California Considering Motorcycle Smog Checks

exhaustsystemI wrote a post on this topic 3 weeks ago. Blog reader Nicker forwarded to me this text inspired from a LA Times article. Watch out all bikers, because as you know, where California goes, so goes America.
“Cars do it. Trucks do it. And now the state of California may require motorcycles to do it, too. Biennial smog checks would be required for motorcycles manufactured in the 2000 model year and later under a bill making its way through the California Legislature. SB 435 targets bikes with illegally modified exhaust systems and would go into effect in 2012 if passed and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an avid motorcyclist.

 Motorcycles account for 3.6% of registered vehicles in the state and make up just 0.8% of vehicle-miles traveled, yet account for 10% of passenger vehicles’ smog-forming emissions, according to the California Air Resources Board, which backs the measure. Although fuel-efficient bikes emit significantly less carbon dioxide per mile, the ARB says they are, on average, 14 times more polluting per mile when it comes to emissions of oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons — smog-forming pollutants that have been shown to trigger asthma attacks and worsen respiratory and cardiac illnesses. The ARB estimates that 5.2 tons of pollutants would be prevented from entering the atmosphere daily if motorcycle smog checks become law.

“Five tons of smog out of 5,691 tons emitted daily from all statewide sources is so minuscule,” said John Paliwoda, executive director of the California Motorcycle Dealers Assn. in Lake Elsinore.  Already, the industry is aching from the freezing of consumer credit and plummeting personal wealth, which have led to a 30.5% decline in new sales for the first quarter of 2009 over the same period last year, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. But the ARB says every emission source is fair game in its effort to corral pollutants linked to health problems and climate change.. If motorcycle smog checks become law, the vehicles would join light-duty diesel trucks, which will be subject to smog checks beginning next year, and, potentially, older vehicles.

A tougher measure, AB 859, is also working its way through the Legislature. It would require smog checks every year, rather than every other year. In pursuing bikes of 280 cc and above made in the 2000 model year and beyond, SB 435 attempts to home in on the size of motorcycle more likely to have a modified exhaust system, and an era of bikes equipped with catalytic converters. Motorcycles that employ catalytic converters are more reliant on them to reduce emissions and are at greater risk of becoming gross polluters when those systems are removed.. Whether for improved performance, a different sound or a custom look, 38% of on-road motorcycle owners replace or modify their exhaust systems, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s 2008 Owner Survey. Not all modified exhausts are illegal; some comply with the emissions requirements that govern what makes and models can be sold in the state. But many modified exhausts remove the bikes’ catalytic converters, causing them to emit twice the legal limit of hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen…

Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Industry Council in Irvine, said the aims of the test could be circumvented more easily by motorcyclists than by other motorists. Aftermarket exhaust systems, can be removed and reinstalled after the test…”

28 Responses to “California Considering Motorcycle Smog Checks”

  1. 1 Bobfather May 13th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    From the tests I’ve seen the actual amount of pollutants emitted by motorcycles are closer to 0.06% of total pollutants emitted into the air. This is yet another attempt to drive the aftermarket industry out of business. Both the state and huge factory corporations like H-D wouldn’t mind this, it’s a way to put the small builders out of business in our state. It’s also an attempt at making the bikers pay for a sagging economy, one that has already driven many motorcycle related businesses into bankruptcy.
    Now is the time to contact your elected official and let them know this is BS and needs to be killed immediately.

  2. 2 Kirk Perry May 13th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Any url addresses of legislators would be appreciated.
    We can send them a message without leaving this site.

  3. 3 Troy May 13th, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Our great state of Arizona smog checks all bikes every year.

  4. 4 Pitbull May 13th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    This is absolutey rediculous, motorcycles emit less pollution than a lawn mower, this is another way for California to make money, wanna make money cali? Legalize marijuana, its californias largest cash crop even over grapes.
    I seen they want to start with model years 2000 and newer? This should only apply to motorcycles that came from the factory with catalytic converters, if it didnt come with cats it should be exempt.
    I live here in California, I just watched them say that small 50cc to85cc bikes are now illegal for kids under 12 to ride or buy because of lead poisoning, last weekend I was fishing and do you know what I used, pure lead weights on my fishing line, oh yeah there were kids fishing with thier parents and they were using lead weights too.
    Smog checks on bikes, wow this world is really turning to @#Z$!

