Singapore will be making vintage motorbikes illegal in the name of environmental protection

Photo: Unsplash

On Apr. 6, lovers of café racers, old-school Vespas, and other vintage motorbikes got some pretty shocking news: Singapore will no longer allow any motorcycles made before July 1, 2003 on the roads.

The official ban will kick in on June 30, 2028, and it’s a measure targeted at reducing the number of older vehicles on the road in a bid to improve air quality. Older vehicles, including retro two-wheelers, are “more pollutive” said the National Environmental Agency (NEA), and Singapore wants to work hard towards meeting air quality targets.

“(Motorbikes) registered before 1 July 2003 (i.e. before the introduction of Euro I emission standards for motorcycles) emit up to about 10 times more carbon monoxide and 30 times more hydrocarbons compared to a Euro IV motorcycle today,” wrote NEA in a news release.


“Bikers had long been sidelined by this incumbent administration”

Photo: Unsplash

Obviously, not every motorcyclist will be affected. According to NEA data, older motorbike models make up about 20 percent of Singapore’s motorcycle population. Still, it’s a population that accounts for around 40 percent of carbon monoxide emitted by motorcycles.

Granted, 2028 is a long, long way ahead, but to the hundreds of vintage bike owners here, it’s crushing news. Here’s a new regulation that will wreck all the blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention the high costs) spent to procure classic, rare bikes from yore that most likely have been carefully maintained to enable them to run smoothly decades after they were first made.

“Many who invested plenty on their machines were caught with our pants down and face the fact that they’ll no longer able to keep their bikes beyond 2028,” wrote the administrator of Facebook community page Custom Bikes Xchange.

“I dream a day, like many people overseas we read, be able to hand down my precious bikes to my children. Gone is this wish and many like me will tell the same story to our children and grandchildren, that the government was arrogant and not empathetic at all to the average citizens so much so that we had to scrap our precious bikes.”

Retro bike enthusiasts on other Facebook pages also expressed their frustrations with NEA’s sudden decree, angry that the authorities did not consult actual motorcyclists who would be directly affected in the first place. As such, they’re attempting hold a dialogue with both NEA and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to find a compromise. Civilly.

Some have already thrown in the rag, highlighting the fact that the Singapore government isn’t exactly known for preserving heritage and culture.

There is a way for retro bike owners here to keep their prized processions intact though. Those who own pristine, well-preserved vehicles manufactured prior to 1940 can register for the Vintage Vehicle (Restricted) Scheme, which allows road usage for only 28 days each year. There’s also the Classic Vehicle Scheme, which allows owners of heritage-rich cars and motorcycles to use them for up to 45 days a year.


The $3,500 carrot

To make the process of phasing out vintage bikes in Singapore easier, NEA will offer a monetary incentive for owners to de-register their older motorcycles. All owners of old bikes are eligible to receive up to S$3,500, should they successfully de-register their vehicles and abstain from renewing their Certificate of Entitlement.

The incentive might be attractive enough for some, but for the many enthusiasts who’ve invested tons of energy and capital to ride their beautifully restored classic machines, no amount of cash will ever be worth it.

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