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MythBusters’ Bubble Bike Reduces Emissions and Boosts Fuel Efficiency


6a00d8341c630a53ef015435c25330970c-320wiWe’ve got to love the MythBusters on The Discovery Channel. These guys have the incredible ability to break all, OK maybe not all, but most of our common believes, and they surely do it with flair.

Considering the huge emphasis that governments and car manufacturers nowadays put on emissions and energy efficiency, as well as the increased public interest, it does not come as a surprise that quite a big proportion of their experiments are directed towards exactly this sectors of the industry.

A particularly interesting test was the one that tackles the myth that by trading your car for a motorcycle you would do more good for the environment. But the guys did not stop there. They created the ultimate ‘bubble bike‘, which cuts down emissions and boosts bike’s fuel efficiency.

Only a quick glance at the MythBusters’ database would be enough for you to gather enough information about what is possible and what not in terms of saving energy, protecting the environment or making your vehicle more efficient. Although there are hundreds of stories that I could choose to tell you about, from questioning the famous theoretical kite-lightning experiment by Benjamin Franklin, through boosting fuel efficiency of your car by keeping it dirty, all the way to making homemade fuel cell to improve the gas mileage, I decided to tell you more about the ‘Bubble Bike‘, or rather how to reduce the emissions coming out of your motorbike, while boosting its fuel efficiency.

The choice was simply made because the episode was aired on the Discovery Channel (in the Netherlands) last night, although some of you might have seen it already a few years back.

This particular episode was not very well accepted by motorbike lovers commenting in various online blogs, although it was there to test whether trading your diesel car for a motorbike would reduce your contribution to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Apparently no, despite the fact that bikes are generally more fuel-efficient than cars. In terms of CO2, the bikes released less of it than cars, but when it came to methane, nitrogen oxide and smog-forming hydrocarbons, the two-wheelers failed. The test came to show that while we have done lots to green-up our cars over the past few decades, we have done considerably less about motorbikes.

So with this in mind, the guys created the ‘Bubble bike‘. They made an aerodynamic shell for a 250-CC, single-cylinder motorcycle, which is equipped with a fuel injection and a catalytic converter. If you feel like seeing the new and improved bike in action, take a look at this video. The shell boosted the fuel efficiency of the machine from 56.1 to 70.9 miles per gallon. It did bring down the carbon dioxide emissions, although not very significantly, from 123 g down to 105, and similarly reduced slightly the carbon monoxide emissions and the hydrocarbon emissions. Unfortunately, these parameters were not brought down significantly enough to make the bike less polluting than an average car.

Commenting on this story, specialists from the Air Resources Board admitted that the emission regulations for motorbikes are not as tight as these for cars, but they explain this with the fact that the proportion of motorbikes on the road is significantly lower than this of cars. In addition, the experts agree that trading one pollutant for another is not what anyone should aim at, so all vehicles on the road should meet stricter regulations if we are to tackle the influence of emissions on our changing climate.

I guess the advice is, if you have a bike, make it a ‘Bubble‘ one.

Image (c) Discovery Channel

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