MAY 2019




















Editor Intro

After a lacklustre start to the classic bike season, with the postponement of the Bristol Bike Show, it seems that 2019 has perked up nicely, bringing memories of the wonderful weather we had in 2018, with a scorching Easter weekend that saw temperature records broken across the UK.

The weekend also saw some debatable demonstrations down in That London, and while they did have some very good reasons, were also being seen as something of a shot-in-the-foot move by some.

Which brings me to the new legislation that has been brought into our capital city to combat some of the very things that these demonstrators have been shouting about.

Legislation that is probably going to have a greater effect than supergluing yourself to street furniture or lying down in front of passing traffic. T

he protestors in question might be highly intelligent and very well paid, but they clearly haven’t got much common sense…

This legislation was brought in by Transport for London after the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, set forward some proposals to reduce the amount of pollution caused by traffic on the capital’s streets.

From April 8 this year, the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is here, and we all need to be aware of it.

The Motorcycle Action Group and the online group We Ride London have been keeping riders up to date with procedures, and the changes that have taken place with regards to riding a motorcycle within Central London, although riders in the rest of Great Britain are somewhat in the dark as to what is happening in our capital city and what will extend to other cities as time goes by.

We all want air quality to improve (part and parcel of being a member of an improving society is that things get better for all of us), but there can be an element of throwing the baby out with the bathwater within political and governmental policy changes.

The ULEZ covers the area of Central London in which the congestion charge applies (yes, two charges for the same area), and is due to expand out to the North and South Circular roads in October 2021 (yes, the Ace Cafe is on the North Circular).

It’s £12.50 per day if the motorcycle doesn’t comply to certain emission standards – the same as for cars of up to 1200kg in weight, despite the fact that a motorcycle adds very little to congestion and is capable of continued movement through heavy traffic, unlike a car.

In addition, if you happen to ride in the ULEZ over a time span that covers two calendar days (i.e., enter the ULEZ at two minutes to midnight, and stay there for just 10 minutes) you’ll be charged twice.

To avoid the charge, vehicles must meet a minimum emissions standard. For bikes, this has been chosen to be the standards set by Euro 3 legislation, being emissions of NOx (nitrous oxides) that are less than 0.15g per kilometre, and Euro 3 generally covers bikes that were registered with the DVLA after July 2007.

However, this doesn’t mean that all bikes older than that will be charged, as many bikes produced earlier actually pass the Euro 3 emissions limits.

You can check online to see if your vehicle complies, providing that you know to do so, or where to check (it’s tucked away on the Transport for London website at, if you have internet access of course).

You can also check with your vehicle’s manufacturer if you’re not sure, and TfL will accept evidence from the manufacturer in the form of a Certificate of Conformity, or homologation certificate, although some manufacturers are charging large amounts (BMW ask about £120), and most manufacturers didn’t begin testing the nitrous oxide levels until 2001.

There’s a third option, that of getting your emissions checked by a verified third party, of which I’m only aware of there being one – Riverbank Motorcycles in Bow, London, who ask for £175 for the check, equivalent to 14 days of ULEZ charge – although TfL has asked for other centres that can offer testing to the required standards to get in touch at but it hasn’t stated what those testing standards are. It must also be noted that your bike only needs to be tested once…

But here’s the rub. For those of us who are running what TfL refers to as ‘historic vehicles’ (i.e., those more than 40 years old), not only do we not have the compulsory MoT test (which, in itself, is still something worthy of debate), but those vehicles also have a historic road tax class, which (currently) is nothing and, joy of joys, they are also exempt from the ULEZ.

But we need to be aware that this wasn’t an exemption made by choice by TfL, it was made under duress after much lobbying from the likes of the Motorcycle Action Group, the Motorcycle Industry Association and the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (of which the VMCC is a very active member).

While many of Old Bike Mart’s readership rarely visit our capital city, or have any reason or desire to do so, the last thing anyone wants after a weekend away is a fine landing on the doorstep a few days later for £160 simply due to riding in the wrong place.

The fact that Transport for London has lost its central government grant does go some of the way to explain why it has been so slovenly with regard to informing the nation about the changes, or the charges that apply to those who don’t know…

Time will tell if the new regulations make any difference to the air quality in London, or to traffic congestion, and it’ll also be rather interesting to see if the price of historic vehicles in and around The Smoke rises due to the charge, and whether the value of bikes that don’t meet Euro 3 emissions standards plummets like a pigeon with sudden cardiac arrest.

But, for now, the answer to me seems clear. If you really have to travel to London, then do it on a bike that is more than 40 years old! Riding classics isn’t just a fun thing to do, it can also make an environmental statement too!

Enjoy the issue,

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