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Call to challenge motorcycle exhaust noise fines

Call to challenge exhaust noise fines sign noise cameras
Police conduct roadside noise test at Mt Tamborine

A Brisbane barrister who has written a paper on the legality of aftermarket motorcycle exhausts has urged all riders to challenge exhaust noise emissions fines, saying police will get the message and stop issuing them.

Levente Jurth wrote his paper in January 2016 and is now representing a group of riders caught in a recent blitz on motorcycle exhaust noise on Mt Tamborine.

Click here to read his full paper. 

“Prior to publishing my paper, the police deemed any motorcycle exhaust modification as illegal. My paper has had the benefit that police now appear to accept that aftermarket exhausts are legal and they also give the 5dB tolerance required by the regulations,” says Levente who rides an Aprilia Tuono 1100.

While that is a welcome start, Levente says it does not go far enough.

“The applicable regulations, standards and testing procedures contain dozens of requirements, each of which the police need to satisfy before a roadside noise emissions test is valid and capable of securing a conviction for an offence,” he says.

Call to challenge exhaust noise fines
This sign cannot be verified and is only provided as an example of the law’s complexity. Please note it contains misleading information. For example, it states that Harley-Davidsons are to be tested at 2500rpm, however the testing standards require some Harleys to be tested at higher rpms.

“In most instances, it is to be doubted whether the police are even capable of complying with some of those requirements at a roadside test”.

Levente has many questions about the vagaries and contradictions in the motorcycle exhaust noise laws. Issues raised include:

  • Why are there different arbitrary noise levels for different bikes? For example, an Aprilia Tuono 1100 is certified at 107dB plus the 5dB allowance (some Ducati’s are even higher), whereas many other bikes are certified at well below 90dB – given a 3dB increase is twice the volume, why is one bike lawfully permitted to be four times louder than another bike?
  • How can roadworthy certificates be issued without requiring a noise emissions test, but a rider can be fined for riding a bike that has a current roadworthy certificate?
  • In the absence of an authorised testing facility, how can riders who are genuinely trying to comply and do the right thing know how loud their exhaust is?
  • Police officers have no training or expertise in acoustics or sound engineering. They are manifestly unqualified to conduct noise tests that require compliance with technical regulations and standards.
  • In a practical sense, how are riders supposed to understand and comply with complex and contradictory regulations and standards where even experts in the field debate their true meaning and proper application?

“Once these matters are exposed – whether during the course of a court case, or otherwise – it is hoped that the long-term outcome will be meaningful reform leading to uniform regulations that are clear, capable of being complied with and apply to everyone equally”, he says.Call to challenge exhaust noise fines

Comical video

A video supplied by a rider whose bike was recently noise tested shows the difficulty of the officer trying to rev the throttle to the required rpm while checking the noise meter in his other hand.

Levente has seen the video and says “it’s comical”.

“He’s not doing much right, but it’s not really his fault. It’s practically impossible for him to do everything required of him correctly, and to do so simultaneously”.

He encouraged anyone who is stopped for an exhaust noise test to shoot a video of the testing to ensure police comply with requirements.
He says it may be handy evidence if they later challenge any fine.
“You are allowed to video even though police may tell people not to,” he says.

We asked police for advice on videoing them and they said there is no reason the public cannot film police, just as the media are allowed to film them in a public place.

Police can ask you to stop filming, but you don’t have to acquiesce unless they give a lawful direction for good reason, such as the person is a safety risk (filming in the middle of the road) or, for example, they are filming a minor, a witness or a suspect.

“Therefore, if you tell the police officer that you are filming because it will be evidence of his or her conduct and procedures that will be used in court should any charge be proffered, then the ambit of any ‘lawful direction for good reason’ would have to overcome that,” Levente says.

“It follows that if anyone filming a police officer undertaking a noise test is asked to stop filming, the person should tell the police officer that they are filming because it will be evidence of his or her conduct and procedures that will be used in court should any charge be proffered, and politely but firmly request the police officer withdraw the direction to stop filming with that in mind.

“If the word on the street is that everyone who gets a fine should challenge it, and that starts to occur, then I believe the police will give up on these meaningless roadside stings, which as we all know are just revenue raising, and address the issue properly and sensibly – which starts with an overhaul of the regulations and the standards.”

