How Mandatory Motorcycle ABS Is Being Circumvented For Enduro Style Bikes

Updated: Jun 11



The implementation of legislation mandating ABS on all new motorcycles entering the nation's road fleet has not been without a few bumps in the road, with the Motor Industry Association noting that in some cases it is "largely unenforceable".


While the majority of new motorcycles now entering the fleet are sold with ABS as standard, a small sub-set of Enduro class motorcycles have been skirting around the new legislation.


While last year saw Trail or Enduro class bikes accounting for 10% of overall sales, this is partly driven by buyers snapping up large numbers of Suzuki DR650s before the model was discontinued in our market as a result of the new ABS legislation.


While many of these models are used off-road only, they’ve become popular in adventure riding circles. Thanks to their excellent power-to-weight ratios, they make it easier to get to places heavy multi-cylinder adventure bikes can only dream of.


But browsing TradeMe quickly shows up a few models that don't have ABS still being advertised as "road registerable", so what is going on here?


 

Recap: From November 1, 2021, all new motorcycles joining the national fleet were required to be fitted with an Anti-lock Braking System - AKA ABS. There were a few exemptions to this rule including special interest bikes, pre-1990 models and bikes being used in FIM accredited competition.


 

It's that last part that has become a stickler for many, with the stipulation being rather null and void since there is NO FIM ACCREDITED COMPETITION for enduro motorcycles to compete in within New Zealand.


“​​The rule is largely unenforceable in this respect, as to ride to FIM sanctioned events, you first have to register the bike,” says Motor Industry Association CEO David Crawford.


“The MIA has a view that the rule should have followed the Australian regime where enduro and trials bikes were exempt from ABS requirements. Officials have laterally acknowledged that, given the low number of these bikes, the rule should be reviewed with a view to amending it in line with Australia.”


“We are now waiting for the rule to be amended and, in the meantime, enforcement for proper enduros is by way of individuals seeking an exemption or their bike.”


By utilising the existing one-off exemption process by submitting a CA11 form AKA “Application for an exemption from land transport vehicle rules” , NZTA makes a call on a vehicle by vehicle basis, and this process has already been used to register a number of enduro class machines for Kiwi roads. It is the same application which is commonly used for registering left-hand-drive vehicles, so there are no dodgy dealings going on by dealers here.


The exemption has been used at least 79 times this year alone at the time of writing, but sales are a long way off where they were last year.


While industry backers are still fighting to get these bikes a more clear exemption from the legislation, at least there is a way forward for the growing number of enthusiasts wanting to keep out of trouble with the law for using their preferred adventure steed on the road.