Royal Enfield c1965 016It’s hard to believe that the British Motorcyclists Federation is more than 50 years old. On July 17 1960, with the M1 still in its 
infancy, the Federation of National and One Make Motorcycle Clubs (FNOMCC) was established, which would later be renamed the BMF.

When the FNOMCC was founded, riders didn’t have to wear a helmet and speed limits meant going as fast as you could (or dared). Motorcyclists
accounted for 20% of all motorists in the UK, you could learn to ride on any bike you wished and there was no CBT! Amid the fumes of BSA Gold
Stars and Triumph Bonnevilles, there existed a feeling that motorcyclists were not being properly represented. This led to Gerry Malin of the Vincent Owners Club and club representatives agreeing upon the aims and objectives of the FNOMCC.

The BMF was initially concerned with the new ten-year MOT tests for vehicles, the rise of insurance and how to get better deals for riders. We vehemently opposed the 1961 Cronin Bill that proposed passenger insurance, and legislation implemented in 1961 restricted learner riders to motorcycles 
no larger than 250cc.


Although it seems strange now, the compulsory wearing of helmets was also debated in parliament in the early 1960s. By the end of 1961 we had 13
 clubs in membership and represented more than 4,500 riders. An action plan was produced in 1962, promoting riding at reasonable speeds.


The Fellowship of Riders (FOR) was set up to cater for non-club members and soon FNOMCC membership stood at 10,000 in August 1963. The Federation continued to improve its professional image through 1964 with the start of a bi-monthly magazine entitled Unity.


In the wider world of motorcycling, registrations had dropped, public attitudes toward riders were growing colder and the industry was in decline. Despite this, we still represented 24 clubs by 1965. In the August of the same year, the AGM voted to change the name of the FNOMCC to the British Motorcyclists Federation and a new constitution was duly drawn up that contained elements which still exist to this day.


A spate of serious accidents in heavy fog and instances of manufacturers such as Aston Martin and Jaguar carrying out highspeed testing on the M1 resulted in a blanket limit of 70mph on all roads in Britain. The entire motorcycle industry was under attack as insurance and the notion of banning bikes altogether came to the fore. Membership doubled as we continued to oppose the raising of the minimum age of riding a motorcycle to 17. Registered bikes continued to fall in the latter years of the decade; even with the rise of Japanese bikes, the public still preferred to use cars.


We were facing a deficit in 1968 and ideas of a ‘fighting fund’, a need for full time
staff, expenses for volunteers and the establishment of an HQ were all tabled.
But by July, thanks to the fighting fund, the deficit was avoided and we had in
excess of 20,000 members.


In the 1970s we had settled down into a well-organised body with a steadily growing membership and an admirable reputation. Compulsory passenger insurance had been introduced but we looked to campaign over its unreasonably high cost.


The motorcycle industry was struggling against the onslaught of Japanese machinery and helmet compulsion remained an issue. We continued to expand, with
63 clubs in membership by 1971. We campaigned against the restriction of 16-year-old learners to 50cc mopeds and a petition of 23,800 signatures was
presented to Downing Street – though sadly to no avail. Helmets were also made compulsory in June 1973. By the end of the year we had also achieved
representation on the influential RAC Motorcycle Committee.


Dipped headlights were to be used by all vehicles at the end of 1975, and in 1976 we worked tirelessly to negotiate better insurance premiums. A year later, the BMF Rally moved to Peterborough, which remains its home today – albeit under its new moniker: The BMF Show. Sadly, any triumphs were set against a backdrop of low funds and a new tiered subscription structure for clubs was therefore introduced from July 1977. The 1970s was a busy decade for us at the BMF, but through it we established ourselves as a force to be reckoned with.


Going into the 1980s, we were regularly consulted by the government and record motorcycle registrations were achieved. It was also reported that riders were 30 times more likely to be killed than a car driver. This resulted in the government quickly introducing safety measures, which included random breath testing and the introduction of the points system to deal with road offences. We introduced a Nine Point Action Plan and also worked to ensure
builders’ skips had fluorescent and reflective markings.


The letters page in Rider reflected riders’ concerns in which discrimination was often discussed alongside insurance premiums and the need to teach schoolchildren road safety. We set up the Rider Training Scheme, which became a registered charity in 1983 and had trained over 10,000 riders by 1984.
The BMF Rally encountered controversy in 1983 when Bonnie Tyler and BBC Radio 1 DJs were pelted with mud, doing little to improve the image of motorcycling.


On the eve of the 1990s Mintel reported that motorcycles were becoming not so much the poor man’s transport, but rather the rich man’s plaything. Our activities broadened further, particularly with the growth of the RTS and regional events.


In 1991, we successfully campaigned in Europe for test candidates to be able to take their test on up to a 125cc vehicle.
Furthermore, we also ensured that riders over the age of 21 could be given direct access to a motorcycle of any capacity upon completion of their test. We also opposed the introduction of a second motorcycle driving test. We were supported by the British government in the first provision but, despite their three successes, a provision to include a theory test passed through the EU Parliament unopposed.


Further victories in Europe came in 1992 when Type Approval regulations were opposed and it continued to be legal for owners to still be able to modify their own motorcycles.


Later in 1995 we secured a victory that ensured there wouldn’t be a continent-wide ban on motorcycles with over 100bhp. Notoriously known as the ‘100bhp Proposal’, we joined forces with FEM and EMA to reject the proposal. The motorcyclists secured absolute majority victories and when the proposal came under review in 1997 it was found that “there was no scientific evidence to assume that engine size is to be a major factor in motorcycle accidents”. The proposal was then dropped.


Back at home, and as the millennium turned, we ensured the two-year limit on the duration of a provisional motorcycle
driving licence was repealed. We opposed a ban on dark tinted visors and sponsored the KillSpills anti-diesel spillage campaign. Our campaign on Bus Lane use continued, we lobbied against an EU driving licence directive, and on proposed bans from National Parks and closures of Green Lane access.

2010 and beyond!

We are fighting to improve access to motorcycle tests after poor implementation of EU rules meant a catastrophic fall in test
candidates. We are also working through the EU to ensure the best deal for riders over new Type Approval rules.