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De-Restricted Danger

A look at what its all ACTUALLY about!

All over the bike forums folk are asking how to de-restrict their mopeds, their 125's and even big bikes, as though EVERY bike ever made has some magic ingredient added to spoil the buyers 'fun'! Myths about washers in exhausts, special black boxes, power valves and carburettor jets abound! But lets get a few things straight from the start.

What is 'Standard'?

When a manufacturer offers a 'production motorcycle' to the buying public, they declare the specification 'as standard' in the catalogue or sales brochure. Technically and legally whatever they put in that document is what is standard. Deviate from the brochure specification or performance, and the machine is MODIFIED.

There's no ways around this, and you can argue until you are blue in the face, THIS is a FACT, more importantly, the one accepted by law, which is particularly relevant when dealing with restricted motorcycles, because they are USUALLY restricted to meet specifications imposed within law for licensing reasons.

Now, manufacturers may make many versions of a motorcycle, these are called 'variants'. They are slightly different standards of the same model, to suite different regional markets, and often the different legal requirements of those markets.

For example, in the UK we drive on the left, and the legal requirements for a motorcycle sold in the UK are that it must have a head lamps that dips to the left away from oncoming traffic and has a miles per hour calibrated speedo. In Holland or France, the drive on the right hand side of the road, and they mark their speed limits in Km/h so they may require their machines to have headlamps that dip the opposite way and have speedometers calibrated in KM/h not MPH. In France, they might also have a racing hero that competes on a machine with a distinctive sponsors livery, so they may offer paint schemes that differ from other regions also.

Now, if we were to say take a French market Yamaha TZR125 and import it to the UK, and fit the speedometer and headlamp from a UK market spec bike, it would NOT be 'standard', it would be a MODIFIED French spec variant.

In the UK the British Learner Laws limit provisional motorcycle licence holders to 14bhp, so by the converse process, taking the parts used on a French market variant TZR125 and fitting them to a UK market model to endow it with perhaps 22bhp, is likewise a MODIFICATION, it is not making the bike 'standard'. It WAS standard as supplied, when it conformed to the specification in the sales catalogue.

This is an important distinction to make. FAR too many people TRULY believe that a De-Restricted bike, is 'just' making it how the designers intended. WRONG....  other market machines may make more power, and it may be possible to adapt a machine to the same specification as other market variants, BUT, it does NOT make them 'Standard', they are STILL modified machines.

Legal Implications

Back in 1991, Yamaha released the FZR1000 'EXUP'. It was 'restricted' to 125bhp, in compliance with a voluntary importers agreement in the UK. There was no LEGAL requirement for the machine to be restricted. and it was restricted very simply by a moulded shroud in the rubber inlet manifold that could easily be removed with a scalpel, to allow up to 140bhp from the engine. As that was what they had designed the engine to produce for other markets, Yamaha even agreed they would warrant the warranty on new bikes if owners chose to de-restrict them, however the brochure specification remained that as 'standard' these bikes produced 125bhp.

LEGALLY, a rider with a full licence could easily remove the restriction, and ride the motorcycle on the public highway, provided they held valid insurance.... which required that the MODIFICATION of the De-Restriction be 'Declared' to the insurer, the same as if the owner had added luggage or fitted an after market exhaust, or bolted on a Turbo charger.

When you insure any motor vehicle you MUST declare the specification to the insurer. If the vehicle is show room standard its very easy to declare the specification, by simply agreeing that the machine conforms to the manufacturers declared specification. any alterations from that, which would include changing the spec to that of another market variant, like 'de-restricting' IS a declarable modification.

Fail to declare a modification, and your insurance may be invalid. and if you can be shown to have deliberately made falce declaration, by intent or omission, you can be charged with obtaining insurance by deception, and possibly insurance fraud.

This is not idle scare mongering, this is incredibly important. Riding without valid insurance is one of the few 'Criminal' offences under the road traffic act. That is ones where they can send you to prison, rather than merely fine you. AND, it is one of the offences that the authorities are increasingly vigilant of and determined to gain prosecutions.

Once upon a time, if you had an insurance certificate that provided the same registration number as the bike you were riding, and the colour was the same as on the log book, people were happy enough. Or may just send you on your way with a 'producer' to present your documents at the local cop shop.

NOT now. Now they check on the data bases, which are all cross referenced, and they check EVERYTHING, and there have even been reports of them setting up mobile rolling roads in Lay-Byes, and actually measuring the power of bikes to find out of they are more than those provided for licence restrictions, or even if the machines make more power than the catalogue standard, and checking the insurance data base to check that a modified motorcycle HAS had all mods declared with its insurer.

And they don't just check details and dish out tickets, or Notice of Intended Prosecution, they seize vehicles.

Modifying Mopeds

Of ALL the vehicles on the road to mugger about with, modifying mopeds is the MOST ridiculous to try it with. The legal constraints put on mopeds are THE most strictly imposed and THE most easily checked. Police LOVE dealing with 'Ped-Bio' because they only have to look at them and they can almost ALWAYS secure a conviction..... probably half a dozen, ALL in one go, AND another vehicle seized to add to the stats!

