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Sep 27, 2001

New EPA Rules Could Ban TZ250, RS250, RS125 Racebikes

Tighter EPA regulations for two-stroke off-road vehicles could ban two-stroke grand prix racebikes, including the Yamaha TZ250, Honda RS250 and RS125, effectively dooming the AMA 250cc Grand Prix Series and other racing series in the U.S.<BR><BR>The proposed EPA regulations would contain exemptions for motocross racebikes used exclusively on closed-course racetracks, but the definition of such vehicles includes a minimum of 10 inches of suspension travel, far more than GP road race machines have.<BR><BR><BR>Details are in this press release from the AMA:<BR><BR>New off-road emissions standards may end two-strokes<BR><BR>Sept. 26 - The federal government has sent a clear signal that it wants an end to two-stroke off-highway motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles by 2006, the AMA reports.<BR><BR>In its recently released proposal for national emissions standards covering off-highway motorcycles and ATVs, the Environmental Protection Agency has set requirements only slightly less stringent than those in place in California, which have severely restricted two-stroke off-highway machines there. Currently, there are no national emissions standards governing off-road motorcycles and ATVs. However, there are requirements for road motorcycles that have been in place for 20 years, and those will be revised in November.<BR><BR>Under the EPA proposal, which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register early next month, new off-highway motorcycles and ATVs would be subject to strict emissions requirements that would be partially phased-in in 2006 and require 100 percent compliance in 2007. In addition, ATVs would be required to meet even tougher standards beginning in 2009.<BR><BR>The requirements wouldn't affect machines built through 2005, but would apply to machines built in 2006 and thereafter. The EPA said it expects that manufacturers will meet these new, stringent off-highway standards by using four-stroke engines.<BR><BR>The EPA has decided to allow exemptions for off-road competition-only machines, described as vehicles lacking lights or a spark arrester, having suspension travel of more than 10 inches, and having an engine displacement larger than 50cc.<BR><BR>"Vehicles not meeting the applicable criteria…would be excluded (from the emissions requirements) only in cases where the manufacturer has clear and convincing evidence that the vehicles for which the exemption is being sought will be used solely for competition," the EPA rules note.<BR><BR>During the initial comment period on the proposal, the AMA asked the EPA to avoid regulations that would eliminate two-stroke machines, favored by many off-highway riders for their light weight and power characteristics.<BR><BR>The AMA told the agency that it shouldn't mandate the use of fuel injection, catalytic converters or other means to meet the new emissions requirements. Instead, the AMA said, manufacturers should be given the opportunity to meet performance-based standards through research and development. The Association suggested the EPA establish separate emissions standards for two-stroke and four-stroke motors, and then let the manufacturers work to meet those standards.<BR><BR>"We'll oppose any efforts to do away with two-stroke off-road motorcycles and ATVs," said Edward Moreland, the AMA vice president for government relations. "Enthusiasts should be able to choose whether to use two-stroke or four-stroke machines."<BR><BR>The EPA had planned to propose new emissions standards for highway motorcycles alongside the off-highway standards, but now says the streetbike proposal will be made separately in November.<BR><BR>The AMA urges motorcyclists to write to the EPA and ask that the agency create separate emissions standards for four-stroke and two-stroke motorcycles and ATVs. Tell the agency that officials need to consider safety, cost and performance in creating the new standards.<BR><BR>The comment deadline is Dec. 19.<BR><BR>The easiest way to let the EPA know how you feel is by using the AMA's Rapid Response Center. There, you will find a letter that you can send with a click of the mouse.<BR><BR>Or write to: Margaret Borushko (Docket No. A-2000-01), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, 2000 Traverwood Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105.<BR><BR>You may also submit comments by e-mail to<BR><BR>The EPA plans to hold public hearings on the proposed rules on Oct. 24 in Washington, D.C., and Oct. 30 in Denver.<BR><BR>The off-highway emissions proposal and related developments can be read at the EPA website at<BR><BR>(More details, and how to respond via the AMA Rapid Response Center, on<BR>; <BR>