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Let battle commence??

December 9, 2011

Waterlooville, England – No more mister nice guy…

It is time to get the sleeves rolled up and get stuck in, let battle commence.

The European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee have voted on the proposals for the regulation, approval and market surveillance of motorcycles, three wheelers and quadricycles. According to the “riders rights groups” it’s not looking good, time to man the barricades.

On ABS. IMCO adopted an amendment, put down by German MEP Kerstin Westphal, which means that ABS will be compulsory on all new machines, including light motorcycles and scooters, from 2016. Ms Westphal is such a fan of ABS that she enjoyed a visit to the Robert Bosch ABS production facility in Bamberg Germany in early November. Coincidently Bosch will be bringing to the market in 2012-13 an ABS system designed specifically for scooters and light motorcycles.

Customising and modification including the construction of one-off specials. This issue appears to have dropped off the “riders rights groups” radar. Noises off still seem to indicate that European States will be able to legislate internally on this issue. Meaning in the UK little or no change. However there remains a possibility that we could end up with an unhappy mix of legislation when it comes to modifications that fall under the anti-tampering proposals. Where does modification end and tampering start and who decides?

Anti-tampering applying to new models. Articles 18 and now 18A of the European Commissions proposals. IMCO voted in favour of  introducing legislation to force manufactures to incorporated measures into machines that would prevent modifications which adversely affect safety or the environment. Article 18A also surfaced and was approved. This would mean that should  “substantial” modifications be made to a machines powertrain it would have to be presented to a “competent authority” for inspection and approval.

What happens next? IMCO produce a report which is a modified version of the original European Commission proposals. Next stop is a plenary vote in the European Parliament where Members can vote to approve or modify the proposals. Then its onto the Council of Ministers.  Where the Transport Ministers from the twenty-seven European Union member countries have their say and can vote to adopt the European Parliaments version of the legislation or send it back for modification.  Be in no doubt that somehow a compromise, a common position, will be found and what emerges will be if not exactly what the European Commission intended in the first place very close to it.

There are still opportunities’ for the “riders rights groups” to significantly reduce the effect of this legislation. However the question remains are they capable of doing so in any meaningful way. Will this be the biking equivalent of the  Battle of Rorke’s Drift or a hopeless Banzi charge against the impenetrable redoubt of unwanted legislation from Brussels.

What ever the outcome the Canute syndrome is in play. This is death by a thousand cuts. Legislation is by nature restrictive and politicians by nature legislate.

Safe riding.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian Cook permalink
    December 9, 2011 3:44 pm


    • U. N. Incazzato permalink
      December 9, 2011 6:52 pm

      A few years back when the Euro tunnel was built and the train to Europe departed from Waterloo, allegedly a French politician complained that the name of the railway station was an affront to European unity. The British politician he had complained to, agreed with him and said that in fact, there was a debate in Britain that the name should be changed to Agincourt as an expression of closer unity…..

      In FEMA, the British contingent was always outspoken, to the extent that in the discussion on the 3DLD, the representatives were to be sanctioned because of their refusal to accept a cop out by the then General Secretary (the sanction didn’t happen, because fortunately at the time, there was a President who actually agreed with the Brits). They were right then and it appears once again that only the Brits (or at least some of them) are angered about the outcome of the IMCO meeting.

      The opportunity for riders’ rights organisations in Europe to make themselves heard requires a major rethink. I’m not sure that the right people are in the right places, nor am I sure that the right message is getting out to riders throughout Europe. Looking on the FEMA National Organisation websites – there is nothing to suggest that any of them are actually interested in this proposal.

      I may not agree with the Conservatives politically, but the only real representative of riders’ rights is a Conservative politician who was the only person in the room (IMCO Committee)who actually knew what he was talking about. He was isolated and left to defend motorcycling positions against the Dutch rapporteur who clearly had his own agenda (but was, right until the end the champion of FEMA) and against the German ex-nursery teacher – Shadow rapporteur, who was successful in extending ABS to >50-125cc bikes and get approval for article 18a.

      FEMA needs to be overhauled and quickly. Of the three employees responsible for campaigning, there is only one worth his salt. The other two are superfluous and should consider not only that they were wrong, but pack their bags before it really is too late.

  2. Back Roads Rider permalink*
    December 9, 2011 6:18 pm

    Nice one Ian.

    Unfortunately Nigel Farage speaks common sense and people in politics who do that have absolutely no notice taken of them.

