Pie in the Sky

Protest rides against the European Commission’s proposed EU Regulations for motorcycles took part in the UK in September and recently riders protested in Brussels on the Motorcycle News (MCN) UK weekly newspapers protest ride.

Over the last few months, UK rider organisations have been using inflammatory rhetoric to gain support for these protests. This rhetoric has been based on theorizing and deriving conclusions to what the proposal may (or may not) mean for motorcycling.

Facts have been confused with supposition and the consequence of this is that it has led to panic and anti-EU hysteria.  All of this appears to be a lack of understanding of the proposal.

At Right To Ride we have looked at the publically available proposal and the amendments that have been submitted by MEPs and we’ve been in regular contact with the office of the Chair of the IMCO committee. These amendments (more than 300) are due to be voted on at the rescheduled meeting on 5th December of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).

Whatever the result of this vote is (what amendments are accepted or rejected), there will be a final report which is then placed on the agenda of the European Parliament for all MEPs to vote on, although additional amendments to this report can be tabled to Parliament under certain procedures.

However a number of MEP amendments have already been withdrawn, because they were outside the scope of the regulation.

We wonder in a European utopia of citizens’ democracy how these MEPs decided to submit their amendments, where these amendments came from or whether they were discussed with motorcyclists.

We also wonder if motorcyclists or rider representatives contacted members of the IMCO committee, or,  is there an unseen “battle” of other lobby forces taking place, while MEPs fail to grasp the complex technical issues surrounding motorcycles?

Hype – Misinformation – Frustration

We previously stated, “The focus on the Commission’s proposal and the IMCO rapporteur’s report has been lost in a mire of hype and misinformation and it would appear that there is a lot of anti-European angst stirring riders’ feelings, without looking into the factual details of this proposal.”

Our own frustration on what has been reported over the last few months regarding the European Commission’s proposal and the MEPs submitted amendments to the IMCO committee, has led to exasperation with the MCN protest ride.  Not because we are against protesting, quite the opposite, but because of the Pie in the Sky statements issued by MCN/MAG UK and the BMF to support this and other protest rides.

We have tried to keep to the facts as we understand and report them.

But right now we are pretty disgusted with what is being reported by these organisations and we feel that the time has come to challenge the hype and misinformation.

Brussels Speaks

On November 22nd, Right To Ride was in Brussels to talk face to face with the European Commission, the assistant of UK MEP Malcolm Harbour, chair of the IMCO committee and with Malcolm Harbour himself.

According to their own communications, the Motorcycle Action Group’s (MAG UK) main issues with the proposal are, “the sealing of powertrains from the airbox, through the engine to the final drive (including the diameter and aspect ratio of the rear tyre), restrictions on the aftermarket industry, possible roadside checks by police or other government agencies to inspect emissions, detect owner ‘tuning’ and more.”

The British Motorcycle Federation (BMF) recently issued a briefing document on the proposal with a reality check and myth busting section, regarding Anti-Tampering and the fears that the European Commission wants powers to introduce rules to make changes more difficult to the engine and drive train of motorcycles (“be regarded as difficult to tamper”) they stated, “They will not make it illegal to change components on a motorcycle.”

However after the MCN demo the BMF appeared to change its stance to “Although there are a number of issues of concern says the BMF, the principle one is of the anti-tampering regulations. These have the effect of preventing any changes to a machine from its standard specification which, given the independence and individuality of owners, is an anathema to many motorcyclists.”

UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen who proposed and helped co-ordinate the MCN protest, takes the stance of the EU plans amount to a cultural “invasion”. She wants the plans thrown out and playing to the fears of riders, that “the law would put the future of biking under threat.”

Mike Weatherley, UK MP who attended the MCN protest ride has reported on his website, “Motorcycling is all about freedom, but the EU plan is all about taking freedom away.” He also said about the EU proposal that it would, “subject motorcycles to three MOT tests a year.”

At Right To Ride we wonder where this Pie in the Sky comment has come from regarding three MoT tests a year, as there is absolutely no mention of this within the proposal, nor from any other Commission department. Indeed the DfT has put out a consultation paper suggesting the MoTs could possibly be changed to once every two years!

