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Anti-tamper turnaround?

Government signals a backdown on anti-tampering legislation for current and historic bikes.

The UK government has pulled back from proposals contained in a consultation last year which could have seen a ban on modifying motorcycles and other vehicles with aftermarket parts.

In November 2021, the Department for Transport began consulting on the future of vehicle standards, suggesting that changes were needed to keep up with the developing landscape of electric and self-driving vehicles. Hidden within the consultation document, though was some very broad language, which promised to “tackle tampering”, and to outlaw what it called “tampering products” which could alter the hardware or software functions of a vehicle – preventing modifications which would have “a negative impact on road safety, vehicle security and the environment”. It’s not hard to see how that broad language could affect areas like replacement exhausts, fuelling computers, and other bike customisation and tuning products and services.

But at a parliamentary debate on the proposals, transport minister Trudy Harrison seemed to rule out applying the new rules to existing and historic vehicles. “The consultation received 7891 responses – a large number,” she told the debate. “Their particular focus was on concerns that the proposals, as set out in the regulatory review, are too broad and would restrict any modification of vehicles, which would negatively impact on the motorsports industry, the restoration and customisation industry, classic car enthusiasts and motorcycles.

“We have yet to publish our response to the consultation … but members can absolutely be reassured that the proposals will not prevent all forms of vehicle modification. That is not the intention – it is certainly not my intention. We are carefully considering the scope of the policy, to ensure that it does not prevent legitimate alterations or modification, including repair work.”

Craig Carey-Clinch, NMC executive director said: “Ruling out historic vehicles is a welcome step, but as always, the devil will be in the detail concerning this, and what the fine detail will be in relation to safety and emissions systems. But for now it is clear that motorcyclists and other motoring groups have made a significant impact, demonstrating the value of political engagement by both individuals and representative organisations. We await the government’s more details plans with interest to see if the minister’s warm words today translate into a positive result.”

So good news, on the face of it, for the aftermarket, tuning and modification trade. But any final laws aren’t yet confirmed, with further proposals expected later this year. BDN will, of course, be keeping a close eye on the government’s plans.

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