Several publications are reporting the possibility that the European Commission (EC) could be preparing to implement a European-wide limit of 100HP on motorcycles when the European executive power meets this summer. The issue arises after France instituted a 100HP ban on new motorcycles, causing the country to be out of line with the rest of European Union. France’s new law places an undue burden on manufacturers, who must now make a French variant for each new EU motorcycle model (or just not offer the bike in the French market all-together), and as such the EC aims to bring the EU under one policy.

This has created cause for alarm in the industry (or just in sensationalist journalists) who fear that the EC could place 100HP limits across the entire EU, along with other hindering provisions as well (mandatory ABS brakes seems to be the other main concern), in order to bring balance to the Union’s approach on motorcycles. If that sounds ridiculous to you, then you’re in the same boast as us. Considering how the EC and EU directives, regulations, and decisions actually operate, the real likelihood seems to be the possibility of France’s law being repealed, but that doesn’t mean activists have any less cause for alarm.

There are several examples one can pull from for legal precedent where the EC has found a member state’s own regulations to be in conflict with the equal application of trade and commerce within the European Union. These cases should give motorcycle proponents strong ammunition to avoid an EU-wide power limit, and could even override the French statute as a disruption to the free trade that occurs within EU member states.

However the issue at stake is an even larger bone of contention, as high-performance sport bikes ridden by steet hooligans have caused a backlash in Europe. Motorcyclists looking to show off, or who would rather not take it to the track have created attention to high-performance motorcycles, and not in a good way. There is a growing negative sentiment in Europe towards sport bikes, and this French law limiting horsepower is a prime example of that sentiment turning to action.

With all these factors coming into play, there is cause for concern that some EU-level decision to curtail these activities could be handed down, under the guise of making the streets and motorcycling itself safer. Should the EC concur with this general sentiment, changes could be instituted;  however we would expect a fight all the way to the European Court of Justice no matter what plan is instituted. While we believe the French law will almost certainly be repealed, it does signal a growing trend that the EC could adopt.

Source: Bikes in the Fast Lane, MCN , MotoRevue; Photo: ErrorTribune (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)

  • WHAT?!!!!

  • Bikes in Japan are restricted to 100HP too, though it’s voluntarily done by the manufacturers so it DOESN’T get written in law. They still got screwed anyway by emissions and noise laws that get updated regularly. They probably just send JPN models over to France.

    The KTM RC8 is down to 105HP.
    The BMW S1000RR is at 156hp, though detuning that is just a matter of removing the rear winkers that deactivates something.

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  • walkingshadows

    1. We could make a similar question on supercars, that are so well-advertised and nobody worry about a 500-hp “kart” on the road.
    2. I find an “overall” hp-limit a little stupid, I prefer a power/weight(max load) proportion.
    3. The supposed “Sport bike” hate it’s a matter of people’s road-education and MEDIA image.
    The final judge is always the man who have the knife in the hand : he could kill or cut the bread for breakfast . … so we have to jail every man with knife ? or prohibit the cutting tools ?

  • Jim

    The French 100 HP restriction is at least 20 years old and at some point I believe Germany had a similar limit though it was removed in the late 90’s.

  • Gildas

    A few years back a friend of mine tested a restricted R1 in Spain… He said it was dangerous.

    In a normal R1 you have power increase with RPM in a steady (if not violent up in the RPM). In the restricted R1 he said it felt that the power had shifted down the RPM and that you found explosive power nearly everywhere. You con not doodle the bike anymore… The power was like a light switch. And if you tried to stay under the powerband, you were nearly stalling it. He said that driving it in the rain would be suicide.

    He found his unresticted R1 safer AND slower (unless he wanted his fix).

    My bigest bike so far was a Gagiva 125 Mito, so I can’t have an opinion on this.


  • Skip

    Next will be a ban on loud motorcycles. There are many cities in the U.S that are considering or in the process of a noise ordinance. The morons on the Harley’s with no mufflers have pissed off enough people that the city governments in many cities are finally reacting. This would be terrible for Harley Davidson. 90% of there sales are to the morons who only want one so they can pull the muffler off and ride with straight pipes. The 100 hp law would also be good for Harley as they do not make a bike with 100hp……………

  • robin hood

    This proposal confirms how poor is the knowledge of the “super experts” spending (wasting?) time in the EU buildings.

    A simple example:
    an Honda Golgwing (weight 380 kg) even reduced to 100 cv but with an enormous torque (160nm in the actual version) is a lot safer and easier to ride than a lightweight Bimota or Ducati (or any japanese sport bike) weighting 190 kg and maybe only 90 hp.

    In other words I can do crazy things with 90 hp , or less, like the 50 hp of the bmw f 650.

    I can risk my life every day if I don’t use my brains. It all depends on road, traffic, weather and driver’s mental condition.

    Instead, just ban motorcycles, and why, not, cars, so the would be no road accident victims! Would’nt be wonderful?

  • 100 hp? No problem. Just give me a bike that weighs 100 kilos. In fact, I’ll even loosen my regulations to allow bikes of up to 125 kg.

