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The New EU Proposals and How They May Affect Bikers Posted /4 Comments

The last couple of weeks have seen a flurry of anti-EU legislation campaigns. The EU is currently looking at several safety and emission proposals which could affect many bikers if implemented in the coming years. Headed by groups like MAG and Right to Ride, scores of bikers have spoken up in demonstrations and online campaigns to show their disapproval. What is all the fuss about, exactly? Here we try to simply and clearly lay out the key proposals bikers are talking about and what they could mean.

Mandatory ABS on new motorcycles & scooters over 50cc
The commission’s stance is if advanced braking systems were compulsory on new bikes, this would reduce fatalities; they cite a study in Italy which predicts as many as 1500 lives could be saved annually if ABS were compulsory. To many bikers, this means loss of control. Opposed bikers say that whilst ABS is a crucial safety feature it should be used at the discretion of the rider and remain optional. They maintain that to do otherwise is unsafe because ABS on certain surfaces (such as gravel) would prove perilous.

Tighter emission limits and disabling computer chips
The EU commission are trying to reduce emissions across the board, they are suggesting much more stringent limits on motor-vehicles to be implemented in three stages over five years. Included in this proposal is the integration of a computer chip which can record breaches in emission limits. For bikers, this proposal seems wholly unfair. To impress upon bikes the same restrictions as cars is disproportionate; that small and lightweight vehicles should have the additional costs and impacts that larger and more polluting vehicles have doesn’t make sense. Bikes are far less polluting than larger vehicles, yet they are to be penalized in the same way. The commission’s response is that as bike numbers are growing their polluting power is increasing as well, thus the one rule for all policy applies.

Modification prevention of engine or transmission (including air-filter, sprockets and rear-tyre) and road-side inspections.
At the heart of this proposal by the EU is a desire to prevent bikers, novice or otherwise, to be able to modify their bikes as they see fit. This would stop inexperienced or learner riders from significantly changing their bikes above their level of skill, experience or qualification. Combined with this, the EU envision the ability to conduct road-side checks to enforce these strict new regulations. For bikers, the outrage is two-fold. Firstly, bikers are independent and individual by nature. They claim they should retain autonomy to modify their bikes for road and weather conditions as they see fit. Secondly, it makes matters even worse that is only bikes, not cars, which would be subject to these road-side checks. This singling out and being penalised differently from cars has the biker claiming unfair practices.  Additional EU proposals also include new rules for non-type vehicles for road use and new power and speed limits on electric motorcycles.

Action groups, motorcycle manufacturers and bikers across the country have been feverishly lobbying Roads Minister Mike Penning, who is accepting comments during the consultation process which ends 28 October, 2011. According to Mr. Penning, “This is a chance for both motorcycle manufacturers and riders to have their say on this new EU Regulation.” For bikers across the country, the hope is that with clear and decisive action and communication, a stop to these proposals will be successful. If you’d  like to tell your MEP your thoughts on any of these issues, you can contact him/her via

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4 Comments Leave a Comment

4 Responses to The New EU Proposals and How They May Affect Bikers

    Mark Denton says:

    There are some additional threats – compulsory dayglo, speed limiting chips, extra steps to be added to motorcycle tests. And things that are unilaterally done in some EU countries such as banning all bikes over 7 years old in French cities could find their way over here.


      Dave Stoppie says:

      Thanks for posting your thoughts on this.


    Elaine Hardy says:

    The article is just not true. I went to Brussels the same day as the MCN/BMF/MAG protest ride and sat down with the Policy Officer from the European Commission and I asked him specifically about modifications, anti-tampering and customisation.
    The conversation we had was as follows:
    “With regards to article 52 and modifications, I explained to the EC representative about the modifications required for disabled riders and infact gave him a list provided to me by Rick Hulse and showed him the work that is done in the UK by the National Association of Bikers with a Disability.

    He told me that the position of the Commission is that such useful modifications will be dealt with through the member states either through type approval or SVA as is the case today.

    With regards to anti-tampering, I explained to him that because the Commission had not identified specifically what would be included in article 18, this had caused considerable concern amongst motorcyclists and in effect was the principle reason that a protest ride was being held in Brussels that day. He said that he understood those concerns.
    I also suggested that given that there was no concrete evidence that “tampering” was wide spread, it seemed that the Commission was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I also suggested a solution for moped tampering would be to increase the threshold of the speed limit from 45 kph to 55 or 60 kph. I explained my reason for this was because at such a low speed, mopeds are at risk especially in busy cities. The EU representative felt that it would be improbable that anybody would agree to this option.

    He told me that the Commission’s position is to have anti-tampering measures specifically to prevent increasing the power output which would affect speed, noise and emissions – possibly on all (sub-) categories of L-vehicles, pending the outcome of the study that is currently being conducted by TRL.

    However, he anticipates that L3 category motorcycle/A3 – full licence (high performance, > 35 kW, > 0.2 kW/kg) motorcycles will not be affected by any strict anti-tampering measures.
    Again the outcome of the study will be used as base to draft such measures.

    In general the anti-tampering measures will be limited only to prevent harmful modifications of the powertrain with regards to the functional safety and environmental performance of vehicles. (e.g. drilling holes in the exhaust pipe or modifying an exhaust for the purpose it was not intended for).

    Customising vehicles will also remain possible after the new legal package to approve vehicles will become applicable and the national SVA schemes dealing with modifications of individual vehicles in the Member States will continue to exist as they do today.

    I then raised the issue of the 3rd Driving Licence Directive A2 licence where in the case of a motorcyclist wishing to move up to an A licence, if the motorcycle has “anti-tampering” restrictions, he would have to thus go out and buy a new motorcycle.

    The EC representative stated that if the motorcyclist had purchased a new motorcycle approved as a L3-A2e vehicle (medium performance, ≤ 35 kW, ≤ 0.2 kW/kg) that can also be configured as a L3/A3e vehicle – at a later stage, this is perfectly acceptable as long as the manufacturer has demonstrated to the approval authorities that for each configuration the applicable approval requirements are fulfilled and that change of configuration will take place in a controlled way (not via tampering).
    So the sky isn’t falling in – and what I’ve learnt is that it’s good to talk – to actually find out what is really being proposed.


      Dave Stoppie says:


      Thanks so much for taking the time to write out this comment. It’s a confusing topic with so many varying opinions. Our Claims Director also went to Brussels and had interesting feedback on what’s likely/not likely to happen.

      We’ll see what happens. We very much appreciate your comments!


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