Air and Radiation EPA420-F-02-045
Office of Transportation and Air Quality
Emission Exemption for Racing
Motorcycles and Other Competition
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted emission
standards for recreational vehicles, including snowmobiles, off-highway
motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. This information sheet addresses
questions we have heard from owners about vehicles that are used for
Is EPA regulating racing vehicles?
In the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Congress directed
EPA to set emission standards for nonroad engines that contribute
to air pollution, including motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and
snowmobiles. However, Congress excluded nonroad vehicles that are
“used solely for competition.” We therefore adopted regulations that
generally exclude from the new regulations vehicles used for competition.
What qualifies as competition?
For snowmobiles, motorcycles, and ATVs, we generally consider the
term “competition” to include only organized racing. It may include both
amateur and professional racing, but is limited to closed-course racing
and open-course racing that is formally sanctioned by a recognized
racing organization. All other uses are considered to be “recreational.”
What about existing vehicles?
Our regulations do not require manufacturers to certify vehicles before
2006. Therefore, the EPA restrictions related to competition generally do
not apply to vehicles that were manufactured before 2006. We do not
restrict how you may use these older vehicles.
How do I know if my vehicle is excluded?
Manufacturers generally already label most racing vehicles to show that
they are competition models. We allow manufacturers to put those labels
only on those vehicles that we determine will be used solely for competition.
Manufacturers will need to certify that all their other vehicles meet
our standards and add a label showing that these are EPA-certified
vehicles. If you use an EPA-certified vehicle for competition only, it
does not need to meet emission standards. This would allow you to
modify it however you want, but only if you use it solely for competition
and not for any recreational purpose. These criteria are summarized in
the following table.
Restrictions on Use and Maintenance
Which vehicles may a manufacturer label as
We adopted a general provision under which we will allow a manufacturer
to label new vehicles for competition whenever that manufacturer
can show us that the vehicles will be used only for competition. We also
include specific guidance to help manufacturers make this showing. We
worked with manufacturers throughout the rulemaking process to ensure
that we properly treat vehicles that are used for competition in our
Are motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles treated the
No. We created special provisions for motorcycles that will make it
easier for manufacturers to get permission to label their competition
motorcycles. Unlike ATVs and snowmobiles, a very large fraction of offhighway
motorcycles are used for amateur racing. It is important to note,
though, that we will not exempt any model and allow a manufacturer to
label it for competition if we do not believe it will be used only for
What kinds of vehicles may I use for competition?
You may generally use any of three kinds of vehicles for competition:
• A vehicle with an EPA label showing that the manufacturer has
produced it under our competition exemption
• A vehicle that was built before 2006
• An EPA-certified vehicle
It may be surprising to think that EPA-certified vehicles would be used
in competition, but all four-stroke motorcycles should meet emission
standards without any loss of performance. So, we expect most manufacturers
to market EPA-certified four-stroke motorcycles for racing. We
also included an optional standard for motorcycles to encourage manufacturers
to produce and certify clean two-stroke competition motorcycles.
May I modify a vehicle for competition?
You may modify your vehicle’s engine or emission controls in any way
if it is not subject to our standards. This applies to all vehicles built
before 2006 and all vehicles that have the EPA label for competition
from the manufacturer.
You may also modify EPA-certified vehicles if you will use them only
for competition. However, you may not modify your EPA-certified
vehicle in a way that increases emissions if you use the vehicle for both
recreation and competition.
May I use an uncertified vehicle just for fun?
You may use any older vehicles that were built in 2005 or earlier. For
2006 and later models, you may not use an uncertified vehicle for noncompetition
use. You are not allowed to use an excluded competition
vehicle for recreational purposes if it was built in 2006 or later.
What requirements apply to excluded vehicles?
There are two EPA requirements that apply to competition vehicles that
are excluded from the regulations. First, as described above, if we
exclude a vehicle, you may not use it for recreation. Second, if your
vehicle is excluded because you modify an EPA-certified vehicle, you
must destroy the original emissions label to show that it is no longer
“certified” and may only be used for competition. Once you modify your
vehicle, you may no longer use it for recreation. If you sell or give one
of these engines to someone else, you must tell the new owner in writing
that it may be used only for competition.
In addition to these EPA requirements, state and local governments may
have requirements or restrictions that apply to excluded vehicles. For
example, a state may require you to register your competition vehicle, or
may prohibit use of excluded vehicles on public land.
Where can I get more information?
You can access documents on recreational vehicles on the Office of
Transportation and Air Quality Web site at: