[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 167 (Friday, August 28, 1998)]
[Pages 46097-46098]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-23241]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Docket No. NHTSA 98-4357; Notice 1

Aprilia, SpA , Receipt of Application for Temporary Exemption 
From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 123

    Aprilia SpA of Noale, Italy, has applied for a temporary exemption 
for calendar years 1999 and 2000 from a requirement of S5.2.1 (Table 1) 
of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 123 Motorcycle Controls 
and Displays. The basis of the request is that ``compliance with the 
standard would prevent the manufacturer from selling a motor vehicle 
with an overall level of safety at least equal to the overall safety 
level of nonexempt vehicles,'' 49 U.S.C. Sec. 30113(b)(3)(iv).
    This notice of receipt of an application is published in accordance 
with the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(2) and does not represent 
any judgment of the agency on the merits of the application.
    If a motorcycle is produced with rear wheel brakes, S5.2.1 of 
Standard No. 123 requires that the brakes be operable through the right 
foot control, though the left handlebar is permissible for motor driven 
cycles (Item 11, Table 1). Aprilia would like to use the left handlebar 
as the control for the rear brakes of its Leonardo 150 motorcycle, 
whose 150 cc engine produces more than the 5 hp maximum that separates 
motor driven cycles from motorcycles. The Aprilia can attain speeds up 
to 106 km/h (65.7 mph). The frame of the Leonardo ``has not been 
designed to mount a right foot operated brake pedal, which is a 
sensitive pressure point able to apply considerable stress to the 
frame, causing failure due to fatigue * * *'' Aprilia ``intends to 
begin sales

[[Page 46098]]

into the United States for market testing purposes during the 1999 
sales year and would like to present a model line including the 
Leonardo 150 motorcycle.'' Absent an exemption, it would be unable to 
do so because the vehicle would not fully comply with Standard No. 123. 
It has requested an exemption for calendar years 1999 and 2000.
    Aprilia argues that the overall level of safety of the Leonardo 150 
equals or exceeds that of a non-exempted motor vehicle for the 
following reasons. The Leonardo 150 is equipped with an automatic 
transmission. As there is no foot operated gear change, ``the operation 
and use of a motorcycle with an automatic transmission is similar to 
the operation and use of a bicycle.'' Thus, the Leonardo 150 can be 
operated without requiring special training or practice. In response to 
NHTSA's justification for standardization of motorcycle controls, 
Aprilia argues that ``any driver will not hesitate when confronted with 
an emergency'' because ``the use of a left hand lever for the rear 
brake is highly `intuitive' and easy to use  * * *.''
    Admitting that ``the human foot can apply much more force than can 
the hand,'' Aprilia believes that ``with the modern hydraulically 
activated disc brakes used on the Leonardo 150, more than enough brake 
actuation force is available from the hand of even the smallest 
rider.'' Further, ``it takes much longer for the rider's foot to be 
placed over the pedal, and the foot force applied, than it does for the 
rider to reach and squeeze the hand lever.'' Aprilia argues that 
``reducing this `latency time' to a minimum, especially for 
inexperienced riders, has obvious safety benefits.'' Finally, the hand 
lever reduces the possibility of loss of control because of rear wheel 
locking in an emergency braking situation because of ``the increased 
sensitivity to brake feedback with the hand lever.''
    Aprilia points out that European regulations allow motorcycle 
manufacturers the option of choosing rear brake application through 
either a right foot or left handlebar control, and that Australia 
permits the optional locations for motorcycles of any size with 
automatic transmissions.
    An exemption would be consistent with objectives of motor vehicle 
safety, Aprilia argues, because it believes that its disc brake system 
provides ``better resistance to fade and better performance under wet 
conditions.'' The design of the vehicle ``has been tested by long use 
in Europe and the rest of the world'' without safety concerns being 
raised. An exemption would be in the public interest because the 
emissions ``of the small engines have been demonstrated to be lower 
than alternative means of transportation such as large motorcycles or 
automobiles.'' The introduction of ``this type of motor vehicle will 
provide the American consumer with a broader range of choice of low-
cost transportation.''
    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the 
application described above. Comments should refer to the docket number 
and the notice number, and be submitted to: Docket Management, Room PL-
401, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590. It is requested but 
not required that 10 copies be submitted.
    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated below will be considered, and will be available 
for examination in the docket at the above address both before and 
after that date. The Docket Room is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 
p.m. To the extent possible, comments filed after the closing date will 
also be considered.
    Notice of final action on the application will be published in the 
Federal Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.
    Comment closing date: September 28, 1998.

(49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.50. and 

    Issued on August 25, 1998.
L. Robert Shelton,
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 98-23241 Filed 8-27-98; 8:45 am]