  3. Ian Cook permalink
    December 9, 2011 7:07 pm

    • Elaine permalink
      December 10, 2011 9:37 am

      hmmm – it’s a bit like Dolce and Gabbana – too much exposure has weakened the brand

  4. Wizard of Oz permalink
    December 10, 2011 11:32 am

    Back Roads Rider! It looks like the little people have rattled those purporting to represent the unclean masses.

    Comments about “independent Lobbyists” trying to “pull the wool over people’s eyes” as opposed to “our groups have no agenda but our rights’ and are also our elected representatives.”!/groups/281271798563541/

    Keep up the good work! Viva L’independence!

  5. Dave permalink
    December 12, 2011 9:42 am

    Legislation doesn’t have to be restrictive. It’s the people that produce and impliment it that make it so because they want to control things. Bikers and the UK riders rights groups find themselves somewhere they never wanted to be, siding with the political right. Perhaps they’ve gone quiet because of the bitter taste in their mouths?

    Perhaps all this wrangling will just lead to another piece of badly worded indecipherable EU legislation that most countries ignore because they have much bigger issues it deal with…

  6. December 13, 2011 7:52 pm

    Did the wording about “prohibiting” modifications stay in Article 18? I ask because the only meaningful interpretation of that is to make it an offence to do so.

    I’m fairly certain that the clowns currency in opposition would fall over themselves to gold plate that and criminalise everything that’s not mandatory, and I’m not even 100% sure about the current clowns in Westminster (despite Mike Penning’s general common sense) given that their publication of our 3DLD implementation is now 11+ months overdue.

    So, OK, it could be a pointless piece of fluff that just results in the Bosch flogging some nanny chips, or it could be a massive kick in the head to an industry that’s already floundering, but we won’t and can’t know for several years.

    What I do know is that if MAG, BMF, MCN, FEMA or any other interested parties want to put on another Brussels jolly that they should either pick up the phone and call the agents of a few biking celebs, or just not bother. No publicity means that it might as well have not happened.

  7. Back Roads Rider permalink*
    December 13, 2011 9:05 pm


    Article 18 now reads:

    After a modification of the powertrain, a vehicle shall comply with the technical requirements of the initial vehicle category and subcategory, or, if applicable, the new vehicle category and subcategory, which were in force when the original vehicle was sold, registered or entered into service.

    How this is achieved in the “real world” will be decided by delegated acts which currently don’t exist.

    Wim van de Camp said in his draft report to IMCO:

    Your rapporteur observes that within the motorcycle community a well established culture of modification exists, to improve the performance of their vehicles. Preventing this will disadvantage many qualified riders. It should therefore be left to the discretion of Member States to deal with this kind of modifications. On the other hand, your rapporteur calls for a tough line of action against tampering aimed at illegally increasing the maximum vehicle speed at the cost of pollutant emissions, fuel consumption and safety.

    Others may wish to comment on this particularly in light of the Motorcycle Working Group meeting slated for 14 December in Brussels. I’ve been told by at least two sources that the TRL report into anti-tampering and durability that is to be tabled at that meeting simple does not add up.


  8. December 14, 2011 8:53 am

    Thanks. That’s a fairly significant change from the proposed wording in the version that the DfT circulated.

    I’m finding it difficult to parse the precise implications. Mentioning “the new vehicle category and subcategory” implies that vehicles can move between categories, which seems to obviate the point of it.

    And “in force when the vehicle was sold, registered or entered into service” is interesting. 2006/126/EC defines 4 categories of PTWs, but 91/439/EEC only defines A1 and A, there’s no 25kW “category” per se.

    “Technical requirements” is also a loaded term. I’m assuming that will mean emissions as well, since they seem to have a real bee in their bonnets about that, but without spelling it out, it’s a lottery as to what will get implemented.

    The intention appears to be to stop owners putting their vehicle into a higher category (>11kW on an A1 bike, >35kW on an A2) but on the face of it, it might (depending on implementation) prevent restriction of an A bike down to the new A2 limit.

    Of course, given the random and sporadic enforcement of the current “A <= 25kW" license limits in the UK, that may be moot in practice.

    It might be a lot of sound and fury about prohibiting sound and fury, but ultimately signify nothing.

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      December 14, 2011 6:11 pm

      One things certain it would be in the manufactures interests if power-train modifications allowing category to category upgrades were NOT allowed.

      • Elaine permalink
        December 15, 2011 7:42 pm

        But…. that’s not what the Commission wants. They stated that there is no reason why a motorcyclist moving through the categories – specifically from A2 to A – should not be able to de-restrict. Anyhoo a little update on the MCWG.. entitled “Wading through Molasses”….


  1. El Camino – The Road

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