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Noisy motorcycle exhaust fight continues

Loud pipes trial chop

A 70-year-old Canadian is appealing after his $850,000 lawsuit against a local council, police and a motorcycle group over excessive motorcycle exhaust noise was thrown out of court.

The Edmonton’s Court of Queen’s Bench threw out Richard Jones’s case, saying it “discloses no reasonable cause of action, is frivolous, irrelevant or improper, and constitutes an abuse of process.”

Richard says the peace and quiet of his Zen Buddhist backyard sanctum has been destroyed by weekend warriors on motorcycles with load exhaust pipes. “The cretins are totally destroying what this town used to be,” he says, promising to “nail these sons of bitches”.

However, don’t dismiss one crazy complainant and believe the matter has gone away. The issue of loud motorcycle exhaust pipes has been brewing in several Canadian municipalities in recent months and has governments and police cracking down on loud motorcycles and cars.

Occasionally, police in other countries also crack down on exhaust noise as residents grow tired of the early Sunday morning cacophony of weekend warriors.

Rather than the community accepting the growing number to loud motorcycle exhausts, the advent of quiet electric motorcycles may actually make more people ask why bikes need to be so loud and could lead to even tougher noise restrictions in future.

Victory Empulse TT electric motorcycle
The quiet Victory Empulse TT electric motorcycle has no exhaust

While many motorcycle riders will loudly shout that “Loud pipes save lives”, the claim could fall on deaf ears as there are no studies that definitively support that theory. In fact, some studies suggest loud pipes make riders more aggressive, cause other motorists to react irrationally and do not make riders any more conspicuous.

The ageing, but still authoritative Hurt Report actually found that bikes with modified exhausts were overrepresented in crashes and that large, quiet touring bikes such as Goldwings were underrepresented. About the only supportive arguments for loud pipes are anecdotal.


Just as loud pipes saving lives is a myth, so is loud pipes cause hearing loss. It is more likely to be wind noise, according to the American Industrial Paramedic Services.

Noise limits vary in each country, but all factory supplied motorcycle exhausts for road use are legal.

If the dealer changes the muffler, you should ensure that the new muffler is compliant and get written confirmation.

While there are often penalties for anyone who sells a motorcycle with a defective exhaust system, it is usually only the rider who cops the fine! Find out how you can beat a noisy exhaust fine.

If you change your bike’s muffler, consult with your local noise regulations to ensure that the pipe is legal.

However, that is not the end of it, as the packing inside a muffler can deteriorate over time causing the pipe to get louder. Just having a sticker or stamp on the exhaust to say it complies will not save you from a fine if a police officer or transport department inspector has a noise meter. Sometimes police have been known to issue a fine based on their judgement rather than a calibrated scientific noise meter!

What usually happens is they will issue a show-cause notice as the roadside test may not be sufficient to issue a ticket. Instead, you will be summoned to take your bike to a transport department facility for a proper noise test. If you fail, you will not only pay a fine, but have to present the bike again with a compliant muffler fitted before the bike is deemed legal.

Is it worth it for all our sakes?Akropovic Open-Line motorcycle exhaust system on a Harley-Davidson Road King

I’ve only changed the muffler on a couple of bikes I’ve owned. While I love the sound of a deep note from an exhaust, I hate raspy exhausts and I find loud, droning pipes give me a headache on a long trip.

However, on many occasions I’ve been given a demo bike to ride by the motorcycle companies who have fitted aftermarket motorcycle exhausts in an attempt to please motorcycle journalists. Some of them are illegal and even have warnings imprinted on them such as “Off-road use only”. I once rejected a test bike because of this as it was attention-drawing loud and my licence was short on points.

If I have a bike to test which has an illegal pipe and I choose to take my chances with the law, I modify my riding behaviour. For a start, I don’t let it warm up for several minutes in my garage, annoying the neighbours, or switch it on and arrogantly let it idle just metres from cafe tables while I put on my helmet and gloves. Most modern bikes don’t need any warm-up before riding, anyway.

I also don’t blip the throttle or encourage the bike to make loud noises when passing through urban areas (except maybe tunnels!). Out in the country, I’m also careful not to fire it up when passing livestock as it can frighten them, causing them to stampede or run into barbed-wire fences.

