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An adventurous future….

March 5, 2011


Dundee, Scotland – Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference….

The question is will it, the road, remain less travelled and in particular less travelled by motorcyclists? The answer probably not, as the European motorcycle industry continues to respond to the ever upwards trend in sales of adventure motorcycles with yet more aggressive promotion and marketing campaigns.

It is of course all about being customer lead and following the “trends” at least that’s what the industry would like us to believe. In fact for at least 20 of the last 25 years the customer has had little choice. Turn up at any motorcycle sales outlet and you were faced with little option but to buy a sports or super sports motorcycle, it’s all about speed, performance and the crack. “0 to 60 in 3 nano seconds sir, will you be taking the red or green racing leathers?”

The Halcyon Days, sales boomed, after all that’s what it’s really about getting units out of the door and staying in business, but the down side didn’t take long to develop. Give someone a high-powered bike and sooner or later they may well part company from it, often with life changing results. Yes the days of the local press report “he died doing what he loved best” i.e. riding a 160bhp super bike into a brick wall at 150mph were upon us.

So was born the “the problem of motorcycling” which itself spawned a thriving “road safety industry”. Yes many a road safety officers reputation has been built upon sorting out motorcycle safety or trying too! Indeed it was possible to kit one’s self out with everything from earplugs to condoms via underpants and toilet rolls when visiting the many “safer biking” stands at the “shows”. No stone was left unturned in the pursuit of safer motorcycling. My particular favourite was Transport for London’s (TfL) effort. This involved a cinema advert showing, unsurprisingly, the grisly results of a motorcycling crash. The message was hammered home by a distraught woman running to the front of the auditorium shouting “that was my son”, consoled by her “husband” she was led away in tears. They were of course actors!

And the UK motorcycle “industry” ? Unlike the cycle industry, it didn’t stand its ground and ignore safety. Instead it embroiled itself in numerous safety and training campaigns, handily endorsing everything the anti’s said about biking. Did all this campaigning and training make any difference? With so many variables it’s almost impossible to say. UK motorcycling casualties have certainly dropped, but this may well be more to do with the summer weather, the cost of fuel, and the recession than all the safety campaigning.

Then there’s the European Commission. With three Driving Licence Directives (DLD) under its belt, the Commission is getting into its stride on motorcycle safety. Its agenda exclusion by difficulty. The one the UK “industry” missed when it mistakenly supported the introduction of the 2nd DLD. Only late on realising that the difficulty of the test would indeed, as the EU Commission intended, act as deterrent to future riders.

Motorcycle safety is now a European “problem” and its going to be fixed. The “industry” is busy trading out protecting its EU market by accepting the safety restrictions the European Commission intend to impose. The adoption of the EU Report on Road Safety, which brings with it the likelihood or EU wide road casualty targets and the appointment of an EU Commission for Road Safety, will fundamental change motorcycling. The “industry” know this and will allow the sports and super bike to slip away, that cow been milked.

So on to adventure bikes, where we came in. Much easy to pack on all the EU required safety goodies, very touchy feely image wise, nice fit with the new licence requirements and helpfully people might injure themselves while riding outside the EU. Yep in ten years everyone will be on one.

So take my tip. If you like riding to far off places, if you like turning up and engaging with the locals, If you’re not a follower of biking fashion or smart arse PR. Go where you want to go now. Because if you go in ten years time everyone, everyone else will be there too.

Moving on!

For a factual up date on events in the European Parliament relating to the EU Framework Regulation(s) on motorcycle anti-tampering/modification measures, emissions and noise checks click here…

A report that the British Motorcyclists Federation, the Motorcycle Action Group and  the Federation of European Motorcycle Associations certainly don’t agree with. I wonder why?

Have an adventurous ride.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

With acknowledgement to poet Robert Frost

5 Comments leave one →
  1. G. d'Arancio permalink
    March 6, 2011 9:25 am

    Just to add to that.

