There is a very real risk that proposals from the European Commission will restrict what bike designers and builders can do in future, but a ban is not imminent.
In December 2011 the European Commission presented its ideas for “specific requirements on steer-ability, cornering properties and turn-ability to address issues observed with extreme chopper style vehicles”.
Some current production models are thought to be incapable of meeting the suggested tests, so customised bikes with more front-ends could be at an even greater disadvantage.
The proposals have met opposition from manufacturers, riders groups and representatives of EU member states, including the UK government.
Opposition stems from the failure of the Commission to provide evidence of the need to restrict choice, or that the costs of compliance and loss of liberty would be outweighed by any benefit the Commission believes would result.
This is a criticism that has been widely levelled at other Commission proposals contained in its draft Framework Regulation that will govern future arrangements for the Type Approval of motorcycles. Proposals to restrict the ability of owners and bike-builders to modify components in the ‘power-train’ (fuel-system, engine, transmission, final-drive, tyre choice, etc.) will also restrict the design of custom bikes if they are adopted in their present form, as could other measures such as compulsory Anti-lock Braking Systems and Automatic Headlamp-On requirements.
Bikes already registered for the road should not be affected, only bikes modified or first registered after a date yet to be agreed.
Future rules restricting bike customising and modification will depend on the final form of the EU Type-Approval Regulations – MAG believes EU member states should retain the right to approve individual vehicles for use on the road according to national rules and is calling for the existing Single Vehicle Approval scheme to be retained for that purpose.
MAG(UK) remains concerned about the ultimate effect of these requirements and is in regular contact with politicians and officials involved in the negotiations.
In the meantime, MAG(UK) has been linked to reports that choppers are going to be banned by the EU from next month (April 2012) – that is not going to happen and we have not said it would.