Extract from Motorcycle News - March 29, 2019

Motor insurance Green Cards

The EU are beginning to advise insurance companies to send communications to customers explaining they’ll need a ‘Green Card’ to ride in the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Serbia or Andorra.

What this means, in practice, is that customers will need to contact their insurance providers and let them know of travel plans for going abroad. Frankly, that’s something we’d always advise regardless of Brexit, but it’s worth reinforcing the point that it’s necessary whenever you plan to take your bike abroad. You’ll either be able to get a Green Card by calling, or by filling in an online form.

European breakdown cover

Both the RAC and AA, two of the biggest breakdown cover providers in the UK, have stated that leaving the EU will not affect breakdown cover in Europe.

The only thing that may change is the cost of policies, which could rise as a result of a predicted change in the exchange rate.

European insurance cover

Some motorcycle insurance providers, like Bennetts, provide cover for 90 days per trip with the same level as their customers have in the UK. Bennetts Managing Director, Vince Chaney has moved to assure customers that the level of cover will not be affected. Yet. Whilst other providers have remained more on the fence, meaning there is a chance your european insurance cover (if you have it) could be affected by our decision to leave.

Health Insurance

Unfortunately, if we leave the EU your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) won’t be valid anymore, so you’ll need to get private health insurance to make sure you’ll qualify for healthcare on the continent in the event of illness or injury.

 Driving permits

Depending on the exit-deal, you may need an IDP, latest information regarding this is available on and Post Office sites.

Confusingly, all countries within Europe can decide between three types of IDP – dated 1926, 1949 and 1968 – so you may well need multiple types to complete that big across-europe trip you’ve been planning!

Riders in Lichenstein will require a 1926 IDP, while those travelling in Cyprus, Malta, Iceland and Spain will need a 1949 one.

All the others (including France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany) will require a 1968 IDP.

To get an IDP, you’ve got to visit a Post Office (there’s no way to get one in the post) and not all Post Office branches can issue them. Good news? It’s a quick process, so you can walk in with your driving licence and come out with an IDP five minutes later. Find out where you can get an IDP here. Bad news, the Post Office will relieve you of £5.50 for the privilege!

Visas Required

Once you have acquired the correct IDP/s, green cards and health insurance, the final hurdle concerns the length of time UK bikers would be allowed to continuously travel around Europe.

Without a Visa, UK bikers would be able to stay in Europe for potentially 90-days before a Visa is required, however, the actual number of days is yet to be confirmed.

Raymond John Pye


11-April-1947 to 4-January-2018

You will have known him as “Ray”; as one of “The Three Amigos”; or “That bloke on the Blue Harley”.

Those of you at the C19 Christmas meal on December 2, 2017 will have seen Ray at his best; smartly dressed; enjoying the good company and the meal; apparently in good health.  He spent Christmas at home with his family and all seemed well.  Early in the new year he fell victim to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties, and passed away.

 Thursday February 8, 2018 was his funeral at Southend Crematorium, followed by a wake at Ekco Sports and Social Club, also in Southend.  Four bikes from C19 followed the hearse from Rayleigh to Southend.

 Here are two pictures from a collage in the order of service.

The way you pay the Dartford Crossing charge has changed.

Motorcycles continue to be free, but for cars it will be £2.50  for a one-off payment or £1.67 if you have an account and pre-pay.  The crossing will be free for all vehicles between 22:00 and 06:00 each day.

Dart Charge — the new remote payment system being introduced November 30, 2014 will reduce congestion and ease traffic flow at the Crossing. The Dart Tag system will end.  If you currently have a DART-Tag it will be easy for you to move to a new Dart Charge account.

Please ensure the contact information on your account is up to date because you will be contacted with further information about how to move to the new account shortly.

Current DART-Tag holders will not lose any credit from their existing accounts and any remaining funds will either be transferred or refunded, as appropriate.

Once Dart Charge has been introduced, it will no longer be possible to pay the charge at a barrier as you use the Crossing. Instead, you will need to pay in advance of crossing or by midnight the following day. You will be able to pay in several ways, including; online, by phone, at one of many payzone retail outlets, or by post.

