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2011 Zero ZU – Click above for high-res image gallery

Europe could benefit from more stringent emissions regulations for motorcycles, according to views expressed at the European Parliament's hearing last week. Proposed legislation presented at the hearing calls for updates to Europe's emissions standards for "L" category vehicles, which includes two-wheeled vehicles ranging from mopeds to motorcycles, as well as trikes and quads.

The proposal will be voted in October 2011 and, if approved, L-category vehicles will be required to meet stringent Euro 5, or maybe even Euro 6, guidelines. The European Parliament's proposal notes that while L-category vehicles are responsible for only three percent of total road transport mileage, their emissions are excessive.

An analysis of motorcycle fuel consumption and emissions in France found that even some fuel-injected models failed to meet current emissions standards and, as the two-wheeled vehicles aged, emissions increased dramatically. Euro 5 guidelines would require L-category vehicles to be outfitted with durable catalytic converters that don't lose much of their effectiveness over time. While that would reduce emissions, some manufacturers argue that costs associated with long-lasting catalytic converters would have to be passed on to buyers. Isn't that the norm?




[Source: European Parliament]
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Gearing up for safer, greener motorbikes

Europe would benefit from proposed new rules for motorbike safety and environmental performance, but the industry's capacity to adapt will need to be taken into account, according to views expressed at a hearing in Parliament on Tuesday.

The hearing in Parliament internal market committee concerns a legislative proposal to update rules for "L" category vehicles, which include light powered two-wheeled vehicles from mopeds to motorbikes, as well as three-wheeled vehicles and quads.

Committee Chair Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK) noted that the Commission proposal to improve safety and environmental performance also raises a number of economic issues. Rapporteur Wim van de Camp (EPP, NL) commented that the exact scope for new rules and the timetable for introducing new measures would be major points in the discussion.

Road safety

"L" type vehicles represent 2% of distance travelled in the EU, but 16% of road deaths. Both rider behaviour and technical measures are critical factors. Luca Pascotto, from the Federation International de l'Automobile considered anti-lock braking systems (ABS) to be "a promising technology" that needed to be combined with updating driver's skills.

Patrice Assendelft, representing the Dutch Royal Motorbiker's Association (KNMV), stressed that the "human factor is the most important", adding that training can help riders develop a "sixth sense" to avoid emergency situations.

Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE) and Heide RÜHLE (Greens/EFA, DE) were interested in available cost benefit analysis of equipping bikes with ABS. Toine MANDERS (ALDE, NL) suggested that car drivers should also be trained on specifics of driving in motorbike traffic.

Environmental performance

Bertrand-Oliver Ducreux presented French environmental agency ADEME's analysis of fuel consumption efficiency and durability of different classifications of bikes. Some fuel injection models were found to exceed current carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits.

Dirk Bosteels presented Association for Emissions Control by Catalyst (AECC) analysis, which also found vehicles to be exceeding emissions limits, especially as their mileage increased, due to the absence of durability requirements.

Industry views on new legislation

Representing the largest manufacturers association (ACEM), Antonio Perlot expressed support for the legislative proposal's goals but warned of the challenge faced by industry to meet deadlines. He pointed to the small-scale, fragmented nature of the motorbike industry and emphasised that the economic crisis had seen sales dip 25% over the last two years, compared to 6% for cars.

Jean-Ludovic Basset, speaking on behalf of after-market distributors (FIGIEFA), highlighted the importance of repairs, spare part sales and training. Over 100,000 are employed in this area in the EU. He said safety and environmental aspects need to be considered through the entire life cycle of vehicles, not only for manufacture.

The road ahead

The proposal will be voted in committee in October 2011 before it goes to the European Parliament plenary.

In the Chair: Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK)


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  • 18 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      electric motorcycles should look more like bicycles. no reason to build it that heavy just to lift one person.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Actually, this is just my problem. My eBike does 36mph and if i hook it up to 80-96 volts, i will surely reach into the 45mph zone.

        I have wide tires, a quality frame, and the biggest disc brakes anyone can buy. Is it safe at these speeds? i would say yes!

        But the choice for a legal ride is either a 200lb+ motorcycle frame with electric batteries in it or a 20mph bike..