Amnesty-free noise checks

Call to challenge exhaust noise fines

As many riders may be genuinely unaware that their bike’s noise level is not legal there has been a call testing facilities to be provided with an amnesty for those who do not comply.

Similar compliance testing facilities are periodically offered by Transport and Main Roads for caravan and truck drivers.

It is believed SEQ police have only three noise meters and a handful of staff who have been trained in their calibration and use.

While chances are slim that you could be stopped and your bike checked, riders who want to ensure they comply have virtually no opportunity to officially check their exhaust noise level.

MBW footnote

It should be noted that Levente is not soliciting for more work. He actually suggests fined riders approach specialist solicitors who handle traffic matters.

  1. Notwithstanding all of the above, many of the Harley-Davidsons on the road emit exhaust noise levels clearly well above what is legal to the point of being totally obnoxious, so there needs to me some way to police this.

    1. What, SO YOU have a Decibel Tester do you ? If Not Then Button your Mouth … You are NO Better than the copper that tried to fine me for a noisy exhaust years ago …
      Sure you can have Your Opinion – BUT Just Don’t go Shooting your mouth off about what ‘May OR May Not Be Legal’ – UNTIL you have the Evidence to Back it Up With – OK.
      JUST Because YOU Don’t Like the ‘NOISE’ of their exhausts does NOT make it Illegal and for goodness sake it is only for a few brief seconds as it passes by , GET OVER IT !!! (Or wear Ear Plugs) …


        1. Well your obviously a cage driver that doesn’t care whether a rider can be seen/ heard because of some dumb driver sitting in his/ her cage listening to the radio turned up, it’s morons like you that create accidents so how about you pull your head in and live with it

          1. I’ve been riding for nearly fifty years without a break; much of that time I didn’t even own a car. Have you or Frostbite considered getting some counselling and therapy for anger management?

  2. It is typical of the Police departments to harrass the ‘BIKER’ Types – they take High Delight in doing so – you only have to see tle look in their eyes and read their faces – It is Better IF they remove their ‘Shades’ when they are talking to you …. It is also a little more polite to do so, but maybe that is too much to ask – IS IT ?

    Where does the Manufacturer’s Responsibility stop ? I have Not Seen any aftermarket Pipes that have ANY Decibel Ratings on them – NO Paperwork with ANY Sort of Specifications Except for Performance Figures.

    WHY Should a Rider have to bear the brunt of and Excessive Noise Fine/s for an AfterMarket Exhaust System when they Buy & Fit New Exhausts for their motorcycles ? And There IS Nowhere to get an exhaust stsyem checked for compliance …

    I have been fined in the past for having a ‘Noisy Exhaust’, and even though it was quite a few years ago now it was something I wanted to pass on to the readers – The Police Officer told me that he was issuing a fine to me for having a Noisy Exhaust System on my motorcycle – When Challenged about it and asked HOW it was Determined my Exhaust was Not Complying with the LAW, I was informed that ”IN MY OPINION THE PIPES ARE TOO LOUD” – was the response from the officer …

    “Well Officer, IN MY OPINION THE PIPES ARE NOT NOISY AND DO COMPLY WITH THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS” … “Where is your Noise Metering Equipment that IS Needed to Perform the Test ?” – I asked…. I asked – “You are aware that a Stationary Decibel Test was Needed before ANY Fine could be Issued, Aren’t you ?” – “I am within my rights as an Officer of the Law to determine if the pipes are too loud”, was the reply …. – “Have you been fined before for having noisy pipes ?” … _ “NO I have Not, but it has been tried on me before and it failed because the correct proceedure was not followed and you just cant have an opinion that the pipes are too loud – You HAVE to HAVE the Proper Certified Testing Equipment to determine IF the Exhaust Complies or not”, I told him ….

