California considers requiring motorcycle smog checks

    • 5420 posts
    May 7, 2009 6:22 AM PDT
    Just an FYI...

    (From the LA Times)

    Cars do it. Trucks do it. And now the state of California may require motorcycles to do it, too.

    Biennial smog checks would be required for motorcycles manufactured in the 2000 model year and later under a bill making its way through the California Legislature.

    Introduced in the Senate in late February, SB 435 targets bikes with illegally modified exhaust systems and would go into effect in 2012 if passed and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an avid motorcyclist.

    The measure has won support from health and environmental groups that say the move is critical to reducing the state's smog pollution but has angered motorcycle-rights groups, dealers and manufacturers, which say it's bad for business and an infringement of riders' freedoms.

    Motorcycles account for 3.6% of registered vehicles in the state and make up just 0.8% of vehicle-miles traveled, yet account for 10% of passenger vehicles' smog-forming emissions, according to the California Air Resources Board, which backs the measure. Although fuel-efficient bikes emit significantly less carbon dioxide per mile, the ARB says they are, on average, 14 times more polluting per mile when it comes to emissions of oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons -- smog-forming pollutants that have been shown to trigger asthma attacks and worsen respiratory and cardiac illnesses.

    The ARB estimates that 5.2 tons of pollutants would be prevented from entering the atmosphere daily if motorcycle smog checks become law.

    "Five tons of smog out of 5,691 tons emitted daily from all statewide sources is so minuscule," said John Paliwoda, executive director of the California Motorcycle Dealers Assn. in Lake Elsinore. "Our feeling is that fewer people will want to buy motorcycles if they'd have to go through a smog check where no smog check is required right now."

    Already, the industry is aching from the freezing of consumer credit and plummeting personal wealth, which have led to a 30.5% decline in new sales for the first quarter of 2009 over the same period last year, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

    But the ARB says every emission source is fair game in its effort to corral pollutants linked to health problems and climate change.

    "It's so difficult to find new sources of emissions reductions, particularly for L.A.," said Tom Cackette, the ARB's deputy director. "Some people think motorcycles look small, and percentage-wise they are tiny, but so is everything else that's available for emissions reductions."

    California's existing smog check programs already stop 400 tons of smog-forming pollutants daily, primarily from light-duty cars, trucks and SUVs; but the state must, by 2023, come up with several hundred more tons of pollution savings per day to meet federal clean air requirements. The state also is committed to reducing greenhouse gases.

    If motorcycle smog checks become law, the vehicles would join light-duty diesel trucks, which will be subject to smog checks beginning next year, and, potentially, older vehicles. A tougher measure, AB 859, is also working its way through the Legislature. It would require smog checks every year, rather than every other year.

    In pursuing bikes of 280 cc and above made in the 2000 model year and beyond, SB 435 attempts to home in on the size of motorcycle more likely to have a modified exhaust system, and an era of bikes equipped with catalytic converters. Motorcycles that employ catalytic converters are more reliant on them to reduce emissions and are at greater risk of becoming gross polluters when those systems are removed.

    It's these gross polluters that SB 435 is after.

    Whether for improved performance, a different sound or a custom look, 38% of on-road motorcycle owners replace or modify their exhaust systems, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council's 2008 Owner Survey. Cruisers are the most common type of bike with a modified exhaust, followed by sport bikes, touring models and competition dirt bikes.

    But a 2008 study of aftermarket activity by the ARB found that 85% of bikes 280 cc and larger had modified exhausts. "Most" of those, said Cackette, were illegal.

    Not all modified exhausts are illegal; some comply with the emissions requirements that govern what makes and models can be sold in the state. But many modified exhausts remove the bikes' catalytic converters, causing them to emit twice the legal limit of hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen.

    "Motorcyclists perhaps don't realize that those catalytic converters are absolutely critical to improving our air quality," said state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), author of SB 435. "I would like to challenge the motorcycle dealerships to work with us in educating motorcycle riders about the importance of keeping their catalytic converters on their bikes, as well as realizing that since all cars are part of the smog-check program and because we really have air pollution problems in so many parts of California, they need to be part of the solution."