If we all modify our behaviour just a little, we might still get away with it a little longer … before vexatious litigants like Mr Jones, the noise/fun police and the electric motorcycle industry destroy all our fun.

  1. ‘While many motorcycle riders will loudly shout that “Loud pipes save lives”, the claim could fall on deaf ears’

    You loved that line didn’t you!

      1. Seriously Mark?

        Hurt Report should be remove, it is very old (1981), and most of the statistics have been created using old technology and involving old machines (bikes). Saying that it is still authoritative only damages the motorcycle industry because your are actually supporting an old report instead of asking for a new one.
        If all advocates like you compare the 1981 traffic conditions with 2015 then no wonder nothing is getting done in this country.

        Also, of course bikes like Goldwing are involved in less accidents, they are bigger and more visible and don`t need sound to be noticed. I think that statement is useless as anyone could have told you that…

        My ass was saved on 2 occasions by loud pipes…

        1. I’d remove the Hurt Report if something came along that debunked it or replaced it. But that hasn’t happened.
          There has also been no data relating loud pipes with safety. None. Only anecdotes.

          1. You are correct, no data relating to loud pipes and safety but also there is no data that contradicts the statement unless you are satisfied with a very old report.

            It`s like saying that riding without a helmet is safe because in 1975 a study found them to be useless. Can you compare the “then” helmets with the present ones?

  2. I use “rotary pipes” every time I receive an EPA notice. Take the noisy pipes off my H-D, fit the compliant ones, go to the tester, pass the noise test, pay the test fee of $35 (last time), go home and refit the noisy ones.

    It’s all quite farcical. Unless they set up a roadside noise testing station it’s only a minor inconvenience.

    I have lost count of the number of peoe who have told me they love the Harley Soun. What about Doof Doof music that comes from cars and other noise sources?
    Personally, I like the status quo.

    1. Having cited and arrested far more than my share of LOUD biker thugs…I’ve got to say, I truly think that the obsession, the cultic infatuation of making a complete arse out of one’s self via the operation of an illegally loud motorcycle is indicative of a psychological illness…this comes from personal interviews while en route to jail, during traffic interviews…there is truly something psychologically wrong with the LOUD biker dudes and dudettes.

      I mean, consider this…Who but an irresponsible, arrogant, LOUD thug bully, would take perfectly compliant, quiet, legal, respectful motorcycle, then proceed to remove that quiet muffler (or modify it) with an illegal, “not for on road use”, intrusive, LOUD aftermarket exhaust, an aftermarket exhaust emitting two-four-six or more times the 80 db(a) noise emissions limit – the limit stipulated as the minimum level of protection by the EPA and WHO…then,,, the hubris of this irresponsible jerk who takes his shiny new phallic extension out onto a public roadway and commences to assault children, our elderly, our families with the intrusive, dangerous noise levels…I ask you…who but a loud-thug-bully would do such a thing?

      I am very surprised that the “men” of this Nation have not coalesced in a form of vigilantism against these irresponsible LOUD thugs, faux-barbarians with such arrogance as to impose their selfish, illegal, will on an entire Nation of people.

      Rick Holtsclaw
      Loud Motorcycles Suck – Facebook Community Page – Exposing Loud Biker Thuggery!

    1. There are different noise levels, depending on when the bike was built.
      For motorcycles built on or after 1 March 1984, and designed or manufactured for use on a road, the level is 94 decibels. The noise level for other motorcycles is 100 decibels.
      For vehicles certified to ADR 83/00 and with compliance plate dates of 1 September 2011 or earlier, the prescribed noise level is the higher of either the level in Schedule 1 or the ADR 83/00 signature level plus 5 decibels. For vehicles with compliance plate dates after 1 September 2011, the prescribed noise level is the ADR 83/00 signature level plus 5 decibels.
      ADR83/00 signature noise levels can be found on the federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport’s website link.
      Good luck!

