Do motorcycles have catalytic converters?

On the Road 2 min read

Most modern motorcycles have catalytic converters. Since 2003, motorcycles have been subject to stricter emissions standards, and the easiest, cheapest, and simplest way for manufacturers to meet those standards is to install a catalytic converter.

What is a catalytic converter for a motorcycle?

A motorcycle’s catalytic converter is a device that converts the bike’s harmful emissions gases into safer ones by chemical reaction. The motorcycle’s exhaust passes through a chamber lined with rare metals. These metals react with the exhaust, breaking apart the molecules in engine emissions and recombining them to form steam, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen gas. Learn more about how catalytic converters work.

Motorcycle catalytic converter laws

Federal law requires most gas-powered motor vehicles to have catalytic converters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), removing a catalytic converter without installing a replacement is a federal crime. However, laws are slightly more flexible regarding motorcycles. In 2003, the EPA started requiring motorcycles to meet stricter emissions standards. The EPA rules don’t specify how motorcycles must meet emissions requirements, but installing a catalytic converter is the easiest and cheapest way for manufacturers to do so. As a result, most motorcycles on the road today — except classic bikes — have them.

Can I remove my motorcycle’s catalytic converter?

It’s unwise to do so. The catalytic converter in a motorcycle is an important part of meeting emissions standards. Also, catalytic converters for motorcycle engines have little to no noticeable effect on performance. However, if you decide to remove the catalytic converter for your motorcycle, be sure the bike continues to meet emissions standards in your area to avoid breaking the law.

What to know about motorcycle catalytic converter theft

The rare metals used in catalytic converters for motorcycles and cars are valuable. As demand for these rare metals grows, they have become worth more than gold. The relatively high value of a catalytic converter’s components and the ease of access — found at the end of the exhaust system by the muffler and easy to identify, make them a popular target for thieves. Learn more about catalytic converter theft and how motorcycle insurance covers theft.

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