    “You seem to know all about this Noise Decibel test – Wait here I will be back with you in a minute or two” – I was instructed to do so … after about 3 or 4 minutes he returned to me and advised me to move on – and when asked why the ‘Change of Heart’ ? – He answered, “It seems that you are right in what you are saying, and I do not have the necessary equipment here with me at the moment, and I have been directed to let it pass” – and that he would be looking into getting the equipment to do the tests and that I should be forwarned that he would be looking out for me in the future …. to see IF my Motorcycle Exhaust would comply …

    SO, There was a time when the Police used to be able to issue a fine for Noisy Exhaust on their Say So … But NOW we do have the Decibel Noise Test to Comply with but it Does Need to be done in a Controlled Environment and in this day an age having video evidence to back yourself up with gives US – The Rider – at Least a Chance of Not Being Fined IF the Noise Decibel Limit is within the limits …

    The Whole thing needs to Better Determined and Having a Decibel Rating on every New Exhaust from Every Manufacturer would BE the Appropriate STARTING POINT, in my opinion. IF this information was available with every new exhaust then the customer could make a determined Choice of what exhaust they wanted to fit to their motorcycle …

    Legislation regarding this issue is needed to give US a Fair Go, because at the Moment we are ‘flying blind’ regarding any Noise Limits ….. And the TEST Itself Needs to BE Better Controlled, with a Full Listing of the Motorcycles that are Determined to Not Be Revved Past their ESMP, as there are a LOT of Cruiser motorcycles out there other than Harley Davidsons, and Their V-Twin Engines do Have Limitattions that are very similar to the HD V-Twin Engine and Should NOT BE REVVED WILDLY at a greater engine speed than is what is necessary to determine ESMP – These Metric Cruiser bikes can’t be treated like a Sports bike and the Police NEED to BE AWARE of this Situation too …

    Give US a Fair Go and Most of US will Comply – Perhaps even 99% of US will, BUT WE NEED FAIR & SENSIBLE LEGISLATION to Start with ….


    Get the Manufacturers to COMPLY to Australian Standards (ADR’s) and GET OFF OUR BACKS – PLEASE.

    frostbite –
    (Tired Grumpy OLD BIKER BASTARD…)(TGOBB)

    1. I Just want to ‘Clarify’ some details if I could please …. I know, I am getting damn OLD and a Bit (LOT) Forgetful thesedays – But at nearly 65 I am entitled to be losing my Marbels OK …
      Anyway When I stated that I had been fined for a Noisy Exhaust – That Was INCORRECT – I Should have said that I WAS ‘NEARLY’ FINED – OK …. I Didn’t Receive a FINE that DAY – Yeah, I know a ‘Freudian Slip Maybe’ or Bloody Alzheimers (?) kicking in …. (Geeez, it was back in ’86 or ’87 in Albury)
      Please Accept my humblest apologies …. I will try and do a ‘Proof Read’ in future – However long that will be is unknown …
      Take Care out there Guys & Girls, Please ….
      RIDE SAFE – Don’t Take Crap from Anyone
      Enjoy the Freedom of the Open Road
      Still living the dream – TRY and STOP ME !!!
      Cheers –
      frostbite (TGOBB)

      1. I think EVERY after market exhaust manufacturer shoud test EVERY exhaust on EVERY possible set up, with EVERY conceivable engine mod. How dare they put out a product that hasn’t been fully tested to Frostbite’s satisfaction.

        1. Frostbite,

          Is it typical for “BIKER” guys to harass others with their loud pipes? It seems to me that police are simply following the rule of law while “BIKER” guys openly violate it. How can you call this harassment? I call it enforcement.

  3. They are sold in the country we buy them in, how can we as consumers ve held responsible for whats on the market shelves.
    As Police need to be fully qualified motorcycle mechanics in order to make valid some of the calls they are.
    Its like they learn a new trick and perform it all over the state. When actually as far as vehicle performance and quality prisucts they just standing over …… do you understand, so you stand under my authority.

    Must remove all symbols of freedom when you primary goal is control.

    1. Warren,

      Police, or other people do not need to be industry experts to employ common sense. It does not take a genius to know when a pipe is too loud. I could argue that testing is not necessary in most cases. I do believe that the testing part of these laws is to placate loud pipe owners.

