At the end of September, 2021, the UK Department for Transport issued a new report on modernising vehicle standards. Several UK riders, including the Motorcycle Action Group rider rights advocacy organisation, are extremely concerned about a proposal to restrict motorcycle modification contained within this report. 

The report in question carries the scintillating title Future of transport regulatory review consultation: Modernising vehicle standards. However, the specific provision causing concern doesn’t only concern motorcyclists. Instead, it concerns all roadgoing vehicles, as well as “non-road mobile machinery.” For the purposes of this report, writers spelled out their definition of “vehicle,” which does include both two- and three-wheeled motorised conveyances. 

Read enough reports like this and you’ll see plenty of instances of overly broad language. Lack of specificity when spelling out regulations and restrictions can and will result in authorities choosing whatever interpretation best suits their interests at that time. So, what’s it actually say? The section is titled “Tackling tampering,” and the first paragraph reads as follows: 

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. This will enable us to address existing gaps in the legislation, ensuring cleaner and safer vehicles. We will also create new offences for tampering with non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) and for advertising ‘tampering’ services or products. 

Now, that’s of course a summary of the section, intended to draw readers in to the actual proposal. The actual details that follow spell out the specific offenses that the writers of this proposal wants to create. These include (and I’m quoting the document directly here again): 

  • A specific offense for supplying, installing and/or advertising, a ‘tampering product’ for a vehicle or NRMM – this would apply where a principal effect of the product is to bypass, defeat, reduce the effectiveness of or render inoperative a system, part or component (the product may be a physical part or component, hardware and/or software)  
  • A specific offense for removing, reducing the effectiveness of, or rendering inoperative a system, part or component for a vehicle/NRMM and advertising such services  
  • A specific offense for allowing for use or providing a vehicle or NRMM that has had the operations described in the previous 2 points performed on it 
  • A new power to require economic operators to provide information, where a service/product they have supplied amounts to or enables ‘tampering’ with a vehicle or NRMM – this would apply in any of the above senses and include requirements to provide relevant information on the quantities of products sold or modified 

While this report should, in fact, concern UK riders, it should also concern any UK vehicle operators who enjoy customising their rides, period. As of October, 2021, this is simply a report and does not reflect any currently active legislative changes—but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.