'Mythbusters' Claim Cars Are Greener Than Motorcycles
October 2, 2011

‘Mythbusters’ Claim Cars Are Greener Than Motorcycles

This past Wednesday's episode of the popular Discovery Channel television show 'Mythbusters' took on the challenge of whether or not cars or motorcycles were the greener type of vehicles -- with results that may surprise some RedOrbit readers.

According to USA Today's Chris Woodyard, the program took three cars and three motorcycles (one of each from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s) and ran them through a battery of tests.

Hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, as well as University of California at Riverside Assistant Research Engineer Kent Johnson, looked at each vehicle's fuel efficiency, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitric oxide emissions.

Which type of motor vehicle is more environmentally friendly?

"The surprising answer, as it turns out, is the car," Woodyard wrote in an October 1 article.

"Motorcycles are more fuel efficient and produced less carbon dioxide that the motorcycles," he added. "But without the sophisticated emission equipment on cars, motorcycles spewed more carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitric oxide emissions into the air."

Each of the vehicles were fitted with special tailpipe probes before being tested at a closed course in California's Alameda Country, said Jonathan Schultz of the New York Times. Schultz also noted that while none of the cars were identified on the show, the 1980s car resembled an Olds Cutlass Ciera, the 1990s car was a Honda Accord, and the 2000s car was either a Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable.

"Each pair of vehicles were driven on a mixed course of highway and city driving for 20 miles," wrote Paul Eng of Consumer Reports. "The 1980s motorcycle used 38 percent less gas than its period car counterpart. However, the 2000-era comparison proved a drop in the motorbike's advantage: Only 28 percent less fuel was used than its four-wheeled counterpart."

"At best, it's a wash. Motorcycles are just as bad for the environment as cars. At worst, they're far worse," Savage said at the end of the program, according to Eng.


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