The Euro 1 anti-pollution standard applies to motorcycles registered after 17 June 1999 and is identified by the initials 97/24 CE (for cars, Euro 1 had arrived in 1993). The maximum limits of polluting substances emitted have been established in 13 g/km of carbon monoxide (CO), 3 g/km of unburnt hydrocarbons (HC) and 0.3 g/km of nitrogen oxides (NOx). Today Euro 5, introduced in 2020, pending the “5+” version, which will start from 1 January 2024, admits 1 mg/km of CO, 100 mg/km of HC and 60 mg/km of Nox.
In 20 years, CO has been knocked down 13,000 times (or of 99.992%), the HC of 96.7% and the Nox of 80%. Furthermore, the drastic reduction of pollutants is not the only issue linked to the various Euro classes: since 2016, with the arrival of Euro 4, the obligation of ABS has also been triggered (combined braking, alternatively, on 125) , as well as the obligation to provide independent repairers with technical information to repair motorcycles outside the circuit of official dealerships. Euro 5+ will also improve on-board diagnostics (OBD2), reduce noise and introduce durability tests to verify that the various models comply with the standards even with several thousand km behind them.
If the same criteria applied to car and motorcycle engines had been applied to urban heating systems and industrial plants, for example, today we would certainly live in a much less polluted Europe. Furthermore, in recent years the practice has taken off in many cities of prohibiting the circulation of vehicles of older pollution classes. If the intent to reduce emissions is commendable, the economic sacrifice required is less so to those who struggle to periodically replace vehicles such as motorcycles and scooters. Incentive policies mainly reward the purchase of urban electric scooters, but neglect the medium range, effectively preventing a motorway commuter from replacing medium-sized scooters or motorcycles with less polluting models, albeit still thermal ones.
That would have been enough – and that goes for cars too – reward jumps in Euro classes also for used vehicles: if you improve by one class you receive X, if you improve by two classes XY and if you improve by three, moving from a Euro 2 to a Euro 5 motorcycle, you get an XYZ incentive. Such a move would rapidly modernize our old fleet (3.8 million motorcycles and scooters out of a total of 7.1 million are pre-Euro 3, therefore registered by 2005).
What hasn’t changed from 1998 to today is distrust of Europe: if you read today the letters on the subject of farewell to internal combustion engines (at the moment never envisaged for motorbikes and now also under discussion for cars), you will find the same fears of 25 years ago.
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