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Poll: Should all bikes be ULEZ exempt?

Published: 16 April 2019

Updated: 09 April 2019

Riders of older motorcycles in London have been handed a lifeline thanks to a new TfL-approved emissions testing centre being set up that should see many older bikes be exempted from the upcoming ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) charge.

On April 8, the Capital introduced the new ULEZ in a further bid to improve air quality. To enter this zone, all motorcycles that are not compliant with Euro3 (ie made pre-2007) have to pay £12.50 per day.

Is my old bike going to cost more to ride in London?

Not necessarily. As TfL are currently only intending to crack down on vehicles with excessive NOx emissions and many pre-2007 bikes actually produce less than the 0.15 g/km limit TfL have set, so older bikes could be exempt as long as owners can prove their low NOx emissions.

Some bikes were tested for this when manufactured (and bike builders will be able to supply confirmation of this) but many were not, so until now there was no way of proving a bike’s emissions were under the limit. Now, however, Riverbank Motorcycles, which is the only TfL-approved facility for testing bikes, has removed that problem.

How does it work?

It’s been set up by John Rusby and Neil Freeman at Riverbank Motorcycles just by the London Olympic Park. It’s similar to a motorcycle dyno, however they have had to source new exhaust gas measuring equipment and develop their own test that meets the rigors of the emissions standards.

Bikes are placed on the dyno, run through the test three times, which involves idling, acceleration and deceleration, and an average is then taken. Much like an MoT, the result is a straight pass or fail.

“Well maintained, properly set-up and cared-for bikes stand a much better chance of meeting the standard and passing the test,” says Freeman. “However, there are certain problems that will guarantee a fail; such as leaking inlet manifolds or badly fitting air filters.”

If a bike passes the test, the results are uploaded straight to the TfL database resulting in an exemption. But even if a bike fails it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes simple maintenance is all that’s needed to get the bike within the correct levels. Although, even then, not all bikes will be able to meet the standards.

For more information, or to book a test for your bike, go to www.nationalemissionstestcentre.com The tests costs £175.

It's worth noting that there's no central database on which to check if your bike is exempt. This is because bikes are being tested on an individual basis to account for any modifications. So just because your friend's identical old bike has been proven exempt, that doesn't mean yours automatically is too.

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