Proposed anti-tampering laws threatens scooter and bike scenes

Okay so the headline might be a little over dramatic, but hopefully it caught your attention, right? One might have hoped that if anything good could come of Brexit then it might be that Great Britain distanced itself further from the restrictive legislation that German scooterists and motorists still suffer. But sadly it seems the opposite and that the powers that be in Westminster are keen to follow our former EU brethren regarding potential new laws governing what we can and cannot do to our scooters.

Could bigger, thirsty, go-faster carburettors with increased induction noise become a thing of the past?

Motorcycle journalist Peter Henshaw has written an article for the British Motorcycle Federation (BMF) warning that fitting aftermarket accessories could be under threat by a new government consultation which aims to outlaw ‘tampering products.’

Pete says that, “‘The Future of transport regulatory review consultation: Modernising vehicle standards’ to give the consultation its full, unwieldy title, is clearly aimed primarily at items such as rechipping or non-catalysed exhausts, but the ‘legalise’ language used is fairly broad and could be interpreted in different ways by different authorities.”

So on the surface of things, as Peter says, it would appear that the government has decided to clampdown on those altering motor vehicles by removing what they deem to be ‘green’ components, for example catalysed exhausts that reduce pollution at the source vehicle. Of course those with older scooters may now be smirking and think this only affects scooterists with late model Vespa PX scooter, Vespa GTS scooters, Scomadis and other modern automatics, but when have you ever known a Government not to strike out with a broad stick?

Peter continues, “The key phrases in the consultation are these: “We will create new offences for tampering with a system, part or component of a vehicle intended or adapted to be used on a road.” The tampering product is defined as, “where a principal effect of the product is to bypass, defeat, reduce the effectiveness of or render inoperative a system, part or component.” This could be a physical part, hardware or (to include rechipping) software.”

Apparently any new legislation would apply to “non-road mobile machinery” (such as a motocross bike which isn’t road-registered) along with as road vehicles.

“Other new offences would target manufacturers of tampering devices, anyone who advertises them, fits them or provides a vehicle which has them ready fitted,” writes Peter.


Bikes and scooters on the M25 motorway during a protest ride in 2011 organised by MAG against proposed EU anti-tamper regulations.

So what does all this mean for the rest of us with older scooters that don’t have exhausts with cats or remappable ignition systems? Those of us that have been riding for a number of decades will undoubtedly recall numerous campaigns organised by the BMF, Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) and/or Federation of European Motorcycle Associations (FEMA) to protest against type approval and Eurocrats threatening to ban modificed motorcycles.

EuroDemo flyer from the late 80s/early 1990s.

During the 80s and 90s I attended small events as well as Euro Demos in both London (the well known Magna Carta rallies based at Upminster) and Brussels along with tens of thousands of other scooterists ans bikers to let our feelings be known. I suppose on the one hand we could consider that partial victory, in that until now at least we have had a stay of execution in that 30 years later we can still modify our scooters how we want to.

From a 2012 MAG campaign.

Demo rides in 2011 and 2012 saw tens of thousands take part in rides to tell the EU we still didn’t want their proposals, but now the latest threat comes from our own politicians in London. And as Peter says about this one, “Given the broad language of the consultation, could overzealous authorities use it to target any aftermarket item such as luggage, screens or anti-theft devices?

Anna Zee, the BMF’s Political and Technical Services Director, said: “There is nothing in the consultation document which indicates who would make the judgement, or how, on whether a change to the vehicle bypasses, defeats or reduces the effectiveness etc of a vehicle/system/part/component. While much of the document is focussed on standards for new vehicles there is also nothing here which indicates that the anti-tampering measures could not be applied to the existing vehicle fleet and current aftermarket component suppliers.”

So what can you do? First of all have your say on the consultation by clicking this link. It closes at

Alternatively you can write to: Future of Transport Regulatory Review, Department for Transport Zone 1-3, Floor 3, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR.

With both MAG and the BMF campaigning for riders rights here in Great Britain, if you’re not yet a member of either organisation you could consider joining and of course ask them what they plan to do. Click here for MAG and here for BMF. The BMF are also members of the MCIA (Motorcycle Industry Association) which represents the supply side of the industry in this country, both manufacturers as well as parts, insurance, accessories, consumables, clothing and more. Hopefully they will be working together regarding this threat too, as without aftermarket accessories and tuning parts to sell and fit, the motorcycle industry could be hit very hard indeed.

Of course it could all be storm in a tea cup and our sensationalist headlines and this article are all for nothing, but forewarned is forearmed, right folks?


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