    The “Token Biker” Wim van de Camp Dutch MEP has been so enthusiastic in his job as Rapporteur, that’ he’s even gone beyond what the Commission wanted. Not only does he want mandatory ABS – with a “switch” (brought forward from the original time scale) he always agrees with mandatory AHO – with a “switch”. “The switch” being the grand idea from the children at rue des Champ.

    Moving on to other goodies that our “Token Biker” is keen to support. Tough Anti-tampering measures – this is inspite of the fact that the Commission isn’t sure whether they want these measures or not, in fact they’ve even commissioned our friends at TRL to go out and do a study (in spite of the fact that there was already a study done in 2003 that proved absolutely nothing) to see if illegal tampering is widespread.

    Wim’s next little gem is mandatory On Board Diagnostics (OBD). The industry doesn’t want it, the LAT report – which was a study carried out by a Greek university, advises against it – not least because of cost and time and other stuff (see report). What the LAT report (and the industry) suggests is that it would be far better to have emission checks done when you go to do your MoT (like they do now for cars) – add that – the MoT would also eliminate the need for anti-tampering measures.

    The Good Ole Boys at FEMA have a campaign against Periodical Technical Inspection proposed by DG MOVE (the Commission) – which effectively would mean MoT at a European level. Their view is that it doesn’t make any difference to safety (and they are probably right). In any event, the extent of the PTI that the Commission wants – is unknown, because they haven’t decided yet – but don’t let a detail like that stand in the way of a good campaign!

    FEMA has campaigned vigorously against PTI – they even have a facebook page with over 3700 “friends” with comments from around Europe by riders against PTI including important statements such as “MY BIKE, MY RIGHTS F*CK OF EU”. One of the most aggressive campaigns is being carried out by MAG Netherlands – ah ha! you are thinking – what is the connection?

    Well, with the greatest respect for MAG Netherlands and those in Europe that are against PTI in their country – the rapporteur is Dutch and has publicly stated that he is against PTI and supports FEMA’s campaign – and MAG Netherland’s campaign. Thus as an “impartial” rapporteur, he appears to be protecting the interests of his own constituency rather than acting on behalf of the European consumers.

    This brings us to our friends in Rue des Champs. Campaigning for Riders’ Rights and in this case against PTI is afterall their choice and they are fully entitled to do that. But recently information has come to light about a project that FEMA is organising with funding from DG MOVE (nearly 700K – Euros) called RIDERSCAN. It’s yet another safety project with the aim to harmonise accident data throughout Europe (Lot’s of luck with that!) and other goodies such as training, infrastructure, research, awareness campaigns blah blah blah.

    Nothing wrong with that you might think. But here’s the rub – FEMA is to receive all this cash from the very same Directorate that wants to introduce harmonised PTI! So how does that work? On the one hand you are paid by the Commission and on the other you campaign against the very same Commission’s proposals.

    Couple that with the champion against PTI, rapporteur representing the interests of the European consumer, Wim van de Camp.

    Time to leave Europe I say!

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      March 6, 2011 7:37 pm

      Thank you for your comments.

      From other mails we have received regarding FEMA’s “operations” it would appear that FEMA has now enjoyed well over a million euros of EU funding. I hope they have an account who is up to the job! Thus I would feel justified in questioning the organisations financial independence – could it survive without the EU funding?

      We have also been made aware that a number of FEMA member organisations have either left or have not paid their subscriptions. This appears to relate to concerns over FEMA , far from being an aggressive representative of “riders rights” in Brussels or Strasbourg, acting as an apologist for both the EU Commission and ACEM.

      At least one correspondent is questioning the “interests” of the FEMA General Secretary and another asks if FEMA is in fact peopled by those more interested in furthering their careers, than the riders interests.

      I really do wish I could say FEMA is fit for purpose, it gives me no pleasure to offer the opinion that it currently is not.

      FEMA continues to a turn deaf ear to the critics in the hope that they will go away. It is the case that far from diminishing the criticism is increasing.

      It is extremely worrying considering what the EU motorcycle community is facing EU legislation wise.


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