    California was home to nine of the country's 10 worst cities for smog, according to a recent report by the American Lung Assn., a co-sponsor of SB 435.

    "I'm sure that many of these riders have families. They have children, who are especially susceptible to pollution," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior policy director for the American Lung Assn. of California. "I believe people that ride are concerned about these issues also but maybe just don't understand how serious the problem is."

    Although stalled in the Senate's Appropriations Committee, SB 435 is expected on the floor later this month and could be sent to the Assembly in June. A full vote would not be expected before August. Schwarzenegger "owns and rides motorcycles," but has not taken a position on the bill, said spokesman Aaron McLear.

    The California Department of Consumer Affairs would oversee development of the test if the bill passes and has not estimated its cost to motorcycle owners. "It will probably be a simple test -- maybe a visual inspection or a tailpipe test," Pavley said. "It wouldn't be as complicated or sophisticated as it is for automobiles."

    Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Industry Council in Irvine, said the aims of the test could be circumvented more easily by motorcyclists than by other motorists: Aftermarket exhaust systems, which cost $1,000 to $4,000, can be removed in several hours and reinstalled after the test.

    "The whole impact to the consumer of not being able to customize and personalize your motorcycle and tune it as you would like is something we can't support," Buche said, "because we know how valued that is by our customers."

  • May 7, 2009 8:56 AM PDT
    As it says towards the end there, you just need to save your factory exhaust to put back on for the inspection!!!
  • May 7, 2009 12:53 PM PDT
    we have a yearly smog tests in one county in az cost $ 12.00 I just pay 10.00 at our local independent shop, it passes,they reset the injection,good for a year.pain in the ass,its $$$$ for the state,whats next helmet laws ?
  • May 9, 2009 3:22 AM PDT
    If everyone rode a bike we wouldn't have a smog problem. Sounds like just a way to get some more money to try to fix the budget!
    • Moderator
    • 19025 posts
    May 9, 2009 9:53 AM PDT
    Not being from CA I do not have direct knowledge of how bad it is but SERIOUSLY, will this fix anything? As Sweet Soft Tail said, just one more way to take money from the citizens. What is next? Lawnmowers, weed whackers and chain saws?? Oh, and don't forget charcoal grills!
  • May 20, 2009 3:29 PM PDT
    Well , have you heard a new street glide ? Right , you can't hear it :-) ,,,You can hear mine . And after they pass the law . It will be quite only in the shop !! P.s. ya , in ca we do have to check to see if it's a spare the air day for the bbq. ,,,,whatever !!
  • May 22, 2009 4:12 AM PDT
    Aw hell! We knew this was coming with the all fuel injection, charcoal canisters, and CAT converters on the newer HD's. The state already jacked us on our registration. I have three bikes and two cars. Cost me a small fortune to keep them all current. Now a smog inspection too?
    Hey.. did you feel something? I think it was the states hand in your pocket!
    I would vote for the Terminator again, how about you?
    • 5420 posts
    May 22, 2009 4:41 AM PDT
    Kirk wrote...
    Aw hell! We knew this was coming with the all fuel injection, charcoal canisters, and CAT converters on the newer HD's. The state already jacked us on our registration. I have three bikes and two cars. Cost me a small fortune to keep them all current. Now a smog inspection too?
    Hey.. did you feel something? I think it was the states hand in your pocket!
    I would vote for the Terminator again, how about you?

    Oh, I felt something! And it wasn't a hand...and that wasn't my pocket
    • 5420 posts
    June 29, 2009 9:20 AM PDT
    Here is the latest update from AMA News...

    Thanks to the efforts of thousands of AMA members and other concerned motorcyclists, the sponsor of a proposed California law to require motorcycles to undergo periodic exhaust emissions testing has backed away from the idea, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

    The measure -- Senate Bill 435 introduced this year by state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica) -- would have required all model year 2000-and-newer on-road motorcycles with engine displacements of more than 280cc to be tested every two years. The motorcycles would have been included in the state Department of Consumer Affairs "smog check" program, which involves testing for unacceptable levels of pollutants in emissions.

