The death of motorcycles in Singapore

People come to this blog daily to read about riding motorcycles in Singapore, or how to maintain their two wheelers. Thank you for being a reader, but I am afraid this may be my very last post on motorcycles.

You see, motorcycles are systematically being wiped out in Singapore by policymakers. Very soon, there will be little to write about the joy of motorcycling here.

From meager motorcycle quota allocations to $6,000 Certificate of Entitlements that cost more than small capacity motorcycles, SG riders have had to endure all sorts of transport policies that hint persistently that bikes are not really desired on our streets.

This week, the final nail in the coffin came when it was announced that there would be a new three-tier taxation regime imposed on motorcycles. Already, new large-capacity bike prices are increasing by up to an additional $27,000 (or the price of a brand new 1000cc Japanese sports naked)

Here’s a quick cut and paste from Asiaone on how it works and some 2016 statistics :

All motorcycles currently incur a flat ARF (Additional Registration Fee) of 15 per cent of their open market value (OMV).

Under the new system, while the ARF for motorbikes with an OMV of up to $5,000 will remain at 15 per cent, the next $5,000 will incur an ARF rate of 50 per cent. The remaining OMV of above $10,000 will have an ARF rate of 100 per cent .

Of the 8,355 newly registered motorcycles here last year, 63 per cent had an OMV of $5,000 and below.

Those with an OMV of between $5,000 and $10,000 made up 19 per cent, while those with an OMV of above $10,000 made up 18 per cent – or about 1,500 – of all newly registered motorcycles here.

(Update 6 Mar 2017 : LTA has begun publishing the average OMV prices on the Onemotoring site. See Jan 2017 figures here. From this chart, you can straightaway see that many Class 2 commuter bikes (eg. Honda 750cc models) have OMVs between $5000 and $10,000, while Class 2 sport or touring bikes are naturally above that. Even the standard naked Honda Super 4 is hit by the ARF hike, albeit by $1200+. ) 

So while the rest of my social media feed (filled with biker friends) went nuts and shook their fists at the government, I was kept busy with work until today when I found some free time to do the sums.

The maths question for me was – How much will this new ARF tax really add to the government coffers?

If you read all the news stories on this change, I don’t think the government actually said the additional tax is to manage congestion like the COE. Instead, they just said something like “oh, there are bike owners who pay the same OMV as cars, so we’ll tax them more.”

In essence, this is a luxury tax. I thought – this had better be worth all the trouble with new system implementations, so we can have more sheltered walkways, nice parks and anti-diabetes campaigns if lots of revenue can be generated from “wealthy” bikers.

Now back to the sums.

Assuming next year, the number of motorcycles purchased will be the same as 2016 (8,355 bikes), and the mix of vehicles remain exactly the same, I also assumed average OMVs to be $7,500 and $15,000 for the two classes of bikes that will be taxed more.

Total additional tax revenue came up to $13.3M.

Then I assumed a more realistic Scenario B – less bikes get sold overall, more people buy a bike with OMVs between $5-10K, and less people buy high-end bikes. And say maybe people who do buy high-end bikes spend even more money (since they must be loaded), so average OMV goes up to $20K.

Total additional tax revenue came up to $16.8M.

Hmm, that can’t be right, that’s a little low, I thought.

So I did my sums a few more times. I even went into the LTA Onemotoring site to check vehicle registration and COE statistics and calculated a few other ways.

This is the after-effect of working in Microsoft where everything needs to be calculated before we debate it. The sum still came up to about $12M with my alternative formulas. So let’s stick to $16.8M.

Now do you know how much $16.8M matters in the overall scheme of vehicle taxation? It’s a numerical rounding error.

According to this Business Times article, the government expects to collect $9.2 billion in car taxes in FY2017, including COE.

WITH more certificates of entitlement (COEs) available, the government expects to collect an additional S$76 million in car taxes and COE premiums over 12 months from April.

In the Budget for FY2017, it is estimated that a total of S$9.247 billion in motor vehicle taxes and vehicle quota premiums will be forthcoming – up 0.8 per cent from S$9.171 billion in FY2016, which closes at the end of next month.

The additional motorcycle tax (that I calculated) would amount to 0.18% of the total $9.2B tax collected. Yes, not even half a percent. We should spend all our time courting car owners instead right? 

But wait!

The additional motorcycle tax would amount to 22% of the additional $76M tax collected. That’s not too bad, said my Excel worksheet.

