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September 11, 2010


Margate, England – Just suppose that an opportunity arises for you to save on the costs of running your motorcycle or scooter.

Supposing I said its possible that you may be able better than half the costs (over a five-year period) of having your bike or scooter run through the mandatory UK road worthiness test (MoT). Downside, you could be subject to roadside checks that your machines road worthy. Ok so don’t the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) do that now? Yes they do. No issue then, I just save money.

Sound too good to be true? Well it could be. You may have noticed that the UK Department of Transport (DfT) has floated the idea of extending the period before the first MoT is due on a new vehicle from three years to four and increasing the periods of retesting from one year to two. Unsurprisingly this idea stems not from the UK but from the European Commission.

Those nice European Commission people are busting a gut awaiting the proposals from the Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry (DG Enterprise) on a framework regulation(s) which may include extending anti-tampering/modification measures, emissions, noise checks and a move towards a harmonised EU wide motorcycle MoT. Also called a road worthiness test (RWT), or even a periodic technical inspection (PTI). I spy new EU Directives!

But there’s a teensy-weensy problem, no one has worked out what exactly the European Commissions proposed proposals are likely to be or what effect any proposals could or may have on a harmonised EU MoT.

Hence we are up to our little chinny chin chins in speculation and dis information. We have a bit of a grey area into which have smartly stepped the Federation of European Motorcycle Associations (FEMA), the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) and following on behind the good old British Motorcyclists Federation. Now I wouldn’t be getting the hump over this if that triumvirate had chosen to try and sort the issues over anti-tampering/modification, emissions and noise. Ok I know these are closely tried to MoT issues. I know that DG Enterprise is trying to play these issues off against each other bad cop, good cop style. But come on we are all top-notch professional motorcycle lobbyists aren’t we so we can sort things like that. Besides the UK end of the triumvirate only represents about 8% of UK motorcycle and scooter users and the rest of us do have an opinion too.

So what’s wrong with an EU wide harmonised MoT. Well if FEMA is to be believed quite a lot. It’s all big brother, high costs and leave it to the bikers to maintain their machines in a safe condition from them. All fine and jolly till you compare the rhetoric with the facts. Currently seven EU member states do not have any form of MoT for motorcycles and scooters and in the UK around 200,000 motorcycles and scooter fail the MoT annually, mostly on lights and brakes. It’s obvious we need road worthiness testing EU wide and we need an acceptably standard for a test. I may be in a minority of one but I’d like to know that wherever I choose to ride in Europe the bike coming the other way has passed an MoT test of the same standard as the one I’m on, call it peace of mind.

As for the major UK riders groups shame on you. You current bombast on the European MoT issue could be interpreted as cynical campaign to but the wind straight up UK riders and perhaps encourage them to join your organisations in a climate of falling membership. Either that or along with FEMA you simple don’t understand the, admittedly highly complicated, issues.

Make your mind up before someone does it for you. It’s your debate.

Further reading:-

Right to Ride – EU Mot Testing…..

FEMA Position Statement on RWT/PTI…..

ACEM European Motorcycle Industry Proposal….

© Back Roads Rider 2010

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian Cook permalink
    September 11, 2010 9:16 am

    OK, check out the following:
    1) The EU’s history of “harmonisation” has usually resulted in all member states getting the MOST stringent of the individual states’ legislation.
    2) Look at the German TUV inspection standards – they make modification or customisation difficult or impossible compared with UK law.
    3) Research the cost effectiveness of periodic inspections – there are several studies out there.
    4) available evidence shows that fewer than 1% of motorcycle accidents are attributable to mechanical faults.

    Then ask yourself whether it’s going to be worth the hassle…

    • Gustav Glockenspeil permalink
      September 12, 2010 10:21 am

      The history of EU legislation usually means that the UK government gold-plates whatever directive the Commission puts out regarding PTWs and we end up with the most stringent interpretation of the directives. Other countries are less stringent – in any case – the Directive on RWT already exists:

      Article 4 gives some leeway to Member states – Annex I sets out the frequency for cars which is Four years after the date on which the vehicle was first used, and thereafter every two years and presumably this would be extended to motorcycles. Annex II sets out what will be required to be tested (cars are classified as category 5).

