Friday, 22 October 2010

EU Blues as Motorcyclists Face Mandatory ABS and No More Mods

You have got to hand it to those boys and gals in the European Commission just take every chance they get to show how disconnected they are from us little people. Motorcycles are due to be hit with the most restrictive regulations in the world. While the rest of the planet debate about wearing helmets and gear, we find ourselves having mandatory ABS on all motorcycles with no 'off switch' option. The reasoning by the European Commission?

"The Commission acknowledges that fact but considers the number of citizens living in areas with a high percentage of unpaved roads as negligible compared to the broader riding population. Indeed, the Commission fears that too many riders would switch off the ABS also when riding on common roads, due to “unjustified lack of faith in new technologies"

I am happy to admit that I support the idea of having technological aids on motorcycles, or any road going vehicle to assist the operator, but we must look at them as just aids. Putting such blind faith in the technology just shows how little they understand it or their limited knowledge of motorcycles. The EU in one breath is telling us that there are so few unpaved roads as not to warrant an 'off switch', while at the same time within the last month they recommend that road limits in Ireland by cut by 30% due to their quality, unless it is a road with a dividing barrier.

As long as responsibility of the vehicle lands at the feet of the operator, then they should have the final decision in what is best for the given circumstances, which should include turning off equipment not suited to the given conditions or is distracting. Maybe we should appeal part of this on the grounds that like a mobile phone, GPS or other technology it can actually lead to an operator to crash rather then help.

They have not stopped there though, as for now on motorcycle engines should just come encased in plastic with a 'do not touch' as modifications will now be very tightly controlled. In practice, this will mean unless you are buying your engine modifications from your vehicle manufacturer then you probably will not be able to fit it and pass an inspection. The same goes for after-market exhausts, unless they are fully approved then you will  also fail an inspection on that.

I am hoping that somebody is calculating the impact this will have on motorcycle accessory suppliers. Dealers who catalogues are basically 75% of engine tweaks are going to be hit hard. And think about all those 'off-road' schools that the likes of BMW run... how will they keep going if all their customers new motorcycles are effectively no longer suitable to use as the ABS is permanently on. How motorcycling loving states across the EU allowed this to happen baffles me, and why would they? Also where are the motorcycle manufactures in all this? Their production costs just jumped up as not only are they having to tweak motorcycles for 27 EU states (language and so on) they now have to make sure everything over 125cc has ABS.

Motorcycling has just gotten more expensive to get into, the licensing process from next year onwards with be much more complicated and the riders ability to make decisions in their best interests has just been taken away. If we could list motorcycling as a religion then I would be heading to another state for asylum due to the persecution we face here in Europe.

FEMA is trying to do its best to fight for our rights on this issue and if you want to help push back and get involved in a meaningful way then join you local MAG group as these upcoming changes that WILL effect all motorcyclists. Below are some links that should fill you in on all the details.
Peace and keep the rubber side down.

“Anger is easy. Anger at the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, is difficult.”
Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, book IV, chapter 5 (lightly paraphrased)

Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.”
Odysseus, when the time came to deal with the Suitors. From the movie The Odyssey (1997)