      1. Mark is completely incorrect regarding decibel limitations for street motorcycles manufactured for the United States. Perhaps Mark is confusing the SAE J2825 parameters for twin-cylinder motorcycles, but the Environmental Protection Agency has set the limit on motorcycle exhaust emissions at 80 db(a) at a specified RPM as per the Code of Federal Regulations. This is why your motorcycle, when it was shipped from the manufacturer, had a compliant, EPA approved muffler with a stamp imprinted in that muffler and a label on the downtube of your motorcycles frame indicating compliance and at what RPM your motorcycle developed the 80 db(a) maximum. I have used the SAE J2825 Stationary Motorcycle Exam during enforcement scenarios and according to the developers of the test, it is supposed to duplicate the 80 db(a) maximum using an idle test and an RPM test. The maximum allowed db(a) for the J2825 Test depends on the number of cylinders in the motorcycle being tested. A citation can be given for a fail at idle and another citation can be given for a fail at RPM. Then, the ape-hangers are checked for height and cited according to State statute.

        Rick Holtsclaw
        Loud Motorcycles Suck, Facebook Community Page – Exposing LOUD biker thuggery!

    2. In the United States, motorcycles manufactured for operation on a public roadway must be equipped with an approved EPA compliant exhaust when they leave the manufacturer. Factory motorcycle exhausts are limited to 80 db(a) at a specified RPM. Why? Because 80 db(a) is the “minimum” level of protection for the general public.

      As a police officer, I have personally tested a number of motorcycles equipped with “aftermarket” exhaust mechanisms not approved by the EPA or for use on a public roadway. Using the SAE J2825 Stationary Motorcycle Test, I have NEVER tested an aftermarket exhaust that came anywhere near passing the idle and RPM parameters…in fact, many were two-three-four times the legal limit when measured on a logarithmic scale.

      It is a travesty of justice considering what is operating unencumbered on our roadways today…motorcycles, auto’s and trucks…emitting decibel levels that are especially dangerous to our children and our elderly. Every law enforcement officer in Canada and in the United States should hang their heads in shame for their nonfeasance, apathy and their participation in the shameful behavior of operating an illegally loud motor vehicle on our public roadways…ashamed!!!

      What’s illegally loud you ask? Any “exhaust” mechanism that emits noise levels greater than the factory/OEM exhaust is excessive and unusual!

      The Loud Pipes Saves Lives mantra is a LIE and nothing but an excuse for bad, intrusive, selfish, arrogant, hedonistic, behavior.

      Rick Holtsclaw, Loud Motorcycles Suck – Facebook Community Page

      1. Gee rick so american police do actually do something ,Apart from shooting bikers and black americans?

        1. You bet…my favorite past time was citing and arresting the operators of illegally loud motorcycles, auto’s and trucks. We all have “our thing,” and there are very few things worth skipping a good Starbuck’s for than the Loud Biker Cult[ure]…but hey, that’s just me.

          Loud Motorcycles Suck
          Facebook community page – exposing loud biker thuggery!

          1. Just so you know This bloke was “retired” because of complaints of harassment
            by motorcyclists, he had the nickname psycho cop.
            Over here he’d probably be promoted.

  3. Sound is sound but other factors have changed. Drivers are different, road rules are different, cars have changed, driver learning has changed. All of these play a very important factor and today’s drivers could be worse than before even if accidents have dropped witch could be because of slower speeds and better cars, meaning that when before noise was not a priority or a valid factor it may now be the missing part that makes a driver aware of your presence.

    What you and others must understand is that regardless of how safe you ride, motorcycles are still much more riskier than cars and must be treated accordingly. If an element can be used that reduces the risk by 2% then it must be employed.
    Another issue that I see is that everyone insists that the law has to change and everyone complains that nothing was achieved until now but no one looks at what the cause can be.Of course pushbike riders are getting so many changes through, because they first do their homework and they come prepared, not present studies done in the 70`s. And this kinds of topics are not helping….

    1. Hi Daniel,
      But what has mainly changed in that time is the sound-proofing of cars and the louder audio systems.
      Surely that negates any warning/alert value in a noisy exhaust.
      I’ve driven up the highway and had a loud bike pass me and the only alert I got was when they were almost past me which is too late.
      Exhaust noise mainly goes backwards, not forwards. That hasn’t changed in the past few decades.
      However, I agree it’s time for a new study.
      I also agree with you about reducing risk by being visible (moving around in your lane and not riding in blind spots – not wearing hi-vis vests!) and audible (that’s what the bike’s horn is for!).

