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Chrome Plating Faces Ban

Traditional chrome plating for new vehicles could be banned in the EU this year if planned legislation goes ahead. The new law targets hexavalent chrome plating, the traditional method which is linked to lung and nose cancer as well as posing a risk to the liver and reproductive system. As well as the human health risks, waste water from the process can damage the environment if not treated beforehand. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is also planning to ban the process in 2027.

However, it’s unlikely either of these bans will see the end of chrome bits on bikes. The EU proposal targets new bikes only, so the parts and accessory industry should not be affected. There are also alternatives to hexavalent plating, such as spray-on chrome, which sandwiches the shiny stuff between layers of urethane protective coatings. This uses fewer heavy metals and spray-on specialist FutureChrome claims it is cheaper than hexavalent and can be applied to non-metal parts.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, said: “Chrome’s been on the suspect list for decades. As someone who grew up with bikes that had chrome plate everywhere, with metalflake or metallic paint on everything that wasn’t chromed, I feel a pang. Tasteless, gaudy? Absolutely, but it certainly looked a million bucks compared to endless black paint, enlivened by a solitary chrome exhaust system. I have to ask, is the ban on the manufacturing process, or the sale of vehicles which have parts using hexavalent chrome? I’m thinking particularly of Indian Enfield’s and the like?”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Chris Delaney