Motorcycles Greener Than Cars. Myth Or Reality?

In a new TV episode of “Mythbusters” this evening Wednesday September 28, 2011 on the Discovery Channel at 9 pm (ET), the 2 show hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are testing the myth that a motorcycle is a greener and a cleaner machine than a car. Is it always true?

I don’t know the methodology and vehicles they used, just that they hire, to give a scientific aspect to their study, Kent Johnson, a research engineer at the Center For Evironmental Research & Technology. I will watch. (followed by a segment to demonstrate if a bullet could take out a bazooka.)

Zipper's

19 Responses to “Motorcycles Greener Than Cars. Myth Or Reality?”


  1. 1 Jose Ortiz Sep 28th, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Will be very interesting, but both camps, whatever the results, are going to challege the methodology, motorcycles and cars used. And the debate will continue…

  2. 2 zyon Sep 28th, 2011 at 7:35 am

    This show is cool but it rarely seems scientifically accurate. You can easily test the pollution output of a a single motorcycle and car but overall, it simply comes down to the model of motorcycle Vs the model of car and the condition of said vehicles.

    They would need to compare well over a thousand different makes to come up with a sample large enough for any scientist to even raise an eyebrow.

  3. 3 Luis Sep 28th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    My understanding is that the emissions standards on bikes are looser than they are for cars. The main advantage for the environment is that most bikes get better MPG than most cars.

  4. 4 CafeSportyTC Sep 28th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    just like most “scientists” you can tweak perameters to make the results fall where you want them. coffee cuases cancer right? oh wait it doesnt anymore…. better go fill my cup again

  5. 5 hoyt Sep 28th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    true, one-on-one testing will yield x result.

    I hope they discuss cumulative effects such as the amount of congestion that vehicles the size of cars create. If x % of cars were replaced with 2-wheeled varieties there would be a helluva lot more room in and around cities, which means less sitting in traffic and therefore less emissions and fuel consumed.

    There is also the macro comparison of cost of manufacture and raw materials consumed in the manufacture of cycles vs. cars. That has some merit, but the problem with that is rarely does a North American motorcycle owner not also own a car.

  6. 6 Woody Sep 28th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    As above. It’ll all boil down to the criteria used and results wanted ahead of time. There are a lot of cars out there that can meet or beat a muscle bike’s best numbers. Then if you want to use a test of carrying 4 persons 100 miles of mixed driving you’d need 2 bikes and one car, bet that’d be some easy numbers for one 4-passenger hybrid econobox vs two GoldWings or EGlides, etc.

  7. 7 zyon Sep 28th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    It is Discovery channel and they seem to be pro-motorcycle so I’ll place a few quid that motorcycles win out on this one.

  8. 8 Toby Sep 28th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    It ALL depends on the assumptions. A Honda Civic with four cylinder automatic and FOUR passengers will get better MPG per passenger than a Street Glide with solo saddle. An Escalade with one driver will pale against a Yamaha 100cc scooter with two passengers.

    The data already exists anyway as all manufacturers must publish both their fuel economy and their emissions.

  9. 9 Bert Sep 28th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Every time I see that Jamie guy in the show I am always reminded of what my dad used to say
    “Unless you were issued a rifle to go along with that beret, its gayer than a mouthful of dick “

  10. 10 nicker Sep 28th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Does it matter, one way or the other…… ???
    (certainly not to me)

    -nicker-

  11. 11 Luis Sep 28th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    ROFL Bert that was great.

  12. 12 Doc Robinson Sep 29th, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Which motorcycle? A big cube, carby chopper is going to lose to pretty well any of today’s cars. But a small capacity, fuel injected, lightweight commuter bike would likely win. So there is no right or wrong answer. However, their methodology and conclusions are going to be interesting indeed. As for Discovery being pro-motorcycle, even if that is true, it will not influence the Mythbusters’ crew who do strive for scientific accuracy in as far as possible. But as expressed, it is a dumb question.

  13. 13 Lisa Horney Sep 29th, 2011 at 9:49 am

    thanks for the laugh Bert, better than the joke of the week ~

  14. 14 biker Sep 29th, 2011 at 10:42 am

    ? How much wind goes though a spoke wheel at 60 mph?

  15. 15 Steve Hog Radio producer Johann Sep 29th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    My kids love the show whenever they’re around a TV with cable they tune in the reruns every time.

    FYI California laws are being rewritten to allow the New Gen 2 stroke cycles back on the street. This is because they have no money to go after this type of bike so reps are pushing to let them back in again.

    Another point – new bikes like new cars put out less emissions than older models of both.

    Here is an apples to apples challenge – Highest priced BMW bike vs highest priced BMW car. Both are made by same company, both are sporty and designed to go fast.

  16. 16 Rich Sep 29th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Kari Byron is a good reason to watch that show.

  17. 17 Lightnin'Larry Sep 29th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I love the show but as to which is greener I couldn’t care less! AGW is the real myth here!

  18. 18 Brett Oct 2nd, 2011 at 5:49 am

    They used the most popular cars & bikes from the 80’s, 90;s & 00’s. Suffice it to say, a Cruiser of any kind, HD or otherwise, was not used. More like crotch rockets & enduros. Bottom line….not even close. Yep, bikes use less gas,the MPG is far better, but every pollutant given off by an engine was at minimum 10 times greater on a bike.

    Then they even made some shell to make it more aerodynamic. It made the bike better, but still no where close to a car.

    Makes me wonder how bad a lawn mower is…..

    So bikes are not greener then cars.

    & we thought the EPA just wanted pipes quieter….. lol

  19. 19 Alan K Oct 3rd, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Right on Lightnin’ Larry! Green is a color and that’s it!

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