From the time as a 14 year old when I used to sneak out in the evening on my step dad’s Raleigh Runabout I have had an interest in riding on two wheels. My parents would be out at the time, but I bet dad was worried about his fuel consumption!

At 16 came graduation to Lambrettas though those bikers with hirsute rear ends wearing greasy leathers would say that it was a sideways move. Since then on and off I have ridden scooters and proper big boys’ bikes. There is something about the thrill, latent danger and ability to weave around the traffic that gives the buzz that all bikers enjoy

The Runabout was of course a 50 cc moped, designed to compete with the NSU Quickly, a German machine which was nicknamed No Sodding Use and the Honda 50. The BSA Bantam was probably the next step up and looked glorious in post office red as ridden by the telegraph boys well before electronic communication and, for many of us telephones, came into being. I guess the most famous bigger bike was the Triumph Bonneville, though Nortons, Vincents, Velocettes Matchless et el had their aficionados well before the Japanese took over. Nowadays apart from the Jap brands, the most widely used bike amongst expats is the Harley-Davidson range of cruisers or tractors as they are referred to by the sports bikers

Biking in Spain

Biking in Spain is quite different to “back home”. There seems to be more kids buzzing around here creating a noisy nuisance (mmm, pot calling the kettle black here Graham!) and the sight of mum, dad, two kids and a dog on a scooter all without helmets is a sight that I will never forget whilst visiting Cadiz. The great advantage here apart from the weather which makes biking all year round a possibility is that the roads are so much softer; this can be the only reason why so many bikers wear only T-shirts, shorts and trainers meaning that when they come off they will not break bones or lose any skin- yeah right

It has only been in the last couple of years that 49 cc bikes had to have an ITV. Bearing in mind that these vehicles are used mostly by kids with little cash to keep the machine up to scratch or old men who have no interest in maintenance it is a surprise that it took so long to introduce the test, but now these have to be inspected every two years along with their more powerful brothers. During the test, the noise levels are measured so I expect this created a few challenges for the noisy lads. Also inspected as you would expect are the brakes, tyres, lights, emissions and general condition such as no oil dripping onto the nice clean floor

Re-registering your wheels

So what about re-registering a bike? The process is similar to that for cars in that the bike should not have any major changes that may make it unacceptable at first inspection. This is where the fun starts as many bikers like to adjust, add or subtract bits to make it more bespoke, provide a more satisfying sound or just look flash. Particular issues that I have dealt with are non-original exhausts, extending the forks and extra lights. A recurring issue is that of Harleys with three headlights. There is no doubt that three headlights balances off the look of the bike really well and a high proportion of Harleys have these fitted, so what’s the problem? The rules state that for a bike, you can have one headlight or two, but not three, so over the years there have been various solutions to this problem depending upon which ITV station was used, who inspected the bike and for all I know whether there was full moon or a particular saint’s day. The issue was resolved by disconnecting the switch to the two side headlamps, taking the bulbs out or more commonly taking the lights off altogether.

Lighting the way

A recent customer visited a Spanish Harley dealer where many of the bikes had three lights and the staff thought there was no problem, so I asked the ITV management to help explain this mystery and eventually the rules were produced which clearly state one or two headlights only. “So” I asked “which of the three headlights on a Harley are acceptable?” The answer given was “any two, as long as one has been removed”. Now this would look odd with one big light and a smaller one on the side, so I asked what if the big light was the dipped light and the other two the high beam would this be acceptable “yes” he said “providing that you have a rocker switch so that either one or two lights only are on”. Now this really was illuminating and may answer why there are so many Harleys around with three lights. Just wonder why neither the ITV staff nor I have come up with this solution before. I must say however that I have yet to put it to the test

Whilst we are talking of lights, there can be no amber running lights and believe it or not, you cannot have extra brake lights though surely this can only make it safer for the rider? Ah well, just do as your are told boy. As with cars any additional parts have to be approved and added to the ITV card which describes the vehicle exactly, so don’t go buying flash pipes made as a one-off

Fancy a two wheeler for popping around to the shops or seeing if you like the idea of biking? Anyone over the age of 18 can ride a125 cc bike without the need for a special licence so long as they are licensed to drive a car, but beware of a short runt with acne and a guilty face on a Raleigh Runabout!