      1. Very valid arguments Mark and I`m sure that the effect of loud pipes are not enough to make them count.
        BUT… when you are lane splitting isn’t it safer to just rev up the engine and warn any driver or pedestrian that there is a motorcycle coming? Honking is illegal and it can also be confused with other vehicles…
        What about when riding through the hills, around bends and the cyclist hears you coming because of your loud pipes and moves on the side of the road. Do you honk at every turn?

        There are many situations that I can use as examples where simple, engine noise make you “visible”.

        @Rickey: Why don’t you read this study mate: ?

        Quote: ‘This study found that pedestrian and bicyclist crashes involving both HEVs and ICE vehicles commonly occurred on roadways, in zones with low speed limits, during daytime and in clear weather, with higher incidence rates for HEVs when compared to ICE vehicles.’

        HEV: Hybrid Electric Vehicle
        ICE: Internal combustion engine

        It;a about cars, but I think it make a point. Oh… ant it’s from 2009.
        So quiet, electric cars are dangerous? well that means that sound does play a role somewhere….right?
        Also, the models described by you are not ordinary commuter bikes. Their numbers are lower thus accidents are lower and this must be considered when making statements. Also, they mainly ridden in rural areas not city where most accidents happen due to inattentive drivers.

        Thanks for the discussion Mark but I`m done…

  4. God Bless the man for having the courage and tenacity to do what needs to be done…it’s well past time that these loud thug biker bullies be STOPPED. Why have we allowed the Loud Biker Cult[ure] to take over our roadways with their illegally equipped, illegally modified two-wheeled phallic extensions and use same to assault our children, our elderly, our families with decibel levels that are two, three, four times what has been determined as “safe” for the general public. WHY?

    The Hurt Report is just as valid today as it was in the 70’s and Loud Pipes do not Save Lives, Loud Pipes Violate Rights.

    Loud Biker Thugs will tell you that “Loud Pipes Save Lives.” This is a myth, a lie, and nothing but an excuse for bad behavior.
    Loud pipes do nothing but increase rider fatigue; increase rider reaction time to audible stimuli; unnecessarily assault the citizenry with illegal decibel levels that are especially dangerous to our children and our elderly; startle the unsuspecting caged public resulting in a fight-or-flight response; violate the right of every citizen to exist within an environment free from excessive and dangerous noise levels. The Hurt Report clearly debunks the Loud Pipes Save Lives myth…the truth is, Loud Pipes Violate Rights.

    Let’s follow the Loud Bikes Save Lives argument to its logical conclusion. If “noise” is truly the answer to traffic safety then let’s install sirens on bicycles and mopeds. Let’s require that every motor vehicle under a specified gross weight operate continually with its horn activated. And again, If noise is the answer to accident avoidance, why aren’t Goldwing, BMW LT – RT – GS riders falling like flies? Operators of these motorcycles are some of the safest, most professional riders on the roadways.
    Noise as a safety factor is pure NONSENSE and only serves to feed the hedonistic, selfish, personality of the loud thug biker community!

    Want to be safer, a more professional, respectable biker? Wear bright colored clothing, proper safety gear like a DOT approved full-face helmet, gloves, heavy jeans, padded jacket, full MC boots and practice defensive riding techniques.
    Respect the public, don’t be a loud motorcycle THUG!

    Rickey Holtsclaw, See: Loud Motorcycles Suck – Facebook Community Page – Exposing Loud Biker Thuggery!!!

    1. Actually had a chuckle over this until it dawned on me that he was in fact serious ,Yes there
      is such a facebook page, But he may be californian in which case it all makes sense .
      Sounds like someones phallic extension has got right up his nose.

    2. Rickey , you are a man on a mission , obsessed , i would say .
      Why should I wear a full face helmet , thick heavy boots , thick heavy jeans and reflective gear
      on a bright warm beautiful sunny day just to keep you happy ?
      Cheers .

      1. For the same reason I should have to listen to your attention seeking noise maker so you can ‘be happy’ while I enjoy that same warm beautiful sunny day…

        LOL… wait, you fear for your safety… got it

  5. It’s no myth as my own experiences have proven to me. After being forced off the road twice in one weekend while overtaking a line of cars, I installed louder pipes… which I hated beforehand. Now when I begin to overtake the drivers look to see where the noise is coming from. I am a steady rider aged 55 and sit on the speed limits at all times unless overtaking.

