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Just when we thought we knew what they wanted…

…the EU change their minds and move the goal posts.

Unbelievably, the EU Commission have announced a last minute change to the new Third Driving Licence Directive legislation which comes into force in January next year.

If there is any good news, it is that it’s not a change that affects what machines riders can ride after passing their tests.

However, as it concerns the specification for acceptable bikes to be used for the practical test, it’s of vital import to rider training schools and the DfT in trying to work out exactly what bikes a rider can take the test on.

It’s just a few weeks since the DfT issued what was understood by all to be an incomplete but otherwise correct list of motorcycles which met the 3DLD minimum test vehicle specifications. The DfT based that partial list on the understanding that for the Category A (the full, unrestricted licence) the minimum test bike requirements would be 40kW (53.6 bhp).

But just six months from the date when the new testing procedure comes into operation, the latest EU proposals demand an INCREASE in the minimum engine power to 50 kW (approx 67 bhp). There will also be a minimum weight limit of 180 kg unladen mass weight. The DfT understand from the EU Commission that this means ‘kerb weight’ – in other words, when fuelled up.

MAG have issued a press release on the situation and suggest that this last moment change of specification means the range of motorcycles available will reduce by an estimated 10% of vehicles already listed by the DSA last month as suitable.

The really bad news is that if any training schools have already arranged purchase of new machines for next year, having waited for what everyone thought was a definitive list of what was suitable from the DSA, they may now have wasted their money.

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There is a modicum of good news though. The changes to the rules will also decrease the minimum kW output for the A2 (intermediate licence) motorcycles from 25kW (approx 33.5 bhp) to 20 KW (approx 27bhp) which will increase the range of motorcycles available for this testing in this class.

MAG are keen to point out that the UK Government did not support this change at such a late stage and raised concerns about the impact this would have on the industry, but it seems they were in the minority seeking a longer period for implementation from the Commission, and they have not been able to secure any longer period than the end of 2013.

It is still possible the Commission’s plans will change as they are subject to EU Council and European Parliament approval and MAG and various other groups = will be working with the DfT to try and raise awareness among MEPs when we have fully clarified exactly what stage of the legislative procedure we are at.

It’s hard to believe the EU Commission can play so fast and loose with the specifications they themselves have already drawn up after years of discussion and negotiation with all the expert bodies and government representatives. It’s not as if the change in the power output will make any dramatic difference to the riding skills needed to ride the bike to test standard.

Personally, I think it would be nice if the UK government simply turned round and said they refuse to implement these changes. I’m sure that the UK will be in a minority of EU states enforcing the EU dictats to the letter.

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