        Yes, we really do need a middle choice. I cannot register my eBike as a motorcycle and pay registration and insurance on it. Honestly i would love to.
        • 3 Years Ago
        2-wheeled menace, I guess you name is fitting : ) although your icon is still a complete mystery.
        do you have video of your 2 wheeled menace?
        • 3 Years Ago
        All motorcycles have serious disadvantages when coming to terms with a crash. However comparing bicycles (usually in the range of 10 kg) to scooters and motorcycles (usually in the range of 100+ kg) provides significant advantage to motorcycles in terms of stability and comfort when paired with comparative suspension.

        Even ELMOTO HR-2 has only 2 kW / 45 kg with 45 km/h limit and is probably the closest scooter to a bicycle-look-alike.
        • 3 Years Ago
        FEV, I don't think there would be any significant comfort difference. of course the seat should be large and soft not atrocious like they typically are on a bicycle. also the wheels should be smaller and the seating position more seated.
        • 3 Years Ago
        FEV, I understand what you mean but do you really think that 200kg worth of steel between your legs will in any way protect you in a crash? the girth of a motorcycle should in no way be mistaken for safety. the thinnest of carbon fiber bicycle frames will protect you just as little.
        • 3 Years Ago
        What? I'd be very weary about driving a 35+ kW bicycle along a motorway at 100+ km/h (a test required to pass the full motorcycle licence in Europe).

        I'm fine by the 4 kW scooters at 45 km/h limit or 250 W auxiliary electric motors in bicycles with 25 km/h limit. Going beyond that for a bicycle is for extreme bikers only.

        The same weirdness was, when Toyota i-REAL was planned to replace 6 km/h mobility scooters with automotive "chairs" that goes 30 km/h on a "Cruising Mode".
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great looking motorcycle! I'll bet it weighs a scant proportion of most ICE cycles?

      Neil
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would imagine that hiway speed electric cycles would need to be structurally much stronger that bicycles, just a thought. I think this Zero bunch is pretty much on the cutting edge, because it seems to me were bicycle people, mountain bikes or something. Anyway, it stands to reason that a 100 MPH (or whatever) vehicle needs to be beefier than a 20 MPH vehicle. These kids buying these things want excitement. They look exiting to me.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        it would of course need a bit more strength to carry battery and motor. and the wheels should have a stronger rim. they deform if you look at them funny.
        but it wouldn't be much.
        in tour de france they go 90km/h on the bikes down hill. that's crazy but that's another matter.

        a motorbike would also greatly benefit from some aerodynamic body work
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        With a hub motored electric motorcycle, you wouldn't really need to reinforce the frame.

        All that weight which would normally support the motor and transmission would support the batteries easily. The hub motor weight would be supported by the ground; no stress on the frame.

        And yes, companies do already make hub motors for electric motorcycles.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Apart from anything else, you need some hefty batteries to reach highway speeds, so you are talking about a fairly substantial machine, and if you don't want to commit suicide the design has to be radically different to a bike.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thank Goodness!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Typo Patrol: the photo caption sez "ZU", but the rest of the post says "XU".

        Neil
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      Are air cooled engines more likely to pollute?
      • 3 Years Ago
      The same scare tactics used by the car industry in the 60's is now being used on motorcycles. Before that it was seat belts. Motorcycle manufactures just need to face reality. They raise the price whenever they add some new gadget and it is about time manufacturers learn there is a value when you make your products cleaner. Now capitalize on it. If a company wants to sell broccoli do they sell it by saying "Its not that great tasting" or "The health benefits of eating broccoli are: high in fiber, vitamin C, etc.etc."

      A Zero is my first choice. I am a mountain biker first and foremost but, I do dabble in the dirt bike catagory, but I hate the noise and smoke. The forces generated at speed with the weight of the battery and motor, you have to have a motorcycles strength. The battery is going to be bigger the farther the distance you go. There are smaller mountain bike platformed electric bikes that are not as capable and are not road legal, where electric motorcycles can go hwy speeds. Just sayin.
        • 3 Years Ago
        You should really consider building an offroad electric mountain bike.
        They can have torque at low speeds; right where you need it.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaIYP30gztw

        Check this guy's videos out. Makes me jones for some offroad action pretty bad..
        • 3 Years Ago
        BTW his bike is capable of doing well over 40mph. I have heard of guys building eBikes that do over 60mph.

        You can have your cake and eat it too with an eBike.
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