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I want my rights….

August 7, 2011


Girvan, Scotland – I’m not sure what they are but I want then anyway, my rights that is.

It’s a bit difficult living in country without a written constitution or an indigenous bill of rights. Ok so the UK has signed up to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms but all that seems to mean is that most of the people we don’t want in the country end up living here, and at taxpayers expense.

Without something actually down hard copy rights are more of an opinion, an aspiration, a judgement even an abstract. They exist but they don’t really, they mean something but they don’t, they mean something different to each and every individual.

Then there’s motorcycle “riders rights”, possible the most abstract of all. Every bikers got an opinion, that’s why talking to them is such an interesting and fascinating occupation.

Talking to riders is intriguing. Most never mention the “assumed” rights, things like being able to ride anywhere, attended events and meetings, support campaigns, offer views and opinions and vote.

There seems to be two stands of thought. There are those that mention the “usual” “riders rights” issues i.e., police harassment, access to bus lanes, free secure parking, failed road surfaces and access covers. Then there are others who discuss, the cost of machines and servicing, fuel costs, tyre costs and taxes.

Two stands. One which follows the “riders rights” groups line on issues which are not industry connected and are presumably expounded by “rights group” members. The other, which if campaigned on, would bring into question things like industry profits, riding costs and even the industry levy on new bike and scooter sales.

Who’s rights are we talking about here? Exactly who is taking who to lunch?

Ride, but don’t ride paranoid. Just leave that to me!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Elaine permalink
    August 7, 2011 9:35 pm

    In five – perhaps ten years time this whole discussion will become completely reduntant.

    Let’s look for example at the legislation coming from Europe which include mandatory advanced braking systems, automatic headlights, on board diagnostics, the end of 2 strokes (that’s hidden amongst the proposals on emissions) and so forth. For those that have the stomach and interest to read through the various proposals, amendments etc, they will find that the goal is not safety, nor concerns regarding the environment, but simply a series of manourvres to keep out the the Chinese.

    The European motorcycle industry is in crisis. The Chinese motorcycle industry is flourishing and flooding Europe’s markets with their cheap and cheerful Dingalings or whatever they call their bikes. Europe’s automotive and motorcycle industry (that includes the Japanese manufacturers) have a vested interest in excluding China. But that is protectionism.

    The dichotomy is that China is now the most powerful country in the world in terms of economics and manufacturing. In five or ten years, our banks, financial institutions, imports and exports will be driven by Beijing’s policies – not by the EU Commission, not the US and certainly not the UK government.

    The West is in decline, the new world will be led by China, India and the oil rich countries of the middle east.

    These countries are not known for their interest in human rights, indeed, the individual in these countries has no “rights” as we understand the meaning of that word.

    The European Union is floundering in its inability to come to terms with basic economic principles.

    The joke in this respect is that while we may have “rights” under EU law, we may also find that so called market driven policies enacted by politicians that have no understanding of these economic principles will find the average EU citizen, broke, unemployed with a house/car or motorcycle that he/she can no longer afford.

    Perhaps it’s time we looked at the bigger picture? Rosetta Stone has language courses in Chinese.

  2. Dave permalink
    August 8, 2011 8:58 am

    Interesting points Elaine. Pehaps the European / Japanese motorcycle industries wouldn’t be in such a crisis if they weren’t trying to sell everyone high performance sports bikes and ignoring the commuter market. Motorcycles could offer a real cheap alternative to cars and even public transport for a lot of people, not only would this strengthen the overall EU motorcycle market but also give the riders rights groups more sway. (MAG and BMF might have 10,000 (really?!) members but we all know that’s a drop in the ocean in a population of 65 million or so people and even in a motorcycle riding population of 1.1 million).

    But it’s the current motorcycle population and industry stance that puts many people off riding. We need to show the general public that motorcycling (including scooters etc) is not dangerous, unpleasant and only for those who are into speed, leather and oil.

