The law is simple enough, you are protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This piece of legislation applies to lots of consumer transactions, and that is the starting point, you must be a consumer to benefit. Business to business contracts is excluded.

So, if you have just purchased a shiny new [insert the bike of your choice here] and a fault appears you have the absolute right to reject within 30 days. This is an absolute right. You do not have to allow the dealer any opportunity to fix the fault, you can simply hand the keys back and ask for a refund. This only applies if a fault appears; you cannot reject the bike if you no longer like the riding position or colour. You must stop using the bike if you reject it. Do not keep putting mileage on the machine, as clearly, you have not rejected it if you continue to use it. Expect some pushback from the dealer. Don’t forget dealers want to sell new machines, not have them back in the showroom but the law is clear on rejection. They don’t have any choice.

If you love your new machine and want to allow the dealer to rectify the fault that is fine. You can do this and actually ‘pause’ the 30-day rejection right. Get this in writing from the dealer! Don’t do it in a phone call. You are actually being more lenient by allowing a repair, as the legislation gives you a stronger remedy of rejection. I see this more often since COVID-19 as there has been a supply issue with new bikes. Customers are actually fighting over limited supplies so I can see it sometimes makes sense to want to have a repair carried out, rather than hunt for a new machine. You can ask for a replacement bike instead of a refund, but you still have the issue of limited supply.

The law changes outside of the initial 30 days, paused or not. The automatic right to reject is lost and you must allow the dealer one opportunity to repair the machine. This must be done within a reasonable period of time and without significant inconvenience to you. The costs incurred in repairing the machine need to be borne by the seller. If your machine is sat in a dealership for 90+ days, awaiting repairs, this isn’t really reasonable, and you may want to move to reject. If you reject at this juncture the seller is entitled to reduce the refund to take into account, the age/mileage and use of the machine. For example, a bike with 1,500 miles on the clock is likely worth a few thousand pounds less than a brand-new machine of the same spec.

You can keep the bike and ask for a price reduction. You might actually be pushing at an open door with this request. The dealer doesn’t have the hassle of needing to fix a bike and, if they are cash rich, a small refund might be their preferred option. It also helps their sales figures, as dealerships are assessed by big bike manufacturers on the number of items they sell.

Within the 6 months rule the law sides with you in as much as the defect complained of may be regarded as being present at the time of manufacture. This is quite different outside of the 6-month rule, as you would need to prove that the defect existed. This is usually done by way of expert evidence i.e. an Engineer is tasked with assessing the machine and providing a report. If you are unlucky enough to have to go down this route, budget in the region of £2,500.00 to £3,500.00 for such an in-depth report. As a Solicitor, I would be advising my client that such a report needs to comply with Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules, as if the dealer doesn’t agree with the finding and the matter becomes litigious, then I would want the court to grant permission to use such an Engineering report within those proceedings. Part 35 is simply a declaration from the Engineer that he/she is providing an independent report on their findings to the Court/Judge, and they are not partisan or providing a report for one party’s benefit, notwithstanding the fact they were paid by that party.

Not all defects are obvious, and I have had to explore this route previously with gearbox failures. One particular case remains in my mind, where a biker’s rear wheel locked up and spat him off at motorway speed. The bike was recovered, and the sealed gearbox opened up by an expert, only to find a mess of metal teeth spill out. That case was won on a 100% basis, notwithstanding the dealer having no knowledge of the defect (how could they, the gearbox was a sealed unit). The law really is on the side of the consumer in such cases.

I have come across some instances where the dealer tries to ‘fob off’ the buyer, telling them it is a manufacturing issue, and they need to contact them. No. Your contract is with the seller, not the bikes manufacturer. This is simply wrong in law. It usually happens when there is a difficult to fix defect and they have already had multiple goes at fixing it.

Defective Bike – Private Sale

This is an entirely different kettle of fish. Caveat Emptor is the name of the game here; it is incumbent on the buyer to find the faults. The duty rests solely with you. You do not enjoy the same protections offered by a business seller. However, all is not lost. The seller cannot misrepresent or induce you into a sale by providing inaccurate or incorrect information. The Misrepresentation Act 1967 is of assistance here, but you need to be inquisitive. You cannot rely on a term in the sale advert stating the bike was ‘in excellent condition’ when it later turns out it has been damaged and repaired. You need to ask the seller ‘has this bike been damaged and then repaired?’. Any inaccurate or misleading response may open up the case for a claim.

Gavin Grewal

TVAM Slipstream