Vintage writing from motorcycle journalist, Mark Williams
Being a meticulously slung–together selection of Mark Williams’ columns in various magazines that should’ve known better from 1971–2020… 50-odd, very odd, inglorious years of controversial views, wild claims and mindless nonsense on matters motorcycling
Author image: Alex Ramsay Illustration: Hunt Emerson
Good evening, or possibly not, because this latest rant is really a companion piece to my last, Aug 3rd blog (with its many endearing typos, since corrected). And following that I’ve received the news that our wonderful caring, sharing government is proposing to ban petrol-powered mopeds, 125cc motorbicycles and scooters by 2030. And then follow that up by banning all oil-burning ‘bikes come 2035. This edict is a consequence of a long-awaited consultation process which has apparently ignored submissions from the (IMHO toothless) trade body the MotorCycle Industry Assoc. and the (IMHO codger-like) British Motorcycle Federation who point out that the charging infrastructure the electric ‘bikes that we’re all supposed to buy instead is nowhere near adequate nor growing fast enough. And yet…
“We have already committed to phasing out fossil fuel use across road transport,” said Trudy Harrison MP, Minister of State for Transport, “with sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans ending as early as 2030… It is therefore important that L-category vehicles (basically, ‘bikes) do not remain fossil-fuelled as the rest of the transport fleet cleans up.”
Now excluding pedalecs which are basically slower, less range-capable equivalents of mopeds, electric ‘bikes made up just 2.8% of powered 2-wheeler sales in 2021 – a figure which I even find excessive – and although we’re told that Triumph, Norton and the revived BSA are working on electric prototypes, as are numerous foreign manufacturers who of course supply the vast majority of the ‘bikes we buy, but like their four-wheeled brethren, the few existing battery ‘bikes are even more expensive to buy than the other sort, e.g. Energica’s Ribelle costing £26,690 and Zero’s SR/F at £20,990, and don’t have anything like the range of a modern, petrol-driven machine.
Although the MCIA claims that “eight years to fully transition doesn’t sound like a problem,” it is true that the cost and availability of entry-level models will likely deter newcomers to our little game, newcomers that as mentioned in my last dispatch are already thin on the ground, never mind the tarmac.
With my famously pessimistic hat on, I might argue that by 2035 and possibly even 2030 I won’t be around and certainly not in a mood to buy a new motorbike, certainly not after my recent interface ‘twixt BMW and tarmac – see pic – I remain passionately committed to the cause. And hope that you are too. In which case you can comment, forcefully I hope, on the Govt’s consultation document using this link. Tell ‘em Williams sent you.