Mopeds by LAW cannot exceed 32mph.

That's pretty clear cut. Modify a moped so it can go faster than 32mph, and, well, pretty obvious its no longer legally a moped.

Mopeds are a separate category of vehicle under the construction and use regulations and the road traffic act, as well as by the UK licensing system. a 125cc motorcycle is a motorcycle whether it complies with the learner power restrictions or doesn't, but a moped, no, that has its own set of regulations.

Get cought doing say 40mph on a Moped, and well, at 37mph going down a hill, they may give you a little leeway, but 40, on the flat, and its quite clear that the machine is no longer standard, and more, its no longer legally a moped.

Riding it on a provisional licence at 16 years old, and you can chalk up two offences straight away. The first, even if you were in a higher speed limit, SPEEDING. you weren't exceeding the posted speed limit, but you WERE exceeding the speed limit for the type of vehicle you were riding. Next up they can do you for Riding Other than in Accordance with your Licence Entitlement. Basically riding a motorcycle, which as a machine capable of more than 32mph, your moped has become, and its no different to had you been riding a 125 or even a 500 or a 100cc bike... same offence. Riding a machine you did NOT have a licence for..... That of course chucks up the matter of insurance. Is the machine insured? If there's a policy for the machines registration number, was it 'declared' that it had been modified from standard? If not... Riding without Valid Insurance.... and, as you have either failed to declare the modification, Obtaining Insurance by Deception. But they can carry on. The machine has clearly been modified. And unlike modifying a motorcycle, this modification has changed the vehicle classification, as per the log book and per the construction and Use Regulations. Modifying a moped away from the specifications for a moped, to those of a motorcycle, whether by increasing the engines capacity or performance, demands, not only the change notifying to DVLC for an amended Log book to be issued stating the new taxation class and details, but also a VOSA vehicle inspection to check conformity to Construction and Use regulations under the new category as well as vehicle identity checks..... Immediately you have scored Failure to Notify DVLC of change of vehicle details.... plus, lack of VOSPA approval for the vehicle within the new category IMMEDIATELY deem it a 'dangerous vehicle', and charge of driving an a vehicle in an un-roadworthy condition, which along with lack of insurance, and lack of valid log book, would mean INSTANT SEIZURE of the vehicle, and its disposal!

Just counting that up..... six charges, two of them criminal ones, with hefty fines attached and custodial sentences possible. Four of them civil, motoring offences, but cumulatively enough to loose you your licence, and a hefty fine, on top of loss of the vehicle.

All for what,  8mph! If, at 16 you took to the roads on an uninsured, untaxed un MOT'd Yamaha R1, you would actually be breaking FEWER laws!

Tuning 125's

On a provisional licence at 17, you can ride a 125cc motorcycle up to 14.7bhp, on L-Plates, without a pillion, provided you have completed a CBT course and obtained certificate of competency within two years. This is a PRIVILEGE, not a 'right'. Its there because unlike learning to drive a car, you cant have a qualified rider in the passenger seat next to you telling you what to do. So you are allowed to ride a motorcycle, of respectable, but limited performance, on your own, so that you may 'practice' and gain riding experience before taking the test for a full licence.

14.7bhp is good for about 75mph in the real world. Which is still more than the maximum speed limit in the UK. And if you WANT to go faster, there is nothing stopping you proving you meet the required standards of proficiency, obtaining a full licence and having a more powerful and faster machine.

In fact, IF you want a more powerful and faster machine, it is usually actually easier and cheaper to take your test, and buy one, than it is to mugger about trying to make a limited performance tiddler mildly faster.

125's are generally over priced, and the value of a reasonably mediocre 125 will normally procure a much better standard bigger bike, with FAR more performance, and better reliability, which you can often insure legitimately, for LESS than making false declaration to get a bogus certificate for a fiddled with 125.

The list of offences for riding a modified moped is pretty long, but its not much smaller trying to buck the system and ride a 'full power' 125. The only offences they cant nail you for are failing to notify DVLA of a change (provided you haven't bored out the engine) or failing to have the vehicle VOSA inspected. They will still nail you for riding other than in accordance, and riding without valid insurance, the two guaranteed ones, and anything else they can easily and legitimately add to the charge sheet. The ONLY difference is its slightly more work for them to secure a conviction, because they cant prove that the machine is not in accordance with your licence simply by catching you through a speed trap. But, if you are doing over 80mph, they would have good cause to sieze the vehicle on suspicion, and have it dyno Tested, or they could put it on a road side dyno, if they are running a spot check program.

Removing Restrictor Plates from 33bhp Bikes

Removing the baffle plates from behind the carburettors of a 33bhp compliant machine, is probably the ONLY case where the change can legitimately be described as De-Restriction, as its the only case where the machine has been restricted AWAY from 'standard' to impose the restriction, and removing that modification is returning the machine to the actual brochure specification.

If the restriction period of your full licence has lapsed, perfectly legal. But yet again, insurance needs to be notified of the change of specification.

