In­sight

Con­trol­ling gases for the masses

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Zack Courts

how a mo­tor­cy­cle looks, feels, and sounds is im­por­tant. How much planet can­cer it kicks out the pipe as you ride mat­ters just as much, which is why mo­tor­cy­cles are built around those reg­u­la­tions—from the com­bus­tion cham­ber’s shape to the size and place­ment of the ex­haust. Stan­dards dif­fer around the world, and while Ja­pa­nese and Euro­pean bench­marks are a big fac­tor in de­sign, here in the US of A we con­form to the man­dates of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency. The EPA has three ba­sic classes per­tain­ing to mo­tor­cy­cles—the largest be­ing any en­gine more than 280cc. That means Honda’s 286cc CB300 fol­lows the same rules as Har­ley­david­son’s 1,753cc Mil­wau­kee-eight.

Ex­haust emis­sions are mea­sured in grams per kilo­me­ter of hy­dro­car­bons, ox­ides of ni­tro­gen and car­bon monox­ide, that get spit out the back of your ma­chine as it rolls down the road. As of the 2010 mod­els, that amount was nearly halved, from 1.4 to 0.8 grams. The test the EPA ad­min­is­ters (and that man­u­fac­tur­ers use to self-cer­tify) is amaz­ingly spe­cific. Ambient tem­per­a­ture, when to shift be­tween gears, and how much fuel is on board are all laid out, among myr­iad other items over dozens of pages. At the end of the day, the ex­haust emis­sion test is de­signed to de­ter­mine emis­sions “while sim­u­lat­ing an av­er­age trip in an ur­ban area.”

These are the many rea­sons ev­ery­one from Aprilia to Zero spends so much time fo­cus­ing on fumes. Be­cause the stakes are ul­ti­mate. As one com­pany’s head of en­gi­neer­ing put it: “The down­side of not pass­ing is not sell­ing. If there’s one thing you make sure you get right, it’s your reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance for noise and emis­sions.”

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