Do Bikes Pollute More than Cars?
Well, yes. We thought everyone knew that. The EPA says that under 2004 emissions standards, a typical new SUVs makes about 95 percent less hydrocarbons than a "typical motorcycle." In a specific example from the EPA, a 2002 Honda VTX1800C emits precisely 10 times as much hydrocarbons per mile (when both are traveling at the same speed) as a 2002 Subaru Forester and just over three times as much as a 2002 4WD Ford Expedition. The emissions regulations, even the new-for-2006 EPA standards (already in effect in California for the past two years) are not as nearly stringent for bikes as for cars. However, studies conducted on dynamometers, such as that conducted by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research don't show the entire picture. Motorcycles typically spend less time balked in traffic (particularly in countries other than the U.S. where lane splitting is much more widely practiced) and therefore spend significantly less time standing still with the engine running. They are also more efficient in terms of parking and other situations. In addition, motorcycles require significantly less energy and pollution to build. There are also cleaner motorcycle standards, similar to the 2006 EPA rule, going into effect in the near future around the world, and some bikes already meet them. Though this Swiss lab report makes it seem worse than it really is, motorcycles (especially two-strokes, which were part of the study group but not sold for road use in the U.S.) do pollute more than the car that is driving down the road next to them at the same speed.
2006 EPA Standards