MCN has made statements without any apparent justification such as “Tuning could become impossible and even home-maintenance severely hampered. On-board diagnostic systems on new bikes could detect non-standard parts and trigger a warning light until the ‘fault’ is rectified by a dealer. Routine faults could be reported in code decipherable only be a dealer, preventing home-servicing. To prevent any modifications to the ‘powertrain’ which rider groups fear could include anything from the throttle to rear tyre”.

At Right To Ride we ask, “Do you really know what you are talking about, do you actually believe what you are writing?” Because these communications circulating around motorcycle forums, motorcycle social network sites and riders blogs certainly seem to have created enormous confusion, and appear to have become the accepted truth.

The Trio – Genuine Analysis

We have written to the main protagonists concerned with the MCN protest ride, MCN’s Steve Farrell the BMF’s Chris Hodder and the MAG President Ian Mutch.

We asked them, why they did not use their positions to contact the IMCO Chairman and the European Commission when they had the opportunity while in Brussels?

Because if they had, they would have found that most of the information that they are disseminating is either incorrect or misleading, running with what appears to be visceral anti-European propaganda which in the end does nothing to change the issues regarding these proposals.

We are now asking this trio and the organisations that they represent, to explain clearly and precisely how and why they came to the conclusions that they have made and with what evidence.

The future of motorcycling is important to all of us and we need to know the facts, so that we can grasp the consequences of the proposed regulations.

For example, contrary to popular belief, the Commission has stated that it wants modifications and customising left to Member States and where appropriate SVA -= Single Vehicle Approval.  The reason is simple, the Commission feels that these aspects are far too complicated for them to regulate.

With regards to anti-tampering, the Commission anticipates that L3 vehicles which would be those motorcycles used by riders with a full licence, would not be affected – and the anti-tampering measures which would most probably cover mopeds, L1 and L2 PTWs, would focus on harmful modifications.

Malcolm Harbour UK MEP and chair of the IMCO committee says, “That claims that a new EU law will “suppress” the freedom of motorbike riders is “complete nonsense.”

We need to take a deep breath and ask the representatives of UK biking to provide a genuine analysis of the situation.


Below you can view video interviews conducted by Europe & You from Malcolm Harbour, Riders, Marta Andreasen, Motorcycle News own video broadcast and a video from the Motorcycle Action Group local group Folkstone and Dover.

These may which may help you as riders to ask questions and split out what the proposal means for motorcycling from the hype and misinformation.

You can view our recent document – Is The Sky Falling In? – from our meetings in Brussels which clarifies many of the issues that are on the table – Click Here

You can view our document Wheat From The Chaff – Click Here

You can view our report on Malcolm Harbour’s interview with FEMA – Click Here

You can view all our releases on the proposal – Click Here

You can view all our articles on the proposal – Click Here

You can view the proposal – amendments  – Click Here

EU law will improve motorbikes, insists Tory MEP

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Claims that a new EU law will “suppress” the freedom of motorbike riders is “complete nonsense”, says a senior Conservative. Malcolm Harbour chairs the committee in the European Parliament which has been examining plans for a new EU law to deal with motorbike safety.

Some two hundred bikers, mainly from the UK, have been protesting in Brussels.

They claim that the plans would stop bikers being able to modify and improve their bikes, ruining their hobby and mode of transport.

But Conservative, Malcolm Harbour, says politicians have listened to bikers view and the new law will make bikes better and safer.

Original Source Europe & You

Europe & You – the place for news and interviews from your Members of the European Parliament. Europe & You is produced by Quadrant

Sussex bikers protest at EU

Tuesday 22 November 2011

A large contingent of bikers from the South East have been protesting in Brussels against EU motorcycle plans.

The European Parliament is currently discussing plans to improve the safety of bikes, but some riders are concerned that the EU could stop them being allowed to tinker and upgrade motorbikes in future.

Lloyd Collins and Alex Lester from Sussex travelled on their bike and sidecar with a top speed of 45 miles per hour to take part in the protest.

Alex Lester says doing up bikes is what he enjoys.