    2. I can buy an ATV but does that mean I can operate it on public highways? No it doesn’t.

      Most aftermarket exhaust systems, especially loud ones, actually market themselves “for track use only”. There is nothing wrong or illegal about buying a loud pipe and installing it. However if you choose to do so you should be aware that the law only allows you to operate your vehicle in closed courses. As a ex-mechanic I thought this was common knowledge and common sense but as the years have gone by it seems people conveniently ignore this fact.


  4. Bring on testing facilities so that all motorbikes do not exceed exhaust noise limits.
    And why is it even ok to modify exhausts after purchase anyway?

  5. Why not issue preliminary fines as a defect notice, to be rectified within 48 hours and assessed by a licensed inspector using any required equipment as needed.
    A certificate of compliance, with photographic evidence and exhaust serial numbers, can then be issues . This enables officers, in future checks, to check if the same exhaust as used ini the compliance test is fitted. If not then the original fine stands and a secondary fine can be issued

    1. Probably because it is incredibly easy to change out the exhaust on most motorcycles making this a trivial matter for noise polluter to temporarily re-install their standard exhaust to prove compliance then immediately put their loud offensive pipes right back on.

  6. if your bike is not fitted with a tacho, how are the boys in blue rev the bike to the required revs to test your bike ?

  7. The most important thing to note ( and maybe photograph ) at a noise test is the setting on the meter. The ADRs specify dbA.

    There are usually at least two settings on the meter: dbA, dbC and sometimes SPL. dbA measures a spectrum that matches the typical human hearing range. If the meter is set to dbC it will give a higher reading.

    The police sign shown in the article doesn’t even mention what reading is to be taken. Also if the bike in the video had been pushed forward onto the grass, the reading would be lower.

  8. To comply in Queensland it is not about what decibel the exhaust emits but if it is not the standard oem system then whether it has a label attached to the system stating make, dB and RPM that must match the stationary noise test label attached to all motorcycles built since 1988. The Police or Transport Dept do not need to listen to any of them but rather not standard, no label attached then not compliant and defect given. I have my LT4 accreditation and am one of the only legal Motorcycle noise testers in the State and don’t understand all the crap about noise tests, the standards state must have a label, that is it……

    1. So, can you test say the bike in this story’s video, issue and affix a label with its dB rating and rpm value, thereby making it complient?

  9. This has been queried many years ago how can a vehicle be seriously tested for noise levels at 3/4 of its maximum rev limit or power limit when if the vehicle is doing those revs it would probably be doing nearly twice the legal speed limit at those revs, it should be tested if at all at the revs the vehicle would be doing the legal limit on our roads not at some fictional level, lets get real people.

  10. In Queensland there is a four thousand dollar penalty for taking a speeding fine to court and loosing. This is to discourage people from going to court and is all kinds of wrong and probably unconstitutional if we actually had one of those.
    The biggest problem with it is that it’s very likely to spread to other states and more than just speeding fines! If it hasn’t already.

  11. I love motorcycles.I really dislike motorcycles that cause me and others to stop a conversation till they pass by due to excessive noise.Canungra locals felt likewise and complained to the authorities,hence the testing equipment showing up.Many points raised are valid,especially that these systems can be sold which are clearly going to be offensively loud to bystanders.These systems must be tested before sale and labelled to avoid over zealous police issuing tickets based on their interpretations of “loud”.

  12. I like a nice sounding exhaust but there are too many who ride to make as much painful noise as possible. I am all for the cops putting a stop to it.

  13. The noise that is emitted from a tuned exhaust system on a motorcycle is in most cases is nice and does not offend eney one it’s the Harley Ferguson mob with there loud unrefined parafin tractor noise that has spoiled things for real motorcyclists.

    Please ladies put your standard pipes back on and if you want a nicer noise fit an old cigarette packet to vibrate on your spokes

  14. I personally would really like to see some equitable evidence that loud exhausts save lives. Where is the data that proves this? The assumption is that motorists who hear bikes coming miles away suddenly become bike aware and thus drive in a way they otherwise wouldn’t. I’d say there is no proof of this anywhere just a good marketing ploy by the Vance and Hines type companies of the world. 🙂 🙂

    1. Geoff, there is no data because it’s virtually impossible to demonstrate. You can’t recreate the exact same situation with or without loud pipes.

