By Colin Bird on October 4, 2011
You’d think motorcycles with their low-displacement engines and high power-to-mass ratios would be a significantly greener mode of transportation compared to the average four-door sedan, but that’s not so, according to the crew behind the “MythBusters” television show.
In a segment called “Bike vs. Car” on a recent episode, the “MythBusters” gang aimed to figure out if a motorcycle or a car was more polluting. They compared pairs of cars and motorcycles from three decades — the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s. The cars looked to be a Buick Century, Honda Accord and Ford Taurus, according to the New York Times. The motorcycles and cars were then fitted with tailpipe probes that kept track of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other polluting emissions.
The data was analyzed by professor Kent Johnson, an assistant research engineer, at the University of California at Riverside. He found that motorcycles are technically more fuel efficient and produce fewer greenhouse gases than cars, but they’re still more polluting. That’s because motorcycles spew more noxious pollutants such as nitric oxide (NOx). That’s most likely because few older bikes have emission-reducing catalytic converters or more modern fuel-delivery systems compared to the vintage car, though those systems are increasingly popular on modern motorcycles.
So, there you have it: Cars are better … I mean cleaner. If you disagree, join the discussion over at “MythBusters,” and share your comments here, too.
‘MythBusters’ on Cars vs. Motorcycles: Which Is Greener? (New York Times)
Photo source: UC Riverside