Original Source Europe & You

Europe & You – the place for news and interviews from your Members of the European Parliament. Europe & You is produced by Quadrant

Scrap EU motorbike law plans, demands South East MEP

Tuesday 22 November 2011

EU plans to tighten up motorbike safety laws amount to a cultural “invasion”, according to one of our MEPs. Marta Andreasen helped co-ordinate a rally in Brussels of some two hundred bikers, many of them came over from our region.

The group came to protest about a proposed EU law, still at its early stages, which, they say, would stop them being allowed to modify their bikes.

UK Independence Party Euro MP, Marta Andreasen, wants the plans thrown out.

She says the law would put the future of biking under threat.

Original Source Europe & You

Europe & You – the place for news and interviews from your Members of the European Parliament. Europe & You is produced by Quadrant

MCN Back Off EU Protest

22nd November 2011

Riders from the UK, France and Belgium rode to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels to protest over anti-tampering proposals under which tuning could become impossible and even home-maintenance severely hampered.

Under the proposals so-called on-board diagnostic systems on new bikes could detect non-standard parts and trigger a warning light until the ‘fault’ is rectified by a dealer. Routine faults could be reported in code decipherable only be a dealer, preventing home-servicing.

One aim of the EU plans is to prevent any modifications to the ‘powertrain’ which rider groups fear could include anything from the throttle to rear tyre.

New bikes are also to get ABS under the proposals, due to be introduced gradually from 2014. MCN is calling for the anti-tampering measures to be thrown out of the plans.

Original Source Motorcycle News

Motorcycle Action Group – 25th September Protest Rides

EU Hands off Biking.

Phil Pickering – Folkstone and Dover – Motorcycle Action Group.

MAG mobilise thousand of bikers to protest EU laws – laws that will do unreasonable harm to bikers written by people we did not elect.

No longer allowed to change air filters from the official recognised manufacturers model, brakes will not be allowed to be uprated, not be able to change your brake lines, you won’t be able to uprate the clutch,

Original Source www.cibfilmfestival.org

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  1. Well, let’s see what happens before we start throwing ourselves over a cliff in despair.

    What is important, is that everybody stays focussed on the real issues and not get sidelined by “Chicken Little” and his mates.

    Remember that this regulation is about new motorcycles, it is not retrospective. From my conversation with the Commission, they want to focus on harmful or illegal modifications – on mopeds, L1 and L2 category, not on L3 (35Kw or more) which is what the average full licence motorcyclist rides.

    FYI – the amendment which was to have the police do road checks and enforcment – was withdrawn – although consider that the police already have powers to check for illegal modifications. As I previously commented, they generally have better things to do.

    We’ll know more next week after the vote in the IMCO Committee.

  2. I wish that was the case, yes some officers will see it as something to check, when the need arises, other’s will see it as easy way to achieve ‘numbers of actions’ so they get their promotion IME.

  3. The obvious solution is to separate out third party insurance – that’s the compulsory part – from other motor insurance products. This TP insurance should only apply to vehicles (not the driver) as in most other countries in Europe. This compulsory part must be regulated. It would also help if people sitting on the board of insurance companies were not allowed to become Lords or MPs and give opinions as is the case now.

    In Northern Ireland, the government here has started to realise that there is a major problem with insurers and infact has brought the matter up at Westminster. Interestingly, the latest legislation requiring bikes and cars to be insured all the time (or SORNed) does not apply in Northern Ireland – possibly because our legislators cottoned on to the purpose of it – which is to make more money for insurers.

    TBH, I think the police have got better things to do than spend their time looking for “compliance”

  4. What I fear is the inevitable ‘mission creep’ factor, our insurers already use the tiniest variation from standard to hammer us cost wise, or to avoid paying out, so when Police officers ‘discover’ they have a ‘new’ E.U. right to have motorcycles checked for ‘compliance’ will they use it to our ‘benefit’ or to hassle us further, and not just the smaller classes intended, knowing just how ‘creative’ they can be.

    I led a 5 bike ride out last weekend, 2 FULL licence holders, 2 limited, one learner, if they target the learner or limited bikes we all have our day messed with…

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