BMF NEWS ROUND UP – December 2022

The monthly news round-up, brought to you by the BMF

Is nothing sacred? News came through in December that Easy Rider is to be remade. The world’s best-known biker movie has been a virtual cult since it was first released in July 1969, but will the 21st century version offer anything better? The producers promise it will be relevant to the “youth of today.”

Back to the real world, driving examiners announced strikes for January, though hopefully they’ll be over by the time you read this (unless they’re not) More to the point, London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed that the city’s ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) will be expanded on 29th August 2023 to cover the whole of Greater London. The rules will be the same as the current smaller ULEZ, so Euro 3-on bikes and scooters (generally 2007-on) are exempt, but everything else pays the same £12.50 a day rate as cars, unless it’s been independently emissions tested.

On a grim theme, Hackney Council is planning to charge bikes for parking in motorcycle bays, the same £6 per hour as cars – even electric motorcycles have to pay. Lobbying from the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) and the Save London Motorcycling Campaign has failed to change any minds so far. Meanwhile, the Government has decided to start charging electric bikes VED (road tax) from April 2025 – admittedly on the minimal £22/year rate, and they’ll still be cheaper to run than petrol bikes, but is this the way to encourage their uptake?

Given this sort of backdrop, you wouldn’t expect two-strokes to get much of a look in, but Minarelli has announced a 300cc two-stroke engine which it says meets Euro 5 emissions regulations. Apparently, it’s destined to power a Fantic trials bike this year, but don’t expect it to taken up by the Japanese big four. Even if two-strokes never make a comeback, old bikes still get recycled. A survey by the Swedish Motorcyclists Association found five scrapyards reporting that they recycled/reused 80-100% of every bike which came in.

Ever felt that your helmet isn’t quite protective enough? Italian manufacturer Airoh has unveiled a prototype helmet with a built-in airbag. Apparently, it would deploy on impact and the developer reckons the probability of a serious injury due to a skull fracture is reduced by half.

Now then, for years, ever since Chinese-made motorcycles began selling in the UK at bargain prices (sometimes with quality to match) there’s been speculation that the Chinese would one day begin making bigger bikes. Well now it’s happening. Several big Chinese bikes up to 1000cc will be on sale in 2023. We’ve already got 500s and 650s to choose from (sold by Benelli and Lexmoto) while WK will be offering an 800cc adventure bike and a naked this year. Topping that is the new MGP range, with a pair of 997cc V-twins on offer. No word on prices yet, but with Chinese quality and tech having come a long way, we suspect they won’t be quite as bargain basement as those early 125s.

If you were caught out by Britain’s pre-Christmas snow, you might like a motorcycle which converts into a snowmobile. Canadian manufacturer Daymak has launched just such a beast, which can swap its two wheels for a track and ski set up which should allow it to the dash through the white stuff. Put your name down now, at £11,300.

And so, to the world of classic bikes, with evidence that owners of old bikes want the current tax/MOT exemptions to continue. In a survey by FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations), 87% wanted ULEZ exemptions to carry on while two-thirds thought the testing exemption was a good thing. A self-selecting group? Well maybe, but interestingly, of the 1614 riders in 31 countries surveyed by FEMA, two-thirds rode less than 1800 miles a year and a similar number had a classic bike insurance policy, but less than 35% belonged to a club for classic bikes – all club members reading this, we salute you.

Written by Peter Henshaw – Editor BMF