  5. 5 Pitbull May 13th, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Hey troy you get smogged in AZ, thats wild since you can register just about anything there like dirt bikes.

  6. 6 Mike Greenwald May 13th, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Back when there was the CARB ( California Air Resources Board), I recall some of the rulings, from their tenure, helped put some builders out of business and additionally led to nationwide requirements. Many builders are currently confronted the additional expense of Certification to meet the California standards.

    One of the reasons for this was a lack of resistance from the motorcycling community.

    We can expect that this will be the next step.

  7. 7 Kirk Perry May 13th, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    CARB ( California Air Resources Board)
    The pit of all evil in California. I think it still exist. CARB controlled everything. CARB and rep. Moldenado who put a 500 person per year cap on all vehicle (motorcycles and cars lumped into one category) “special construction” permits. We’ll need Malcome Smith’s help on this. His group got what they wanted (for one year anyway).
    Marijuana or “pot” as it is also known is California’s largest cash crop. A democrat from San Francisco has composed a bill to get legalization passed. It may just do that.
    For those living in California that can’t wait for the slow wheels of progress, you can visit this site. It is part of a conglomerate that collectively grows weed, sorts it into classifications, and delivers it to your home for a “cash only donation”. It all inclusive, from the doctors visit ($200.00 to document you chronic “backache”) which gets you a two-year permit. The weed prices are listed. Anybody that finds relief from weed can participate. Yeah, it’s all bud. No stems or seeds. Enjoy life.

  8. 8 Bobfather May 13th, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Both web sites listed have a way to type in your zip code and find your elected official.

  9. 9 Kirk Perry May 13th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I wrote mine a form letter like this:
    Posted the same message to all of them:

    Smog Tests For Motorcycles
    ““Five tons of smog out of 5,691 tons emitted daily from all statewide sources is so minuscule,” said John Paliwoda, executive director of the California Motorcycle Dealers Assn. in Lake Elsinore. ”
    It’s a waste of taxpayer money to create more bureaus to smog bikes. The smog devices can be and will be removed by bike owners after inspection. Stop the hysteria about m/c smog and re-think. Thank you, Kirk Perry
    “Mechanics & Owners Guide 1941-1959 OHV Big Twins” Vol. 1 & 2

  10. 10 TPEvans May 13th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I am really pulling for the legalization of weed in CA – and only CA. If passed, every toker in America will mosy on out there, leaving the rest of the country in a far more productive state. Any state that can produce Waxman, Boxer, Feinstein, Pelosi and CARB has to be isolated before the damage can spread further.

  11. 11 Kirk Perry May 13th, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Here’s some info that is timely, because if proposition 1A fails (so will 2A & 3A), it will put pressure on California to not implement an expensive M/C Smog regulation. The state will start to look elsewhere for income.
    1. Calif. can allow kit builds with super-charged carbon tax penaltys for kit builders. We do not care how much they tax us for a one-time kit registration. We can afford it. Not a problem

    2. Tax weed. You can’t fight it. You can lose an income stream, but prop 215 is here to stay. The co-op weed growers pay tax to the state, but it’s all cash “donation” transactions. It needs state regulation. Even the weed co-ops think so.
    The problem now is with Arnold. I know how he works out problems. He has advisers to go to. He listens to the head constable in Graz, Austria (pop.238,000) about the weed issue. He said the constable had some problems with legal weed over there. Arnold is mulling it over. Trust so.
    I used to live in Kitzbuhel (Aurach). The Austrians are kind, thoughtful people. They don’t really chum-up to Germans. Not really. But, the Austrians respect German engineering, and they respect Germany’s TiV (auto inspection regulations), and the fact that one day soon, it will probably be a crime to change your own oil, in your own car, in Germany.
    That puts California on the same path.
    These are the big issues in California, like it or not. We love it here. So does Jon Coupal (Howard Jarvis Assoc. of prop 13). Here’s about prop 1A (in part):

