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Car vs. Bike, most eco friendly? - Mythbusters

3826 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  sendler
Mythbusters tested to find out which pollutes more, a car or a bike. Too bad they didn't use the Honda CBR250R for their test bike. The best bike they had came back with 56 mpgUS so they put a giant streamliner fairing on it and got it up to 71. The CBR averages 71 on fuelly right off the showroom floor and has an O2 sensor so it would be cleaner than their best test bike. They put the emphasis on CO, HC, and NOx, disregarding the fact that the bikes used half the gas and put out half the CO2. In the end, they just told everybody to stick with their car. I hope one day they will try it again with our Honda.
MythBusters: Bike vs. Car Aftershow 1 : Video : Discovery Channel
MythBusters: Bike vs. Car Aftershow 2 : Video : Discovery Channel


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The biggest flaw was definitely the fact they were measuring percent per unit instead of the overall volume of the gasses. I agree that the CBR would destroy all the other bikes in the tests, but I'm very curious how it would do against the car. The biggest downfall on bike emissions output is the catalytic converter they use. Cars have larger 3-way catalytic converters that are much more efficient. I'm not sure what the CBR has for one but I don't think it's quite up to par with a car one due to the lesser restrictions on bike emissions. The federal standards understand that the overall volume bikes put out is still very little in comparison lol.
It seems like a no brainer to me. You can push around 3,000-6,000 pounds of steel with probably one person inside or 300-500 pounds with a person on it. Which is more work? Obviously the car requires greater energy to travel to the same destination. So in energy use, a motorcycle is the clear winner by inspection alone.

I didn't see the show or click on your link, but I'm guessing the motorcycle lost because of emission content percentages per mile and not per gallon of fuel. Emission standards aren't as high on motorcycles because they probably don't contribute much to pollution.

I think it is interesting to note that our fuel consumption is not even lower because we are around six times lighter. My 1996 Accord gets 27-31 mpg and my bike gets 56-63 mpg. Maybe the fun factor takes a toll by affecting the way I drive my motorcycle verses my car.

I imagine if enough people care about the scientific accuracy they will pester Myth-Busters and show them the correct way to think about it. Every time I check in with the show I am impressed by how much better they use the scientific method.
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I would be curious as to how much environmental impact cars vs bikes have when you compare maintenance needs. Bikes do tend to go through tire/oil changes more frequently (especially the sport bikes they had on the show)
Seems like the aggressive specialization that tends to propagate among motorcycles makes it difficult to do a broad comparison like in the show.

It would make more sense to me if they compared sport-bikes to sport-cars, economy bikes to economy cars ect... (however they mentioned budget issues in the video clip so its understandable a venture like that would not have been in their reach from a funding perspective)

Either way we all know bikes would win the "smiles per gallon" category :)
I saw that episode.
I wished they would have factored in actual use time.
Bikes may put out more emissions compared to a modern high tech car but they spend much less time sitting in one spot.

Example: I took my bike to a job (34 tons of asphalt patching by hand) and when it was done the guys in the work truck left for the yard 10 minutes before me. Due to lane splitting I got to the yard 10 minutes before them. They spent 20 minutes more I than sitting at stop lights polluting up the place with all the other cages.

If more people commuted on bikes there would be so much less traffic congestion which I think would reduce pollution substantially. Not to mention a whole lot less road rage but that is probably just wishful thinking :)
I've been thinking about this and I think the environmentally correct way is to compare the emission composition for one gallon burned. The environment doesn't care what you did with that one gallon. I think we will find that motorcycles suck compared to cars because there are not as many and the emissions are not as refined as cars. I can smell my CBR exhaust. It took nearly 150,000 miles in my car before I noticed the exhaust smell.

Another comparison is obviously per mile. For this comparison I would also take into account in the environmental toll of creating plastic and the metal mining required to create either a car or a motorcycle. Maybe that Prius isn't better for the environment than the car you already own ;)

We have the measurement that capitalists prefer, the almighty (insert currency here.) Motorcycles win hands down. Well not Harley's, but everything else ;) We spend less on the vehicle (ignoring Duc's) and for the most part less on gas.

Finally we have fun. All your base are belong to us, argument over.:p
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I think they compared correctly using grams per mile though they didn't give fuel consumption and CO2 emission enough importance in the decision.
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