Colin and his new friends were riding the Portguese Adventure Country Tracks (ACT), a predominatly off-road route designed with big adventure bikes in mind, so knobbly tyres are desirable. Well, I can find no authority at all for the riders’ fears over the German police stopping them. Tyres are governed by United Nations level law, so as long as they meet the standards for an ‘E mark’, then the tyres are legal across the EU.
In the UK, our tyres are marked E11 and in Germany E1 but they all meet the ECE conformity standards for use within the EU. Brexit does not make any difference to this as the E marking shows the tyre meets the ECE rules for homologation for road tyres.
If all EU regulations were to be rescinded in the UK, then home-based tyre manufacturers would be free to dispense with the E marking, although UK tyres would still have to meet the UN standards. I cannot see any British tyre manufacturer dropping E markings as a matter of commercial common sense. Non E marked tyres are illegal everywhere in Europe, the UK, and just about anywhere in the world.
Each country adapts its own tyres for local conditions and weather. This means a tyre in a colder country, like Finland for example, is likely to be made from a softer compound with more silica than a tyre in warmer countries like Portugal or Spain.
There are also specific rules which apply to countries as to winter tyres. For example, in Spain, any tyre marked M and S (mud and snow) will have a deeper tread pattern and softer compound to provide more grip in the winter, but they are illegal to use in summer.
I have ridden on fairly aggressive tyres across Europe, from Arctic Finland to the southern tip of Portugal and I have never had any police attention for my tyres. The problem our Polish friends appear to have had is a copper getting the law wrong and it happens with frequency. It was no doubt made worse by a language barrier. Try explaining to a police officer through the medium of mime, pointing, and Google translate that all tyres within the EU are homologated to an international standard.
This aside, if you’re a reasonably competent trail rider, then any of Europe’s Adventure Country Tracks would make for a great adventure. You need to be comfortable on gravel and bouncing about a bit. I am an averagely competent off road rider and I would happily do the ACT Portugal on my Tiger 900 Rally Pro with 50/50 tyres. You can find out more about the ACT at www.adventurecountrytracks.com.
Adventure Bike Rider Magazine Sept/Oct 2022