    Of the six propositions on the May 19th ballot, none is more
    deceptive and insidious than 1A. Marketed as a spending cap for a
    reckless legislature.
    1A is the Governor’s and legislature’s scheme to raise government
    revenue by squeezing the average Californian’s already-lean wallet.
    If 1A is rejected by voters — which current polls indicate it will
    be — then the insatiable bureaucrats in Sacramento will focus their
    attention on taxing businesses. Thus, businesses are in the
    unenviable position of protecting their own self-interest by backing
    1A now in order to protect themselves against inevitable business
    tax increases.

    All sorts of businesses have paid into the 1A deception to protect
    their future interests. From California Steel Industries to Southern
    California Edison, 7-Eleven, Inc., to AFLAC Insurance, a wide
    variety of businesses have contributed millions to the 1A campaign.

    Oil companies also recognize that their products will see tax
    raises. That’s why they’ve contributed more than $1 million to
    passing 1A. Chevron alone gave $500,000. Better to have the average
    car owner pay more in personal taxes now than pay more at the pump
    next year.

    In addition to punishing business, alcohol and tobacco companies are
    concerned the failure of 1A will bring about “sin taxes” on their
    products. Phillip Morris has contributed $350,000 to 1A, and
    alcohol-related companies such as Anheuser-Busch have chipped in
    hundreds of thousands more.

    Entertainment and sports venues have also been forced to protect
    themselves against increased taxes by donating to 1A. Universal
    Studios, Netflix and Disney have each given $250,000, along with
    many of California’s sports teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and
    San Francisco Giants.

    It defies every principle of free market economics to force
    businesses into the position of supporting higher taxes on those who
    patronize their businesses in order to ensure the survival of their
    companies. But that is exactly what Governor Schwarzenegger and the
    legislature have done. The governor and lawmakers have given
    businesses an unconscionable ultimatum: invest in passing 1A and
    hurt average citizens now, or we’ll bill (tax) you for the failure
    of 1A.

    Voters should reject 1A and then demand the governor and lawmakers
    fix the real cause of our state’s economic downturn by passing
    meaningful budget reform. Only when politicians live within their
    means will our state prosper once again. – Peter Foy, Ventura
    So, bottom line for bikers is defeat props 1A, 2A, 3A. Let the state find revenue elsewhere. This should turn out to be an interesting time in California history. Don’t let up any slack. Write your lawmakers from the url Bob posted. Tell them no smog tests.
    If you guys win the smog test issue, then you need to help us get one-kit-per-person-per-lifetime kits. Deal?

  12. 12 jatinder pal May 14th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    The terminator is about to terminate.

  13. 13 Rodent May 14th, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Smog check Pelosi

  14. 14 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian M/C Co May 14th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Yet we have 128 dirty polluting trains a day going through Riverside (Inland Empire SoCal) with an average of 5 engines per train all pretty much exclusive of clean air regulations. Diesel pollutants get blamed on big rigs which run extremely clean but NEVER trains. They want to screw with motorcyclists yet let the big and powerful train industry run free. My paid for big rig that only puts on a few miles a year in Calif to a few motorcycle shows around the US will be outlawed come 2012 (or 2013). Welcome to the comunistic state of Calif.
    If we’re considering “Carbon footprint”, it costs a whole lot to manufacture a new vehicle and I prefer to recycle and keep my old stuff. I’m sticking with my old iron and going to protest. Time to throw the tea into the river guys. I did hear a good one which is being done at the upcoming elections. A radio station is doing cardboard cut outs of certain elected officials and putting them into a tree shedder.

  15. 15 frequent_rider May 14th, 2009 at 10:01 am

    The entire riding community needs to speak up and stop this stupidity! The costs to implement this will be huge – at a time when the state is already billions in the hole? Darned right weed should be legalized and taxed – one could easily make a case that all the folks behind this stupid idea have been smoking weed for a long time!

