US EPA Looking to Ban Modified Bikes for the Racetrack

In news that will send shivers down the spine of any racer or even just amateur track day enthusiast, the US Environmental Protection Agency is mulling over the idea of implementing legislation that would ban the use of converting vehicles (including motorcycles) designed for on-road use into race bikes.

At the core of the proposal, the EPA is signalling that any modifications to bikes which change the emissions of said machine would be illegal – even if those machines are never ridden on public roads. Such modifications can be as simple as removing restrictors in air boxes, putting in new exhaust systems or remapping air and fuel ratios.

News of this comes courtesy of SEMA, one of the largest industry associations in the US who have been aware of this for some time but are now stepping up their campaign against it. In a press release, SEMA stated that:

“This proposed regulation represents overreaching by the agency, runs contrary to the law and defies decades of racing activity where EPA has acknowledged and allowed conversion of vehicles,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “Congress did not intend the original Clean Air Act to extend to vehicles modified for racing and has re-enforced that intent on more than one occasion.”

SEMA submitted comments in opposition to the regulation and met with the EPA to confirm the agency’s intentions. The EPA indicated that the regulation would prohibit conversion of vehicles into racecars and make the sale of certain emissions-related parts for use on converted vehicles illegal.

Out of the massive 629 page working document published by the EPA is this paragraph which is causing most concern (found on page 514 of the PDF document):

Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become nonroad vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of 40 CFR 1068.101(b) and 42 U.S.C. 7522(a)(3).

Not only would such a ban adversely affect racers, it would have a devastating impact on the aftermarket parts industry. No more sale of exhausts, air filters that improved flow or engine mapping products like Power Commanders.

What is so frustrating over such potential legislation is it is purely a case of grasping at low-hanging fruit. The amount of extra pollution that is generated by track vehicles with modified emissions would be two tenths of nothing. Domestically, the EPA would appear more concerned about a small subset of the population enjoying themselves rather than larger issues such as water contamination and gas leaks.

Since the release of their proposal, EPA has come out and stated that it doesn’t intend to specifically target riders but the legislation is proposed to come into existence by July this year regardless. It would be highly likely that the EPA would go after companies selling aftermarket parts and SEMA has noted this specifically which would result in a similar outcome.

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