So from a totally emotionless perspective of a civil service bean counter, the additional motorcycle ARF tax does move the needle for the powers-that-be. The maths answer is positive, there is a significant outcome, thus it should be passed into law.  And it did.

How should I feel about this?

Well, there really is no point arguing, especially with a policy that benefits the “greater good” with somewhat more government moolah to spend on nation-building.

(Trivia : My assumption of $16.8M additional tax can be spent on organizing four sessions of Singapore Days to coax our diaspora to come home from overseas and reduce the constant brain drain. Or maybe even convince a few hundred more fertile couples to have babies.)

I’ve lived 40 years in this country, and I’m used to this sense of helplessness in the world’s most expensive city. The only time anyone in power really gets worried about your opinion is when they are about to lose electoral votes, and the next General Election is three years away.

Furthermore, the Land Transport Authority has not bothered much about the policy protests of motorcyclists, since we represent little more than the minority riff-raff on noisy tiny vehicles which get into fatal accidents all the time.  So why not just silence this minority group with the usual Singapore method of making things more expensive?

I could go on and on about how larger, more expensive motorcycles are safer (better brakes and stability), how we don’t add to congestion, how we actually ride/drive more safely and skillfully than most people (since we’re not already dead from reckless riding) and how nice the wind feels blasting across your face and shoulders. But I will stop at this one paragraph.

Where the government policies are made, nobody really worries about motorcycles and their owners. They’ve probably never ridden a motorcycle before. They’ve never stepped into a nice, friendly motorcycle showroom, of which there will be less in existence next year.

I don’t know how many ministers can ride a motorcycle, but I have not seen any of them do so before. I don’t see them taking public transport very much either.

So perhaps they may just regard protests about broken-down trains and unaffordable motorcycles as temporary inconveniences, it’ll blow over with time, folks. People get used to it, let’s move on.

And to be honest, it’s not even about the ministers, but their busy subordinates who come up with these proposals because they may have said, “Sir, it’ll add a fifth to additional tax revenue, sounds good? Just sign here please. We’ll update the media and website tomorrow.”

In addition, most of your friends and families will tell you it’s a good thing, since “Motorcycles are so dangerous! Don’t ride ah, boy! Waste money and probably lose your life tomorrow! Don’t you dare!”

This is no country for bikers

Bikers, like most people, believe that the world should revolve around them. Wake up people, look at how your environment has changed.

Salesmen pitching overpriced condos, restaurants selling expensive dishes, young people often suckered into drinking $6 sweetened water daily, and an economy that wants you to keep spending on useless material goods so retail doesn’t go out of business and tourists keep coming.

What did you say – pay “just” $20K and you can own a vehicle that can accelerate faster than almost every $1M supercar from the stop line? Preposterous! They ought to be more expensive! 

The rich will continue to buy expensive motorcycles, they always have, and they are but a small handful. (These taxes mean little to them).

And the rich will be satiated if these high-end motorcycles will still imported into the country as demand plunges from the rest of the population grappling with increasing medical insurance costs and disruption to the traditional industries.

How about the smaller bikes? Few of us experienced riders believe that motorcycles COEs will drop further and allow more low-end bikes on the road, and frankly, you shouldn’t be riding those unsafe thin-wheeled bikes if you can afford better. They are involved in the majority of bike accidents here partly due to recklessness, partly due to lack of braking power and stability.

(Update 15 Mar : The motorcycle COE has gone up to a record high of $7,483, up about 10% from the previous $6,801. This is the first time it has breached seven grand. So much for ARF tax hike reducing COE prices.)

Myself? To be honest, I have enough savings to afford the tax hike (I’ve worked pretty hard for a long time, folks) if I really want to buy a new bike, but I’m now hugging my Ducati Monster 1200S a little tighter for the next 7 years until the COE expires. Its price has gone up from $38K in 2014 to $53K this week. All because of some civil servant cutting and pasting Excel cells.

It really makes me sad when so many more younger bikers can no longer experience the joy of riding true engineering and aesthetic marvels because the country wants to tax every “luxury” item they deem to be toys of rich people. Or when older riders cannot upgrade to their dream machines they’ve already saved up years for.

The message to bikers is clear : Let them eat cake and ride their cheap-not-cheap kup chais or rattling second-hand 125ccs instead until they’re sent to the scrapyard.

People don’t ponder about the things they don’t know.