      A presentation by ACEM sets their proposal for RWT for motorcycles, but also includes a lot of information on existing MoT/RWT structures presently operating throughout Europe including Germany and the UK

      I think the German TUV inspection standards you mention seems to relate to SVA, not to road worthiness testing (MoT).

      In Germany the MoT is carried out 2 years after first registration, then every 2 years. Emission inspection was introduced in 2006. The checks that they carry out are:
      Frame number and plate Visual checks
      Brakes: visual inspections + practical tests
      Tyres: visual inspections + visual checks
      Noise: visual inspections + possible practical test
      Emissions Practical tests
      Other minor inspections Visual inspections (based on 96/96/EC)

      Is MoT worth the hassle? or more importantly, do we want a harmonised EU directive which may include far more or less stringent legislation than what already exists?

      That’s what we need to debate, although it would help if there were more information available so we know what it is we are debating.

  2. Toulouse LaTrec permalink
    September 11, 2010 9:41 am

    Q: When does a two tongued approach become a forked tongue approach?
    A: When an organisation calls for riders to support a campaign against EU legislation (which hasn’t been decided yet) and takes money from the very same EU Commission to pay for its campaign.

    Once upon time there was a lobbyist who had the worst jokes in the world, but when he spoke about technical issues and policy – he knew his stuff. Frequently he would remind the rider representatives in Europe that “when you sup with the devil, use a long spoon”. Unfortunately, he and men of his stature have gone, only to be replaced by amateurs.

    All the shouty stuff about RWT testing will pale in comparison to what will come out from the Framework Regulation proposals to be published on 30th September and the latest proposals from DG MOVE Road Safety Unit.

    So how does that work? A Motorcycle Forum at the FEMA conference, paid for by DG MOVE road safety unit, held at the end of June with the ladies of the Unit wanting a “dialogue” with riders, to understand their concerns, then two weeks later the same people publish the RSAP proposals including mandatory ABS, AHO, airbags in jackets/on bikes and of course RWT and roadside checks.

    Two tongued or fork tongued?

    One could argue that RWT testing is a red herring and in the grand scale of things, one would be right. RWT is only a very small part of the EU Commission’s desire to establish control over European roads and road users, which in some circumstances could be useful.

    For example, if you live in Romania, you would be able to go to a MoT (RWT) station in Finland with your car and get the same quality of test that you get back home and vice versa.

    The upside of this is that the dodgy trucks travelling around Europe can be checked, the downside is that you can be subject to a roadside check by some plod in Estonia or Slovakia, have your bike confiscated and that would (in theory) go onto a database that your bike failed their roadside check and therefore this failure would have to be valid throughout Europe and therefore in your own country.

    According to the Commission, data will not be stored in any new EU database nevertheless there are fears that such proposal could be a “Trojan horse” for a EU wide databases of offender drivers.

    Conspiracy? well not really – infact “The Commission’s objective is to increase enforcement of road rules. The Commission has not reached a European enforcement strategy during the previous programme, but this time the Commission is determined in making progress on cross-border enforcement. The Commission is expecting to propose the establishment of a cross-border exchange of information in the field of road safety. It will be, therefore, a priority for the European Commission the adoption of legally binding measures on the cross border exchange of information in the field of road safety”.

    Perhaps it might be better if the kiddies in Brussels went back to their playpen and left the serious stuff to the adults. We need to understand exactly what’s happening in order to inform the motorcycling community. Calling on motorcyclists to fill in a consultation form to tell the EU Commission that “I fight for my freedom” won’t matter one iota.

    Just a suggestion, would it not be better if motorcyclists were directed to their MEPs to raise their concerns? Although the Commission has yet to make concrete their proposals, it is very likely they will interfere with member states responsibilities – and this something that a large proportion of European parliamentarians are seriously worried about.

  3. Chris Hodder permalink
    September 13, 2010 12:12 pm

    The issue of Road Worthiness Testing is the first part of the Framework Regulation sponsored by industry bodies. Effectively, the industry want harmonised MOT testing to allow for emissions checks to become part of testing for motorcycles with no word from them who picks up the bill when the motorcycles they design and manufacture fail.

