Motorcycle history in the UK and around the world.A very brief chronology of Motorcycle history, legislation, registrations, KSI figures, movies and more!
This list is not exhaustive, please mail us if you think there is something important that should be added.
A very long time ago on a piece of tarmac not so far away……1880’s Motorcycles invented! The world’s first petrol driven motorcycle, was allegedy the 1885 Daimler Reitwagen!1897. First A.J.S Produced in the UK with a Mitchell (USA) engine (A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd)1902. First Triumph produced in the UK at Coventry.First Norton built in the UK at Bradford Street in Birmingham.1903. First Harley Davidson produced in U.S.A. (Harley-Davidson Motor Company)1904. First Velocette built in UK by by Veloce Ltd, in Hall Green Birmingham, 1905. 21,521 machines registered in Britain.1907. The first ever Isle of Man TT race was won by Charlie Collier on a single cylinder Matchless at an average race speed of 38.21 mph. The winner of the twin-cylinder class was Rem Fowler riding a Norton at an average race speed of 36.21 mph.1910. The First BSA ( irmingham Small Arms) Motorcycle built in the UK at Small Heath, Birmingham.1916. 150,000 motorcycles registered in Britain.1920. More than 200 marques available.1921. First Moto Guzzis produced.Rally Industries Gradual Payments (R.I.G.P.) start offering motorcycle finance (later to become Black Horse)1923. First BMW’s produced in Germany1924. Over 500,000 machines registered for use.1930. Highest ever road user casualty rate at 1,582,000.1934. Speed limits introduced.1935. Comedy Movie No Limit, starring George Formby as fictional TT racer George Shuttleworth released.Cats eyes introduced. 1938. New registrations slump to 30,0931940-45. Don’t mention it, but the army suddenly required a very large number of motorcycles!1946. Piaggio produced the Vespa 1947. First Honda Produced. (The Honda Motor Company)1949. First Kawasaki Produced.The First ever Moto GP is won by Leslie Graham (UK) on an AJS1950. First Ducati’s produced in ItalyMoto GP won by Umberto Masetti (Italy) Gilera1951. BSA buys Triumph Motorcycles.Moto GP won by Geoff Duke (UK) Norton 1952. First Suzuki produced in Japan (Suzuki Motor Company)Moto GP won by Umberto Masetti (Italy) Gilera1953. Movie The Wild One fearuring Marlon Brando released.Moto GP won by Geoff Duke (UK) Gilera 1954. First Kawasaki produced in Japan (Kawasaki Heavy Industries)Moto GP won by Geoff Duke (UK) Gilera1955. First Yamaha produced in Japan (Yamaha Motor Corporation)Moto GP won by Geoff Duke (UK) GileraFirst NSU produced in Germany1956 Moto GP won by John Surtees (UK) MV Agusta1957 Moto GP won by Libero Liberati (Italy) Gilera1958 Moto GP won by John Surtees MV Agusta1959. 650cc Bonneville launched.Moto GP won by John Surtees (UK) MV Agusta1960. Learner riders restricted to motorcycles under 250cc and must display L-platesMoto GP won by John Surtees (UK) MV AgustaHighest recorded number of motorcycles in use. 1961. MOT Test for motorcycles older than 10 years introduced.Moto GP won by Gary Hocking (Rhodesia) MV Agusta1962. “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” Advertising campaign launched.Moto GP won by Mike Hailwood (UK) MV Agusta1963. Moto GP won byMoto GP won by Mike Hailwood (UK) MV Agusta1964. British motorcycle industry starts collapsing.Moto GP won by Mike Hailwood (UK) MV Agusta1965. Moto GP won by Mike Hailwood (UK) MV Agusta.1966. Moto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) MV Agusta1967. MOT Test threshold reduced to 3 years.Moto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) MV Agusta1968. First Aprilia produced in Italy.Moto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) MV Agusta1969. Movie Easy Rider released Starring Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicolson.Moto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) MV Agusta1970. 86 decibel noise limit introduced for motorcycles larger than 125cc (not implemented until 1982)Moto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) MV Agusta 1971. Motorcycles first used after 01/01/71 required to be equipped with dipped beam headlightMoto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) MV AgustaAll motorcycle riders required to have passenger insurance Motorcycle minimum age raised to 17. Moped age left at 16Movie On Any Sunday featuring Steve McQueen releasedRoger Donaldson’s original 1971 documentary Offerings to the God of Speed featuring historical footage of the real Burt Munro. (later remade as, the Worlds Fastest Indian)1972. Moto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) MV Agusta 1973. Wearing of crash helmets made compulsory for all motorcycle riders.Moto GP won by Phil Read (UK) MV Agusta Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) formed by riders protesting against the unjust introduction of compulsory helmet legislation.1974. Moto GP won by Phil Read (UK) MV Agusta.1975. Requirement for motorcycles to carry a front number plate abolished.Moto GP won by Giacomo Agostini (Italy) Yamaha 1976. Government exempts followers of Sikh religion when wearing turbans from helmet law.Moto GP won by Barry Sheene (UK) Suzuki 1977. Mopeds first used after 01/08/77 not permitted to have maximum design speed greater than 30 mph.Moto GP won by Barry Sheene (UK) Suzuki1978. Moto GP won by Kenny Roberts (USA) Yamaha1979. Movie Mad Max is released starring Mel GibsonMoto GP won by Kenny Roberts (USA) Yamaha1980. 