Most bikers aren’t rich, but why should you worry for them?

Some motorcycle dealer jobs will be lost, who will shed a tear for them?

The inevitable death of motorcycles in Singapore will also forgotten by the masses, like the faintly disappearing wail of our exhaust pipes.

47 Replies to “The death of motorcycles in Singapore”

  1. Hi Ian,
    It’s certainly a sad time for the future of motorcycling in this country.
    The policy makers here don’t understand motorcycles or motorcyclists and obviously didn’t take into account their views or thoughts on the matter of increasing costs for them to enjoy what in most countries is considered an affordable hobbie and pass time.
    Frankly this to me shows a desperate need on the part of these bureaucrats to find any available avenue to screw more money out of the system with no regard whatsoever for the people concerned.
    Swallow the bitter pill and move on, make any noise and it falls on deaf ears anyway.
    Fortunately like you I still have a bike to enjoy but I don’t look forward to the renewal of my COE or purchasing a new bike at twice the OMV value. All of which are forms of additional taxation.
    Until these policy makers change this trend will continue but how long Singapore can sustain this type of behaviour is a matter to be seen and only time will tell, 5 years or 10 years or 15 years before it all starts caving in, I’m not sure.
    To all my fellow bikers – keep the rubber on the downside and enjoy the upside of riding while you still can.

    1. Singapore is a disastrous country. Taxapore. Truly the one party rulers show what happens when citizens have no voice. Ballooning the population by 40pct over 15 years, public transportation stuffed to the gills, expensive housing, expensive everything … truly this country will collapse. All this crap about nation building now, 6pct growth ad infinitum, consume all the land to build your sim city, next will be underground cities , look to the future where the government will tax the citizens to have a sky view apartment. There is no freedom in Singapore. They tax the beach; they tax the roads; they tax the water; they tax the income; tax the cars; tax the motorcycles; VAT sales tax; food and hotel service tax when there is no service; and they find pride in the hawker stands which are overrun with roaches, rats, a petri dish of proliferating bacteria, where the tables are wiped with the same rag all day, and the flies have free reign, the food putrifies because no refrigeration exists …. and the country find pride in these places. “The country is affordable because you can buy a 3 SGD chicken rice at the hawker stands” one hears … does anyone recognize squalor? One good thing is The CPF … But all in all, the country is a disaster, a true disaster, and enjoy the future where the nation building turns subterranean. It is no wonder Singaporeans want no children.

      1. You are no further from the truth. I’m feeling shit right now. And i don’t know where to go once I start working. Everyone I know is here in Singapore. :”(

    2. Gosh, this article really sounds like it’s coming from another hard-working, rich, successful person ( good on you, I am honestly happy for your success ) griping about being taxed for luxury items.

      Get off your high horse, buy a cheaper Taiwanese scooter like the rest of us and stop complaining. Nothing wrong with being successful. But if you are griping about the price of a DUCATI, you have no sympathy from me. If you are griping about paying for a Cub for your business to feed your family, I will hear you, and feel for you.

      If u want a DUCATI, stop exploiting the loophole and PAY for it. Remember, it’s not the government, it’s you against me as I am part of the “market” and may be bidding for it as well. ( I’m not, but others are ). So if I am willing to pay $50k for it, you need to pay $50,001 for it to win your “right” over mine.

      Ken

      1. Hi Ken,

        Thanks for your comments, I was waiting for someone to say such things so I can say the following:

        1. This article isn’t me asking for sympathy, never did. I wanted a Ducati, I saved up for it, and I bought one and I’m really happy riding it when I can.

        2. This article is me speaking up for other bikers who cannot stomach the tax hike and laying out the situation as I see it. How many bikers do you see writing a blog in Singapore? Or perhaps fellow bikers should shut up when their community is being penalized unfairly?

        3. I don’t recommend small bikes to my readers because of their weak brakes and lesser stability. This new tax penalizes people looking for safer bikes too, not just luxury bikes. What loophole are you talking about?

        4. Do try a Ducati one day, it’s quite an experience. You can get one second-hand if you have a Class 2 licence, you don’t need to buy new and pay this new luxury tax which you seem to agree with.

        5. Learn how to bring your points across more politely, especially on my turf where I pay for the server fees. I allow your comment to appear only because I choose to.

        Ian

      2. Hey Ken,

        If you think the new tax is going to benefit us as small bike riders, you are grievously mistaken. But in maybe 5 or 10 years when you have dreams of (and hopefully enough money to) buying a bigger bike, the G will still be taxing you.

