Friday, September 28, 2007

Dirty bikes

There's an interesting post over at Hardcard's blog. Although the underlying goal of the post is to attract clients for their motorsport consulting business, they make the very good point that motorcycles are really not as green as people give them credit for.

Compared to cars, bikes are generally lighter, have smaller engines and better fuel consumption. The world would be a better place if everyone who commuted solo in a car were to switch to motorcycles. But that doesn't mean they couldn't do better. As Hardcard point out, bikes don't have catalytic converters, and only those sold in California are required to have evaporative recirculation systems, to capture surplus vented unburned gasoline.

Motorcycle companies came very late to the fuel-injection party, and typically are much slower to incorporate new technologies. The reason for this is simple: on a bike, weight is everything, and the industry must wait for any innovations to be small enough to implement on a bike.

So although it seems as though the motorcycle industry "doesn't care", it's a fact of the product development cycle that makes motorcycles appear technologically backward.

Of course, MotoGP provides the perfect platform for the development of new motorcycle technology, outside of waiting for car development to miniaturize its innovations. Traction control from MotoGP has now finally made it to street bikes, with the new Kawasaki ZX10R, following other fun stuff such as radial brake cylinders and calipers, lightweight stubby exhaust pipes, mass-centralization and slipper clutches. So in order for green technologies to find their way into street bikes faster, I'd like to call for the FIM to look at ways of improving MotoGP's ecological profile. If a rule is written that mandates at least 10% of the energy utilized in braking be returned to the bike, or that bikes must run on ethanol or E85, or even that emissions be limited and measured, it would really hurry along positive environmentally-minded technology for street bikes.


Rob said...

Whoa there Nicebloke! Don't change the philosophy of racing bikes just yet, especially when it will make no difference to what is on the road. I've posted a response (a rebuttal?), Thanks for the link to the site.

Clive said...

Why not just put a couple of pedals attached to a chain on them? That'll be 100% green (apart from the rider's laboured breathing, of course).

Don't go the route F1 is threatening to under Mad Max Mosley. This CO2 nonsense will be all over and done with in a couple of years and we'll be back to expecting a new ice age or a wayward comet instead. Racing is about going quickly, not about trying to appear eco-friendly to the cretins who think that melting the Arctic ice will raise the sea level (think about it - the ice is floating and therefore already taking up is alloted mass of water).

Discount Motorbike Parts said...

You are SOOO right about the catalytic converter issue. I have been thinking the same for some time.