CHANGING TIMES: Lockyer Mowers and Motorcycles owner George Lees stands with a side-by-side ATV, the machine many farmers are now choosing over quad bikes. Picture: Dominic Elsome
CHANGING TIMES: Lockyer Mowers and Motorcycles owner George Lees stands with a side-by-side ATV, the machine many farmers are now choosing over quad bikes. Picture: Dominic Elsome

New quad bike rules begin to cripple sales, farming future

FARMERS are abandoning quad bikes due to legal and safety fears, as new design regulations for the machines draw closer.

Lockyer Mowers and Motorcycles owner George Lees said there had been a “substantial” drop in quad bike sales in the past 12 months.

While he said the drought was a big factor in the decline, the campaign to introduce tough new design requirements under the banner of rider safety had also influenced sales.

“Efforts by the government … have created the image of quad bikes as being unsafe,” Mr Lees said.

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He said the idea was wrong and despite a number of deaths and injuries caused by quad bike rollovers, he believed they were mostly caused by user error.

“It’s invariably the operator’s fault in most cases,” he said.

“Yes it can be a machine fault, but that’s very rare.”

The campaign to improve quad bike safety has resulted in two trends.

Farmers are steering away from purchasing quads, fearing litigation should a worker be injured on the vehicle.

But the more damaging blow was the introduction of new design requirements that will force manufacturers to fit roll-protection devices to new quads from October 11, 2021.

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Major manufacturers have already announced they will pull out of the Australian market because of the laws, citing international research that showed roll-protection devices in some case did more harm than good.

It’s a blow not just to farmers, who are now being forced to look at more expensive side-by-side ATV vehicles as alternatives, but also to dealers like Mr Lees.

He said he didn’t expect the government to change its mind, which meant come October 11 next year, quad bike sales would almost cease to exist.

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With 2021 models soon to hit the showrooms, Mr Lees said he would only be ordering stock he was committed to, as he would have to sell the vehicles before the October deadline.

“The Australian authorities will not change their minds,” he said.

“It’s done and that’s that – we’ve just got to live with it.”


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