    1. Oldie,

      Another way of stating what you said: “I decided to attempt an uncessary and dangerous move.”

      If riding a motorcycle quietly is too dangerous for you then drive a car. You do not have the right to try to “increase your safety” at the expense of the rest of us. Ride defensively and use your horn. If the stock horn is not loud enough then buy a louder horn. You had enough money to spend on an illegal obnoxious exhaust so you have the money for the better horn.

      1. Ghost, you’re an obnoxious fool. According to the law, it’s the fault of the car drivers for not looking when they go to change lanes. A horn won’t help because the car driver has already made up their mind to change lanes, and they keep coming at you! Only prior warning helps, thus the exhaust.

        1. Says the man on two wheels with no protection, riding for entertainment….Wearing all black and half a helmet. Safety my ass!

  6. I ride an electric Zero. It’s pretty quiet, although not silent. I don’t rely on noise to alert cars to my presence, I try to be as visible as possible, and in certain situations, I have my thumb on the horn ready to go if needed. I lane split throughout the LA region every day with no problems.

    Those who claim loud pipes save lives do not have supporting evidence. Anecdotes are not science.

    If you are too scared to ride in traffic without making a lot of noise, then maybe motorcycles are not for you. Maybe you should ride the bus instead.

  7. I can only go by what I have experienced myself. Im not a stupid or aggressive rider and I have V&H long shots on my Vulcan 1500. They are definitely louder than stock and with a modified air cleaner give me better torque and fuel economy.
    They are loud enough that when Im lane splitting or even just cruising along I see people actively looking for the sound source. This is of great comfort to me. I do a lot of things to be noticed on the road such as riding in their mirror view, a little weaving for the headlight to let them know Im there and of course the pipes also help get their attention. The only time they are really loud is with wide open throttle which doesn’t happen much in the city. I don’t know if these are the loud pipes everyone is wingeing about but theres no way I will have quiet(er) pipes now.

  8. I have been riding for 24 years and have two bikes. I also live two streets from the beach in a heavily populated area.

    I number one hate of living in this area in the Harley idiots on the weekends with their super loud straight through pipes. They just love to come off the roundabout and gives it the beans.

    They are your typical nazi helmet, thong and short wearing moron.

  9. I drove a truck for a living and commute on a bike to and from work. There have been times when i e had a bike sneak up and sit in my blind spot at lights (even though law says not to filter next to heavy vehicles or to the left) but none the less is happens. Ive only known they were there due to noise. In saying that though its only pertinent at lights. Absolutley useless when driving. Ive also experienced afew bikes so god damn loud you need ear plugs to literally hear yourself think. Unnecessarily loud is the problem. (Yes thats all you riders that run straight through pipes. No DK killers or the like). It would be a bit of a bassel but all cars and bikes should be DB tested at full throttle when regoed, and police should have accurate aound testing devices. I like having hearing….

  10. Actually with the level of sound deadening and prevalence of ultra loud sound systems and the number of actual deaf people all driving cars and trucks the claim that loud pipe save lives is pretty much false. I often ride in groups and I will always keep ahead of the Harley’s and other loud bikes because A I don’t want the headache and B want to be able to hear what’s going on around me. It is entirely possible that just as many or even more people have been killed because their loud exhaust has drowned out that critical sound that would have saved them.

