Motorbike loophole closed

The long-standing loophole allowing learner motorcyclists to buy machines capable of speeds of more than 160km/h, closes next month.


From October 1 novice motorcycle riders will face a power-to-weight restriction, which replaces the current outdated engine size limit of 250cc.

The new rating system known as the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS) determines appropriate motorcycles for novices, based on the overall performance capability of the motorcycle.

Currently motorcycle riders on learner and restricted class six licences can buy any motorbike with a 250cc engine or less – including the racers which are now denied to learners under the new scheme.

From 1 October learner and restricted motorcycle riders will have two categories of motorcycles to choose from: LAMS-approved and LAMS-prohibited.

LAMS-approved motorcycles are determined by a maximum power-to-weight ratio of 150 kilowatts per tonne. The power is that specified by the manufacturer and the weight is the weight specified by the manufacturer, plus 90kgs for the rider and riding gear, and an upper engine capacity limit of 660cc.

LAMS prohibited bikes now denied to learners are: Aprilia RS250, Honda NSR250 (all models and variants); Kawasaki KR1 (all models and variants including KR250); Suzuki RGV250 (all models and variants); Yamaha TZR250 (all models and variants).

Learner or restricted licence holders, who currently ride one of these 250cc bikes, will have the option to apply to the NZTA for an exemption, which may permit them to continue to legally ride their bikes after October 1.

All other motorcycles and scooters with an engine capacity of 250cc or under are automatically approved. The lists will be updated as new models are approved by the NZTA.

 Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges says motorcyclists are 20 times more at risk of dying or suffering serious injury than car drivers over the same distance travelled.

“In the past ten years 370 motorcyclists have been killed and more than 10,000 have been injured on New Zealand roads, and annual motorcycle casualties have increased by 58 per cent.  These measures, in addition to those introduced last year, will help motorcyclists begin their riding careers safely.”

From 1 October all motorcyclists, regardless of age, will to be subject to the same minimum time requirements at the restricted licence stage.  Currently, riders aged over 25 have a shorter time requirement on the restricted licence before they can progress to a full licence.

The option for motorcyclists to complete an approved driving course such as Defensive Driving, to reduce their time on a restricted motorcycle licence will be removed. 

And from November 1 the basic handling skills test is strengthened, to ensure riders have a higher level of basic skills required to ride on the road than the current test provides.

In addition, NZTA expects to introduce a new competency-based training and assessment option for novice motorcyclists in late 2013, as an alternative path through the licensing stages.


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