Type Approval and You
TYPE APPROVAL and YOU
By Chris Hodder, BMF Government Relations Executive and Jeff Stone, BMF Media & PR Manager
Proposed changes to motorcycle type approval procedures have got a lot of attention from the press recently. But much of the debate has been based on false information and extreme interpretations. We set out to assess the facts.
First we need to bear in mind that EU Type Approval is nothing new and in fact has been applied to cars since 1993 and two and three-wheeled vehicles since 1994. See more on this on our earlier Type Approval briefing: http://www.bmf.co.uk/pages/briefing_room_archive.php?fullstory=1037
The details of the proposed EU regulations now under discussion have been debated already in the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee (IMCO), and several controversial amendments were made. Due to these, higher level discussions have started (called a ’trialogue’) and the unconfirmed original first vote date of July the 3rd is unlikely to be met, with dates in September or October looking more likely. Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour, chair of IMCO, told us "Most of the concerns riders have expressed with the original Commission draft and some of the amendments adopted by the IMCO Committee are being addressed in the current negotiations between representatives of EU governments, MEPs and the Commission. The UK Government is playing a key role in achieving a sensible solution. Agreement to the right package of safety and environmental improvements will secure the future of motorcycling for a generation."
WHAT’S IN THE DRAFT?
Much of the detail of the legislation will be written later in so called ‘Delegated Acts’ (DAs). This means that changes can be made much faster if needed, rather than the years it takes to make changes now.
Although we have concerns, it is wrong to say that technocrats will write legislation without oversight as the DAs still need to be approved by elected MEPs and representatives of EU member states, so allowing plenty of opportunity for lobbying. Furthermore, trialogue discussions reveal that the number of DAs will likely be reduced anyway.
ANTI-TAMPERING (Article 18)
This proposal contains a DA on anti-tampering. Although we are not in favour of this and have concerns about what future DAs contain, it is important to get the facts in proportion.
We already have anti-tampering measures on small restricted motorcycles (up to 125cc). These measure are supposed to make it difficult for restricted licence holders to change some components and easier for authorities to spot when some components have been changed. Examples include the marking of ECUs and using shear bolts on exhaust headers. It is not, however, illegal to change components and the new regulation will not make it illegal either. In fact as a full licence holder, it will be perfectly legal for you to buy a moped and tune it up as much as you like. Malcolm Harbour MEP told us “There is no intention by the EU institutions to prevent full-licence holders from modifying their vehicles or to extend anti-tampering to currently unrestricted machines.”
There is also nothing to suggest that tougher measures will be introduced and a Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) study failed to come up with any new suggestions on how to prevent tampering.
Yes, we have concerns that the draft legislation could allow a future authority to introduce tougher controls, but as they already have the power to write legislation in this area anyway, arguing the toss about the method they use is a bit of a wasted effort. However, just in case, we are still lobbying to prevent any suggestion that anti-tampering could be extended to larger motorcycles. Status - cautious
ON BOARD DIAGNOSTICS (Article 19)
This regulation proposed to make OBD (on-board diagnostics) compulsory. Most new motorcycles however already have OBD. This lets the ECU know that something has broken so it can either give you a warning or shut down the bike to prevent further damage. What it does not do, as some have suggested, is call the police when you go over the speed limit or tell the MOT tester when you’ve tuned your bike so they can fail it!
The new OBD measures aim to standardise the interface and error codes so that independent garages can still access the information – a plus point for the user. If things were left as they are then we will be at a disadvantage as we could only go to main dealers for servicing and repairs. This regulation will actually benefit motorcyclists.
The only concern here is that they may introduce a more expensive standard system in the future (referred to as OBD II in the draft), but this will be subject to an impact assessment. Status -positive
FUNCTIONAL SAFETY (Article 20)
Article 20 introduces some safety requirements, the most controversial of which is ABS on all bikes over 125cc and combined brakes on smaller bikes.
While there is little substantial evidence that ABS would result in a huge reduction in accidents, it is hard to argue against something that will undoubtedly have some safety benefits. It is also difficult to argue on cost grounds as experience shows that the cost of ABS systems will probably reduce dramatically when they are fitted to most motorcycles. MEPs supported an amendment to put ABS on smaller bikes as well, but this is likely to be deleted.
There have been discussions about adding other requirements into the functional safety requirement such as ’steerability’ i.e. the way a bike handles, but no progress has been made on this point. Status - cautious
ENVIRONMENT (Article 21)
Motorcycles have higher emissions limits than cars. This means that despite years of improvements, most motorcycle engines still pollute more than cars. We have argued for tighter emissions controls for motorcycles for many years to ensure that motorcycles are not prohibited from some areas on the grounds of their emissions (as in China, for example). This proposal does that by bringing motorcycle emissions limits down to the same level as cars.
