11 January 2012

As we warned a few months ago, they seem to be targeting cycle parts now..

The European Commission has proposed that part of its controversial new 'Anti-Tampering' regulations, which will affect all future bikes registered for the road, should be re-written to prevent chop-builders from using 'long-forks'.

The Commission now proposes that any bikes being put through the Individual Vehicle Approval test (the safety inspection made before non Type-Approved imports, one-off specials, etc. (currently known as Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval) would have to complete a slalom and U-Turn before being registered, to prevent modifications to the length of the forks.

Up to now, the draft regulations have only talked about requiring manufacturers to design the 'power-train' (engine, transmission, final-drive and rear tyre dimension) so that it becomes difficult for owners to modify them from standard.

The UK representatives in the technical discussions joined FEMA and others in opposing the proposal, not least because the Commission cannot produce any evidence to show that modified bikes are unsafe.

The Commission is expected to continue to seek further restrictions on the ability to modify bikes in future despite mounting criticism that it has failed to consider whether there is any demonstrable case for restricting riders liberty to modify their bikes to suit their own needs.

Motorcycle Action Group had previously warned that the vagueness of the Commission's proposals to restrict modifications could mean the ambitions of those who want to save us from ourselves might extend beyond the draft proposals that have been under discussion since 2010. We've drawn attention to Annex 2 (item 12) of the EU Type Approval and Market Surveillance Regulation before, which wishes to measure/control steerability, cornering properties and turn ability and this is what is playing out now. This development is part of the creation of the Delegated Acts, the technical specifics designed to accompany the Regulation and the very specifics we were concerned that the members of IMCO hadn't been able to see. (IMCO is the committee who voted on 5th Dec to approve the Regulation through it's First Reading). Remember the regulation has two more stages to pass through; The Council (National Governments) and the full EU Parliament.

In response to that IMCO vote, the European Twowheel Retailers' Association (ETRA) recently said

"If the current text of article 18 is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, all usual changes asked by motorcyclists to their garages for either riding comfort, fuel efficiency, or to suit their style and taste, will be illegal or will have to be checked and approved, thus making motorcycling more expensive and servicing more burdensome.

As regards article 52 on System components and separate technical units, the report has left the current text practically unchanged. Once again we want to express our concerns on the negative effects it can have on the sales and service sector, such as preventing the sale of all systems, components or separate technical units which have dual use, i.e. which are used for both sport activities (not taking place on public roads) and for road use. "

So the retailers of Europe aren't very happy and neither it would seem are the manufacturers ACEM (the association of European manufacturers) said of the IMCO vote and specifically the mandatory fitment of ABS on all bikes and scooters "On this point, ACEM deplores the IMCO vote outcome, which would translate into a heavier burden due to the added costs of more stringent environmental and safety measures. This applies in particular to light motorcycles and scooters of the 125cc class (L3-A1), which form the core of the EU ailing market and provide urban mobility and social cohesion benefits to citizens, as recognised by the IMCO report itself. For this category of motorcycles, ACEM regrets that safe advanced braking systems alternatives to ABS such as Combined Braking Systems have been scrapped from the available safety measures, effectively wiping out years of investments in research and development.

Furthermore, IMCO voted against amendments supporting international harmonisation in terms of the durability test procedure, which brings unnecessary duplications of tests and costs to industry and, in the end for the consumer, without any measurable environmental benefit.

So it looks like just about everybody is unhappy with developments so far and now as the Delegated Acts develop I'm sure the politicians and bureaucrats will continue to upset people. MAG's campaigning against the creeping scope of interference in riders' right to choose what kind of bike they ride continues in 2012. I hope you can encourage everyone you know to Join MAG and help in the battle. The full EU Parliament is due to vote on this on 14th March, so that means your MEPs

All the best

Paddy Tyson
Campaigns Co-ordinator
Motorcycle Action Group
01926 844064

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