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Appeal to EPA for Extension of Deadline for Comment Period

Prepared by: Thomas C. Wyld, Vice President-Government Relations
Motorcycle Riders Foundation

Ride with the Leaders™
P.O. 1808
Washington, D.C. 20013
(202) 546-0983

SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

Ms. Margaret Borushko
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Vehicle and Fuels Emission Laboratory
2000 Traverwood
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
Via E-mail:

Dear Ms. Borushko:

This regards Docket A-2000-02, the Environmental Protection Agency's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on "Control of Emissions from Spark Ignition…Highway Motorcycles." The purpose of this letter is to request a delay in the deadline for public comment to January 8, 2003. The reason for our request is the sheer volume of impacted small businesses with which we must coordinate, the degree to which the proposed rule adversely impacts the American motorcyclist culture, the complexity of the proposed rule itself and the need for further study.

As we stated at EPA's public hearing on this issue September 17, it is the finding of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation that EPA's proposed rulemaking on highway motorcycles will ban venerated classic engine families and destroy a vast cottage industry of small businesses - from small-volume motorcycle makers to the aftermarket.

While we will have more to say during the public comment process, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation does wish to make a few comments at this time, pose questions and make requests - all of which underscore the importance of the agency granting everyone more time for more study.


With respect to small business, we note with considerable interest and call to your attention the testimony delivered by the California Motorcycle Dealers Association (CMDA) at the public hearing. The nation's largest motorcycle dealer trade group, CMDA is the only organization in America whose member-dealers - small businesses all - actually struggled through a new emissions standard and felt the impacts firsthand - impacts both predicted and unforeseen. Because retailers are not makers, however, they, like the aftermarket, were excluded by the EPA from the small business regulatory flexibility process. Nonetheless, dealers, like small-volume makers and the burgeoning yet fragile aftermarket, stand to lose business, if not their businesses wholly, having made, according to CMDA, "significant 'brick-and-mortar' investments to plan, finance, build, remodel, expand, operate and pay for" their dealerships. We request EPA conduct a true assessment of the impacts of this rulemaking on all impacted small businesses - a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. If EPA declines, we wish to be informed the reasons for that decision.


The Motorcycle Riders Foundation questions the EPA's estimate of the street motorcycle's contribution to the total motor vehicle pollution inventory. We ask, and request to be informed, precisely how these estimates were developed. In your response, please let us know how our contribution was calculated, including, if used, estimates of vehicle miles traveled, and other factors.

We find implausible the agency's finding that the catalyst-forcing Tier Two standard of 0.8 g/km HC plus NOx is "technically feasible." We ask, and request to be informed, what engine families will be available - without performance or safety problems - in 2010 - if this becomes the final standard.

We are struck by EPA's estimate of, on average, a few dollars per bike for compliance which contrasts starkly with the capital investment plans and other elaborate procedures the agency expects a maker to follow to request a delay in compliance. If the average cost per bike of meeting Tier Two is a mere $35, as EPA suggests at one point in the docket, surely that amount of money could be borrowed from an aging Aunt. We ask, and request to be informed, how EPA arrived at cost estimates for compliance and why its estimates are radically lower than those developed by the California Air Resources Board and the Motorcycle Industry Council. We ask, and request to be informed, if the CARB and MIC estimates were reviewed and, if so, the reasons for their rejection. The fact is, the cost of compliance will be infinitely more than a few dollars per bike. The entire issue of cost must be examined - and examined realistically.


Motorcyclists are virtually uniform in their view that many motorcycles made to the current California standard (1.4 g/km HC only) suffer from performance problems riders find unacceptable. As CMDA put it on September 17, "we do not want to take a chance on EPA or CARB staff estimates that motorcycles with the 0.8 g/km HC plus NOx 2008-2010 standard will be acceptable to, and bought by, our customers." Put another way, with EPA all but dismissive of riders' concerns, consumers may vote with their feet. We ask, and request to know, why EPA should not conduct a survey of the consumers of all affected makes and models, as an element of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, to determine that EPA's hoped-for emissions reductions will be realized at all.

Perhaps it is not a question of whether venerated motorcycles can comply with the current (much less future) California standard, but whether such motorcycles can comply and run.

To our questions of performance, EPA answers, "We do not expect any of these possible changes to adversely affect performance…A direct comparison of several motorcycle models in the EPA certification database between the 'California' model…and the model sold in the rest of the U.S. reveals no change in the performance characteristics in the database (e.g., rated horsepower, torque)." "Several" motorcycles? What makes and models did EPA compare? What engine families were left out of the comparison and why? Inasmuch as motorcycle performance is tantamount to safety, shouldn't all engine families be compared and the results provided to the motorcycle consuming public as part of the Regulatory Support Document? We ask, and request to know, the answers to these questions. Moreover, we assert that a mere comparison of "rated horsepower" is an inadequate measure of performance. Overall performance of all affected motorcycles must be examined in all riding scenarios responsibly, objectively and thoroughly. We request to be informed of EPA's plans for a responsible study of performance impact.