    But seriously, folks… As modern traction control (and ABS) is applied to road bikes, I suppose machines with 150+ hp gain a modicum of ‘rideability’ in street applications. That said, if you took a typical literbike (CBR, GSX-R, R1, ZX, etc) and really, properly redesigned the motor to produce a peak power of 100 hp — changed not just ECU settings and rev limits but compression, valve sizes (possibly even number of valves), cam profile and timing, tuned intakes and exhausts differently, etc… IF you built that bike, it would make a peak of 100hp, yes. It would also make 95hp anywhere from 1,500-15,000 rpm and it would be a riot to ride. 99% of all riders would have more fun and be faster on such a machine.

  • gildas

    What would happen with this “fun” bike in commute and the rain? Or simply on a very twisty narrow mountain road (I mean Euro twisty, for me Mulholland is curvy, not twisty).


  • patron

    The point isnt whether or not bike w a 100hp would be just as, if not more fun than bigger bikes. Its about government removing your right to buy whatever you want and act like a responsible adult. Raise the fines to rediculous amounts for doubling the speed limit in a residential neighborhood, or doing wheelies in traffic. Have a zero tolerance attitude. Start repossessing the bikes of the people that have no regard for others safety and you will see a reduction in squid behavior. I could have a 300hp bike and that still wouldnt make me act like an idiot. My supermoto has 50hp and is more that enough to cause all sorts of trouble. HP reduction is not the answer. It’s a politicians quick appeasement of his constituents, and an elaborate way to flush money down the toilet.

  • Ricardo


    I´m really getting fed up with image we get, whether by the recklessness of few (very few, actually), power-driven hunger of some, or simple sheer ignorance of many!

    Why 100hp? Why on motorcycles?

    The implementation of this law in France brings to my mind the purpose of motorcycle clubs and associations.
    Did anyone react? Did they just let it be? Do we form motocycle groups just to get together and have a few beers and play around???

    I really hope people will wake up and fight these idiotic laws if the time comes!

  • Leigh

    Hmmm, reminds me of the MotoGP shift from 990cc to 800cc engines – now remind me what happened there… Corner speed and lap times anyone? :P

    But yes, same trend here in Australia, especially with exhaust noise regulations. One state even implemented noise restrictions without notice, then prosecuted riders with legal pipes for not having a certification sticker fitted – which they had just introduced! Luckily, it got repealed after a lengthy court challenge. Ironically, the worst offenders here are also the middle-aged weekend Harley riders, not the sportsbike hoons (that’s another matter entirely).

  • Jerome

    This is absolutely untrue !! The french law has been voted in the late 80s !! This is not a new one. Since then, bikes have been imported from all around the world with a way to restrict them to 100hp (78kw to be more precise) whether it’s a different injection mapping, exhaust system or even a way to prevent the injection bodies from fully operating.
    It has not prevented a lot of people out here from de-restricting the bike, no matter the legal issues they could face in case of an accident.
    We’ve been hearing rumors for years about the french law being dropped because it doesn’t follow the standardizing way of the EU to conceive laws, and because France was the only country where the 100hp restriction is mandatory on every single bike. (As for an exemple of how the UE is considering local laws, the UE claims the french motorcycle buyers are cheated because they cannot have the product as it is really)
    The 100hp limit still exists in Germany, Italy and Belgium, for instance, but it just allows the rider to pay less taxes when registering the bike.

    Last but not least, even with 100hp restriction, recent french road casualties figures show that the number of fatal accident is still rising for 2 wheel riders (and 2 wheels riders only as the figures for cars is still falling) years after years.
    See ? It’s not a matter of how much power you put in bike …

  • Gildas

    In france the casualties are very often 125 scooters driven by airhead car drivers… I would see at least three smashed a week on my 50km commute in Paris… Crazy.

    And now they have found a flaw in the law that allows people with car permits to drive some 450cc scooters… With NO additional training.

    Maybe they should fix THAT before the rest.

  • Jerome

    I’m 100% with you Gildas, but the road accident figures do not separate 125cc scooter riders from motorcycle riders who have a proper license and training.
    For them, we’re all just the same reckless riders

  • Gildas

    It would be impopular, but all riders of bikes (scotters quads all) of more than 50cc should have have a license and training. Full stop. That should be the main factor.

    If you want, a 125 can make 40hp, then you can turbo it and get 60 to 80hp out… 125kilos… That’s safe. And if you bore it and intercool it to madness… Humm, that could be a fun project.

  • Busaman

    I have heard you can get killed just by crossing the street. We should ban streets then, but not before we ban the cars, truck and busses that have done the killing. The morons that come up with these rules are just that. They can’t make it in the real world so they end up as politicians. As an example, Australia is busy trying to force the registration of knives after going after guns so as to ensure only criminals will have them, and I’m not sure when forks will be next. As with any electronic controls you can always find someone that’s hacked the ECU from some regulated bike or found a way around these dangerous restrictions. The trick is to ride responsibly no matter what horsepower you might have and to find the right (to read safe) spot to let loose. In France they like to tell you that if you get caught after modifying a regulated bike there are fines to pay. The reality is that if you get caught, then you probably did something to attract attention. The trick is not to get caught. I like my modified 200+HP Hayabusa and I intend to keep riding it for a long time. The few speeding tickets I did get came while riding my DR650 because I was obviously an easier catch.
    Just like the venerable NRA there’s power in numbers and bikers should unite to keep these politicians in check. I am confident French bikers will unite to stop these morons when the time comes as they did before when the same idiots tried to up the annual luxury tax on large bikes a few years ago and had to back off.

  • Ricardo

    Agreed, Busaman!

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