Are Motorcycles Green or Not?

Here’s a quickie to set the facts straight on whether motorcycles are really better for the environment: the answer is Yes and No. Eh?

So which do you want first the good news or the bad news?

The Bad News is motorcycles spit out a lot more hydrocarbons out their tailpipes than cars… Hydrocarbons are the unspent fuel that reaches the exhaust and causes ground level ozone…what we call “smog.” Motorcycles and scooters can contribute more in this way than SUV’s… (Although not as bad as trucks, construction equipment, leaf blowers, etc…) This is mainly because, unlike cars, motorcycles don’t have sophisticated catalytic converters. And even bikes that do have converters (California models) have really tiny ones that don’t work nearly as well as their full sized auto counterparts… So that’s the bad news. This is why people say motorcycles (and scooters) are “bad for the environment.”

On the other hand, the Good News is motorcycles give off much less carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas which is responsible for global warming. If you’re a relatively recent convert to environmental awareness (which I am), then chances are what really concerns you is climate change… On this front motorcycles and scooters are a big PLUS. By virtue of having better fuel economy they contribute far less to greenhouse gases. Another reason why people say categorically that motorcycles and scooters are “bad” environmentally is because the EPA does not monitor or regulate carbon dioxide emission… That’s part of why there is a problem – most people didn’t realize this was something we really needed to be concerned about until now…

So there it is. Smog is a serious urban problem that is reasonably under control… Global warming and carbon emissions is completely out of control and causing catastrophic changes in the environment. So you can decide for yourself whether or not bikes are “good” for the environment. As for me, there’s bad mixed in with the good, but all in all I think it’s something we need right now… Not that we care about this stuff, being badass bikers and all…


4 responses to “Are Motorcycles Green or Not?

  1. On balance my naturally biased opinion is that motorcycles and scooters are way better for the environment than a cage is.

    Bikers don’t run air conditioners and sit with the engine idling at drive-up windows. Commuting time is generally less too, meaning less fuel burned.

    Bikes pollute more but overall burn less gas. I’ve heard that one gallon of gas adds 5 lbs. of carbon into the atmosphere. I’ve curtailed recreational riding and am a full-time, year round commuter and I ride with a clear conscious.

  2. Plus its fun! I look forward to going to work.

  3. People also like to say motorcycles are bad for the environment because they don’t like motorcycles. I makes them feel like their big vehicle doesn’t pollute at all so they can drive and drive and drive, and have a clear conscious about it. They don’t want to get rid of or down size their “precious SUV” so they will rag on something else, motorcycles, to get other people to turn their attention to them instead of the big bulky gas guzzlin four wheeled destroyer. I find it weird that people say motorcycles are dangerous and kill people. If a motorcycle gets into a wreck, at the most 2 people can get killed. Yes it is possible. If they do, everyone in the county will hear about it and decades latter someone might say, I wouldn’t ride motorcycles because many years ago I knew this couple that rode, got into an accident and died. But if a whole family in a minivan gets into a wreck and dies, including children, no one knows them the next day, and will still purchase a minivan of there own. Because it “gets good gas mileage”.

  4. The hydrocarbon levels can be greatly reduced by properly tuning, after lots of work my carberated Triumph Scrambler put out hydrocarbon and CO2 levels well below the limit for my state, im sure a fuel injected bike would do even better. It is all about getting the perfect air/fuel ratio, and in doing so mileage goes up and emission go down.

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