    Yes a ZX10R is a wonder piece of automotive engineering, but does it make sense in a world where fuel is expensive, congestion is rife and money is tight? Motorcycling is it’s own worst enemy. If that doesn’t change then it will become extinct.

  3. Teapot permalink
    August 9, 2011 10:35 am

    Hmmm, can’t help feeling that if the EU ruled that all PTWs must have at least a three year warranty and a five year anti-corrossion warranty that it would keep the cheap Chinese exports out. This would also get european manufacturers to tighten up on the sometimes shoddy manufacture and cheap materials they use.

    I’m not sure we have any rights regarding the industry. They will rip us off and give shoddy service as long as we put up with it. New visor £40+ ? Because we don’t shout that it’s too much for a piece of plastic. Panniers and top box for a new Honda around £1,000 ? Just say no! What surprises me is that more small manufacturers haven’t stepped in with cheaper options. To be fair, some have, but we could do with more. Of course, we get what we deserve, so if for most people motorcycling is a leisure activity for a few days a year, they’re not too bothered about the cost. If it’s your mode of transport all year round, then you’re being ripped off big time. I strongly suspect that the industry has largely moved away from the transport angle, as the profit margin is low; what company wants to sell something that just keeps going with low maintenance costs that you might just ride for many years?

  4. Dave permalink
    August 10, 2011 2:00 pm

    A chinese company teapot, a chinese one. I think that’s the issue…

    The warranty stuff is a good idea but you and I both know that the costs would get passed on to the customers so all we’d get is the same bikes but more expensive.

    A transport mode where the manufacturers have moved away from transport. I reckon you’ve hit the nail on the head there.

  5. Elaine permalink
    August 12, 2011 2:57 pm

    Ignore China at your peril….

    The number of imported motorcycles and scooters from the China has reached significant volumes, far above 300,000 units since 2007and representing a market share in the range of 15%.

    There is already a system in place within the EU regarding shoddy products: RAPEX (the EU’s Rapid Alert System for non-food consumer products) notifications concerned products of Chinese origin were 52% of the cases flagged up in 2007. In 2008 they were 59%.

    In 2007 UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) carried tests out on 4 PTWs as part of its Type Approval compliance programme. All four motorcycles were manufactured in China by major Chinese manufacturers. The vehicles in question were sourced from Internet suppliers. Two of the vehicles were supplied in crates in semi knock down condition, to the purchaser’s home address and lacked any form of assembly instructions. The other two were supplied fully built to the purchaser’s home address.

    Registration documents and Certificates of Conformity (CoC) were received separately by post. However, the cost of CoP testing is sufficiently expensive to limit the number of samples that Member state competent authorities are willing to test – so the Chinese manufacturers and their importers play the system.

    The EU Commission (DG Enterprise) has been debating the Framework Regulations (market surveillance blah blah) for motorcycles. The representative of the European Commission wrote

    “In order to obtain whole vehicle type approval the OEM must demonstrate this obtained balance of
    the three pillars to the Type Approval (TA) authorities with a representative new / degreened vehicle.
    After obtaining Whole Vehicle Type Approval the OEM must provide evidence in the shape of
    Conformity of Production (COP) to the TA authority that the production vehicles do not differ from the demonstration vehicle. Through a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) the OEM guarantees to the end-user that vehicles comply with the TA requirements as demonstrated to the TA authorities. The OEM can only be held responsible for this guarantee as long as it is under their control, so only if these pillars are not modified in an unauthorised way”.

    Perhaps our EU civil servants and politicians need to recognise that the modification of motorcycles using type approved parts is an important and profitable European industry, which does not need restricting through anti-tampering legislation.

    Equally the introduction of mandatory ABS, AHO and OBD will simply drive up the cost of motorcycles in Europe and while this may keep out Chinese bikes (in the short medium term), it will create more restrictions and cost for the poor shit that just wants to have a means of transport that doesn’t cost the earth.

    Rather than destroying our motorcycle aftermarket industry with unnecessary legislation, our civil servants would do far more for Europe by halting shoddy non-compliant products arriving on our shores from China – using the systems that are already in place.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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