As part of the Department for Transport’s ‘Future of Transport’ review, there has been proposals to ban any kind of ‘tampering’ with ‘a system, part or component, of a vehicle intended or adapted to be used on a road.’ In short, the government want to stop us modifying our bikes (or any of our road vehicles), with aftermarket parts.
One of the main driving forces behind the proposed changes is vehicle emissions. Road tax categories, low emissions zones and various other road charges are based on the emissions data of a standard vehicle. Obviously, if you’ve binned off your standard exhaust, with its umpteen catalytic converters, lambda sensors and charcoal filters, your bike’s not going to be as ‘green’ as it was when it rolled off the production line.
There is also concern that, moving forward, when autonomous vehicles become a genuine thing, faffing with their systems could cause havoc. But self-driving cars of the future are a little bit different to Joe Bloggs’ GSX-R750.
So what happens then, when the government ban us from fitting any aftermarket parts to our bikes? Does every motorcycle and car have to remain absolutely and completely standard for it’s entire life? When our tyres wear out, do we need to replace them with exact matches of the OE spec rubber? What about other consumables and wear parts? Chains, sprockets, brake pads, clutches. Will we have to pay top-dollar and buy everything direct from the OE parts list? What about parts that don’t affect performance, safety or emissions? If my bike doesn’t come with heated grips, can I not retrofit any? Would that be breaking the law? And what if the manufacturer doesn’t supply a part I need? Will the insurance company have to write off a superbike for the sake of a cracked mirror glass, if I can’t get hold of a ‘genuine’ one?
And what’s going to happen to the thousands of aftermarket parts manufacturers, wholesalers, suppliers etc. that rely on people blinging their vehicles up with the latest kit? It’s a massive industry. Huge. They’d be effectively closing it down. Thousands would lose their jobs.
It’s an absolute nonsense. The people who suggest these ridiculous changes obviously haven’t thought it through. Either that or they don’t live in the real world. Or both. Because it’s not the first time changes like this have been suggested. They were talked about back in 2012, when they were writing the rules for Euro4. But obviously, and quite rightly, they were strongly opposed by anyone with a braincell or two, and nipped in the bud.
But they’re having another go. Not for the first time, the government seem desperate to tell us what we are and aren’t allowed to do with our own property. And I’m getting sick of it. There are already enough rules in the world, let’s not confuse the job with even more.
With a short eight week consultation (rather than the usual twelve), if you want to have your say, you’re going to have to be quick. The DFT’s survey can be found here, should you wish to tell them exactly what you think.