    It’s a BS idea anyway – as others have pointed out, where it’s required, all one has to do is put on a legal system to get tested and pass – then put the louder/higher performance/better looking pipes back on. It’s not illegal to “tamper” – simply a “fix-it” ticket in most places. Some areas are “bullying” bike shops so they won’t do aftermarket exhausts – but it’s not illegal to do it.

    The real danger is if auto rules are implemented for motorcycles. What killed after market exhausts on cars was the anti-tampering laws that made it illegal to modify an auto exhaust OR sell a car with a modified exhaust. If that happens to bikes, that will have a huge impact not just on bike sales, but also kill the used bike market – which in turn makes a used bike pretty well worthless.

    As it stands now, where law enforcement wants to make life difficult for a rider, any bike with any non-stock exhaust system is fair game for an easy ticket – for well over 20 years, the EPA laws have wording along the lines that say that the exhaust system on a bike must have stamped on it that it meets the emissions and noise standards for that year and make of bike. Every new bike has that stamped (yeah – tiny letters and hard to find/see) on it – doing so adds cost, so you know they would not do it if they didn’t have to do it.

    We need to stand up for our rights – as riders as well as taxpayers that are tired of laws that are expensive to implement. Don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend that money on riding – they already get too much tax money that is wasted on stupid, brain-dead programs (like the one that limits a rider to one “kit” bike in their life – should have been written for aircraft, not bikes, as those are even more dangerous).

  16. 16 Kirk Perry May 14th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    LA CROSSE, WI (May 12, 2009) S&S® Cycle announces TÜV approval of a carbureted V-Series engine to EURO III noise and exhaust emission standards.

    Sign of the future and it’s not bright for kit-bikes. Here is how the USA vehicle codes will become the TUV in tomorrows world:

    “S&S Cycle continues to strive to offer more Proven Performance products that meet today’s increasing emissions standards. Being added to S&S’ current list of emissions certified engines is the TÜV approved S&S V113. The V113 is a carbureted 113 cubic inch V-Series engine that has been approved by the TÜV to meet the current EURO III noise and exhaust emission standards. Approval of the V113 offers European custom bike builders the opportunity to build custom motorcycles containing a sought after V-Twin power plant while still being able to register their creations.

    Director of Business Development Michael Scaletta comments “We are very pleased about achieving EURO III certification for our engines. Not only does it demonstrate the sophistication of our technology, but also highlights our commitment to protecting the environment by producing emissions compliant high performance products – something we have been doing since the first S&S 50 state legal engines appeared in our catalog in 1998.”

    We need to have our old bikes and un-corked kit motors. We have to complain. If we do the government will bend. One kit-bike-per-lifetime-is plenty. You can only ride one bike at a time. It’s not meant to scam. It’s our one emissions exempt motorcycle. One is enough.

  17. 17 Bobfather May 14th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Trust me, if every registered motorcycle owner in this state would stand up and say something about this they would be forced to take noitce. Divisive attitudes and apathy are our biggest enemy and these elected idiots know that about the biking community. Time to put aside the whole “biker” menatality and stand together, or divided we will fall.

  18. 18 Kirk Perry May 14th, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Copy and paste, then change to fit your own words, my message to your Calif. legislator. Only takes a few minutes. You’ll receive a notice from each one of them, telling you your message was noted. The legislators like to send you back a message that says, “We have so and so working on it and their going to introduce a bill to that effect….etc. etc.”
    So, while your reading this, send them a message.
    It’s easy just type in your zip code and have your message loaded on “copy”, then click “paste” into the message box and your done. Do the same thing to every legislator listed in your area. You will be surprised at your impact.