  11. Just thought I would share my latest critique with you…

    As a former United States Marine Corps NCO/0311/1-1 and a retired 31.5 year veteran of the Houston Police Department, can someone please explain to me how one correlates “vehicular noise assault” with patriotism and philanthropy? What you ask? Let me explain.
    According to the attached article from the Ventura County Star, approximately 1000 roaring, LOUD motorcycles converged on a Naval Base in Ventura County, California, allegedly in support of wounded military personnel and to commemorate the 911 tragedy.
    According to the latest statistics available, some 80% of new Harley Davidson owners make the purchase of an illegal aftermarket exhaust mechanism their very first “performance” upgrade. I think its reasonable to assume that a similar percentage of metric motorcycle riders make the same illegally LOUD upgrade to their motorcycles also. With this statistic well established, it is safe to assume that approximately 80%, or 800, of the motorcyclists involved in the “patriotic” ride were operating an illegally LOUD, illegally equipped motorcycle on a public roadway within Ventura, County and the roadways, Interstates in the Western United States.
    As a patrol officer, I’ve personally tested a number of these motorcycle aftermarket exhaust mechanisms via the SAE J2825 Stationary Motorcycle Testing Procedure. I was unable to find a single aftermarket exhaust that passed both the idle and RPM test parameters. A majority of these motorcycle aftermarket exhausts emit two-four-six or more times the 80 db(a) maximum noise emissions limit stipulated as the “minimum” safe level of noise emissions for the general public as per the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization (calculated via logarithmic scale). Noise that has been documented to be especially dangerous to our children and our elderly. Motorcycle Exhaust Noise Emissions that clearly violate Federal, State and many local laws.
    Now I ask you, who but a bully-arrogant-thug would remove a quiet, compliant motorcycle exhaust mechanism and replace same with an illegal, “not for road use,” aftermarket exhaust then take their shiny new phallic extension out into the public and proceed to assault women, children and the elderly with unnecessary, illegal, intrusive NOISE?
    With that said, again, I ask the question, how does one consider himself/herself a “patriot” and a “philanthropist” and fail to adhere to the very basics of the moral law i.e. love for one’s neighbor, respect, honor, dignity, endeavoring to do no harm, and how does this same individual, with knowledge and intent, violate the established rule of law relevant to illegally loud vehicular noise?
    I’m certainly no philosopher or theologian, but when you consider the thuggish and irresponsible behavior of the LOUD Motorcycle Cult[ure] and then observe them openly embracing the facade of patriotism and philanthropy, all that comes to mind is “hypocrisy!” The naive-sheep in our society may worship the facade of the Loud Biker Cult[ure], but I’m not buying it…it’s simply ridiculous and embarrassing!
    There is absolutely nothing the Loud Biker Cult[ure] involves themselves in, including patriotic and philanthropic endeavors, that cannot be accomplished atop a legal, compliant, respectable motorcycle equipped with the EPA approved FACTORY muffler installed.
    And in closing, I would like to ask, where are our law enforcement entities on this subject? Why did CHP and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department permit these illegally equipped, illegally LOUD motorcycles to operate completely unencumbered on the roadways of California? Why did CHP and VCSD fail to protect the citizenry under its care by negligently allowing them to be assaulted by these irresponsible LOUD motorcyclists?
    Rick Holtsclaw
    Loud Motorcycles Suck – Facebook Community Page – Exposing Loud Biker Thuggery!…/motorcycles-thunder-through-region-…

    Motorcycles thunder through region, raise funds for wounded veterans
    The loud roar of engines filled the air around Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu Sunday morning, but no planes dotted the sky. Instead, about 1,000 motorcycle…

    1. Rick you attempt to make some good points, but you make many assumptions that are rubbish.
      I am a professional motorcycle design engineer and have spent over 20 years in the industry.

      For one, the rate of aftermarket exhausts on non-Harley motorcycles is MUCH less, and the volume thereof is also much less.

      The 80dBa suggested you say is a MINIMUM, not a maximum. The problem is, even a motorcycle with the engine SWITCHED OFF rolling past at 60mph, exceeds 80dBa due to wind noise, tyre noise, gear whine, etc (tested by BMW Motorcycles v EPA in the 1980s).

      The problem lies with those riders who choose to fit 120dB-130dB exhausts, not those who exceed the actual 96dB limit by a small amount (e.g. 98-105dB). Below this level, performance decrease of the bike is extreme, but noise reduction is virtually unnoticeable (except if you rev it hard at 3am outside your neighbor’s window).

      If we allowed riders to have a sensible noise level that would allow them to be heard by pedestrians and *some* car drivers, and to have reasonable performance, many fewer riders would change their exhausts to the 120-130dB types, and thus many fewer would end up emitting extreme noise.

      If you’d ever ridden a motorcycle that was nearly wiped off the road by an unaware car driver, you’d be aware that a little noise can be a lifesaver (though it doesn’t have to be deafening). I’ve personally experienced a number of incidents over my long and busy riding career. Where are you when that happens? If you’re like a lot of the cops around here, you’re probably hating on the motorcyclist, instead of arresting the car driver for being negligent.

      1. Rick,

        This is an Australian-based website so the info Mark presents is obviously biased towards this market not the U.S.