        I don’t need your sympathy, but later when you realise that the G is giving you no benefits in exchange for the ability to tax you in the future, don’t come looking for mine.

      3. Hi Ken

        Allow me to address your post.

        “another hard-working, rich, successful person”
        — Please provide evidence of your conclusions. Otherwise, refrain from jumping to them and/or projecting your biases onto people.

        “stop complaining”
        — Aren’t YOU complaining about him complaining? #doublestandards

        “you have no sympathy from me”
        — No one is asking for your sympathy. You may keep it.

        “If u want a DUCATI, stop exploiting the loophole and PAY for it.”
        — He DID pay for it. Under the previous ARF rule, ARF is levied at 15% of the OMV of a bike. (Check your facts.) Therefore, he DID pay higher ARF on his Ducati than the lower ARF on ” a cheaper Taiwanese scooter like the rest of us”.

        “it’s not the government”
        — It IS the gov that enacted the COE and the ARF. The “market” did not enact those.

        ” it’s you against me as I am part of the “market” and may be bidding for it”
        — Are you confusing COE with ARF? COE is bidded for. ARF is not.

        End.

      4. You bid for the COE, not the ARF. Are you that daft? It’s not a competitive market when it comes to increased taxes since everyone suffers.

        The point is that people who may have wanted to get bigger, and by extension, SAFER, bikes are now going to be largely priced out of their affordable range. The rich are unaffected since a paltry increase of $20k for a 1000c is nothing to them. Well, how about working professionals like me who toil for our few-thousand a month salary? Just because I wanted to get a bigger bike does not make me rich or even classify this as a “luxury”.

  2. Well written as ever Ian. The government luxury tax reasoning is a wholly unpersuasive. Apart from the low revenue yield as you correctly pointed out, it also begs the question: why not tier-tax the wealthy other more obvious luxury items, like erm … fine dining, subscriptions on club memberships, high street branded items etc. Also it’s baffling the MOT treats all motorbikes above $5,000 OMV a luxury. Never knew MOT considered Super 4 a luxury bike man … Did the government ever consult bikers or conduct proper research before formulating public policy? What happened to all the boasts on being consultative and citizen-centric ? Didn’t they know that the vast majority of folks who ride big bike do so for safety and stability reasons? I upgraded my license to Class 2a & 2 because I pillion family members fairly regularly. A bigger bike means a safer ride, period. As any number scooterists and kup kia riders who had self-skidded on wet roads and they will testify to the dangers of tiny tired motorcycles. Ask any number of car drivers which has greater visibility on the road – sub-$5k OMV bike or a Class 2/2a bike. No doubt there is some luxury element in owning a big bike – but is that really a Budget-level issue? Does that in itself justify such high tax increases? Surely the government must realise the low to mid income groups form the vast majority of the biker population. A good proportion of those bikers will never be able to afford car ownership, or other luxuries ministers and senior civil servants are accustomed to. For these bikers, a nice motorbike represents a lifelong aspiration, their slice of affordable indulgence or attainable luxury. I once met a fellow biker who works as a despatch rider. He saved up many years to buy a Triumph Tiger. I asked him why, as the bike wasn’t cheap. “It’s my dream bike. I’ve always wanted it since young.” he replied honestly. Suddenly I then understood that beyond the price tag of the Triumph Tiger, the bike represented a significant point of arrival in life for him. It dignified his existence and delivers not just machine and bolts, but the pride, joy and satisfaction of working hard and reaching a life goal. I fear this is what the taxman has miscalculated – that with a few flicks of the abacus, the simple dreams of thousands within an already economically disenfranchised community will be unsensitively snuffed out. Finally, I’d like to challenge our ministers and civil servants to do this: will you convert all your cars to weekend cars during your term of office and live like the people you serve? Get to know and use our world class public transport. If that’s too unreliable, use taxis or Uber once in a while. If the traffic and wait gets to you, try commuting by bicycle. And if you narrowly avoided getting killed on a bicycle and want something safer, how about taking motorbike lessons for a change? Maybe then, somewhere in between the S-course and the plank, you might receive an epihany that perhaps, you need to slow down, don’t look down on bikers but to look far and make sure you balance well before throttling off your next vehicle policy.