And we repeat the MRF axiom that motorcycle performance is tantamount to motorcycle safety. That EPA does not share this view is evident in its dismissal of sportbikes as "outrageous." In fact, the agency is referring pejoratively to "GT class" and other sportbikes. Outrageous? By this one word, EPA has clearly conveyed to American motorcyclists its disdain of the machines it desires to control and restrict - certainly its disdain of a class of motorcycles millions of Americans prefer. Contrast your view with this view of a GT class motorcycle:

The "GSX1300R Hayabusa. It's most famous for its 190-mph top-speed potential. But as anyone who has actually ridden one knows, top speed is a minor subplot in the GSX1300R narrative. The real story is that it's a sweet, refined, stunningly capable all-around motorcycle."

Motorcyclist Magazine, July 2002

Perhaps if EPA staff rode motorcycles amidst the wayward taxis of Washington, D.C., it would rethink its dislike of "stunningly capable all-around" motorcycles, drop its invective from something that purports to be a "support document," and understand intimately that performance is tantamount to safety.


When riders review the "Regulatory Support Document" with an eye toward the linked issues of safety and performance, riders find no documentation whatsoever, just opinion and conjecture.

For example, in the preamble, the agency states, "the current use of catalytic converters on a number of motorcycles…already indicates that [safety] issues are not insurmountable on a variety of motorcycle styles and engine sizes." We ask, and we request to be informed, what styles? What engine sizes? And why this government agency dismisses issues as vital as safety as "not insurmountable?" We ask, and request to know, whether EPA has actually complied with "the guidelines of the June 1, 1998 Executive Memorandum on Plain Language in Government Writing," as it asserts. Either a safety problem exists or it does not. The phrase "not insurmountable" suggests the existence of a safety problem; otherwise there would be nothing to surmount. Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines "insurmountable" as "incapable of being surmounted, passed over…" We ask, and request to know, what safety problems are being "passed over" in the application of catalytic converters to all styles of motorcycles?

We assert again that this problem is real and exists today. It cannot and must not be "passed over." Even the current California emissions standard is viewed by at least some manufacturers as a catalyst-forcing standard for some models. We request that EPA answer, using plain language, these questions: do catalytic converters on any motorcycles constitute a safety problem, and if so, on which makes and models has the problem presented itself?

Perhaps the EPA would find added urgency for addressing the issue of safety in a single sentence from the October 2001 issue of SuperBike, a U.K. magazine that covers sportbike world. In its review of the Kawasaki KZ-12R, an inset photo of the bike's muffler (called a "silencer" in the U.K.) is accompanied by this text (expletive deleted): "Massive titanium…silencer hides a catalyser which gets f---ing hot, and stays that way for hours after you switch off." Perched an inch or so above the silencer is the passenger foot peg.

We ask, and request to know, whether the agency has any evidence of a safety problem, and we request to be furnished a copy of that evidence or any discussion thereof (e.g., letters, memoranda, studies, etc.). We assert that the EPA can honestly answer the safety question only after a well-documented, scientifically sound study. We request such a study.

In its study of this critical question, we request the EPA examine not only the burn hazard, but also the reliability and smoothness of adequate power delivery in all operating scenarios and the degree to which added heat contributes to rider fatigue, particularly in urban gridlock and in the desert environment. The bikes chosen should reflect the wide variety of bikes available on the market (e.g., they should not all be 2003 Honda Interceptors) and include a variety of cruisers and "standards."

The burn hazard element of this study should not be limited to riders and passengers but to passersby. It is the common experience of riders that children are drawn to motorcycles, particularly recently parked motorcycles. Inasmuch as cat-equipped bikes remain exceedingly hot "for hours after you switch off," we ask, and request to know, how EPA can refuse to study this critical issue and continue to state categorically, as it does in the preamble, that "this proposed rule does not involve decisions on…safety risks that may disproportionately affect children" [required by Executive Order 13045, "Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks" (62 F.R. 19885, April 23, 1997)].

For these and other reasons that strike at the heart of good government, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation requests that the deadline for public comment on docket A-2000-02 be extended to January 8, 2003. The agency's prompt answers to the questions we pose and the requests we make above will aid us as we continue to study this complex rule.


Thomas C. Wyld
Vice President, Government Relations
Motorcycle Riders Foundation

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