      The real question is, why do some of you question that audability isn’t a factor whearas visibility is? Why would you suggest one of our senses, hearing, just can’t be a useful factor to add to our safety? Sound is Omni directional from its source – you hear a siren in all directions just as you might a louder than stock exhaust. In my experience, motorists absolutely hear you around them and knowing a bike is present is a big help in avoiding accidents.

      Now, the next part isn’t directed at you Geoff….But to the band of so called Bikers here who carry on like kids, bagging Harley’s etc, Id say to you that in my 35 years of riding I’ve never come across a real bike enthusiast who hates any marque. Grow up. I might not want your bike either, but I’ll defend your right to ride it and I’ll respect you as a fellow rider.

      1. Geoff, put it this way, when someone knocks at your front door at home do you hear them 1st or see them?? Its hard to prove, “Loud pipes save lives” but very obvious if you ride different bike. I have a Harley and a very quiet Suzuki dirt bike. I have incidents of near misses every single ride with people in cars pulling out on me cutting me off when they are changing lanes. People just don’t look. This still occurs occasionally on my Harley too but much much less because they hear me coming nearby as well as not seeing me. If noise can save 1 life it worth putting up with a bit of noise for a few seconds every now and then.

  15. I wonder if there is some legitimate excuse to refuse an officer’s request to free rev your engine.
    Isn’t it your prerogative how much you stress your engine?

    Could you not say, I don’t ever go above “…revs” and I refuse to do so for this test as I wish to not harm my vehicle.

  16. I wonder if sound compression can be used as a measure? They use this excuse with TV ads that scream at us. Everyone knows its louder and annoying but somehow its always tested at the same volume as the programs but because the sound is compressed it “seems” louder. It stands to reason that out exhaust compression would be compressed sound does it Not? Not dissimilar to compression braking noise on a truck or bus.

  17. Frostbite and Connie,

    Your comments are concerning. It seems you two are advocating for the legal use of loud pipes.

    Can either of you explain to others why you feel you have a right to impede on anothers personal space with your noise? I see you keep telling people to get over it and deal with it. Well, we can say the same thing about you being cited for violating a law. Deal with it. It is against the law so if you don’t want to be harassed by police doing their jobs then don’t violate these laws. It’s quite simple, really.

    I really enjoyed your suggestion to buy earplugs. I would be interested to hear your justification of why others should alter their behavior in order to accommodate the illegal and anti-social behavior of riding with loud pipes.

  18. Write to your MP, start a petition, there are less expensive ways to change a law than breaking it.

    Regardless of your joy or displeasure at noisy pipes, that law that is just wrong.
    Few would dispute that a noise level law is needed, but such law must be uniform (ie: same everywhere), it must be fair (ie: same for everybody) and it must be enforceable.

  19. I agree with the observation that why are some bikes allowed to be louder than others? Although there should definitely be a limit.

    I was riding in traffic alongside a 500-650cc bike with P plates yesterday that had a straight twin short pipe exhaust exiting in front of rear wheel from under the motor, instead of extending further up the rear with a muffler attached and the noise from that thing was vibrating through my helmet and inside my eardrum causing quite some irritation and discomfort.

    That’s the precise reason for cops chasing most of us over slightly louder than norm exhausts, because some abuse the situation and go overboard and bring down a lot of complaints leveled at the rest of us.

  20. I proclaim that no police officer nor tmr representative is an acoustics engineer that has a university degree. No in house course can be compared to a uni degree. Until such time all noise is subjective to many factors that none of us can understand unless we take that university degree. To proclaim anything other is purely subjective even if they measure with equipment. There are to many factors to take into account. On top of that there are too many laws within the laws that contradict others. Until such time laws come into line with all others and all noise test done by an acoustics engineer we are arguing over pure incompetency of Australian police. Nothing new here as they have never been about saving lives, only money making.

  21. If you don’t think your bike is too loud, buy a cheap sound level meter, run the test, record it on your phone and keep it. If you get pulled over for excessive noise show it to the cop and explain that you were concerned and tested it yourself at your own cost. It has no legal standing, and could be inaccurate of course, but it’s a good argument and shows your attempt to comply with the rules, if you still get booked, fix it or take it to court.

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