    1. Ian answered it already

      Ministers don’t ride bikes but they do spend on fine dining and other expensive stuff that ministers buy

  3. Brother…. ur article put tears to my eyes.
    This helpless feeling I’ve had since earlier this week have yet to heal…..

    To the death of incredible machines ?

  4. The beginning of death to motorcycles started more then 10 years ago when coe was at $3 and they cant stand it, so they reduced motorcycle coe and convert them to $$$ car coe nothing new now

  5. Wonderful insight with a much needed clear understanding of the context.

    Sincerely hope this will not be the final article.
    Can I offer u a year supply of engine oil for u, let me know the address to send

    Regards
    Jerry

  6. What to do in a country where the civil “servants” lose sight of their roles and view their citizens as cash cows? Just feel helpless and frustrated as always. After all daddy knows best right?

  7. Very good estimate of tax considering the amount of open category lost to this 10% contribution. If 40 to 50 coe x 12mths = 24 to 30million.

  8. Yes. Our government and businesses are ANTI-MOTORCYCLIST or discriminatory – at least thats how I feel. Here’s a sampling of my indignations.

    1. How is it building owners / managers are allowed to ban/bar motorcycles from parking in their car parks? Doesnt the URA require them to provide for AND allow the general public access to these motorcycles lots?

    2. Petrol stations blares about their discounts if you buy their petrol and further discounts if you use participating credit cards.
    BUT.
    You must fill up at least $40 to score any such discounts.
    That automatically discriminate against me as my kupkia can only take 4L of petrol.

    3. The ICA at Woodlands has little respect for us. Look at how every single bike passport clearance counter light us green but only a fraction is actually open. This causes endless confusions and delays as bikers have to guess, backpedal or just follow the long queue since no one wants to risk entering a closed counter. This result in even longer queues as empty green counters are not taken up to avoid wrong bets.
    On the other hand, every car counters are properly lit with many officers guiding cars to the shortest lines.

    4. Motorcyle dealers have an oligopololistic strangle hold on our small market. When was the last time you can actually test ride a bike. I remember this was possible when I first started riding about 40 odd years ago.
    And have you notice how much interest these chaps are hitting us for when you are too poor and need to loan?

    Motorcyclist in Sg has NO VOICE!

    How do I equalise my grievance?

    Sigh and VOTE THE OPPOSITION every 4 years. It has done little to swing the popular votes but I have moved to Hougang to ensure it stays opposite.

    Now there.

  9. All I can say is KNNBCCB to the policy maker, thinking we, motorcycle owners, are uneducated people. The meaning of COE have changed to what they would desire, making money from everything that is under their power. So, if we can remove the power, we can remove these nonsense. Everyone do their part, start talking around, coffee shop, kn trains, buses, taxi, brag car, at traffic light, and even when you stop over in a toilet to take a leak. The whole Singapore must be made to buzz on this grievance. Else they’ll take it as acceptance if it is silence.

  10. Hi Ian,

    I love big bikes (except Harley’s) to death and I feel for you and other avid bikers.

    I used to ride a 900 Hurricane in the 80s in Canada and it was 6 years of the best motoring in my life.

    Naren

  11. Ian,
    That was a well written and calculated article. For all the friends that ride the over 1 liter bikes, this issue has become a talking point, and a heated one. Echoing all of your comments. All of us are just in shock of the this scheme, especially those of us that haven’t ridden anything under 1,000 CC for decades! Don’t know what to say, with the way LTA regulations, once they are out, cannot be rescinded, even if our combined voices are very loud! Big bikes and their dealerships will be a thing of the past in less than 2 years, as the volume of bikes that will be purchased will dwindle down to the handful that can afford it, and the dealerships will exit from the Big Bike brands or stop carrying the bigger displacement bikes.

      1. Just embrace the experiences the country has for its people. Now i underatand why my Malaysian friends say Malaysia boleh singapore tak boleh.. we used to think we are more blessed than them. But they are the ones that kupkias into singapore and at night driving their cars out in Malaysia. That’s very smart of them isn’t it?

        Kopi 1 more round niam diao diao?

  12. Hi Ian, I chanced upon your article and found it to be well written, highlighting the concerns that motorcycle enthusiasts have about the recent news on the new tiered taxes for motorcycles. To confess, I do not own a bike, nor do I plan on getting one in the near future, but I do have an interest in this issue.

    You made some good points, but I feel that you missed out on some important aspects too. The situation for motorcycles isn’t as bad as you make it out to be, let me explain.

