Simple maintenance could allow older bikes to ride in London's extended ULEZ

1 of 11

With the announcement by London Mayor Sadiq Khan of the expansion of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), a test centre in Stevenage is advising riders of older bikes to carry out basic maintenance to avoid paying daily charges.

The ULEZ extension will take affect from August 29, 2023, and will cover all London boroughs within the M25. Put simply, vehicles made before 2007 when Euro3 emission standards came into law will be expected to pay a £12.50 surcharge.

However, well maintained, older bikes have been shown to qualify, producing less than the 0.15 g/km Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) limit, Transport for London have set.

Gary Smith, owner of the Stevenage centre which lays outside the extended zone so riders don’t have to pay the ULEZ charge to visit, is confident that with a little fettling even older bikes will pass.

“My pass rate for pre 2007 is about 70%. The biggest thing I found is just having the bike running correctly,” said Gary. “We have had a lot of issues with the E5 fuel which is a problem for carbs if it has been standing for a while.”

Gary says the simplest maintenance such as changing the fuel and air filters and spark plugs to ensure efficient fuel combustion could be all that is needed to pass, having seen first-hand a 30-year-old bike meet the criteria.

“I had an early 90s Honda NTV 650 that came in and looked like it had come out of a swamp, but mechanically it was running lovely and had really good emissions,” he continued. “There isn’t really a reason why any bike can’t be made exempt.”

ULEZ testing costs £175, equivalent to 14 days of charges without an exemption. Should your bike pass, its registration data will be stored on a centralised system, removing the need pay. Should you fail, a £110million scrappage scheme begins from January 30, 2023, with some riders getting up to £1000 for their old motorcycle. 

Gary added: “The most expensive one we have had so far to rectify has been about £375, including all the testing and retesting.

“I haven’t found anyone yet who can sell their bike, put £375 towards it, and buy a post 2007 bike. It’s always going to be cheaper to get your bike done.”

To book your ULEZ test or find out more information visit

London’s low emission zone grows: City-wide motorcycle scrappage scheme on offer as ULEZ expands to all boroughs from August 2023

First Published 25 November 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Sadiq Khan with ULEZ sign

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that he will expand the city’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover all boroughs as of Tuesday, August 29, 2023.

ULEZ was introduced back in 2019 in an attempt improve air quality in London by removing the most polluting vehicles from the road. Said to have already reduced roadside pollution levels by 44% in central London and 20% in inner London, the zone operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and entering with a non-compliant bike incurs a daily charge of £12.50.

The new zone will now run up to the city’s Low Emission Zone boundary – potentially impacting millions more riders and drivers using non-compliant machinery for work and leisure. As it stands, any bike manufactured after the point Euro3 came into force (2007) is compliant, however some earlier bikes are also exempt. 

London Congestion Charge sign

According to a statement released on November 25 from the Mayor of London’s offices, the expansion will lead to a saving of 27,000 tonnes of CO2 in outer London – with a claimed 85% of motorists already compliant in outer London.

Despite this, alongside the expansion, the mayor has also announced a new £110million scrappage scheme that could see you get money for your non-compliant bike to put towards a new one.

Open to applicants online from January 30, 2023, riders could get up to £1000 for their motorcycle (half what you’d get for a car) – providing they live in a London borough or the City of London and receive one or more benefits including: Universal Credit, Carer’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, and more. The full list can be found at

A 12-month unlimited travel pass on TfL busses and trams across the city is also available alongside a lower grant payment for some options too, should you so wish.

Help to turn green: More money to encourage Londoners to change bikes

First published 26 August 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan - photo: Greater London Authority

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced additional funding for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scrappage scheme ahead of its expansion in October.

ULEZ was introduced in 2019 in a bid to improve air quality in London. The zone operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and entering with a non-compliant bike incurs a daily charge of £12.50.

Any bike manufactured after 2007, the point Euro3 came into force, is compliant, however some earlier bikes are also exempt. From October, the zone will extend to the North and South Circular roads.

Motorbikes in London

Concerns have been raised about low income families or workers who rely on older vehicles. To combat this, the Mayor has announced an additional £5 million for the scrappage scheme, which gives Londoners £1000 towards a new bike. Only those who receive certain forms of benefit are eligible.

There are other alternatives to scrapping bikes, including the National Emissions Test Centre, who can test older bikes for compliance with ULEZ and, in some cases, make modifications or fit catalysts to ensure compliance. A test costs £175 and can be booked online.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to move ahead with ULEZ expansion plans

First published on 18 May 2021 by Ben Clarke

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan - photo: Greater London Authority

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that he will press on with the expansion of the city’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) as planned.