    "This is an initial victory for California motorcyclists, but we can't let our guard down just yet," said Nick Haris, AMA western states representative. "Senators deserve credit for recognizing how this proposal would have created an added burden for motorcyclists, motorcycle businesses, and the cash-starved state bureaucracy, and they reworked the measure to limit its scope to focus on catalytic converters. The bill is on its way to the state Assembly, but we have to remain vigilant because it could revert back to its original form."

    Haris added that, in addition to AMA members, ABATE of California and the California Motorcycle Dealers Association put a lot of effort into changing the proposal.

    In addition, at least one senator argued the legislation was expensive, unfair to those who ride motorcycles for recreation, and was ostensibly nothing more than another tax. Political insiders saw the proposal as just a creative way for the cash-strapped state to find more money.

    "California's motorcyclists are willing to do their fair share to keep our skies clear, but this bill asked motorcyclists -- whose two wheels are far less of a resource drain than four-wheelers -- to shoulder an extra burden," said Haris. "The California Legislature has already raided $90 million of user-generated fees from the state's OHV fund. Some legislators saw this as an opportunity to create yet another motorcyclist-funded program with no thought as to the burden it placed on the backs of motorcyclists."

    California's motorcycle engine emission standards are already the strictest in the nation and, because of their relatively low yearly mileage totals when compared to other vehicles, the state's motorcycles have the lowest emissions of any motor vehicle category in California.

    More than 3,000 motorcyclists used the AMA Action Alert section at to let Sen. Pavley know that they opposed the legislation. They also expressed their concern that the bill could require motorcyclists to always have a stock exhaust system, whereas automobile owners are allowed to install aftermarket systems, which can be less costly.

    The emissions testing provision was dropped out of the bill and it cleared the Senate on June 1. The measure is now in the Assembly for consideration, where it could be further amended.
  • June 29, 2009 11:57 AM PDT
    Between the added cost of registration (even with my non-resident discount) and the threat of looming smog checks it's no wonder I'm registering my scoot in Oregon this year.
  • September 17, 2009 10:12 AM PDT
    sooner or later those wacko pinko politicians and friggin tree huggers in California will sooner or later get their greasy grimey little paws back on the bill to make us here in CA smog check our reason why I kept my bike stock on the exhaust/intake side, believe I know it will coming sooner or later. God...I hate California, I want out!!
    • 83 posts
    September 17, 2009 10:47 AM PDT
    Good thing your moving to the Carolinas
  • September 18, 2009 7:45 AM PDT
    Might like registration here too...$69 bucks for a one time/life time reg.Oh,and no moto smog check either!
    • 1161 posts
    November 22, 2009 4:48 PM PST
    I was going to say how are they going to keep it on the competition dirt bikes they change their exhaust systems for money they have to keep their stock one because some one has a bug up their backside? they dont have enough stuff to carry from one race to another now they have to keep that aswell, now what about racers outside Cali, do they need to get theirs checked when they come in before or after a race aswell?

    but not living there it dont matter to me just was wondering my self.
    • 1040 posts
    November 22, 2009 5:09 PM PST
    Lucky wrote...
    Kirk wrote...
    Aw hell! We knew this was coming with the all fuel injection, charcoal canisters, and CAT converters on the newer HD's. The state already jacked us on our registration. I have three bikes and two cars. Cost me a small fortune to keep them all current. Now a smog inspection too?
    Hey.. did you feel something? I think it was the states hand in your pocket!
    I would vote for the Terminator again, how about you?