You’ll be sent a Penalty Charge Notice if you don’t pay by midnight on the day after you made your crossing.

The penalty charge is £70 and must be paid within 28 days. It’s reduced to £35 if you pay within 14 days and increased to £105 if you don’t pay. You also have to pay the crossing charge.

After the introduction of Dart Charge, there will be road works at the Crossing to remove the booths and introduce a new road layout.  This work is due to be completed in spring 2015.

You can find more information and subscribe to receive up dates on the introduction of  Dart Charge at:



The French government confirmed that from 1 July 2012 drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyzer.  The regulation was to be enforced from 1 November 2012 and anyone stopped after that date who failed to produce a breathalyzer when requested would receive an on the spot fine of €11.  

October 2012 - the French government announced that the implementation of the sanction (€11 fine) for drivers not carrying a breathalyzer had been postponed from 1 November 2012 to 1 March 2013.

January 2013 - the French government announced that the implementation of the sanction for drivers not carrying a breathalyser has been postponed indefinitely.  So theoretically you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyzer when driving in France but there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance.

The original official announcement stated that one unused, certified breathalyzer must be produced showing the French certification mark NF.  Carrying two single-use breathalyzers will ensure that if one is used or damaged, you will still have a spare to produce.  The breathalyzer produced has to be in date - single-use breathalyzers normally have a validity of around twelve months and are available on e-Bay.

Reflective clothing for motorcyclists

January 2012 - the French government announced that from 1 January 2013 all drivers and passengers of a motorcycle over 125cc or a motor tricycle over 15 KW/h must wear reflective clothing when riding their vehicles and in the event of an emergency stop/breakdown.  

January 2013 - the French government announced that the law that made reflective clothing compulsory for motorcycle riders and passengers in France from 1 January has been abolished.

SatNav and speed camera alerts

Since 3 January 2012 French laws have prohibited drivers from carrying any device capable of detecting speed cameras.  This includes not just radar detectors but also products or devices able to warn or inform of the location of speed cameras e.g. SatNav or GPS systems capable of showing speed camera sites as Points of Interest.

The law is primarily aimed at speed camera detectors and SatNav.  It is unlikely that the French police will turn their attention to atlases showing fixed camera locations but there is no guarantee this would be the case.

As well as the ban on warning devices, the French government is installing around 400 new, unsigned, fixed speed cameras as well as taking down alll signs indicating the location of existing camera sites.

If you have a SatNav capable of displaying French camera locations in France then you must at least disable camera alerts.  Contact the manufacturer for advice as a software or database update is likely to be available that will remove camera data for France from the device.

Crash Helmets

This area has suffered from conflicting advice; for some time Moto-Guzzi and Harley Owners Group forums took the view that the law was only for French riders, not visitors from other EU countries.

The French law followed a UN directive in 2000 that member countries must pass legislation making crash helmets mandatory for all motorcyclists.  The directive also proposed a voluntary requirement to attach reflecting stickers to the helmet.  France was the only country to sign up to this addition.  It is mandated in France that all helmets must carry these stickers, and that any helmet not carrying them is considered not homologated.

All new “French” helmets must have four reflective stickers: one on the front, one at the rear and one on each side.  The surface of each sticker must be 18 cm2 and, within each sticker, you must be able to draw a 40 mm diameter circle, or a 12.50 cm2 rectangle with a minimum of 20 mm length.  When you buy a new helmet in France, compliant stickers come with it; however, it is your responsibility to correctly stick them on your helmet.  There also a requirement that the stickers should not be removable without damaging the helmet and must remain reflective over time.  They must also be water resistant and not interfere with the opening and closing mechanism of the helmet (if applicable).

On a Travel Forum – Horizons Unlimited – there are postings by “Pongo”

 There have been some concerned questions about whether this law effects visiting riders, so in his capacity as legal moderator on a French based English speaking biker forum, he asked the question to the FFMC (Federation Francaise de Motards en Colere).  Their legal coordinator wrote back to Pongo to confirm that France does apply this law to all riders in and visiting France, although to their knowledge no visiting rider has yet been cautioned or fined.