The new zone will come into effect on Monday, October 25, 2021 and will reach out to the North and South Circular ring roads, an area 18-times greater than the original.

If your motorbike doesn’t meet Euro3 emissions regulations (which came into effect in 2007) then you could need to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to ride inside the ULEZ. Older bikes can be tested, however, and qualify for an exemption.

“I pledge to be the greenest Mayor London’s ever had with a mandate from Londoners to put the environment and climate policies at the heart of my second term in office,” said Mr Khan. “Today I am reaffirming my commitment to speed up the cleaning of London’s toxic air.

“In central London, the ULEZ has already helped cut toxic roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution by nearly half and led to reductions that are five times greater than the national average. But pollution isn’t just a central London problem, which is why expanding the ULEZ later this year will benefit Londoners across the whole of the city and is a crucial step in London’s green recovery.”

What is the London ULEZ and how does it work?

First published on 16 April, 2019 by Jordan Gibbons

Motorcycle ULEZ exemption test

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.

Motorcycle tested for London ULEX exemption

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 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.

Many motorbikes could be exempt from London emission charge

First published on 3 January, 2019 by Jordan Gibbons

Motorbikes in London

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, appears to be listening to the concerns of bikers over London’s incoming Ultra Low Emission Zone.


The ULEZ will levy a £12.50 per day charge on any non-Euro3 certified (pre-2007) bikes that enter the congestion charging zone from April this year.

This has been questioned repeatedly over concerns that bikes should be treated differently from cars. The Motorcycle Action Group highlighted this recently in a meeting with the Mayor, who agreed to look further into the matter. He also reiterated his desire to see motorcycles allowed to use all bus lanes across the capital.

While the ULEZ will only cover the congestion zone, by April it will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will expand to the North and South circulars by 2021. The scheme is being looked at as a pilot for similar zones in cities throughout the UK.

What will be music to many owners’ ears though is that it’s possible to get an exemption for certain pre-2007 bikes by contacting Transport for London (TfL).

One of the Euro3 standards was Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions, which was capped at 0.15 g/km. It is this number that TfL are using to determine whether a vehicle has to pay the charge and many pre-2007 bikes come well under the limit: a 2006 BMW R1200GS, for instance, produces around a quarter of the maximum, while ADAC tests have shown even old Honda VFR800F VTEC models will pass.

Finding out is easy too. The first step is to check if your bike is already exempt by putting your registration number into the TfL ULEZ vehicle checker. If someone else has already proved to TfL that your model meets the emissions standards, then you are already exempt. If not, you’ll need to do a little leg work.

All recent bikes have a Certificate of Conformity, which lists the NOx emissions. It may also be shown on your V5, and if it’s below 0.15 g/km it’s simply a case of sending a copy to TfL, who will then exempt the bike. With huge costs associated with the zone, it’s well worth doing your homework.

We Ride London campaign launched to improve safety and oppose ULEZ charge

First published on 30 November, 2016 by Jordan Gibbons

We Ride London campaign

The We Ride London campaign is hoping to convince Transport for London to increase motorcycle safety provision and to properly consider motorcycles in London’s emission proposals

London’s road network has been creaking for years and this year it finally ended up almost back where it started at an average journey speed of 7.9mph. Many reasons have been attributed to this: more roadworks, higher population, 40,000 more taxis… The list goes on but of all of the options, we’re confident in saying motorcycles aren’t one of them.

Yet, despite being seen as one of the solutions to London’s congestion problem, motorcycles are not part of TfL’s plans. In fact, they’ve allocated absolutely zero budget to motorcycle provision, even though 55,000 people ride a motorcycle or scooter in London every day.

One of We Ride London’s chief aims is to get city authorities to acknowledge the need for increased motorcycle safety provision including protection of lane widths to allow for safe filtering and London-wide use of bus lanes. We Ride London are also seeking to oppose the current proposals of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) as it is very unclear in its discussion of bikes.

“We’re sort of seen as pests, rather than part of solution for keeping London moving,” says Mike Butler, Co-founder of We Ride London. “We would like to encourage people to take two-wheeled transport, whoever they may be, as it cuts down journey times and congestion for everyone but we think TfL’s current proposals will discourage people.”