    At the end of the Asiaone article which you quoted, it wrote:
    “The Ministry of Transport will also cease the contribution of motorcycle COE quota to the Open category quota, as a complementary measure, he added.”
    “The motorcycle population has been slowly decreasing as very few Open category COEs have been used to register them.”

    If you’re familiar with the COE system, you would know that motorcycles would require a Cat D COE. Also, when a motorcycle gets taken off the road (through deregistration), its COE will be recycled through the system and put up for bidding in the next quarter to register a new motorcycle. To allow for changes in the demand for vehicle types, there is also the concept of a Cat E (Open) category of COEs, which can be used to register any type of vehicle. 10% of the cars, motorcycles and lorries deregistered will become open category COEs. These open category COEs tend to be used to register cars or lorries as their COE prices are much higher than those for motorcycles. This leads to the effect mentioned in the article that the motorcycle population has been slowly decreasing as 10% of the motorcycle deregistrations becomes Open COEs, while hardly any Open COEs are used to register back motorcycles.

    By ceasing the contribution of motorcycle COE quota to the Open category quota, LTA has effectively stopped the decline in the motorcycle population. For every motorcycle taken off the road, a motorcycle COE will become available which means that a new motorcycle can join the road. The population of motorcycles may even grow by the vehicle growth rate that LTA allows.
    The other effect of this complementary measure is that the government will lose money. The average price of an Open category COE is about $50k in 2016, compared with about $6k for a motorcycle COE in the same year. There were 9,165 motorcycles deregistered in 2016, which translates to about 916 motorcycle COEs becoming Open category COEs. From this year onwards, these 916 motorcycle COEs will stay as motorcycle COEs. If we assume the same deregistration numbers for this year, then [916 COEs that stay as motorcycle COEs instead of becoming Open category COEs] x [$6k – $50k] = -$40.3M. The government will forgo about $40 million in revenue every year to stop the decline of the motorcycle population. Even if you combine this with your estimated revenue gain of $16.8M due to the tiered taxation in your Scenario B, the government will still end up with about $23.5M less revenue.

    Hence, the more accurate story would be that the government could collect $100M more in vehicle taxes in FY17 as compared to FY16, but they decided to do two things – 1) stop the decline in the population of motorcycles and 2) make motorcycle taxes progressive (to tax the wealthy more than the poor) – which results in a lower figure of $76M additional vehicle taxes collected instead on a year-to-year comparison basis. Hopefully this extra $76M will be used to help businesses tide through the rough economy, or help households pay for their increased water bills.

    At the end of the day, I still have hope and I hope that you do too. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world for motorcycles in Singapore.

    1. I have a longer answer to that but I’ll keep it short – the government forgoes nothing as they will simply be releasing more COEs into the car categories this year to make up for any Cat E shortfall, and bike COEs have not gone down but shot up since the announcement. Will COE drop further? We’ll see.

      Look at the overall COE revenue expected, there will be a $76M increase overall. Because you do not ride a bike, you may have no idea how difficult it is for the low-wage workers to buy a new small-capacity bike given that COE just hit $6801 last week, or for middle-wage workers to upgrade to a mid-capacity bike with this new ARF hike. To look at the numbers alone and assume all is ok, is to be just like the policymakers in their comfortable offices, while bikers endure the elements out there. So do talk to more bikers if you know any.

  13. Hi Ian,
    An interesting point worth considering is the incremental effect that big motorcycles had on the COE prices since 2013. Possible to get the number of motorcycles registered base on OMV values back in 2012 ?

  14. From the minister’s speech it appears that the government operates on the assumption that some uber-affluent buyers are cheating the system by buying super expensive motorcycles and thus avoiding paying a fair amount of tax. This seems to show a complete lack of understanding of the motorcycle market in Singapore. The current high-end segment includes such models as Versys and Tracer. These are not luxury motorcycles. The bulk of this new tax will be raised from middle-income commuting motorcyclists who are buying such bikes precisely because they cannot afford cars.

  15. Hi Ian,

    Certainly there are many good points raised in your well written article. I would like to point out that the parliamentary debate on budget issues began yesterday, and are still ongoing. There is much more that we as a community can do than agreeing with one another on social media – now is the time to contact your Members of Parliament and request that they raise this issue in the debate!

    I believe it would be of great value to our community if you as an influential voice would encourage our fellow riders to be active in contacting their MPs directly and getting this issue talked about in parliament. If nothing else, I think it would be good for us to understand why the tiered ARF system is being implemented.