        I want to acknowledge your service but if the highlight of your time in law enforcement was getting stuck into riders with loud pipes, that is sad. With everything else that is wrong in the world, if that is what you take pride in … Wow.

        We have a saying in Oz for those that hyperventilate over these sorts of things — take a bex and a good lie down.

        Some may believe that ‘loud pipes save lives’ is BS. Doubt those that believe by saying annedotal evidence, but after 20 years of riding, I know it to be a fact and credit it with saving my life. I don’t like screaming loud pipes either but whatever. If this is an issue that causes you blood pressure … See my advice above!

      2. 1) According to Harley Davidson Dealerships, the statistic is 80% and that was some years ago. That’s Harley speaking not me…after my years in enforcement, citing and arresting LOUD bikers…I would say the number is rather conservative or downright under-representative.

        2) The 80 dB(A) is the MAXIMUM level allowed according to the Code of Federal Regulations for every street motorcycle produced during and after the 1986 model year. The EPA initially wanted 78 dB(A) but Suzuki complained regarding the cost prohibitions of 78 dB(A) and the 80 dB(A) was finally agreed upon. The EPA has said that 80 dB(A) is the minimum level of protection for the general public. That’s not me…it’s the Fed’s.

        3) Yes, the 80 dB(A) is measured under controlled conditions at full-throttle/maximum brake horsepower between designated points of measurement. The RPM for each individual motorcycle at the point when the 80 dB(A) is reached is on a label stuck to the down-tube of the motorcycle. The entire noise of the motorcycle is evaluated and with that in mind, imagine the minimal actual decibel output of the OEM-compliant muffler? Very quiet.

        4) No, the problem actually occurs when riders opt to disobey the rule of law and remove the legal, compliant OEM exhaust and replace it with an aftermarket exhaust emitting two-four-six times the 80 dB(A) considered safe…actually, like we agreed upon earlier, the original exhaust is quieter than 80 dB(A) considering all other factors evaluated in the controlled EPA testing procedure. So the logarithmic multiples are even greater when switching to an illegal, “closed course only” aftermarket exhaust.

        I have examined a number of aftermarket exhausts, while in enforcement, via the SAE J2825 Stationary Motorcycle Test. I NEVER tested an aftermarket exhaust that passed both parameters of the exam.

        5) The LOUD PIPES SAVES LIVES mantra has been debunked by the Hurt Report in the 70’s and every subsequent non-biased motorcycle safety study. The LPSL mantra is a myth and nothing but an excuse for bad behavior.

        6) I have owned, operated, maintained, 31 motorcycles since I was twelve-years-of-age. I have ridden professionally for years, accumulated hundreds-of-thousands-of-miles on motorcycles in every conceivable form of weather, terrain, traffic condition…NEVER has NOISE been a factor relevant to my safety. In fact, exhaust noise does nothing but increase rider fatigue, elicit a fight-or-flight response from unwary motorists, stifles the sound of an approaching emergency vehicle for not only the motorcyclist but every other vehicle behind the loud exhaust.

        7) I am not a cop “hating” motorcyclists, but I do “hate” the fact that supposedly educated riders make a hedonistic attempt to justify disobedience to the rule of law and common decency by advocating the use of an illegally loud motorcycle exhaust for safety when the concept is complete nonsense and said exhaust does nothing but assault the innocent citizenry of this Nation with unregulated, dangerous, intrusive, illegal, NOISE!

        Rick Holtsclaw
        Loud Motorcycles Suck – Facebook Community Page – Exposing LOUD biker thuggery!

    2. i dont own a motorcycle currently. After reading your rant i want one with loud pipes asap. California regs/EPA can kiss my ass .

      1. People have a right to not be subjected to damage to their ears. Give me your address, I will put a chainsaw to your ears and once you have tinnitus, hyperacusis and other effects of noise damage that is UNSEEN to the ignorant masses like yourself, then you tell me how badly you’d like a loud bike while you run for your life, put muffs on and essentially break down because you know your Tinnitus and ears could be damaged.

        Anything over 85db can cause hearing damage. Veterans and citizens damage from noise induced trauma’s, have the RIGHT, again…THE RIGHT, to live their lives without being assaulted. Ear damaging noises is AN ASSAULT.

