, will cheerfully provide you with a copy of these.

If your vehicle meets these requirements and you provide proper documentation of the legal (not stolen) origin of all components, the inspecting officer will CERTIFY it as a "Reconstructed Vehicle", meaning it never existed till now. He will place a tamper-proof Iowa VIN tag on the frame over any existing and now meaningless number if there is one. (The frame may be homemade or custom built and not already have one). He will then issue a "Certificate of Title to Reconstructed Vehicle".

Presto! You will have just witnessed the legal birth of a whole new vehicle!

Whatever vehicle(s) the component parts may have come from no longer exists. The "Reconstructed" designation informs and protects all future buyers and lenders as well as the company(s) that manufactured the components and/or the original vehicle(s) which it may or may not resemble. Such a Title says "This is NOT the "real McCoy"."

Harley Davidson, for example, gets real upset if a pseudo-Harley clone is Titled as a "Harley Davidson". They will not even sell just a frame outright for that very reason, according to Representative Myers (who should know!). You must cut the steering stem off a damaged frame and send it to them before they will sell you a replacement, according to him.

[incidently, unlike California, Iowa has NO emmisions testing or requirements of it's own. It is a "net zero state", meaning our crops clean more air than our vehicles, homes, and businesses pollute. Federal laws do apply as far as tampering with pre-existing vehicle emmission systems, of course. This is not a factor at all in constructing your own vehicle since none of it was pre-existing.]

That is only the first step of the process. You are NOT registered for the street yet. To get a "Vehicle Registration" and the accompanying license plate, you must now take your new Title and checkbook to your county treasurer's office. If everything is in order and the required fees and taxes are paid, they will only now issue a (DOT) "vehicle registration" and plate allowing the vehicle to be operated on public roads.


Chapter Two: "Very Different Documents"

If a cop pulls you over and asks to see your Vehicle Registration, you will NOT please him by handing him your Vehicle Title.

If you go to the bank requesting a loan and are asked to give your Vehicle Title as security, you will NOT get any money by handing over your Vehicle Registration.

They are two very distinct and different documents. A Vehicle Title is a valuable and negotiable document. It alone conveys and proves ownership and can be used to secure loans and to prove the origin of a vehicle.

A Vehicle Registration is simply the paper that goes with the license plate showing the gross weight limits, color, whether you paid your renewal taxes, etc. It shows the "owners" names, but does not prove ownership. That is why the bank holds your Title until the loan is paid.


Chapter Three: "How the DOT screwed it all up"


IAC 761-400.21(4) >> "The Department shall not register an ATV. The Department shall not register a vehicle manufactured only for off-road use.

(there is a third short sentence which allows the DOT, at it's sole discretion, to set this law aside for purposes of accomodating people with special physical needs.)


One year ago, some bureaucrat in the Iowa DOT Administration either misread the above law and did not recognize the serious legal difference between a "Registration" and a "Title", or did not understand the required sequence of the procedure required to "register" an owner-constructed vehicle, or (most likely), just could not read one 12-word sentence with comprehension!

It must have gone something like this: "Oh my gosh! We have been breaking the law for years! We will "correct" and cover-up OUR mistake by retroactively seizing the lawful and valuable Titles to our innocent and law-abiding citizens' motorcycles which used any frame which our computer says CAME FROM a (donor) vehicle with a "3" or a "C" as the eighth character of it's now-defunct and invalid former frame number."

[Remember: we had to document the origin of all component parts. If the frame was made from old rusty pipe or Grandad's John Deere or kleenex and spit; it was still OK. If the frame came from a WR or a DRZ or a Husaberg, etc. it is illegal all of a sudden.]

Never mind that I bought my bike already Titled and licensed with an Iowa VIN. Never mind that I have never even SEEN the old frame number since I could do serious jail time for even just taking a peek under the new Iowa VIN tag. Never mind that the law required me to put $6,000 worth of faith and trust in the Iowa DOT and its own documentation when I purchased this vehicle!

No sir! The important thing is that the DOT covered up it's own imagined mistake by attempting to seize one of my most valuable assets. Heaven forbid that they should pay for their own "mistake". Heaven forbid that I demand my Constitutional RIGHT to defend my property in a Court of Law before a jury of fellow Iowans and a judge whose job it is to actually interpret the law and it's intent. They know they will lose; and look real bad doing it!

"Everybody else just meekly surrendered, why don't you? We can't have this made public. We won't give you the names of the other victims to allow you to marshall your forces, either. We will just rubber-stamp a form letter and call this $6,000 loss a mere "inconvenience" for you and your family. That works for us. Why not you? No, we will not pay for our 'own mistake' in a responsible manner. If you don't surrender, we will send armed law enforcement officers to your home to MAKE you comply."


Chapter Four: "Why I will win"

#1> When the proper and legal procedure is traced backwards chronologically, the law cited by the DOT (above) is clearly on my side. The vehicle the "Department" (through the county treasurer) actually REGISTERED was already CERTIFIED and TITLED to have been lawfully Reconstructed for street use. It most definitely was NOT an off-road only vehicle.

This law in no way prohibits the reconstruction, inspection, certification, or titling of any vehicle whatsoever. The ONLY thing it even refers to is "REGISTERING". It is perfectly clear that registering a built-for-the-street vehicle is legal. And that is exactly what happened.

This is why so many officers had been doing it for so many years: They could read and they understood procedure. This is why the inspection officers I have talked to support ME, not their administrators.

#2> They also know that this is a pointless exercise if keeping such vehicles off Iowa roads is the goal. Anyone from any state with an identical and licensed vehicle can ride it legally and at will anywhere in Iowa. So they can and will still be on Iowa's roads.

#3> There are numerous ways to simply circumvent this new policy (not law; the law has not been changed, only it's interpretation by somebody who lacks the legal power to interpret laws). I have an ace or two up my sleeve just in case. The DOT, at last contact, was still befuddled on what to do about all the KTM's that "fell through the cracks" because they don't have the 'evil' frame digit. ("How do we steal THEIR asset?!)

#4> This law was only intended to keep quads, 3-wheelers, Argos, golf carts, lawn mowers, etc. from installing lights, etc. and getting registrations/plates. Especially when transfered to Iowa from one of the many states that DO issue Titles for such vehicles. It was never intended to impede the lawful Reconstruction of motorcycles for street use, which are an accepted and approved highway vehicle.

#5> You might say " Yeah, but dual-sport conversions aren't really reconstructed motorcycles." I beg to differ. Just try taking yours back to your dealer after doing such modifications for warranty work. A stock WR simply could not pass a DOT inspection. Therefore, logic tells us that a bike that CAN pass such an inspection is a different animal. Try to force Yamaha to accept any responsibility at all for such a modified vehicle. Won't work. And it shouldn't! It is no longer the vehicle they manufactured. Just some of the components.

#6> No law in the Iowa Code either restricts or requires the use of any specific number of components from any number of "donor" vehicles. Use 99%, or one piece. It is OK. Use 1 vehicle and mix in aftermarket and homemade parts of your choosing. That, too, is OK. The ONLY restriction regarding the source of any component on any self-built bike in Iowa is that the MOTOR must be from and built for a motorcycle. No more V-8 Harleys or VW trikes. Period.

#7> Lastly, but far from least: Representative Dick Myers. After reading my letter (much longer than this!), he understood my position and took it seriously enough to call on the man in charge of the DOT to see just what he has to say about all this. He also called me to make sure I knew he was going to get right to work on it. Today. And when can he see this bike? I like action!!


OK, my friends, poke some holes in this argument! Really! I want any weaknesses addressed before I lay it all on the line. I do not plan to fail!

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