Furthermore, these limits will have to be maintained for a period of time after the bike is first registered, which should improve its reliability. Status - positive
CARBON DIOXIDE (Article 22)
Carbon dioxide is the most well-known and populous green house gas. Despite the section above, most motorcycles actually have very good carbon emissions and would have a zero rate for VED if they were cars. The problem is that the information is not to a uniform official standard. We have asked for it to be published for many years as CO2 emissions can work as a substitute for fuel economy information too. This proposal will require manufacturers to publish CO2 data which in turn will prove and improve the green credentials of motorcycles. Status - positive
AFTERMARKET PARTS (Article 52)
Article 52 proposes to restrict the sale of parts that are detrimental to safety and the environment. For the most part, most items would be unaffected, but there is a concern for aftermarket tuning parts, specifically things like racing exhausts, etc. However, the proposal does state that it will depend on the potential impact for consumers and manufacturers and trialogue discussions may reduce the scope of this requirement too. As Malcolm Harbour says, “Current discussions are that racing parts will not be banned from sale.” Status – one to watch
REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE INFORMATION (Article 60)
For small garages to remain viable, they will need access to the technical information of the increasingly complex motorcycles on sale. The BMW S1000RR is a complex beast and in several years time (when the bike is out of warranty), owner number three will want to get it serviced and may baulk at the quote from the official dealer. If independent garages can get the information at a reasonable cost, this should help them compete on equal terms with the dealer network and give owners a better deal. Status - positive
HOW WILL IT AFFECT ME?
CURRENT BIKE or CLASSIC BIKE ENTHUSIAST
All of this legislation will only apply to new motorcycles produced after it comes into effect. It will have no impact at all on current or old bikes and will not affect the supply of parts, many of which are second hand anyway.
Things such as ABS and restrictions on some tuning parts (not those used exclusively for racing) may be of concern for riders competing in stock motorcycle based championships and events. Obviously, current bikes are unaffected and manufacturers may respond by having non-type approved bikes for sale (racing specials) to fill the gap.
The most noticeable difference may be that new bikes will have fuel consumption data published alongside them and even second hand dealers will now have access to manufacturers data.
INDEPENDENT WORKSHOP or GARAGE
Access to repair and maintenance information and standardised on board diagnostics will mean that a wider range of bikes can be serviced and repaired by non-franchised workshops. Naturally, these bikes will also be more complicated, but this is the current trend anyway with traction control and high end ABS for example.
Most large touring bikes come with ABS anyway, so it’s unlikely you’ll notice a difference other than being able to compare manufacturers’ official fuel consumption figures with personal experience.
CUSTOM BIKE BUILDER
One-off specials will still be built the existing way, either adapting existing bikes or getting ‘Single Vehicle Approval’ (SVA) for brand new bikes. . Malcolm Harbour told us “At my initiative, to allow unique bikes to be exported into Europe, we are having discussions to embed existing EU rules on the mutual recognition of goods into this Regulation for motorbikes to ensure, in particular, that UK SVA approvals are not blocked by authorities in other EU member states.”,.” This could be a benefit for custom bike builders.
ADVENTURE BIKE RIDER
New bikes will be fitted with ABS and some manufacturers will reserve the right to add a switch to turn it off for off-tarmac riding. Fitting fog lights, crash bars and luggage racks will not be affected in any way.
Mopeds will continue to have their speed restricted and as now, you will not be allowed to tamper with them (as per your licence). The difference will be how easy it will or won’t be to continue to circumvent these restrictions.
125s and possibly the new category of A2 motorcycle (up to 48bhp) will also have some controls on them. More importantly, there is also a debate about how much the cost of ABS will add to a new bike. This needs clarification as current estimates seem widely speculative.
Aftermarket parts such as rear-sets, tail-tidies and the like, for the most part will not be affected. There is a question over whether some more marginal parts would be allowed such as air filters and exhausts, but at this stage it is assumed that they will be allowed. New bikes will of course have ABS, but as many new sportsbikes already have ABS, this is not surprising.
That then is where we are at the time of writing, but in a constantly developing process, please check our website for the latest position. The important thing to bear in mind is that this is the way the European Union does things. There’s no hidden agenda to curb motorcycling, it’s just that some politicians and some bureaucrats are so desperate to reduce motorcycle casualties that they come up with all sorts of odd ideas and it’s our job to put them right, not by shouting at them but by educating them.