77 decibel limit on Mopeds first used after 1/10/80.Moto GP won by Kenny Roberts (USA) YamahaRight hand sidecars banned on motorcycles registered after 01/08/81 Highest ever UK motorcycle new registrations at 315,641.Movie Silver Dream Racer featuring David Essex released.1981. Moto GP won by Marco Lucchinelli (Italy) Suzuki1982. EEC 86 decibel noise limit implemented. Two part motorcycle test introduced (1981 act) part 1 off road and part 2 on road!One year ban introduced (1981 act)Moto GP won by Franco Uncini (Italy) Suzuki1983. Learner riders restricted to 125cc motorcycles (1981 act) Motorcycles required to have main beam headlights.Moto GP won by Freddie Spencer (USA) Honda1984. Ban on motorcycle trailers repealed.Moto GP won by Eddie Lawson (USA) Yamaha1985. Repeal of the offence of rider aiding and abetting passenger who fails to wear a helmet.Moto GP won by Freddie Spencer (USA) Honda1986. Motorcycles first used after 1/4/86 required to have direction indicators.Moto GP won by Eddie Lawson (USA) Yamaha1987. EC 87/56 stage one (82 decibel) noise limit becomes Euro law. Stage 2 (80 decibels) planned for 1993.Moto GP won by Wayne Gardner (Australia) HondaMotorcycles first used after 1/4/87 to have brake system approved by UN/ECE regulation 13.05BSI stamped aftermarket exhausts made compulsory.Crash helmet visors required to comply with BSI standards.Government proposes that new motorcycles be fitted with leg protectors. Annual new registrations fall below 100,000 - lowest level since 1949.1988. Leg protector proposal withdrawn.Moto GP won by Eddie Lawson (USA) YamahaEC makes draft proposal for separate licence for motorcycles over 400ccEuro Demo Strasbourg, France.1989. Moto GP won by Eddie Lawson (USA) Honda1990. The Part 1 test is scrapped and replaced by Compulsory Basic Training (see below)CBT introduced, certificate lasts for 3 years, part 2 still on road with examiner watching.Learners can no longer take a passenger Up until 1990 a learner could take a passenger on the back of a motorcycle as long as the passenger had a full motorcycle licence.EC Type Approval directive proposed.Euro Demo II, London England.Moto GP won by Wayne Rainey (USA) Yamaha 1991. EC licence directive becomes EC law without 400cc limit.EC proposes 100 bhp maximum power output from motorcycles.TRRL accused of scientific fraud over its handling of LP research. They are largely exonerated in Glaister & Cesari report.Moto GP won by Wayne Rainey (USA) Yamaha 1992. Hinkley Triumphs Launched.EC Type Approval directive becomes EU lawEuro Demo III, Brussels, Belgium.Moto GP won by Wayne Rainey (USA) Yamaha EU proposes Anti Tampering regulations (French). These are later included in the Multi Directive.1993. EU proposes ‘Multi Directive’. Contains 80 decibel upper noise limit, anti tampering and emission limits.Moto GP won by Kevin Schwantz (USA) Suzuki.1994. EU publishes White Paper calling for leg protector legislation100th Gatso Camera installed in UK.Euro Demo IV, Paris, France.Moto GP won by Michael Doohan ( Australia) Honda1995. New ISO standard for leg protector crash test dummy introduced.Postponement of EU power limit until new research is conducted.UK implements stage one of EU directive 87/56 and reduces maximum noise limit to 82 decibelsEU proposes Design Protection regulations.Moto GP won by Michael Doohan ( Australia) Honda1996. Only UK licence holders are able to take a UK Motorcycle test.Re-tests revised – a test candidates must wait 10 working days before retaking a practical DSA test (only if you fail).TRL promote motorcycle air bags and ‘leg bolsters’ at ESV conference, Australia.Euro Demo V, Brussels, Belgium.Draft plans for EU roadworthiness testing (MOT) discussed.Draft EU ‘End Of Life Vehicles’ directive published.UK implements EU licence directive in July. 2 year 33 bhp restriction for newly qualified riders. Direct access test & Theory Test.Moto GP won by Michael Doohan ( Australia) Honda1997. longer CBT by making the road ride ( Module E) a compulsory, legal minimum of two hours.Theory Test introduced for all provisional licence holders.Different categories of motorcycle test introduced, A1 (lightweight), A2 (Standard), A (Full)Photo ID required for all practical & theory tests from March. EU Multi Directive becomes European law. Maximum noise limit set at 80 decibels. Europe