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Are cars noisier than motorcycles?

noise noisy exh plate machismo crackdown

There are more cars with loud and faulty exhausts than motorcycles, yet the media has demonised riders in reports on the issue.

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria released data in December showing that 5000 noisy vehicle notices were issued since January 2014.

Ok, about 12% were for motorcycles which is about three times the proportion of motorcycles to all vehicles.

But the media reports that followed only concentrated on loud motorcycles, particular Harley-Davidsons which were a significant 75% of the noisy bikes fined.

Damned lies and statistics

We tried to dig a little deeper into the figures and approached the EPA, transport departments and police in each state for figures.

The only response we got was from the NSW EPA which showed a slightly different story and how you can interpret statistics differently.

For example, motorcycle registrations are the fastest-growing vehicle sector, yet the number of bikes receiving inspection notices has dropped 35% from 716 in 2014 to 562 in 2016.

In the same time, cars dropped only 22% to 644.Loud pipes save lives keyring - motorcycles EPA cars exhaust

Meanwhile, EPA advisory letters sent out to motorists based on reports about their noisy vehicle rose 50% from 107 to 160 for motorcycles from 2014 to last year, while cars increased 67% to 808.

So who is the real culprit here?

Also, it seems that motorcyclists who receive advisory letters are more likely to fix their vehicles than car owners.

The number of penalty notices actually dropped from 25 in 2014 to 19 in 2016, while cars remained around the same level of 126 last year.

Perhaps that is because motorcyclists can fit new baffles, re-insert the baffles they removed, or replace the original mufflers a lot easier before having an official inspection than drivers can with their cars.

Do loud pipes save lives?

Loud pipes save lives keyring - motorcycles EPA cars
Buy your “Loud pipes save lives” keyring now!

While there is no empirical evidence that loud pipes save lives, only anecdotal, there are enough riders who believe it that there should be more noise dispensation for riders than drivers.

Read how this barrister reckons aftermarket exhausts are not illegal.

Meanwhile, riders can avoid copping the ire of the EPA and other authorities if they exercise a little more care with their noisy exhausts.

I’d complain too if an inconsiderate neighbour started his Harley fitted with Screamin’ Eagle pipes and allowed it to idle for several minutes on a Sunday morning while I was trying to sleep in.

Modern EFI engines don’t need any warming up. Turn them on and go, without revving and driving your neighbours mad.

Read about warming up your engine.

Also, stop blipping the throttle in the suburbs or while riding past farms where you may startle livestock.

Behave and enjoy your exhaust noise in tunnels which were invented just for that purpose!