It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone involved in the world of motocross, enduro, quad biking or off road motorsport in general that bike theft is becoming worryingly and increasingly endemic. Not only are bikes being stolen from private properties but also, and perhaps more disturbingly, from race meetings and practice tracks. As motocross racers we have, in the past, been victims of bike theft ourselves and, operating an off road bike shop as we do, we hear of such thefts on an almost daily basis.
You can chain up your bike and alarm your garage but the inherent problem with off road bikes is that they can and do change hands with often no more than a handshake and a wad of notes. They need no form of taxing or testing and require no paperwork showing ownership, frame/engine number etc.
We now voluntarily register our off road bikes with the DVLA so that all our own personal bikes AND those that are sold through our shop come with a V5. Obtaining a V5 for an off road vehicle is free and relatively simple but yet it seems that the majority of owners of off road vehicle are either unaware that it is possible to get a V5 for their bike or simply too apathetic to bother.
Being “in the business” we encourage our customers to register their bikes with the DVLA and we even keep a stock of V55/5 forms in our shop for them. We would like to see every off road bike carry a V5 such that a bike cannot change hands without one. We strongly believe that all off road bike manufacturers should be selling new bikes with a V5 and that all secondhand bike dealers should be registering their stock of off road bikes with the DVLA. Those at the forefront of bike sales that can help to kick start this initiative because a bike needs registering only once in its life.
BUT, we cannot do this alone. We want the sport’s governing bodies, the ACU, AMCA, BSMA, ORPA, SACU etc to be more proactive than they presently are in helping to combat bike theft. In fact, we believe it is their duty. We therefore suggest that it become a requirement that a bike’s V5 be presented and checked against the bike at scrutineering/signing on at race and practice meetings. No V5, no ride. Obviously this cannot be implemented overnight but we suggest that such a requirement be in place for the start of the 2014 season, giving people plenty of time to obtain a V5 for their bike(s). To encourage this to happen sooner rather than later we suggest that clubs levy an entry surcharge at their meetings this year if no V5 can be produced.
It will no doubt be argued that a piece of paper will not prevent a bike from being stolen but the fact is that bikes are stolen for financial gain on the part of the thief and without a V5 it will far harder to shift on the stolen goods for hard cash.
We are writing to all of the off road sport’s governing bodies to request their urgent consideration of our motion and hope that the sport’s press will also get on board with their support because something has to be done to combat bike theft and preferably NOW, not later.