wide implementation July 1999.All main UK political parties publish ‘motorcycling manifestos’ Honda Belgium attempts to restrict parallel motorcycle market. They win a court case against a parallel importer. Labour wins the General Election by a landslide. The DoT becomes the DETR and consults on an integrated transport policy. Europe starts to look at End of Life Vehicles (ELV) and Roadworthiness testing regulations. Disagreements between EP and Council on Design Protection regulations. The issue moves into conciliation. Honda UK issue legal ultimatum against parallel importers. First MEP Ride. Meeting between Government and motorcycle groups to discuss transport policy.Moto GP won by Michael Doohan ( Australia) Honda1998. FEM and EMA merge to become the FEMA.MAG holds mass lobby of Parliament to argue for inclusion into transport policy.MAG Scotland and MAG Cymru re-launched to focus lobbying on forthcoming devolved Parliament and assembly.Work continues in Europe on ELV and Design protection. Motorcycle Telematics appear on the agenda.Statutory Off-Road Notification introduced to combat VED evasion and improved quality of DVLA data (January).Successful lobby by FEMA leads to plans for European design protection are shelved for at least four years.Second MEP ride from Strasbourg Parliament.Compulsory daytime headlights proposed by PACTS. MAG campaign leads DETR to distance itself from the proposal.Commission Fuel tank Directive attempts to reduce diesel spills from trucks.Publication of Integrated Transport White Paper. Motorcycles recognised as alternative mode for the first time.Government Advisory Group on Motorcycling announced. First meeting discusses road safety strategies.Commissioner Martin Bangemann refuses to acknowledge the end of the BHP issue in a letter to FEMA.Euro Demo VI in Bonn. Germany highlights ELV directive and other German and European anti motorcycle legislation.Large percentage rise in motorcycle casualties Inclusive meetings at invitation of DETR to discuss road safety strategies.DETR acknowledges that rider-led initiatives are more likely to be successful than blanket safety legislation. MAG promotes Bikesafe 2000.One Year Ban consultation published. Government finally agrees to change legislation.First ‘contact’ meeting of the Advisory Group at DETR.Highest motorcycle & moped sales since 1970’s.Moto GP won by Michael Doohan ( Australia) Honda1999. Introduction of new photo-card licences. Both parts of the licence (the paper and the card part) must be produced for the licence to be valid for the CBT, Theory Test and any practical DSA test.New legislation reverts new drivers to learner status if 6 penalty points accumulated within 2 years.Local Authorities to produce local transport plans with community input.Treasury consults on VED banding. MAG forces #5 refund after budgetary mistake.Commission fund crash barrier project.Honda UK drops legal action in out of court settlement with parallel importers.First full meeting of Advisory Group. 5 task forces charged with statistics & data, areas of research, environment & fiscal measures, integration & traffic management and safety & security.DETR consults on road and congestion charging.DETR consults on speed & safety.Ad-hoc motorcycling forum established by the Scottish Office. Scottish guidance recognises the motorcycling option.Draft transport plans show that over 100 local authorities are considering options for positive motorcycling policies.New Highway Code published - suggests daytime lights and ‘dayglow’ clothing.DSA consultation proposes removal of car license - moped entitlement, motorcycle license - light car entitlement, & dropping the one-year ban.Euro Parliament Elections lose several prominent motorcycling MEPs including Roger Barton.Rights of Way consultation.European Young Rider of the Year funded by Commission.Third MEP Ride from Strasbourg Parliament.Speed review approaches conclusion, Commissioner Manning’s Zero Tolerance call invokes fury.Moto GP won by Àlex Crivillé (Spain) Honda2000. Leaded petrol finally withdrawn.Drink Drivers rehabilitation scheme introduced.Touch Screen Theory Test Introduced January.Third European Driving License Directive proposed by Commission.London Assembly & Mayoral Elections.Pro-motorcycle policies introduced by UK Government.Full DETR guidance on local transport plans considers a positive approach to motorcycles in local transport planning.The Government’s road safety review proposes an action plan, which receives cross-motorcycle community support.Car drivers to continue to have the right to ride a moped with a full car licence once ‘familiarisation’ training has been taken.Moto GP won by Kenny Roberts Jr. (USA) Suzuki 2001. All CBT certificates issued for motorcycles and scooters from the 1st February, will now only last for 2 years.Full car licence holders who passed their car test before February 1st 2001 will still