    Just as crucially, many countries do not currently have any kind of MOT for their motorcycles and do not want one and this campaign is part of the support for that. It’s almost like we are all working together…

    As for anonymously attacking the professionals employed in this sector, I would note that generally they do an excellent job and just because it is not immediately obvious why they are doing something, doesn’t mean that they are wrong and should be fired, it just means that there may be information you have either a) failed to understand or b) are not aware of. But hey, everbody who uses a pseudonym to avoid identification is probably a misinformed coward anyway, otherwise they would have the courage of their convictions and take responsibility for their comments like adults have to.

    • Twittering Twit permalink
      September 13, 2010 10:45 pm

      Road Worthiness Testing is NOT part of the framework regulation (which BTW will shortly change its name to something more specific – Regulation on approval and market surveillance of L-category vehicles) – infact DG Enterprise were quite specific that they were not involved in RWT, that was not their remit. That of course does not lessen the impact that their assessment may have on the future of technical inspections especially with regards to emissions, but of course this depends entirely on what they publish and the process once their impact assessment has been published.

      Yes the industry wants RWT but they have also stated that they do NOT want mandatory ODB, and they also agree that there has to be a declaration of emissions at the point of sale – but they are between a rock and a hard place, because legislation does not exist at this point in time for them to do so. They are waiting for Euro 5.

      Whether other countries have MoT (PTI/RWT) or not, is what I thought was a fundamental position that FEMA held – i.e. it is a national decision, same as DRL.

      Therefore if -for example – as the legislation has implied, that MoTs may change to first test after four years and then every two years – what do expect British motorcyclists to say – no??? Fact is, nobody knows what the proposals are because they haven’t been published – unless of course you are aware of what was discussed at a “stakeholders meeting” that you/FEMA are not sharing?

      Regards attacking the professionals employed in this sector. Not true, nobody is attacking the professionals, just the amateurs.

      Anybody who makes a comment either under a nom de plume/pseudonym or whatever, is fully entitled to do so. That is what is known as free press/freedom of expression, etc. It would appear that it is not the pseudonyms that bother you, but the content of the message. Perhaps it would be best if you took the comments as a stimulous for debate and grew thicker skin.

      Regards the comment on cowardice, what can I say? You have no idea who I am and maybe it’s best that it remains just so. After all, it is the discussion that matters, not personalities.

  4. Elaine permalink
    September 27, 2010 9:17 am

    Not wishing to get involved in the tiff above, I came across are really exciting and interesting piece of news on MoTs.

    For the unwashed, in Northern Ireland, MoTs are carried out by a government agency – the DVA -which costs an annual £22. Comparing failures for motorcycles – a constant annual percentage of 7.8% failure rate in NI compared to 19% in GB, one could suspect that your local mechanic is finding things in GB that the government run agency isn’t finding in NI. Or is it simply because motorcyclists are more mechanically minded in Northern than our brothers on the other side of the Irish Sea?

    Whatever the reason is, it seems that Eric Pickles, Community Secretary has understood that there is money to be made in them thar local councils, which would actually be beneficial for motorists – and why not? for motorcyclists too.

    From the Communities and Local Government website:

    Across the country there are hundreds of council run MOT test centres which are used to check council vehicles like buses for their safety and roadworthiness. These centres can also open their doors to the public and because these council run garages only offer tests, not repairs, customers can feel assured that there is no hidden agenda for extra trade.

    Visiting a council MOT test centre in Wandsworth South London, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

    “Pushing up parking charges is in many ways the lazy approach to raising revenue. MOT schemes show that there are plenty of opportunities for councils to raise extra income without turning motorists into cash cows.

    “With a little bit of innovation and creative thinking councils can use the skills and resources already at their disposal to charge and trade in a way that boosts town hall coffers whilst helping rather than hitting the pockets of drivers”.

    That is a win/win situation, such that Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis said:

    “The feedback we’ve received from council run MOT centres is fantastic, as people tend to find their vehicle passes with far less fails – though important safety problems are always highlighted. The fact councils don’t offer repairs and therefore have no vested interest in erring on the side of fails has a lot to do with it.”

    As a closet socialist, I think this is a fantastic idea – putting a public service, in this case the MoT, back into the hands of local government.

    So – maybe there is something here which we can all agree on?


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