The reason this is relevant now is that since the scrapping of the reflective clothing law at the beginning of 2013, the Parisian Gendarmerie have been very active with the Helmet homologation requirements, and helmets not considered correct (i.e. without stickers) can get you a €135 on the spot fine.

I f you intend to visit France on motorized two or three wheels, you must by law enter France with compliant reflective stickers on your helmet.  It is entirely your choice whether you do or not, but if a “jobs-worth” French policeman pulls you over for another offence he may take umbrage and charge you for a non-homologated helmet.  The chance of being pulled over just for the lack of reflective helmet stickers would appear fairly remote away from Paris .

Stickers are available, in sets of four, in a variety of colours and shapes on e-Bay.

 In France you must have with you, or on your motorcycle:

Original registration document                     Motor vehicle insurance certificate

MoT pass certificate if appropriate             Passport

Full Driving Licence (not provisional)

GB sticker - unless your UK registration plate displays the GB Euro-symbol

You must

Ride with your headlight on at all times and wear a crash helmet

Bob Owen  

London & Essex Auto Electrics

Here is a link to a local company that specialises in re-building alternators and starter motors (they also supply new batteries).  They do both car and motorcycle items.  Some parts are available on an "off the shelf" exchange basis and others can be a refurbishment of your own old item.

We are now registered as a club with Opie Oils, see their website for good deals on all lubricants


Here is a link for a web site with all sorts of goodies including the pin badge holders that lock on to the pin badge and prevent them falling off.



Unwitting motorists face £1,000 fines as thousands of photo card driving licenses expire. Thousands of motorists are at risk of being fined up to £1,000 because they are unwittingly driving without a valid license.

They risk prosecution after failing to spot the extremely small print on their photo card license which says it a automatically expires after 10 years and has to be renewed - even though drivers are licensed to drive until the age of 70.

The fiasco has come to light a decade after the first batch of photo licenses was issued in July 1998, just as the they start to expire.

Motoring organisations blamed the Government for the fiasco and said 'most' drivers believed their licenses were for life. 

They said officials had failed to
publicize sufficiently the fact that new-style licenses - unlike the old paper ones - expire after a set period and have to be renewed.

To rub salt into wounds, drivers will have to a pay £17.50 to renew their card - a charge which critics have condemned as a 'stealth tax' and which will earn the Treasury an estimated £437million over 25 years.

Official DVLA figures reveal that while 16,136 expired this summer
(2011), so far only 11,566 drivers have renewed, leaving 4,570 outstanding.

With another 300,000 photo card licenses due to expire over the coming year, experts fear the number of invalid licenses will soar, putting thousands more drivers in breach of the law and at risk of a fine.

At the heart of the confusion is the small print on the tiny credit-card-size photo license, which is used in conjunction with the paper version.

Just below the driver name on the front of the photo card license is a series of dates and details - each one numbered.

Number 4b features a date in tiny writing, but no explicit explanation as to what it means.

The date's significance is only explained if the driver turns over the card and reads the key on the back which states that '4b' means 'license valid to'.

Even more confusingly, an adjacent table on the rear of the card sets out how long the driver is registered to hold a license - that is until his or her 70th birthday.

A total of 25million new-style licenses have been issued but - motoring experts say - drivers were never sufficiently warned they would expire after 10 years.

Motorists who fail to renew their licenses in time are allowed to continue driving. But the DVLA says they could be charged with 'failing to surrender their license', an offence carrying a £1,000 fine.

AA president, Edmund King said: 'It is not generally known that photo card licenses expire: there appears to be a lack of information that people will have to renew these licenses.

'People think they have already paid them for once over and that is it.

'It will come as a surprise to motorists and a shock that they have to pay an extra £17.50.'

 Woodford Motorcycles

There is a link on the 'Links' page for Woodford Motorcycles, they are a Yamaha dealer, and have given us some goodies for our rally. They have also offered a 10% discount on parts, servicing and repairs to VSOC members on production of a valid membership card. The shop owners name is Keiron, and he is looking forward to seeing us.