be able to carry a pillion and do not have to display L-Plates on 500cc mopeds only.All new car licence holders must complete a CBT before riding a moped.Those full car licence holders who take a CBT for a moped will have a certificate (DL196) that lasts for the life of their driving licence.All new motorcycle test candidates must do a Theory Test regardless of their licence. National Motorcycle Strategy Promised is for 2003.Motorcycles are excluded from London congestion charging.Motorcycles registered after 1.9.2001 are not allowed to have a front number plate.Motorcycles allowed access to bus lanes / secure parking provision. (Only in a few towns/cities like Bristol and Reading and a few others and not across the whole UK.The old two years on, one year off restriction for provisional motorcycle licences is abolished. A new provisional motorcycle licence will last for the life of the licence.Moto GP won by Valentino Rossi (Italy) Honda2002. Motorcycle Vehicle Excise Duty categories are expanded.Hazard perception test introduced as part of the motorcycle Theory Test. Candidates are required to click a button as they see ‘emerging’ hazards during a video clip. The Theory Test is extended by 20 minutes to include this element. DTLR publishes its motorcycle parking advisory leaflet.Moto GP won by Valentino Rossi (Italy) Honda2003. New questions are added to the start of the practical motorcycle test. These questions relate to basic maintenance and precautions that need to be made to your machine to ensure safe riding. There are two questions, one asks you to tell the examiner how to adjust or check a part of the machine, and the other asks you to show the examiner how you would check or adjust part of the machine. A failure to answer both correctly will result in one minor point in the overall test result.Home Office publishes its first motorcycle theft index.Moto GP won by Valentino Rossi (Italy) Honda2004. Introduction of Continuous Licensing and Harmonised Registration Certificates to combat VED evasion, vehicle fraud and improve quality of DVLA data. (S.O.R.N.)Moto GP won by Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha2005. Moto GP won by Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha2006. Movie The worlds fastest Indian featuring Anthony Hopkins released.Moto GP won by Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda2007. Moto GP won by Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda2008. Only valid passport or photocard driving licence now accepted for identity on both theory and practical tests.DSA organised a meeting for all the motorcycle training schools for 23rd January at the National Motorcycle Museum.The new two part test (2DLD) was due to be implemented in August 2008 - but was postponed.Delay of the proposed two part test planned for September 28th 2008 now becomes April 2009.Moto GP won by Moto GP won by Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha2009. Introduction of the “new” 2 part two part test at M.P.T.C.'s (April 29th 2009)The *Transport Select Committee (TSC) held an inquiry into the current motorcycle testing arrangements on the 14th October 2009.Moto GP won by Moto GP won by Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha2010. New riders passing their test drops to an all time low, along with sales of motorcycles.The Independent ride is introduced to the Module 2.On Tuesday 23rd March the *TSC published their report announcing that ‘millions had been wasted on new super centres’. The MCITA were delighted that the TSC raised awareness of the issues that face trainers due to the implementation of the Directive and specifically commented on the lack of sites, the distance of the sites and the trainer booking system.DSA announce the Learn to ride Programme (L2RP) and motorcycle test review and invite stakeholders to be a part of the process. Moto GP won by Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha2011. Motorcycle industry in crisis with lack of new customers.Motorcycle test “tweaked” in May 2011 after months of hard work and lobbying by industry. (50 kmh reduced to 48 kmh = 30mph)Movie I Superbiker released following the 2011 BSB series.Moto GP won by Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda2012. New theory test introduced to stop new drivers/riders learning by rote. (memorising the answers)Bike Channel launched on Motors TV, Europe’s first dedicated motorcycle only series of programmes.Moto GP won by ??2013. Introduction of 3DLD which see’s 3 new catgories of motorcycle for testing, A1, A2 and A. all are age limited and subject to further training or test to move up to the next level.Many thanks to M.A.G, M.C.I.A. and numerous others for helping us collate the above data.
(You don’t expect us to remember all that lot do you?) :-)*To watch the 2010 TSC meeting at Houses of Commons click here http://www.artmotorcycletraining.co.uk/motorcycle_history.htm