    Oh, I felt something! And it wasn't a hand...and that wasn't my pocket

    Did they at least use vasoline and give ya kiss

  • February 16, 2010 6:23 PM PST
    Latest update from the Abate page:

    While the smog check language has been removed from the bill for now, there are plenty of other reasons to remain concerned: the smog debate ended up being a noise debate on the Senate floor and there was much discussion about loud pipes. Not coincidentally, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recently released a new standard for sound tests on motorcycles which will make it easy and consistent to test bikes. In addition, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) has called for a focus more on noise than emissions - all of which means that we will have to look at all new legislation because it is very possible that there will be attempts at new sound standards and emission standards...and they could pop up anywhere."
    • Moderator
    • 19025 posts
    February 16, 2010 10:33 PM PST
    All this points to we all needing to support or join AMA and or ABATE.
  • February 16, 2010 10:42 PM PST
    Years ago 70's Florida built hundreds of vehicle inspection stations that checked everything bumper to bumper and charged for a sticker on the windshield that was required to drive once a year. This lasted a few years then they all disappeared. Don't know if it was loosing money or what happened.
    • 2 posts
    June 16, 2010 12:58 PM PDT

    Senate Bil 435 is back!
    Senate Bill 435 (motorcycle emissions) has been amended and is now scheduled for a hearing on June 21st.

    Bill would require stock exhaust on all bikes manufactured after January 1, 1983.

    California Senate Bill 435 (Pavley, 23rd District, D) is back. Despite repeated failure to garner support for past versions, Senator Pavley continues to unfairly target motorcycle owners. The latest version of the bill would require only stock exhaust systems on all motorcycles constructed since 1983, and mandates a $300 fine for any owner who is found to be in violation.

    Once again riders throughout the state are asked to contact their Senators and let them know that this is simply unacceptable. The newest version of this bill, which previously mandated smog testing, would result in thousands of currently legal motorcycles to be removed from the road, or their owners being forced to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to reinstall OEM exhaust. Also, in the case of older models, many owners would be left in an all but impossible situation, as OEM exhaust systems will simply be no longer available from the manufacturer, therefore rendering the bike both illegal to ride and all but impossible to sell.

    Furthermore, the lack of a labeled exhaust system does not mean a motorcycle is out of compliance with the federal law. After-market exhaust systems that comply with RSA 266:59-a are available from a number of manufacturers and often installed by their owners for a number of different reasons:
    1) after-market exhaust systems are available when OEM exhaust parts are no longer, especially for older motorcycles;

    2) Exhaust systems can rust out or be damaged in a minor accident, requiring replacement

    3) after-market exhaust systems cost less than OEM systems, even when they are available; and

    4) OEM exhausts systems are not available for custom motorcycles and kit motorcycles constructed by individuals from non-OEM components.

    Lastly it is simply unfair to expect a motorcycle owner to display a ‘readily visible’ label if one is not delivered that way from the factory. Many EPA stamps are very difficult to locate on new motorcycles. Is it reasonable to expect a motorcycle owner to partialy dismantle his or her motorcycle on the side of the road to prove the exhaust system is labeled?
    • 2072 posts
    June 16, 2010 1:15 PM PDT
    GOD HELP US !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • June 16, 2010 1:31 PM PDT
    Alright ~ here's a question for ya... Harley sells AND installs Screamin' Eagle exhaust on stage I and II set-ups. Now, will they meet emission std's or will they have to be replaced with OEM exhaust??? Now, they were legal to sell, install and run in the current and past... I smell attorneys.
    I cannot believe the motorcycle population in CA produces more NOx than all the diesel p/u, suv, motorhomes, etc, etc. Sounds to me like you folks in CA have a senator that needs to be taken to task.
    Everyone want to drive a Prius? Oh ~ just to let you know ~ it's proven through research that most smaller diesel engine cars produce a smaller carbon footprint than a Hybrid... next will be bio-fuel for your bike... oh yeah ~ that produces more NOx too... damn!!!
  • June 16, 2010 3:58 PM PDT
     And I thought they were jerking me around here in Delaware!!!
    • 467 posts
    June 24, 2010 5:42 AM PDT


    Motorcycle Riders....Please forward this info to EVERYONE on your email list....IMMEDIATELY!!

     DEAD DATE: Monday June 28, 2010.


    Senate Bill 435, (Pavley) the Smog Check for Motorcycles Bill - has MORPHED into a NO AFTERMARKET EXHAUST Bill.

