Thousands of angry bikers, 10,000 according to organizers, demonstrated in Paris on Saturday April 13, during the afternoon, calling for a boycott of the compulsory technical inspection for motorcycles, scooters and other quads which comes into force on Monday 15 April in France. The measure is supposed to increase safety but is contested by many motorcyclists.

“It’s pure and simple racketeering,” denounces Isabelle Lebret, member of the French Federation of Angry Bikers (FFMC), arguing that several other European countries have not adopted technical inspections for two-wheelers, “like Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.” The demonstrators are calling for a “total boycott” of the new technical control, insisted Jean-Marc Belotti, coordinator of the FFMC for Paris and Ile-de-France.

It is a European directive dated April 2014 which obliges member states to establish this technical control. But numerous appeals will have delayed its application in France, while the system was put in place across almost the entire European continent before the deadline of January 1, 2022.

In France, a first decree was issued by the government in 2021 before Emmanuel Macron buried it, anxious not to “annoy the French”. The government then announced that it would favor “alternative measures” such as awareness campaigns. But he finally had to give in in October 2023 by decision of the Council of State.

First checks for vehicles before 2017

The more than three million category L vehicles, i.e. scooters, motorcycles, tricycles or carts, have until now escaped the controls introduced in 1992 for cars. They now have to pass through 78 checkpoints. Brakes too worn, handlebars fuzzy, leaks, smooth tires: 87 major failures involve a return inspection in the following two months with the vehicle repaired. Control of noise but also of vehicle restraint, often bypassed by scooters, will not be effective until summer 2025.

The first vehicles to pass the test are those registered before January 1, 2017. All these L category vehicles must also pass the test if resold. This measure has already pushed many motorcyclists to resell their machine before the deadline, helping to boost the second-hand market in the first quarter of 2024 (6% over one year), according to insurer Solly Azar.

The general delegate of the FFMC, Didier Renoux, insists that accidents are generally not due to the condition of the vehicle, well maintained by the bikers, but rather to the state of the road. The “angry bikers” had asked the Council of State to urgently suspend the measure, but they were rejected on Tuesday.

“We can’t find any technical inspection center.”

At the same time, 27 deputies from the majority, including the president of the Laws Committee Sacha Houlié, asked the Ministry of Transport for a “moratorium” on this technical control, proposing alternative solutions. No response yet.

“Even if I would like to comply, we cannot find any technical inspection center,” assured Agence France-Presse Sacha Houlié, who himself pilots a Yamaha sports car. “I’m going to do my annual maintenance, like every year. I don’t know any motorcyclist who doesn’t do it,” the MP pointed out.

National Rally deputies also called for the repeal of control, denouncing “technocratic obstinacy”. Since the confirmation of the inspection in October 2023, the technical inspection centers have nevertheless gone into overdrive to receive the necessary approval.

Not all of France is covered, but almost half of the centers are ready, or 3,000 inspectors, according to the technical inspection federation. In Spain, since the introduction of technical inspections for all two-wheelers in 2006, mortality has fallen sharply for moped drivers, but not among motorcyclists, according to the federation of Spanish inspectors. 17% of two-wheelers inspected in 2022 had to undergo a second inspection, and half of these suffered from major faults. Most of the defects concerned lighting, pollution or noise.

In France, all category L vehicles must now be checked every three years. Drivers without up-to-date technical inspections risk a fine of 135 euros or immobilization of the vehicle.