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Police admit wrong fine on handlebars

MRAQ president Chris Mearns - learner riders
MRAQ president Chris Mearns

Police have been incorrectly fining riders for wide handlebars, unaware the Australian Design Rules increased the maximum width in December 2015 from 900mm to 1100mm.

Caboolture rider Dean Brown has had his fine waived by the Deception Bay police, but Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns knows of four other incorrect infringement notices and believes many more throughout the nation may also have copped wrong fines.

Dean Brown’s Harley-Davidson CVO Breakout

“For years police have loved this handlebar rule and have been using it as a target, particularly for cruiser riders,” says Chris who recommends fined riders do not pay, but question their fine.

He is also calling on police to refund incorrect fines and return any demerit points for fines on wide handlebars since December.

“In December 2015, ADR 57 was revised, but there has been very little communication of that revision,” he says.

“It is now apparent that the police do not even know it has been revised.”

A Transport and Main Roads Department notice states: “Approved Persons and AIS will no longer be notified about changes to the vehicle standards by post. It is the responsibility of each Approved Person and AIS to check this webpage regularly and ensure they are familiar with any changes that may affect them and the function they perform.”

Chris is calling on transport departments to continue notifying police of any changes such as the handlebars ruling.

“The average motorcycle rider has no chance of knowing all the rules,” he says. There is no communication to the average Joe of an ADR change.”

He believes Harley-Davidson, Victory and Indian lobbied for the change because they build motorcycles with standard bars that are wider than the previous maximum.

Americans love their wide handlebars
Americans love their wide handlebars

The change in handlebar rules also meant the maximum motorcycle vehicle width was changed from 1m to 1.1m. However, there is no change to the height which is limited to 380mm from the lowest part of the handlebar grip to the top of the seat.

Chris says the problem goes deeper because there are three documents affecting vehicle standards: ADR, the Road Management Act (vehicle standards) in each state and the National Code of Practice for Vehicle Construction.

“In all three documents there are particular things that do not match,” he says.

“One example is mirrors. In all three they are different in size configuration.

“If you go to the National Code of Practice for light vehicle construction and search for mirrors on motorcycles, the size stipulated is almost as big as the mirrors on a Ford Territory.

“But there are other examples, so we obviously have a problem with laws and standards that get tied together that don’t match because of mismatched and badly written legislation.”

Nothing new about wide handlebars
There’s nothing new about wide handlebars

  1. The reality is that the wider your handle bars, the greater is the steering leverage. If anything there should be a law against handle bars being too narrow – not too wide. This again highlights how ignorant police are about motorcycle safety. There is nothing dangerous about riding a bike with wide handle bars. So? The Standards setters applied an arbitrary width in the design rules? That’s all this was – they had to choose a recommended width for design purposes – nothing to do with safety. It could only have been as a Standardisation measure.

    If anything it things like this which destroy my faith in the ability of the police to make life safer for motorcycle riders. That’s the saddest thing about stories like this. Just because there is a law they think they must enforce it – without any reference to the safety or sensibility of that law.

    1. Its a motorcycle. They are turned by counter steering and leaning. The only things that would need leverage are a trike or a sidecar.

    2. John, the police don’t make the law, politicians do. Admittedly some police do take the matters into their own hands and give all coppers a bad name but most are doing a job that not many of us would care to do. I’m not a copper nor related to one. Just thought I would correct a perception that is wrong.

      Blame foolish pollies not coppers

  2. Actually if the bike has to have half a meter lever to turn it might need a redesign due to being unsafe in an emergency and having to move 300mm+ to do tight turns.

  3. The legalities of riding a motorcycle keep getting more complicated. Geez, helmet standards, exhaust standards and now handlebar standards, all thanks to multiple bureaucracies allegedly acting to save us from ourselves.
    When government departments set competing or contradictory Codes of Practice, Design Rules, standards, regulations or even guidelines, just who is supposed to enforce them? The long arm of the road tax department using the motto “If in doubt, issue a fine. Let the courts sort it out”. It is much easier to fine an individual than it is to tackle a collection faceless taxpayer-funded bureacracies. The individual motorcyclict generally has much less means to fight back with, a concept that every taxpayer-funded Public Prosecutor would try to use to their own advantage.
    Of course there is the occasional win that we motorcyclists can crow about. But for every win there may be 10 or 100 losses that we don’t hear about. Winning a battle is not winning the war.

    When American bikes were being imported before December 2015, were they sold new in Australia with narrower ADR57 compliant handlebars?

    Wasn’t there an issue some years ago with the ADR legality of Ducati 916 headlights where one lens was for lowbeam and the other separate lens for highbeam, neither being on the centreline? If so, how did that get sorted out? Retrospective rule changes?

  4. giving back demerit points –id like to see that–not a chance -they gotta have a small victory of a sorts just to save face

  5. i think you will find the information on handlebar
    height is incorrect ,they changed measurements to be
    from the top triple tree to top of handlebars some
    time ago because many modern cruisers had become
    non compliant. If they can change the legal width
    of handlebars at the request of a manufacturer.
    it does make you wonder how they came up with
    90cm in the first place. I was going to say no one
    would be stupid enough to put on bars they can’t
    reach. But i do see a few “shorties” out there who
    look like the just pinched the bike off their big brother

    1. Hi Paul,
      This is from ADR
      “The height of the lowest part of the handgrip above the lowest part of the upper surface of the driver’s seat must not exceed 380 mm.”

      1. Hello Mark i just looked it up you are correct post 1988
        I am correct pre-1988 I presume this includes machines built
        pre ADR?
        regards paul

  6. Some of the accessories I’ve seen for the cruiser and chopper crowd on eBay make me wonder if everyone who owns one has a death wish?
    Bar ends that are like spear heads and iron crosses are just a couple out of the dozens of things that if you were stupid enough to fit to a bike you’d deserve to be hassled by the police and be booked for every thing they can think of.
    I suspect that the ADR regarding handle bars is not there fore any real requirement other than keeping morons from being themselves.

  7. Police and politicians both have input into road laws, but neither group should have any say in the laws. Only the roads departments in each state should have input into road laws. They are the experts. The police are experts in how to bully and raise taxes for their hitlerite masters, and the politicians respond to the international bank cartel.

  8. Jim, in Australia, police are making the law. They have been writing Leglislation for years. This is a conflict of interest, a huge conflict of interest.

    Polititions do not pass any Law legitimately any more. With each state and federal government change or leadership change, the number of legislation that has been past verses sitting days of parlement, indicate that the previous Westminster procedure for passing legislation, clearly is not happening.

    This makes all law nul & void.

    The elected polititions (Ha ha), in Australia, where it is mandatory to go to the polling booth on voting day, (like is is in North Korea), and have party officials handing people forms on how to vote for them, (highly suspect, but legal in the land of CONVICTS), means that the people DO NOT elect their polititions at all.

    Here, the Law is what the police say it is, and here you are and can be fined, heald, arrested, go to prison for ignoring police policy, never mind breaking the Law.

    Every now and again I have to honestly check if I live in Australia or NorthKorea.

  9. If a police officer chooses to issue a fine he should also be obliged to be up to date with those relevant laws. It’s not up to the driver or rider to disprove the valdity of the fine..the onus is on the officer to prove the breach of the law.

  10. What is the best way to stop a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic coming to a red light with a rider on it what are To does and fonts that you should not do and what is the passenger do and not do so the Bike does not fall over when stopping!

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