How modern bikes are made greener

Do you know what OBD is, how it works. Do you know the difference between the Cat on your bike and the cat on your sofa? Step inside

OBD IS ON-board diagnostics. If you were looking to one avenue of motorcycle development that's come on in leaps and bounds these last few decades then this is it.

Forget radial brakes (although they are of course excellent). Forget dual compound tyres. Forget even the matter of screwing something like 200bhp out of a road-going litre-capacity motor. No, the leading technological advancement of this new century is electronic.

OBD development has been led by the ever-tightening emission regulations. And while those regs continue to cause problems for manufacturers - we're talking ugly matters like shitty jerky throttle response, eg, Yamaha FZ1, BMW K1200S - there has also been a fair gain in other dynamic performance areas. So we can be greener motorcyclists but also more controlled and faster motorcyclists.

Go back 30-odd years and the matter of fuel and spark was quite straightforward and almost entirely mechanical.

Fuel was fed via a carburettor or multiple carburettors. Spark came via a magneto-generator and contact breaker points.

In the 70s bikes almost entirely converted to electronic ignition. The Japs had it, then even the old Brit bikes were converted thanks to the like of Lucas 'Rita' and Boyer 'Bransden' aftermarket ignitions, which offered electronic control of advance and retard of the timing.

Fuel injection arrived at or around 1980 with bikes like Kawasaki's Z1000, but universal adoption would not arrive for at least two decades. Part of the slowness in adoption was the limited processing power
of early Electronic Control Units (ECU) that accompanied the fuel injection. Carburettors could then still give comparable, if not superior, performance and tune-ability.