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The government is threatening to make modifying any motorcycle illegal

New proposals that promote green initiatives and smooth the path for self-driving transport could have a huge impact on the motorcycle industry

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A new proposal drawn up by the Department for Transport (DfT) could lead to modifying or customising a motorcycle being made an illegal act as part of new measures to accelerate greener initiatives.

The terms are laid out in DfT’s ‘Future of Transport’ review amid a series of other plans across the transport industry to help the UK reach its ‘Net Zero’ carbon emissions target by 2030.

In it, the paper says any owner looking to ‘tamper’ with a system related to the engine or parts that emit gases in a way that could see it pollute would become a crime. 

It says motorcycle owners will break the law if they fettle with a ‘system, part or component of a vehicle intended or adapted to be used on the road’.

The proposal has drawn swift criticism from the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), which labelled it a ‘sucker punch’ to the consumer and an attack on the freedom to do what you wish with your own property.

"I was expecting the lack of motorcycle focus in policies for the charging infrastructure, but the anti-tampering proposals came as a real sucker punch," says Colin Brown, MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement.

"As the owner of a motorcycle with less OEM parts than aftermarket ones you can imagine my reaction. This renewed attack on the right to do what you wish with your own property is not something that I can see many motorcyclists welcoming."

Though measures such as these have been drawn up before as part of an European Union-backed initiative, it was hoped post-Brexit UK would go its own way, rather than push through with a similar plan.

While the measures might seem broadly targeted at cars - which emit more harmful gases - motorcycles are currently being looped into proposals with four-wheel equivalents despite being far smaller in numbers.

Moreover, with cities increasingly leaning towards making the roads emissions-free to encourage electric models only, the way the motorcycle industry is regulated on this front is beginning to change.

More alarmingly for bikers though is the other reason why measures such as making modifying illegal are being taken seriously… and you’re not going to like it.

The government - and numerous manufacturers, plus private companies like Uber and Google - are pumping huge resources into autonomous vehicles. If you’ve ever received one of those windows during a sign-in process online that asks you to click on the ‘traffic lights’ or ‘fire hydrants’, you may know that this is Google’s way to help train its vehicles to spot such hazards… if you didn’t, you learn something new every day!

Well, arguably the biggest issue for the reliability of this technology is motorcycles since they filter, are smaller to spot and can change speed and direction quickly. 

It seems the way around this is to programme it to recognise the type of model to understand its risk, but modifications that change this could become a problem. 

Let’s say we’re sceptical about that last one but in a greener future society filled with self-driving cars, it seems freedom of living with a motorcycle you’ve customised isn’t in the government’s grand plan…

MAG is inviting motorcyclists to respond to the proposals - you can read more the proposals HERE

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