Do motorcycles need catalytic converters with relatively small engines? Smaller motorcycle engines indeed produce less harmful gases, so why add the cost of a catalytic converter?
Since 2008 motorcycles have been required to have catalytic converters fitted before the exhaust outlet to mitigate the harmful gases produced by the combustion engine. Motorcycles produce more harmful by-products from burning gas than the average family SUV.
Are motorcycles required to have catalytic converters?
Yes, any motorcycle post-1980 must have a catalytic converter as stock from the factory.
There are impressive statistics from the US and, in particular, California stating that 3% of motorcycles are responsible for 20% of emissions.
Motorcycle engines run at higher revs causing more pollution, which is hard to believe but true according to the US.
The catalytic converter will remove most of the harmful gases from the motorcycle’s exhaust. The catalytic converter is usually situated close to the header like a car cat.
O2 sensors (lambda sensors) are placed on either side of the catalytic converter monitoring the emissions constantly.
If you are changing your exhaust to an aftermarket system, it should not affect the catalytic converter. Incidentally, if you are tempted to remove the cat from your motorcycle, there is a hefty fine for doing so.
Do all new motorcycles have catalytic converters?
All new motorcycles have catalytic converters. They are usually packed into the exhaust on smaller cc engines, but the cat is closer to the headers like a car for more extensive motorcycles.
Motorcycles pre-1980 may not be fitted with a catalytic converter but somehow are required to pass the increasingly stringent emission laws.
The newest motorcycles meet Euro 5 emission standards that produce minimal emissions from the exhaust.
How much is a motorcycle catalytic converter worth?
The scrap price of a used catalytic converter is incredibly high, making cats easy pickings for thieves who can cash the catalytic converters in at unscrupulous scrap dealers.
It takes a couple of minutes to remove a catalytic converter from your car or motorcycle. Some motorcycles have the catalytic converter hidden in the muffler. A skilled thief can remove the muffler quickly.
Catalytic converters range from 150 to 800 pounds depending on the size, around $1000 US dollars.
Catalytic converters are easy pickings for a small amount of time and with little risk of the thief being caught red-handed with the offending item on his person.
When did they start putting catalytic converters on motorcycles?
From 1980 the pressure was on to reduce emissions from combustion engines. This was when catalytic converters started to debut solidly and ubiquitously across combustion engines.
Europe, the UK and the US have strict emission laws and should your motorcycle fail the emission test. You are not allowed to ride your motorcycle until you can fix the emissions and bring them in line with the country’s laws.
Electric bikes will soon replace combustion engines, and motorcycles will change forever.