  19. 19 Kirk Perry May 14th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Smog Tests For Motorcycles
    ““Five tons of smog out of 5,691 tons emitted daily from all statewide sources is so minuscule,” said John Paliwoda, executive director of the California Motorcycle Dealers Assn. in Lake Elsinore. ”
    It’s a waste of taxpayer money to create more bureaus to smog bikes. The smog devices can be and will be removed by bike owners after inspection. Stop the hysteria about m/c smog and re-think. Thank you

    Copy the text above (on a mac, hold down the mouse and make all the text you want to capture turns blue.)
    Leave the text blue. Let go of the mouse button. Move the mouse around until you can make the arrow (cursor) go up to the top of your screen menu – to the bold print that says “Edit”. Hold down the mouse button and a menu will drop-down. Make the arrow go to “Copy”. Click on “Copy”. Let go of the mouse.
    The text you made turn blue is now loaded and ready to “Paste”.
    After you’ve finished reading this, click on the url below. Follow the prompts. After the brief check-in, you’ll get a white message box. Click in the white box to get it activated and then go up to your screen menu (again) and click on “Edit” (again) and then hold down the button to get the drop-down menu and find “Paste”. Click on paste. Your message fills the box. Your done.

    Note: Be sure to fill in your email address and (if asked), whether you’re “for” or “against” the issue you’ve presented (we’re “against” smog checks on M/C).
    Thank you.

  20. 20 Kirk Perry May 14th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    You can use the “Copy” and “Paste” without having to go through all of the loading steps again. The text remains in your computer. Every time you hit “Paste” your message will be inserted into the white message box.
    So, send the complaint-message to all the representatives listed in your zip code. Good.

  21. 21 Kirk Perry May 14th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Kit Builds In California
    Cryil can cut and paste this to anywhere he wants, if it’s bleeding Smog Test interest.

    My next focus will be finding a contingency-based attorney that will file a discriminatory suit against the State of California for eliminating our cultural heritage beliefs, directly relating to the series of Harley-Davidson® motors that evolved between the years 1936-1958.
    By not recognizing the March 2004, EPA, Section G. “Kit Build” guidelines, the state is denying our cultural heritage to continue on in California. The design of those first OHV motors are the foundation for the Harley-Davidson’s of today. Everyone agrees on that.
    Our beliefs are founded on the engineering marvel of the 1936-38 Knuckleheads. The motor evolved, sometimes by year, sometimes only every 9 yrs., but the same basic crankcase was finally perfected in 1958. That is all blueprinted Harley-Davidson® archived fact. Read the blueprints for 1936 and read the blueprints of the left sprocket shaft and left crankcase for 1958. Go ahead. We’ll bring the blueprints into court to graphically prove that the devotion shown to all Harley-Davidson®’s are based on those motors. Harley-Davidson® engineered the” sound” by their purposeful “wasted spark” denotation degrees and heavy set of flywheels. It’s all the the books. An attorney can read it and follow the mechanical progression.

    You say what? You don’t understand? Yes, we know you don’t understand, but the ’36-58 devotees do, and we’re not going to see our culture be eradicated. The American Indians didn’t stand for it and neither will we. Not without a fight.

    The OHV motor is like a mechanical living thing. It has a heart (oil pump), a circulatory system (pg. 3A-7 & 3A-8, ’59-69 H-D® Service Manual), lungs (cylinders), nervous system (carburetor, coil, points, plugs), fuel, exhaust. It’s all there and documented year by year by several authorities. A person has to “study” the books and manuals. There is connective tissue between them. One book may not refer to an item, but another book does. It is close to religion. If you consider the “study” requirements, but for a FINITE amount of facts (61 & 74″ motors only), there is NO QUEStION that some book will not answer. That’s a society.

    The replica motors, transmissions and rolling chassis are all manufactured by V-Twin®. We want to continue teaching our beloved OHV engineering foundations to our children, at home, building a kit from parts supplied by a third party.

    One emission exempt m/c kit-per-legal age person-per-lifetime.

    Kit bike cannot be sold for 5 yrs. after building. Circumvented NOT even, by death, divorce or taxes. Just as the EPA has in place already. Nothing needs to be changed. Tweak it to suit, but we want one-kit-emissions-exempt-per-person bikes in California.

    If you’re attorney and you think we have the components for a discriminatory suit against the state of California, on contingency basis, please email me at:

    We should file an immediate injunction to prevent any further action by CARB on any motorcycle issues until our suit has been heard. And do it now.

