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PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is adopting
strict emissions standards that could mean the end of two-stroke trail bikes and
All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) by 2006, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)

In announcing the new emissions standards in September, the EPA said the rules
"encourage manufacturers of these vehicles to switch from two-stroke engines to
cleaner four-stroke engines, beginning in 2006" for trail machines.

The federal agency is exempting racing machines from the strict emissions
standards, so motocrossers won't be affected, and left the door open for the
production of a new breed of two-stroke engines by creating a special,
less-stringent emissions standard for "certified competition machines" that
could be used for competition and trail riding.

The EPA also scrapped an earlier plan to make ATVs meet even stricter emissions
standards in 2009.

These are the first federal emissions standards created for off-highway
motorcycles and ATVs. The EPA has set requirements only slightly less stringent
than those in place in California, which have severely restricted two-stroke
off-highway machine use there.

National requirements for road motorcycles have been in place for more than 20
years and are in the process of being replaced with stricter standards.

Under the new EPA rules, new trail bikes and ATVs would be subject to strict
emissions requirements that would be partially phased-in in 2006. Full
compliance would be required by the manufacturers in 2007.

The requirements wouldn't affect machines built through 2005, but would apply to
machines built for the 2006 model year and thereafter. The EPA said it expects
that manufacturers will meet these new standards for trail machines by using
four-stroke engines.

When the EPA was putting together the new rules, the AMA urged the agency to
avoid regulations that would eliminate two-stroke machines, which are favored by
many off-highway riders for their light weight and power characteristics.
Instead, the AMA told the agency to consider creating separate emissions
standards for four-stroke and two-stroke motorcycles and ATVs.

While the EPA rejected the idea of separate standards for four-strokes and
two-strokes, it did create a new classification called the "certified
competition machine," which could be used for competition or trail riding. The
emissions standards for a certified competition machine aren't as strict as
those for a trail bike or non-competition ATV. Theoretically, this could become
the standard for two-stroke trail motorcycles and ATVs.

The AMA also asked the EPA to set specific emissions goals that must be met by
off-highway motorcycle and ATV manufacturers rather than mandating what
equipment must be on the bikes, such as catalytic converters. The EPA agreed.

The AMA also told the EPA to reconsider an idea to restrict the sale of
"competition-only" machines to professionals. The AMA noted that most
off-highway motorcycle and ATV racing in the United States involves amateurs.
The EPA agreed in its final rules, saying it would be "inappropriate" to limit
competition machines to professional racers.

Finally, the AMA and others involved in motorcycling presented data to show that
the EPA grossly overestimated the annual use of off-highway motorcycles and ATVs
and, as a result, overestimated the amount of pollution they cause. The EPA
agreed, and that's at least part of the reason the agency decided at this time
not to require ATVs to meet even stricter emissions requirements beginning in

The American Motorcyclist Association is a nonprofit organization with more than
250,000 members. Established in 1924, the Association's purpose is to pursue,
protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists, while serving the needs of
its members. For more information, visit the AMA website at