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Discussion document
On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations

Updating Canada's Motorcycle Emission Standards to Align with New U.S. Rules

3. Current Canadian Emission Standards for On-Road Motorcycles

The technical emission standards for motorcycles and their scope of application under the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations are designed to align with those of the U.S. EPA. The Regulations set out the two following definitions, which together, establish the range of vehicles subject to the applicable motorcycle emission standards:

"motorcycle" means an on-road vehicle with a headlight, taillight and stoplight that has two or three wheels and a curb weight of 793 kg (1,749 pounds) or less, but does not mean a vehicle that has an engine displacement of less than 50 cm³ (3.1 cubic inches), or that, with an 80 kg (176 pound) driver

  1. cannot start from a dead stop using only the engine; or
  2. cannot exceed a speed of 40 km/h (25 miles per hour) on a level paved surface.

"on-road vehicle" means a self-propelled vehicle designed for or capable of transporting persons, property, material or permanently or temporarily affixed apparatus on a highway, but does not mean a vehicle that

  1. cannot exceed a speed of 40 km/h (25 miles per hour) on a level paved surface;
  2. lacks features customarily associated with safe and practical highway use such as a reverse gear, unless the vehicle is a motorcycle, a differential, or safety features required by federal or provincial laws;
  3. exhibits features that render its use on a highway unsafe, impractical, or highly unlikely, such as tracked road contact means or inordinate size; or
  4. is a military vehicle designed for use in combat or combat support.

Pursuant to the referenced U.S. rules, exhaust emissions from on-road motorcycles must not exceed the emission limits outlined in Table 2, when tested in accordance with specified procedures9:

Table 2: Current Exhaust Emission Standards for On-Road Motorcycles
Engine Displacement
≥ 50

While all on-road motorcycles are required to meet the above standards, they are divided into three classes based on engine displacement and each class has a different "useful life" as outlined in Table 3. The useful life is the period of time and use for which a motorcycle is required to comply with applicable emission standards.

Table 3: Current On-Road Motorcycle Displacement Classes and Useful Life
Motorcycle ClassEngine Displacement
Useful Life
I50 - 1695.0 years or 12,000 km, whichever comes first
II170- 2795.0 years or 18,000 km, whichever comes first
III280 +5.0 years or 30,000 km, whichever comes first

In addition to the above exhaust emission limits, current regulations prohibit the release of crankcase emissions10. The current standards do not establish limits to control evaporative emissions11 from on-road motorcycles.

9 Exhaust emissions are measured by driving the vehicle over a driving cycle on a dynamometer (i.e., a treadmill-like device) in a laboratory. This driving cycle represents typical urban driving conditions and exhaust emissions from the vehicle are captured and analyzed for the regulated pollutants.

10 "Crankcase emissions" are defined as any substances that cause air pollution and that are emitted to the atmosphere from any portion of the engine crankcase ventilation or lubrication systems.

11 "Evaporative emissions" refer to hydrocarbon emissions that result from the evaporation of fuel.

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