     In other words...sticker matching. The EPA mandated sticker on your frame, must match the EPA mandated engraving on your stock exhaust pipes

     The Bikers of California must mobilize FASTER than they've ever done before.

     YOUR efforts against the previous "Smog Check for Motorcycles" version of this bill have forced the author of SB 435 to change tactics - and try to further restrict your enjoyment of motorcycling in a far more clever, potentially catastrophic way, through the back door - under cover of darkness. Nice, huh? Get all your riding friends and the shops you visit to get involved NOW!

     If SB 435 is signed into law, SMOG CHECK FOR MOTORCYCLES could be EVEN EASIER to pass in the NEXT legislative session. Do NOT let this happen to the sport you love!


    We do that by shutting down SB 435 in the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday, June 28, 2010. 


    You MUST contact your state legislators IMMEDIATELY. ESPECIALLY if YOUR state legislator sits on the Assembly Transportation Committee. (See list below)

    You must call, write, email, text, FAX and visit your legislators RIGHT NOW. You have no time to waste. Talk to their "Chief of Staff"...that works, too.


    You have ONE State Assemblyperson and ONE State Senator.

    Californians are represented by 40 Senate Members (4 year terms, limit of 2 terms) and 80 Assembly Members (2 year terms, limit of 3 terms)

    ***WHAT DO I SAY?***

    "My name is ______________ and I'm calling to ask Assemblyperson ___________ to PLEASE vote "NO" on SB 435 (Pavley). Thank you"

     It's that easy!!

    Be polite, kind and respectful, or don't bother. Remember, YOU represent ALL of us, don't mess it up for Bikerdom. 

     Talking points are available from ABATE of CA, here: /> A PRINTABLE info sheet produced by ABATE of CA for motorcycle shops is available here:

    Remember - YOU represent ALL motorcyclists when you call. 

    PLEASE do NOT embarrass us.

    Be respectful and polite or don't bother. 

    Don't trust this to somebody else, take responsibility for YOUR rights, TODAY!

    ***BY WHEN?***

    Our DROP DEAD date is Monday June 28, 2010 when the Bill is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

    If you wait, they'll walk right in and strike a blow against motorcycling. Your aftermarket exhaust system could become ILLEGAL. 
    If you want a job done right, do it yourself. We must DOMINATE their phone lines and emails.
    Don't let this bill reach the floor, kill it in committee.  

     Call or FAX these members of the California Assembly Transportation Committee

    * indicates a key vote, if you're in one of these districts please make a special effort to contact your Assemblymember.




    Bonnie Lowenthal (Chair)

     (916) 319-2054

     (916) 319-2193

    Kevin Jeffries (R–Murrieta)

     (916) 319-2166 

     (916) 319-2066

    Bill Berryhill (R–Stockton)

     (916) 319-2126

     (916) 319-2026

    Bob Blumenfield (D–Van Nuys)*

     (916) 319-2140

     (916) 319-2040

    Joan Buchanan (D–San Ramon)*

     (916) 319-2115

     (916) 319-2015

    Mike Eng (D–El Monte)*

     (916) 319-2149

     (916) 319-2049

    Warren Furutani ( D-Long Beach )*

     (916) 319-2155

     (916) 319-2055

    Cathleen Galgiani (D–Stockton)*

     (916) 319-2117

     (916) 319-2017

    Mary Hyashi (D-Hayward)*

     (916) 319-2118

     (916) 319-2018

    Jeff Miller (R–Corona)

     (916) 319-2171

     (916) 319-2071

    Roger Niello (R–Sacramento)

     (916) 319-2105

     (916) 319-2005

    Chris Norby (R–Brea)

     (916) 319-2172

     (916) 319-2072

    Anthony Portantino (D–Pasadena)*

     (916) 319-2144

     (916) 319-2044

    Jose Solorio (D–Anaheim)*

     (916) 319-2146

     (916) 319-2046

    • 467 posts
    June 24, 2010 5:42 AM PDT
    OOPS!! Don't know why it posted twice!
  • June 24, 2010 6:29 AM PDT
    I am a proud member of ABATE and the reason why is above!! Enough said!!