New Euro 5 Motorcycles Must Meet New Emission Regulations
This year has seen a lot of new motorcycles released, but also the departure of some well-loved models. This is because Euro 5 emissions regulations have come into force, requiring that all new bikes must be compliant with the new standards.
These rules have set limits on carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen that must be reduced.
Since the first euro emission regulations were introduced, technical innovation has drastically cut down carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from two-wheel and three-wheel mopeds and motorcycles. The new EURO 5 standard essentially brings the limits in line with car ‘Euro 6’ standards for the first time and also introduces new limits for pollutant non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and particulate matter.
These new limits have to be achieved on a vehicle using the World Motorcycle Test Driving Cycle (WMTC) which is designed to replicate real-world driving conditions. The WMTC also introduces durability requirements and on-board diagnostics to help manufacturers ensure the vehicles comply with the limit over their lifetime.
The introduction of these rules has led some bike makers to express concern that they may be better off focusing their R&D efforts on zero-emissions technology. With the 2035 ban on internal combustion engines on cars looking like it’s pretty much a done deal, this is understandable.
If you have a bike that’s older than 2021, you won’t need to worry about euro 6 as it applies only to new motorcycles. The standard, which came into force on January 1st 2020 for new type-approved models, brings L-category motorcycles and mopeds’ pollutant emissions to the same level as Euro 6 cars.
Euro 5 also introduces durability and onboard diagnostics requirements that will help maintain low emission levels over a vehicle’s lifetime. The next step, ‘Euro 5+’, is scheduled to arrive for new type-approved bikes in 2024 (and carry-overs the following year) and will require misfire detection sensors and more advanced OBD requirements.
While naysayers preach doom about emissions laws tightening up, it’s hard to argue with the fact that they tend to spur manufacturers into creating machines that are measurably better than their predecessors. As such, it’s no surprise that the latest European limits are significantly stricter than the old Euro 4 levels.
European emissions limits have been getting steadily tighter since Euro 1 came in back in 1999. It’s easy to find naysayers predicting doom but tighter limits usually spur development and create bikes that are measurably better than their predecessors.
Euro 5, which went live on January 1, 2020, brought all new L-category motorcycles and mopeds into line with the same emission standards as cars (although some niche products like enduro and trials motorcycles have been given extra lead time). The rules don’t tell manufacturers how to achieve these low levels but it inevitably leads to new innovations.
The next step, ‘Euro 5+’, will add further requirements like durability and on-board diagnostics to help keep emission levels low throughout the vehicle life. That’s likely to hit new and carry-over models in 2024 and will probably take several years to hammer out. That’s when we’ll get a proper idea of what the impact will be on power delivery, tractability and handling.
New emissions standards have a way of pushing the limits of what manufacturers can do with their bikes. While there are naysayers who complain that tighter limits will mean bikes that have less character and power, the reality is that new restrictions tend to spur manufacturers on to create machines that are measurably better than their predecessors.
For example, to comply with Euro 5 emissions rules, Honda engineers had to make their Africa Twin’s engine bigger – which hasn’t hampered its performance but does result in it having more of an impact on its tailpipe pollution. And it’s not just the engines that get pushed to their limit, the exhaust systems often have to be modified too.
The next step in emissions limits for motorcycles will be ‘Euro 5+’ – which will require misfire detection on all new models (with some exceptions for niche categories such as trials and enduro), but there’s no firm date on when that will come into force.