  22. 22 Grayhawk May 14th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Agree with all it is time to change to back to a common sense America. These political people are making money off revenue driven rules and regulations, scare tactics, and manipulated numbers to suit their lobby and/or agenda. Al Gore was a mere pauper compared to his worth today and at who’s expense?

    Fair tax, state controlled government by the people, common sense restrictions and America needs to be as self reliant as can be in an international supply of goods, in other words balance imports to exports.

    But have to say to Frequent Rider it is against a law to tamper and or change an OEM vehicle, from an emission and decibel standpoint.

    Believe said law, a federal law goes back to AROUND 1989 with additional contraints outlined over the years as you are seeing that has in the last few years come to fruitation and implementation especially in Ca., but that is off the top of my head on actual date, etc. and if memory serves me it did cost a couple of California dealers a couple hundred thousand dollars per identified occurance of tampering. It is another one of those laws that are out there but not being enforced or have been selectively enforced.

    Am not endorsing it but it is there on the books.

    Did not California run out of money back in the 60’s also and had to release all the insane out into the streets in Berkley because state could not afford to house and care for them and what happened out there then and since ????? Good music but low hanging clouds and chemicals abound every since. Look at some of the resulting mutated offsprings , Pelosi for one.


  23. 23 Grayhawk May 14th, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I stand corrected on the date above, knew it didn’t sound correct, Clean Air Act 1979 not 1989 started it all going to where it is today and forward, again not good but on the books.

  24. 24 Nicker May 14th, 2009 at 9:16 pm


    “…. if proposition 1A fails (so will 2A & 3A), it will put pressure on California to not implement an expensive M/C Smog regulation. The state will start to look elsewhere for income…”

    From your lips to God’s ear………….

    But the fetal-alcohol-baby’s that have matriculated from the welfare roles into the voter roles may soon (with the help of ACORN) consolidated with the voting Illegals. That confluence will kill off CA’s vitality for a long, LONG time.

    And if it happens here, sooner or later it will happen where you are….. 🙁


  25. 25 J May 15th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Yep- it’s really about tax revenue, not curbing pollution.

    I look forward to having my ’72 Kawasaki H2 smog-checked; Then again, I use bean oil, so maybe I’ll apply for an exemption under the Farm Act……(!)

    Hey Pelosi- you want green or blue smoke with your Socialism today?

  26. 26 Tom Zimberoff May 18th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    For those of you who have posted rants about thi legislation (CA SB 435) being designed to generate revenue, you are mistaken. California State Senator Fran Pavley, who initiated SB 435, is, I believe, genuinely interested in reducing air pollution and global warming, no matter how misguided her strategy is. The number of registered motorcycle in California does not support any substantive increase of revenue as a motivation.

    That said, all of you who posted comments in this thread seem to have missed the letter I wrote nearly two months ago to Senator Pavley, which Cyril publish in this blog. I’ll send it to him again, incase he wants to re-run it. In the meantime, here, again, is the contact information for the senator. It is far more effective to telephone and speak with a staffer, by the way, than to write. But that should not preclude your writing:

    The Honorable Fran Pavley
    State Senator 23rd District
    The Capitol
    Room Nº 4035
    Sacramento, California 95814

    (916) 651-4023
    Fax: (916) 324-4823

    District Office
    (310) 314-5214
    Fax: (310) 314-5263
    2716 Ocean Park Blvd.
    Suite 3088
    Santa Monica, CA 90405

  27. 27 Kirk Perry May 18th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    How about a FORM LETTER and an email address for Pavely?
    Nobody calls anybody on the telephone anymore. (i.e; on hold, follow the prompts, get dis-connected, being charged for a long distance call, etc.)
    Give people who are sitting here reading this the opportunity to move immediate action.

    1. COPY the form letter.
    2. PASTE it into the message box from Pavey’s email address. Add your name at end of the message. Click “SEND”.

  28. 28 Joe Welder May 18th, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    This from today’s LA Times,0,5567325.story

    These are interesting times — everyone wants change until things start to change. But, remember change is good!

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Cyril Huze