Skip to main content
Julie Wright
Copy editor
Asked a question last year

Are motorcycles more environmentally friendly than electric or hybrid cars?

Where am I?

In Clean.org you can ask and answer questions and share your experience with others!

 Possibly, depending on the motorcycle.

My Suzuki DR200 used about 3 litres/100km, rather less than my Prius hybrid at about 5. My Nissan Leaf supposedly uses 2.1l/100km equivalent, whatever that means. So for a single rider, the motorcycle uses less fuel than the hybrid. Pack the hybrid with passengers, though, and it wins over a bike with 2 up.

That’s just the simple tailpipe emissions, though. There is much more material required to build a car, and there’s an environmental cost to extract that. Cars tend to last longer than small motorcycles, but not enough to compensate.

Cars require more infrastructure than motorcycles - they need wider, stronger roads, and larger parking structures, which are more environmentally damaging to construct and maintain. Granted that I don’t know of any actual built motorcycle roads, but they could perfectly well use a bicycle path. Off-road, motorcycles have less impact and do less damage than four-wheeled vehicles like Jeeps, simply because they’re smaller and lighter.

You can of course get an electric motorcycle, and win both ways.