If you have a 33bhp licence restriction, it is entirely possible that your insurance company will happily provide insurance for you on a motorcycle that as standard has more than 33bhp, and some may be as lax as to not ask for proof or restriction, or details of how restriction was obtained through modification. However that does NOT mean that you have insurance for the full power machine IF you haven't got an unrestricted licence.

As a rider it is legally YOUR responsibility to ensure that the machine YOU ride is in compliance with the legal limitations. An insurance company CANNOT legally insure you to ride a machine you are not legally entitled to, so IF you ride without restrictors on a restricted licence whether the insurance company have asked you to declare the modification or not, you are STILL riding other than in accordance with your licence, and you are Still riding without valid insurance. And teh risks are the same as riding an unrestricted 125 on L-Plates.

Getting Practical

Those are the legal implications of trying to buck the system. They are frequently mentioned as warnings on the forums, and just as frequently scorned. But heed or ignore at your peril.

If you are 16 and ONLY entitled to ride a moped, frankly, you would be a complete IDIOT to think it a smart move to mess about with your ped to try and get a few extra mph out of it. The legal definition of a ped being BASED on its speed capability, you go faster, you are just ASKING them to come chuck the book at you! And its not  like you stand much chance of getting away in teh chaos of a high speed chase, is it! A half fit plod on a push bike could probably chase you down!

Yes, utterly frustrating being stuck on a 32mph 50 for a year, BUT, that's the law. And its so tight they have a cast iron case the MOMENT you actually break that speed restriction.

125's? Well, as said. If you can legally ride a 125, you can also pass a test that will alllow you to have something far more exiting. EVEN if your 17, and could only do the test to get an A2 33bhp restricted licence. That is still more than twice what you can have on a provisional licence, and more still than even the most highly tuned sports 125's that only just make 28bhp, and can barely scrape 100mph in favourable conditions.

If you want a faster sporty bike, well, stepping up to the mark, that 33bhp will let you have any manner of bigger sports bike, which even restricted to 33bhp will be markedly quicker and more exiting than a tuned 125. Dirt bikes or Motards? EVEN better choice of bikes in the sub 33bhp bracket, which are infinitely more useful, and normally HUGELY more reliable than tweeked 125's.

33bhp Restriction? Well, nothing can cure that but time or reaching the age threshold and doing accelerated access. BUT, its there for a reason, and that reason is to impose a restraint on younger riders who usually lack the maturity to impose it on themselves. And it may be frustrating, BUT its NOT a bad thing. Two years is NOT a long time, and it does tend to enforce more newbie friendly machines on you, which are STILL more than capable of going faster than speed limits allow, but which will give you the sort of experience to step up to more inspired machinery with some kind of competence and appreciation when the time comes.

Breaking the Law

Ultimately though, its your call what you do. BUT.... think about it. If you don't give a damn about being 'legal' why pay it lip service?

Running the gauntlet on a bike that isn't what it should be is ONLY kidding yourself, and often for such tiny reward its laughable. As said, modify a moped for an extra five or ten Mph, and they can literally throw the book at you, laughing at how ridiculously easy it is to secure serious convictions. Doing it on a tuned 125? You face just as many potential charges, for what? Having a Honda NSR, Aprillia RS or Yamaha DT that's maybe ten mph quicker?

There is every reason, IF you are serious about bikes, to do it properly and RESPECT the restrictions.

They are NOT getting any easier to bear, but at the same time, they are enforcing them EVER more stringently. And if you LIKE riding bikes, then I'd hope you'd see the sense in NOT getting yourself stitched up, so that it gets even HARDER for you to do it legitimately.

Screw the system, and the system WILL screw you.

Buy a bike, modify it, call it De-Restriction if you like, call it HARRY for all I care, it is NOT standard, it is almost certainly not in accordance with your licence, you will almost certainly NOT have valid insurance for it....... before we start looking at how much extra it is to buy a kiddie go kwickly bike, that's easily modified or tuned, how unreliable most 125's are due to numpty maintenance, before we consider the magnification of that in the hands of previous kiddie go kwik owners applying even worse standards of mechanics looking for extra speed, ignoring basic maintenance, making the majority of such bikes horrendously expensive, expensive to run and ridiculously unreliable.

Yet you will have PAID your won money to have all these things that are nie on worthless.... and when you are caught, they will take them off you, and take away your licence as well. Then they will fine you. and if you are LUCKY you can contemplate that while walking for the bus, rather than being locked up.

And when you are again eligible to start all over again, you will face an even harder set of tests to regain your licence as a disqualified rider, and you will face even higher insurance premiums, and your driver number will be flagged as a convicted criminal and when you go through one of their fancy Number Plate Recognition systems, every bored coppa will give you a tug because there's an even BETTER chance that if they spot you on the road, your probably running the gauntlet, again, and they can get ANOTHER easy collar to bolster their months arrests!

And the bottom line is, ultimately, and especially if you are on L-Plates, EVERYONE but other restricted riders is laughing at you, because we KNOW how much risk you are taking, and how little gain you get for it, and yet how much that small reward is costing you. And we ALSO know how much MORE you COULD have, that WE have, for so LITTLE extra effort.... usually just taking a ruddy test!


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