AMA Takes the Detroit Line on Emissions

John P Burns
by John P Burns

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) told theU.S. Environmental Protection Agency that its proposed new streetbike emissions standards must not compromise the safety of riders, dramatically increase costs, or reduce motorcycle performance. In written comments submitted to the EPA on Nov. 20, the AMA also stressed that the proposed rules should continue to allow for the installation of after-market products, and allow owners to work on their own motorcycles.

"The AMA and the motorcycling community remain concerned that certain provisions in this (proposal) may result in fewer choices, higher prices and even tighter restrictions on future highway motorcycle models," Edward Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, said in the comments. "Again, safety, cost, performance, continued availability of after-market products and self-maintenance are paramount in the minds of the motorcycle owners we represent."

The AMA also disagreed with the EPA's assertion that highway motorcycles are a "significant contributor" to air pollution. But the Association agreed with the EPA proposal to give small manufacturers of custom motorcycles more time than other motorcycle manufacturers to meet the new proposed emissions standards.

The EPA is considering implementing revised national emissions standards for new road motorcycles that would require those bikes to meet strict emissions standards beginning with 2006 models, although small manufacturers would have a 2008 deadline. The federal standards would be the same as those adopted by the state of California, but would go into effect two years after California's standards.

A second tier of national emissions standards would be in place for 2010 models. It would be decided later whether small manufacturers would need to meet those standards. Some motorcycles sold in the United States already meet California's strict 2008 standard, which is the same as the proposed federal 2010 standard.

The new national emissions standards are expected to result in an increased use of fuel injection and catalytic converters on new motorcycles. Moreland commented that catalytic converters, designed to operate at high temperatures, may not be appropriate for some motorcycles where the exhaust system is placed near the legs or feet of a rider or passenger, creating a possible safety hazard. In addition, the AMA fears that new and replacement exhaust emission control components, coupled with the cost of repair and maintenance of complex equipment, will drive the cost of motorcycle ownership out of the reach of some owners. "Increased costs at all levels of the motorcycling industry will result in fewer choices and reduced sales," Moreland said. "This will result in economic hardship for many, especially small businesses involved in sales, services, and parts and accessories from non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) suppliers."

The new California standard that begins with the 2004 model year, and the proposed federal standard that would take effect for the 2006 model year, require new motorcycles to emit no more than 1.4 grams per kilometer traveled of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, and 12 grams of carbon monoxide.

The California standard for 2008, which would also be the national standard beginning in 2010, sets a limit of 0.8 grams per kilometer of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides and 12 grams per kilometer of carbon monoxide. The current federal emissions standards for street motorcycles are 5.0 grams of hydrocarbons and 12 grams of carbon monoxide per kilometer traveled.

The EPA is accepting written comments on its proposed street motorcycle emissions rules until Jan. 7. You can e-mail comments to [email protected], or go to the Rapid Response Center at the AMA website at to send comments. You can see the proposed rules, and the entire text of Moreland's comments, in the "Protecting Your Right to Ride" part of the website.

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