The ULEZ proposal is that any motorcycle or scooter that is not Euro3 compliant (ie. made before 1st July 2007) will have to pay up to £12.50 per day charge to drive inside the North or South Circular. Unlike the congestion zone, the ULEZ will apply 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

“The people that need representation most of all are those that ride a motorcycle or scooter just to get to work,” says Butler. “They’re builders, cooks, surgeons, cleaners, your neighbour, your son or daughter or whatever… Some of these people can’t use public transport due to odd hours, or cost, and to those people new bikes could be financially out of reach while a £12.50 daily charge would be totally unaffordable.”

“There are other hidden costs too,” adds Philip Marshall, fellow co-founder. “There are over 1500 mechanics inside the proposed wider ULEZ whose businesses would all be badly affected.”

To raise awareness of the campaign, We Ride London has a Facebook page and they are also encouraging people to take part on Instagram and Twitter using the #WeRideLondon hashtag. In the meantime, there’s still some time remaining on the ULEZ consultation so they are urging everyone to respond to it. You can do so here: ULEZ consultation 

And while it’s tempting to think this doesn’t affect you because you don’t live in London, there are already five other UK cities earmarked for similar measures including Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham so get involved!

London ultra low emission zone approved

First published on 26 March, 2021 by Andy Downes

A new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will be in place in September 2020 according to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and all motorcycles over 13 years old will have to pay £12.50 per day to enter.

The ULEZ is the world’s first such zone and will require all vehicles travelling in the congestion charge zone of central London to meet the emissions standards 24 hours a day, seven days a week or pay a daily charge.

A consultation was launched in November 2014 and has seen more than 16,000 responses.

Bikes have been included in the charging plans despite the fact they account for less than 1% of nitrous oxide emissions and help to reduce congestion for all travellers by removing cars from the road, older bikes are regarded as heavy polluters.

The rules for motorcycles applies to motorcycles under this rule:

  • Motorcycles and similar vehicles – Euro 3 (registered from July 1, 2007 – 13 years old or less in 2020).  Non-compliant vehicles will pay a daily charge of £12.50.

The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) have stated they have intentionally confirmed the ULEZ five years ahead of its introduction to give warning and preparation time for affected road users.

Residents living in the ultra low emission zone will have a three year ‘sunset period’, meaning that they do not need to comply with the emissions standards until September 2023. Classic vehicles meeting the free vehicle excise duty rules of the rolling 40 year age are also exempt from the rules.

Michele Dix, managing director of planning at TfL, said: “London’s air quality has an impact on the health of every person living in this city which is why addressing emissions from road transport is such a priority. 

“The ULEZ is a feasible and effective way to improve air quality not only in central London but it will also have a positive impact across the whole city too. 

“We believe that giving owners of non-compliant vehicles more than five years to prepare means that they have fair warning to decide whether to change their vehicle to one that meets the emissions standards of the zone or pay a daily charge.”

Bikes facing London congestion charge

First published on 27 November, 2015 by Andy Downes

London Congestion Charge sign

All motorcycles built before 2007 will be charged the same fee as cars to enter the London congestion charge zone under current plans by the capital’s transport authority.

The new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is due to come into force in 2020 and under the current outline it would mean all vehicles built before 2007 would be liable for a charge, with motorcycles liable to be charged the same as cars; projected to be £12.50 per day.

The plans in the consultation state: “The ULEZ would require all vehicles driving in central London to meet new exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards). The ULEZ would take effect from 7 September 2020, and apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A vehicle that does not meet the ULEZ standards could still be driven in central London but a daily charge would have to have been paid to do so.”

London's main polluters by traffic type

The rules would mean any motorcycle built before 2007 and the implementation of the Euro3 emissions regulations would be forced to pay the congestion charge but by 2020 the newest bikes would be 13 years old. Transport for London (TfL) claim many of the current bikes affected would be swapped by then but this will still cause problems for many riders and force many off the road in central London.

Despite the fact that bike account for less than 1% of nitrous oxide emissions and help to reduce congestion for all travellers by removing cars from the road, older bikes are regarded as heavy polluters.

A quote from the public consultation states: “Motorcycles, mopeds and similar vehicles can be extremely polluting on an individual basis but, in total, account for a small proportion of kilometres driven in central London.”

Rider group MAG is urging all motorcyclists potentially affected by this change to the current rules where all two-wheelers are congestion charge exempt to have their say and lodge comments on the public consultation to ensure our voices are heard.

2014 London ULEZ map