    Have a great day!

    1. My point is that our MPs won’t care since they don’t understand what’s the fuss. That’s why we’re going through all this pain.

  16. Hi Ian,

    my only comment is to please not stop writing about bikes and biking in Singapore. I enjoy your articles.

    Thanks

  17. My view is that the G is serving appetizers now. Once the Coe rises to substantial figure, the G will announce increase of VEP charges for foreign motorcycle. So, maybe Ian can factor this daily income as well.

  18. Like the GST, this is a regressive taxation that hurts the lower income group more, as they are the ones who cannot afford a car. I find E Lau’s comment particularly poignant: we should not aim to price all luxury items out of reach from the lower income strata as after all, they are also people with hopes and aspirations, and should not be expected to subsist on bread and water alone. Changing the motorcycle ARF scheme to mirror the one for cars may appear fair when comparing numbers, but it is certainly not equitable.

  19. Well-written, Ian. I started following your blog posts when I was learning my class 2b licence last year. Your articles kept my dreams of owning a bike alive as I struggled to pass the bike lessons.

    I managed to buy a new Honda CB190R before the COE spiked to $7.4k. Unfortunately, some of my friends weren’t so lucky. My heart sank when I read the news on the ARF and I believe most of the motorcylists here feel the same way.

    While you hug your Ducati, I am also hugging my humble Honda. It has never been more precious.

    The future generations of Singaporeans will never understand the phrase “four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul”.

  20. I am actually going to vote with my feet and move out of Singapore. This was the last straw for me. It’s clear they don’t want us. Bangkok is way more fun anyway.

  21. I’m offered the opportunity to move from Europe to Singapore, but I’m a biker and kinda attached to my old Moto Guzzi. Is it possible to ride classic bikes in Singapore and what would it cost? Or is it even impossible to get an old bike on the road in Singapore?

    1. Hi Simon, check out the resale bike forums like singaporebikes.com for any old models which still have valid Certificate of Entitlements.

  22. Yup, why spend $10K+ on a motorbike when I can cycle or ride E-bike like a snobbish, road hogging asshole on the real road without COE, road tax, insurance and license?

    After I get my full Class 2 license, I probably will never own any motorbike, but at least the learning experience alone is fun enough to make the fees worth it.

    And oh BTW, Ken is one of the typical fools who enjoy getting exploited by politicians and are proud of it because they will never even think of screwing over the masses amirite.

  23. Why did you stop writing about motorcycles in Singapore, come on and write more articles! I’ve been waiting for months for the next piece.

    1. I really haven’t had the heart to write about motorcycles anymore, with the recent ARF developments. It’s too sad for me and the other bikers.

  24. Hey ian,

    Meaningful & deeply saddening. After reading this blog , i just have to admit & agree that our government really detest and looked down on the motorcycle organisation. Sadly, i too had the same dream as the rest of the bikers here: to achieve a powerful & yet controllable motorcycle for further touring. For my case, the ducati hypermotard 821/939. As i came more from the dirtbike & supermoto family. Last year i started working hard to save up for a brand new hyper. Which cost about $26-$29k. Until recently, with this new arf, i stopped doing so as the price rose up to $43k & $53k for the sp Model respectively, x2 of what ive saved up. I wouldnt get a second hand (08-11) models as the older models require much maintanence due to old technology & dry clutch issues. Plus the feeling isnt the same. I wont achieve the sense of accomplishment then. Looks like ill just stick on to my drz and probly quit riding after 6 years of the coe ended. I guess, Dreams are just dreams , & youtube is the only way i will feel closer into riding the hyper LOL.

  25. Hi Ian,

    Wonderful article. It does bring tears and great sorrow to my heart.Why? Because you have highlighted that the issue is not about affordability of bigger bikes. Its about destruction of dreams, identity and encouraging elitism. Bikers are a unique breed in singapore: The passionate and free-spirited lot who looks past the constant nags from the mainstream community that biking is unsafe and unclassy and stamp their identity. Perhaps its one of those things that make you feel free and liberated in a stiffling competitive society. AND…THE GOV cldnt take it. Need to suck the poor middle class dry somemore. How can the price of a class 2 bike by half of that of car? I dont understand. Wages are more or less the same for the past 10 yrs but how can prices of everything else go up so much? Damn this country.

    Vikkram

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