Controversial plans for vehicle anti tampering regulations were the subject of a high level meeting between a delegation from the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) and senior officials from the Department for Transport today (27th October). The anti tampering proposals have been put forward in the Government’s 'Future of Transport Regulatory Review Consultation: Modernising Vehicle Standards'.
The proposals aim to create new offences for ‘tampering with a system, part or component of a vehicle intended or adapted for use on the road’. They would specifically outlaw advertising, supplying or installing a ‘tampering product’ and create an offence for removing or reducing the effectiveness of, or rendering inoperative a system, part or component of a vehicle.
These anti tampering proposals have generated huge concern among motorcyclists that motorcycle modification would be rendered illegal. This would impact not only motorcycle riders, but also the thousands of accessory and component businesses which serve a thriving market in motorcycle adaptation and customisation.
Today’s DfT meeting, attended by a delegation comprising NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch, the British Motorcyclists Federation’s Director of Political and Technical Services Anna Zee and the Motorcycle Action Group’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, Colin Brown, was called to explore the true aims and scope of the Government’s proposals.
The DfT immediately confirmed that it is not the government’s intention to stop motorcycle customisation, modification and adaptation where this does not relate to the environmental performance or design speed of a motorcycle . The proposals are instead aimed at ensuring the motorcycles can no longer be legally modified to generate more pollution and in the case of electric motorcycles, cannot have software changes made to increase speed. In this area, the proposals have been inspired by the practice of modifying electric bicycles and e-scooters to make them faster and more powerful.
The practice of using non OEM parts will not be stopped, as long as these do not degrade the specified environmental performance of a bike. Modifications that improve this performance are still planned to be possible.
The DfT quickly acknowledged that the consultation was not worded precisely enough and that more could have been said with regard to the specific areas of concern when it comes to ‘tampering’. The Department confirmed that it had received a huge postbag on the subject.
Although the NMC has successfully gained clarification about the scope of the anti tampering proposals, many concerns remain about unintended consequences of the proposed regulations as they apply to existing and older motorcycles, how the regulations will be applied and the scope of what will be covered. The DfT acknowledge these concerns and have agreed that the NMC will be able to input to the development of any new regulations after the consultation period has finished. Exemptions for competition bikes, classic motorcycles and ‘off road’ bikes still need to be clarified and the DfT are keen to hear more from the NMC and its members about scenarios and situations where regulations need to be proportionate and ensure continued freedoms to modify. Officials have also committed to supply detail about what they see as ‘gaps’ in current Construction and Use legislation before the consultation closes. This will be important to gain an understanding of the components and systems which could come under any new legislation and the outcomes that could result from tampering restrictions.
The NMC's Craig Carey-Clinch said; “Although we are pleased to learn that riders will not be banned from modifying their bikes if this does not reduce environmental performance or increase speeds beyond a particular motorcycle’s design specification, this leaves several areas where legitimate reasons to modify could still be denied. There is also a large question mark about how the proposals will affect older motorcycles.
“We welcome the DfT’s willingness to discuss these matters in more detail and to include the NMC and its members in work to design regulations that are proportionate, but we remain strongly concerned that the proposals have been inspired by issues that do not apply to the majority of motorcycling, but to a much narrower range of mainly electric products. Engine modifications often improve how a bike runs and the freedom to be able to make these changes must remain.
“But it does seem clear that in the drive to reduce vehicle emissions and to decarbonise all vehicle types, it seems that at the very least, modifications that lead to increased emissions from petrol motorcycles and cars are likely to be outlawed.”
Notes to Editors
1. For further comment from the NMC please contact Craig Carey-Clinch, on 07979 757484 / firstname.lastname@example.org
2. National Motorcyclists Council members are: The Auto Cycle Union, the British Motorcyclists Federation, IAM RoadSmart, the Motorcycle Action Group, the National Motorcycle Dealers Association and the Trail Riders Fellowship