Motorcycle News Roundup: New Year Brings New EPA Motorcycle Regs. Charity Poker Runs Declared Illegal in Texas. Will Rubber Tires Disappear?

Motorcycle news summary for January 2, 2006

Yamaha takes $19-million hit for dodging California smog rules. Cool motorcycle exhibits coming to a museum near you. Better engine cooling coming. Use exhaust to charge your battery. Nissan concept car suffers motorcycle envy.

New EPA Motorcycle Regulations Effective January 1
Basically the EPA's new rule for motorcycles produced in 2006 extends existing California motorcycle emissions requirements, in effect since 2004, to the rest of the country. This is the first time in two decades that the EPA has tightened up on motorcycle emissions. We have gotten a pass because we are a much smaller portion of the polluting population than cars. The new regulations are still not as tight as those for cars. For the first time, they do set emissions standards for motorcycles of less than 50cc. This will have a significant on scooters and pocketbikes.

Under the new regs, more bikes—but not all—will resort to catalytic converters. New evaporative standards will require use of metal fuel tanks or special sealing for plastic tanks and hoses that don't release vapors, but apparently won't mandate the canisters used on California models. The new regs also effect the exemptions for custom, kit, and limited-production (less than 25) bikes. The EPA estimates than the new regs will cost about $30 per bike (though such estimates are often miss the mark significantly, but will save some portion of that through the reduced evaporation of fuel over the life of the bike.

The regs will tighten again, first in California in 2008, which will be followed by the same standards going into effect for 2010 nationwide. Even under the 2010 EPA standards for motorcycles, the agency says that street bikes will still produce four times as much hydrocarbons as a typical example of today's SUVs and eight times as much as today's average car.

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.
Yubanet, CA
2006 EPA Standards

Meanwhile, Some Rights Groups Complain that New EPA Regs Are Too Restrictive
Even with the new-for-2006 EPA motorcycle emissions standards, U.S. motorcycles have less stringent emissions requirements than cars, still some rights groups are upset that they won't be allowed to modify their bikes to pollute as much as they like. The fact is that many common drivetrain modifications are already illegal, but there is currently no nationwide enforcement to penalize such actions. Other predict dire consequences for performance, even though performance for motorcycles and cars has improved despite—and in some ways, because—of tightening emissions requirements.Bikers Rights OnlineMRF/AMDABATE of Tennessee

As Yamaha Gets Hit with $19 Million Pollution Complaint
California's Attorney General says that Yamaha has violated the state's emissions requirements by selling hundreds of bikes in the state that were not certified to meet California standards.
San Francisco Business Times, CA
Sacramento Bee, CA

Texas Outlaws Charity Poker Runs
The state's AG says they violate anti-gambling laws.
Houston Chronicle, TX
The Beaumont Enterprise, TX

Will Rubber Tires Be Obsolete by 2020?
A release from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) alerted us to claims that the polyurethane tires being developed by Amerityre run cooler, are easier to manufacture, are more precise and consistent, are more reliable, have less rolling resistance for better fuel economy, and pose fewer environmental issues than the current rubber tires. The company predicts that they will replace rubber tires by 2020. Amerityre tells that the technology can be applied to motorcycle tires and that traction, actual tire life, and cost to the consumer are comparable to or better than rubber tires.
Automotive Design and Production
Amerityre Summary of Polyurethane Tires' Advantages
Amerityre Run-Flat Spare Tires

"The Art of the Motorcycle" Show Heads for Orlando
It will be at the Orlando Museum of Art from January 22 to July 23, so Daytona-goers can ride over and see it.
Roadracing World
Orlando Sentinel, FL
Orlando Museum of Art
Osceola News-Gazette, FL

And "Motorcycles as Personal Expression" Shows in Iowa
Just the photos of the bikes in this display at the Sioux City Art Center make these links worth clicking. The exhibit runs through the beginning of March.
Sioux City Art Center
Sioux City Art Center Bike photos
Des Moines Register, IA

Don't Blame Motorcycles for Loud Exhaust Noise
The problem is the loose nut connecting the handlebar to the saddle.
Arizona Daily Star, AZ

Turning Exhaust Gases into Electrical Power
British engineers are developing technology that could use escaping exhaust gases to generate electrical power, replacing a conventional alternator and perhaps even recharging a hybrid vehicle's batteries.

Improving Engine Cooling
A patented cooling system design developed on racecars promises lighter top end designs.

New Nissan Urge Concept Car Has Motorcycle-Envy
"We want Urge to replicate the raw motorcycle experience as much as possible," and Nissan spokesman says. To that end, it has a motorcycle-type gearbox and engine. Alas, it still leans the wrong way in turns.

Car Maker Gets Out of the Motorcycle Business
Malaysian Automaker Proton has essentially given away its interest in MV, which also owns Cagiva and Husqvarna.
Motorcyclist Magazine

Yamaha Readies Garmin GPS for Motorcycles
It will speak directions through wireless speakers in the rider's helmet.

Suzuki Sues 10 Companies Over Use of Name
Ten Indian companies are accused of using the word Suzuki to give the impression that their products are the Japanese firm's.
Rediff, India

Welcoming the New Year from the Saddle
Even if it's cold, it's cool.
New West, MT
The Chattanoogan, TN
News 8 TV, TX
New Jersey Herald, NJ

Is A&E; Becoming the Biker Network?
And if so, isn't that a good thing?
Hartford Courant, CT

Biker TV Shows Fuel Boom for Customizers
The interest created by reality TV shows has brought a windfall to custom-bike builders throughout the U.S., and companies like Orange County Choppers are licensing shops in other areas.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation Offers New Book
The MSF has released the second edition of its best-selling book, The Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Guide to Motorcycling Excellence.

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