Economy, Auto

Big Bikes Are Back

Big Bikes Are Back
Big Bikes Are Back

The joy of riding large engine motorcycles could be just around the corner with a possible easing of restrictions after 30-plus years.

This month a dozen bikers on aged and newer models were allowed a regulated ride in Tehran by the local authorities.

Special permission is needed to ride just one weekend per month and the cruise is limited to specific streets during daylight hours. The ban outlawing motorcycles with engines above 250 cc was introduced in the early years of the Islamic Revolution in Iran as a security measure. "Under the reprieve, authorities select members of Tehran Motorcycling and Car Racing Association to license for street riding after running them through security checks," Mehrdad Hemmatian, the association's manager, said.

Police monitor the riders while they are on the road to watch no rebellious driving.

"We are hopeful that the restrictions on full-sized motorcycles will be revised and lifted," he said. "The restrictions are outdated."

The government-linked association is also lobbying to bring down import tariffs on sports bikes to 6% from 100%.

Bikers who are not from Tehran's wealthy strata can afford cheaper Japanese sports bikes for use on race tracks. Up till now, the only bikes available were cheap Indian, Iranian and Chinese ones.  American dealerships for Harley or General Motors have been absent from Iran, but a sanctions deal would open the gateway for such manufacturers to have a local presence. Businesses worldwide want to get into Iran, home to some 80 million people and with a sizable youth population craving international brands. While the motoring association is trying to have the ban fully lifted, Iranian bikers have found other ways to satisfy their passion.

Symbolizing the love for Harley Davidson motorcycles, local bike manufacturer Tondar Shahab makes replicas with street-legal engine of 250 CC as opposed to the usual range of 883 and 1800 cc. They are priced at 30 million rials ($880).