Breakthrough for British Bike Industry Brexit Regulations

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Perusing the duller corners of the internet, we were excited to discover some new government guidance which it is hoped will kick start British bike manufacturing. As you’ll be aware if you’ve listened to our podcast on Brexit or read some of our news coverage, the advent of British Independence left bike companies struggling to figure out what trade tariffs and taxes applied to their products.

Under the trade deal British products can be exported to the EU tax free, however a ‘British product’ was defined as something which consists of at least 70% components, materials, or ‘added British value’. That has proved difficult to quantify – wheels are nice and symmetrical and so it is relatively easy to calculate what 70% of a wheel is, but the irregular shape of a bike is much more complicated to work out as a fraction. In addition ‘added British value’ has been seen as an ephemeral entity and hard to define – this is where this new government guidance steps in.

The relevant paragraphs in the guidance, issued by the Department of Trade, Manufacturing and Industry, are as follows:

(14.21) 70% Added British Value may be regarded as being achieved for a bicycle without regard to country of origin of components or materials where the following criteria are met:

1. the frame is finished in blue Pantone 280 C, red Pantone 186 C and white.
2. the frame is painted in a permanent finish, not wrapped or stickered
3. the pattern of the finish is indicative of the Union Jack flag, such that
(i) the pattern forms both triangles and crosses, or
(ii) the overall effect of the design is of a single Union Jack Flag; and
(iii) no other colours are present save for decals and head badges; and
(iii) the pattern and colours remain visible from all perspectives

In layman’s terms, this means that any bike painted in a Union Jack design can be considered British, regardless of where it was made or even, apparently, painted. The rules would appear to be fairly tightly defined, leaving little wriggle room for any cunning creative paint work that might double up as either an American, French or Dutch flag. In addition, the requirement for the pattern to be painted removes any potential for a removable ‘British Wrap’ which could be removed by a customer to reveal a less nationalistic finish. We’ve recently seen some great two tone finishes, where the colour of the bike changes according to the light and angle you look at it – 14.21 3(iii) appears to preclude the risk (opportunity?) to meet the requirements for one angle but reveal a hidden alternate from another.

Brexit Bike
An artist’s impression of a tax free bike under the new guidance.

The guidance is accompanied by the following explanatory note:

‘British bicycles were once shipped across the Empire and it is to these heights of productivity and international recognition that we aspire to achieve once more. Exporting to our European neighbours is key to this, as is making the Great British Brand visible across the world. Clearly a product which is predominantly and prominently displaying our revered Union Flag is of great value in this effort. As such, we are able to advise that manufacturers complying with paragraph 14.21 are bringing sufficient Added British Value to qualify for tariff free trade.’

There may be a fly in the ointment however: it is understood that Monaco’s flag shares the same red Pantone 186 C colour, and the Royal Family there have stockpiled supplies of the pigments required. It is understood that members of our own Royal Family may be called upon to broker a deal enabling the release of some of the vital pigment. Despite this, the new guidance would appear to be good news for British bike companies.

As ever, we like to bring as much extra value to our Singletrack Members as possible, so Charlie is talking to several airlines in the hope of securing special discounts for any riders taking a ‘Brexit Bike’ to Europe and flying the flag for our great nation. We’ll update you if those discussions prove fruitful – in the meantime, be sure to check out the full range of Singletrack Member discounts here.


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