Farewell old friend: Euro5 means the end of some much-loved bikes

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This is set to be one the most exciting years in recent memory for new bikes with 60-plus already released and plenty more to come.

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Part of the reason for this flurry of new models is the new Euro5 emissions regs that came into effect on January 1, but an unfortunate side effect is that many well-loved models will be going the way of the Dodo.

Sports touring no more

Honda VFR800F

One of the saddest losses for many will be Yamaha’s FJR1300A. It’s been around since 2001 and is much loved. At the FJR’s height every major manufacturer had a large capacity sports tourer but they’re virtually all gone now. To celebrate its 20-year lifespan, Yamaha released an Ultimate Edition last year that’s still listed at £17,647.

In a similar vein, Honda have not brought their VFR based bikes into the 2021 range, which means the loss of the VFR800F, VFR800X Crossrunner and VFR1200X Crosstourer. These latest models never sold in huge numbers but the VFR is so revered that even rough VFR800s sell for decent money.

The saddest bit of all is that without any VFRs, it will be the first time the Honda range has been without a V4 for nearly 40 years.

Blunt scalpel

Yamaha R6 Race

The sports 600 segment has had a tough time of it in recent years. The once market-leading Yamaha R6 has been hanging on for dear life but 2021 is when Yamaha are finally pulling the plug. Trackday fanatics are alright as Yamaha will still be offering a track-only R6 Race but road 600 lovers will miss out.

Kawasaki’s ZX-6R sadly also won’t be updated for 2021 – ending a 25-year production run. Alongside this, the J125J300Ninja 400Z400Ninja H2 and Ninja H2 SX family will not be updated for 2021.

The supersport losses don’t end there, either. MV Agusta have also announced that the three-cylinder F3 675 will not progress to Euro5, leaving the F3 800 range as their only sporting option.

Fans of mid-sized nakeds will also be feeling the pinch with Ducati dropping the Monster 797, which is arguably the last of the old-school Monsters thanks to its air-cooled engine, and the1200, which remains in the range for now but is not Euro5.

All shrinking

Yamaha XTZ1200 Super Ténéré

Even the all-conquering adventure segment is losing two bikes: Yamaha’s Super Ténéré and Triumph’s Tiger Sport 1050. Despite OK sales over the years, neither has dominated in the way BMW’s GS and XR models have. Both use engines that aren’t found anywhere else in the range, so there’s little economic sense in doing the work needed to update them.

Last but not least, even the seemingly bullet-proof retro segment is losing a few models, although all but one of them are niche bikes. Yamaha are dropping the XV950R and the SCR950, Honda the CB1100EX and RS, while BMW have done away with the R nine T Racer variant.

The biggest loss will be the Harley-Davidson Sportster range although they’re expected to plug that hole with their Revolution Max powered bikes.

It’s not all bad news. Should one of the bikes here take your fancy, they’ll still be available in small numbers for a limited time under rules that offer firms a window to clear their stocks. Better still, many will be keenly priced.

Why does the UK still use European emissions regulations after Brexit? 

Since the UK has now left the EU, we can just ignore Euro5 and bring back 2-strokes right? Well no, actually.

The UK Government held a consultation on changes to the type approval regime for new motorcycles in 2018 to decide if we should continue to follow EU Regulation 168/2013 (the one that set the Euro4 and Euro5 framework) after Brexit.

The consultation specifically asked respondents whether the UK should continue to follow this approval scheme after Brexit and found that “a substantial number of respondents suggested that they were in favour of maintaining regulatory alignment in this area with the EU following exit, rather than setting bespoke UK standards”.

Respondents were concerned that setting UK-specific laws would cause extra costs for manufacturers, which “might impact on the range of models manufacturers might choose to offer in the UK after exit”.

Euro5 emissions rules will bring tech progress

First published on August 23, 2019 by MCN

Diagram shows Euro5 compliant BMW S1000RR motor

It isn’t hard to find naysayers preaching gloom about tightening emissions laws but the reality is that they tend to spur development, creating bikes that are measurably better than their predecessors.

The latest European limits are introduced from the start of next year and promise to bring another jolt of technological advancement.

What is Euro5?

It’ll come as no surprise to hear that Euro5 is the fifth iteration of European emissions limits that have got steadily stricter since the original Euro1 came in 1999.

The limits below illustrate the astounding improvements over the two decades since: compared to the current Euro4 limits, Euro5 levels are down by a third, a smaller change than from Euro3 to 4, but still a tough challenge.

The big news is the introduction of a limit for ‘non- methane hydrocarbons’ (NMHC) – quite literally hydrocarbons that aren’t methane – which wasn’t measured before. NMHC makes up most of a bike’s HC emissions, so the 0.068g/km limit is a particular challenge.

The emissions testing itself

As before, Euro5’s introduction is staged. New models from January 1, 2020 must meet the limits but manufacturers have an extra 12 months to adapt existing designs.

Brexit (let’s not disappear down that rabbit hole) won’t exclude the UK from compliance – we’re already committed to remaining aligned with EU rules and other non-EU countries such as India and China are adopting similar standards.

High-rev hassles

High-revving performance engines are hit hardest by the new rules – just as they were by Euro4. They need long valve duration (the time valves are open) and lots of overlap (when exhaust and intake valves are both open) to perform at high revs.

But at low revs the same settings lead to lots of HC emissions, so we can expect to see an explosion in the use of variable valve timing: BMW’s Euro5-legal S1000RR lights the way. Far from dulling performance, VVT adds more.

The 2019 BMW S1000RR is Euro5 compliant

We’ll also see capacities stretched to boost performance and reduce reliance on high revs. Next year’s upsized Triumph Tiger 800, not to mention the existing 1103cc Ducati Panigale V4 and 1078cc Aprilia RSV4, show it’s already happening.

One downside to all this is that, while the bikes are getting more impressive, they’re also more complicated, making them more expensive to produce, and making maintenance more expensive in the long run.

Aprilia's RSV4 1100 Factory is evidence of increasing capacity