There is a lot of confusion around regarding the new ABS law for motorcycles in New Zealand, which sees Anti Lock Braking Systems (ABS) become mandatory for all new motorcycles entering the fleet from 2021. From 1 November 2021 all current model new motorcycles and imported used motorcycles over 125cc must have ABS fitted for them to join the national road fleet while all current model new motorcycles and imported used motorcycles up to and including 125cc must have either ABS or a Combined Braking System.
The new law covers all motorcycles intended for road use over 125cc in capacity, but there are exemptions written in to the law and that is where a lot of confusion is for regular riders.
Firstly, the new law DOES NOT apply to motorcycles already registered in New Zealand. That means your much loved bike isn’t about to be illegal to ride on the road. So if your bike doesn’t have ABS you don’t have anything to worry about.
For riders wanting to import a classic bike into the country, motorcycles registered in any country prior to 1 January 1990 are exempt, meaning these motorcycles will not be required to be fitted with ABS or CBS. This will allow motorcycle collectors to continue to import classic motorcycles where there is no ABS equipped option available.
For motorcycles first registered anywhere in the world after 1 January 1990, a new special interest motorcycle permit will allow for collectible motorcycles to continue to be imported, under the condition that there is no equivalent option with ABS available. Motorcycle owners would need to apply to the Transport Agency with up to 100 special interest motorcycle permits to be issued each year.
There is also an exemption to allow New Zealand citizens or NZ residents to continue to import their bikes/cars from overseas as an immigrant’s vehicle, but they will need to demonstrate that the motorcycle in question they had owned and registered for use overseas for at least 12 months prior to importation.
Now this is where there seems to be a lot of confusion thanks to a vague and broad declaration in NZTA’s own release and that relates to Enduro motorcycles. With a popular movement for using these machines as lightweight adventure motorcycles, many riders are under the impression that any Enduro motorcycle that is currently available with a road kit (lights, indicators and a number plate holder) are exempt from the rule, but sadly THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
While the initial release states “Trial or enduro motorcycles used primarily off-road or at events are exempt...” digging further into the legislation reveals this is to allow for these machines to be used in competition.
Here is the relevant section from the updates to Light-vehicle Brakes 2002 Rule 32014/2002
As at 1 November 2019:
“An enduro motorcycle or trial motorcycle may only be used on a road without an antilock braking system or combined braking system that would otherwise be required by 2.7(2), 2.7(3), 2.7(4), or 2.7(5) for the purposes of a sanctioned competition.”
That means you sadly cannot buy a bike such as a 2021 Yamaha WR450F or KTM EXC500 for general road use or as a lightweight adventure steed.
According to the Motor Industry Association’s CEO, David Crawford, the industry did lobby for a more relaxed approach to ABS but this was ultimately unsuccessful.
“When the Rule was consulted on there was a wider exemption process suggested, he told onthrottle.co.nz.
“Officials then unilaterally decided when summarising the submissions and making final recommendations to the Minister to tighten the exemption provisions on the erroneous belief if left as consulted on, too many people buy these bikes for commuting.
We continue to seek a relaxation to this part of the Rule but have been unsuccessful to date.”
New Zealand’s Motorcycle ABS Law ( Land Transport Rule: Light-vehicle Brakes Amendment (No 2) 2019.) Exemptions List
Motorcycles currently/previously registered in NZ
Motorcycles first registered anywhere in the world before January 1st 1990
Off-Road Motorcycles (used for competition only)
Up to 100 post 1990 motorcycles provided ABS was not available for that model
You can read the full document pertaining to Land Transport Rule: Light-vehicle Brakes Amendment (No 2) 2019 at the NZTA website.