Do Motorcycles Have Catalytic Converters?

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When thinking of a catalytic converter, you would not normally think of a motorcycle as, for me, catalytic converters are more linked to cars than motorcycles.

With the amount of air pollution on the rise and not many efforts to reduce the damage people are causing to the environment, it is becoming more and more necessary for us to be using this technology so that humans do not cause irreparable damage to the atmosphere and the ozone layer.

While there was a point where people would ask,” do motorcycles have catalytic Converters?” now various manufacturers include it and use it to market their motorcycles.

There is however a small number of motorcycle owners who do not have a catalytic converter installed which is why motorcycles owners should try and purchase newer model motorcycles with catalytic converters in them as yes, it is possible for motorcycles to have a catalytic converter and while not all of them do, many motorcycles come with one.

In this article, I will be explaining why motorcycles are using catalytic converters, what they do, how they function, and how you can take care of one.

What Is A Catalytic Converter?

Let's learn what is a motorcycle catalytic converter and how does it work

A catalytic converter is a small emission control component designed to help with the motorcycle’s emissions and acts as a filter.

It is part of the motorcycle’s exhaust system and comes in 2 different types, 2-way and 3-way, with the latter being more advanced and designed to affect more dangerous emissions.

What Does It Do?

The basic function of a catalytic converter is to reduce the danger of the motorcycle’s exhaust system emissions.

While it cannot eliminate exhaust emissions as something has to happen to the fuel once it is burned up, it can make the emissions safer and less detrimental to the environment.

The original catalytic converter would convert carbon monoxide and unburnt fuel into carbon dioxide and water, much safer.

Upgrades to the catalytic converter would see the device reducing dangerous emissions such as nitrogen oxide. All of this is done in the name of a more healthy and sustainable environment which it strives to achieve.

How Does It Function?

Catalytic Converters have a honeycomb structure inside of them. This structure is coated with a catalyst, a substance that accelerates the reaction of the exhaust gasses, essentially changing their chemical structure.

The acceleration of the chemical reaction allows the emissions to fully break down into simpler structures that are less detrimental to the environment.

The catalyst is usually a precious metal like palladium, platinum, or rhodium, which are valuable, making catalytic converters prime targets for theft.

The other main component of the catalytic converter is ceramic, which facilitates the reaction happening inside of the component by not reacting with anything yet staying extremely hot while other reactions occur.

Are You Required To Have One?

While the Environmental Protection Agency has not yet fully required catalytic converters, it is still our job as human beings to reduce the emissions of our bikes in the environment as any environmental damage will affect us too in the long run.

Despite not being mandated, 20% of bikes in the United States were fitted with catalytic converters a decade back, with the number set to rise by 2010 to 50%.

Many popular motorcycle brands have also decided to go ahead and add one in, such as Harley Davidson, which had 87% of all of its sold bikes included a catalytic converter.

For Countries outside the United States, Europe passed a law in 2006 which required all motorcycles to have catalytic converters, so it is also good to have one in your motorcycle just in case.

Catalytic Converters In Motorcycles

When compared to catalytic converters in cars, catalytic components in motorcycles are essentially the same as both of them do the same job and help the environment. However, their intensity and their location may differ.

In this part of the article, I will discuss where you can find the catalytic converter, which motorcycles include it, and how much it can cost you.

Where Are Catalytic Converters In Motorcycles?

The Catalytic converter is part of the motorcycle’s exhaust system, and so it will be located near the pipes or the exhaust itself.

The actual location of the catalytic converter depends on the bike model and size and how the catalytic converter will affect the aesthetic. The catalytic converter may be packaged with the muffler to keep the bike cosmetically appealing.

Other times, the converter is stuffed into the header before the muffler. For motorcycles that are bigger and have a lot of CC, manufacturers can treat it like a car and have the catalytic converter on the part of the pipes just below the engine.

The converter can also be in a steel box located between the exhaust bend and the expansion chamber. You can spot it if you see a box or cylinder-shaped protrusion in the exhaust pipe.

Which Motorcycles Have Catalytic Converters?

In today’s day and age, most motorcycles have catalytic converters in their exhaust system and are doing their part in reducing the emissions in the air.

While not all motorcycles have adopted this component into their system, the increasing emissions standard across the world have made catalytic converters a more common occurrence.

This increasing standard forces motorcycle manufacturers to incorporate the catalytic converter into their motorcycle’s exhaust system.

Popular motorcycles manufacturers which use catalytic converters include:

  • Harley Davidson
  • Honda
  • Yamaha
  • Suzuki

With these popular brands using catalytic converters, it is only a matter of time before others add the component into their systems.

Cost Of Catalytic Converters

As mentioned above, the catalytic converters use precious metals as their catalysts and are valuable enough to be stolen.

If you find yourself with a missing catalytic converter or if your current one is faulty, a new catalytic converter will cost you an average of $100. Though the price may vary according to the quality and materials used, you can get yourself a used catalytic converter for reasonable prices.

Low-end converters can be obtained for around $30, but I doubt the validity and effectiveness of such converters. High-end ones will no doubt cause you a pretty penny.

The presence of catalytic converters has also had a slight increase in the price of motorcycles. In my opinion, you should get a high-quality catalytic converter to keep your emissions low. Otherwise, you may be fined if it is found that the emissions are crossing the required threshold.

3 Tips For Motorcycle Catalytic Converters

Here are a few tips for keeping the integrity of the catalytic converter and preventing damage.

1. Fuel Selection

Gasoline with added ethanol can be difficult to process on your catalytic converter, which is why I would recommend you avoid fuel with ethanol, even though it may be cheaper. Try to use only unleaded gasoline as the leaded gas can also decrease the life of the converter.

2. Engine Maintenance

Problems inside the engine can also increase the temperature of both the engine and exhaust, which will, in turn, have a negative effect on the catalytic converter as it can be damaged, so make sure that you get any engine problems fixed as soon as possible otherwise you will also have to get the converter replaced.

3. Contaminants In The Fuel Tank

Any contaminants whether in the fuel itself or in the tank can easily cause a lot of damage to the catalytic converter so make sure to avoid getting any particulates inside the fuel tank to keep the catalytic converter in good conditions.

These contaminants can include the following:

  • Dirt
  • Grime
  • Water
  • Microbial Growth


Catalytic converters are slowly becoming an integral part of motorcycles due to the rising amount of emissions in the air and the requirements imposed by states and countries to keep them as low as possible.

While having a catalytic converter will not give you a boost in speed, it will help in keeping the motorcycle emissions low, helping the environment, along with giving a performance boost to the engine, and making your bike run more smoothly overall.

So the next time you get a motorcycle, you won’t have to ask the question on do motorcycles have catalytic converters or not.

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