  12. Mark,
    Just a follow-up on your article on noisy pipes, have you seen the latest news from Victoria? web page link to article is

    Even though this relates to Victoria I am surprised how few bikes were actually caught over a three year period. The problem is these bikes are also making it difficult for all other riders, it would be better to have slightly quieter pipes than have legislation enacted which would affect all riders. Maybe a follow up article would be worthwhile.

  13. My loud pipes have saved my life a few times when people have initially not seen me. 😛

  14. This subject reminds me of a book i read about Elvis Presley. According to the book, Elvis was a big Harley fan. LOUD Harleys. His neighbors complained so much about the noise he had a tractor trailer haul the bikes to a different location when he was ready to ride. He obviously had the money to afford that but it was a wise decision imo. Elvis had enough sense to know if it caused problems in his neighborhood to find a solution and not feed into it. That was early 70s and it was obviously a problem even back in the day. I would be the first to agree unwanted loud sound or bad smell can be extremely irritating. What normal person would not be irritated by a genre of music they hate being blasted in their ears or standing in a line or elevator with someone who had shit their pants ? it happens and if it has never happened to you, if you live long enough it will, i promise you. As for the loud pipes, for me it is music to my ears hearing the roar of a Harley with drag pipes but not at 3 am next door. I can understand both points of view. On the road I have never been trapped to where I was forced to keep listening. If I was and it bothered me that much I would do whatever it took to get away from them. Like tail gaiters, I get away from them. Why should i keep watching them in the mirror and allow a rage to slowly build ? People are murdered in road rage incidents on a daily basis. Anyone who”brake checks” , curses and rants and raves, more power to you if you allow other people to control your reactions on a regular basis. What bothers me are the idiots who manage to obtain a drivers license . Their stupidity is obvious by how they drive. It reminds me of a man or woman who is borderline retarded taking up chess. I ride a bike but go to great lengths to avoid heavy traffic. I have heard police refer to us as “organ donors” and the term came from what they have witnessed over the years. Before banning loud pipes I would rather see a law passed where a minimum IQ is required to obtain a drivers license. Rush hour would not exist. Most of the “slow learners” would be weeded out and taking public transportation or a taxi and insurance rates would drop along with the body count they cause.

  15. My family just relocated back to the US from an assignment overseas. From abroad, we carefully researched small towns at least two hours away from major cities so we could raise our kids in safety, peace, and quiet. Before our assignment overseas, we’d lived in big cities like LA, New York, Chicago… Waaaay too noisy. We called realtors before renting our current house (2-year lease). We explained to them how important quiet is to us. The realtor found us a home away from the center of the small town along a beautiful country road. Imagine our horror to be woken up at 6:20AM the first Saturday morning in our new home to … violent motorcycle noise. We thought a celebration was happening so just suffered through it, confident it would end the next day. But every single day–holiday, weekend–when the sun is out (not raining heavily or snowing), the leather-clad monsters pour along the stretch of country road. All. Day. And. Night. It’s now well past midnight and we’re still hearing the rip and roar of motorcycles. They start around 6AM and go ’til past midnight. And never take a day off unless the road is covered in ice.

    Speaking to the riders politely, trying to befriend them, does no good. The day after my wife and I had a congenial chat with some bikers we saw at our local farmer’s market (we even bought them lunch), they rallied their friends together, parked at the bend by our house, and revved their engines on maximum until after sunset. It was obvious retaliation. For the crime of politely asking them if they could be a bit more conscientious of neighbors living out here in the country–where we’ve moved to escape excessive, health-deteriorating chronic noise.

    We did not want to join a regional campaign in our state to pass stricter noise legislation. But we’ve been doing a lot of reading about this issue online–especially the comment sections that show clearly that some/many motorcyclists just don’t care about the effects of their enjoyment on others. And it’s clear such people won’t be more considerate simply because they’re pleaded with–even when what they’re being asked to do is just follow the democratically passed laws. It baffles my mind that, when medical science shows again and again that chronic noise is a biological stressor akin to cigarette smoke and is an independent health risk for the number one killer in the West, heart disease, motorcyclists continue to break local laws and give the finger to even polite citizens begging for a respite from the constant auditory assault.

    Inconsiderate motorcyclists will have themselves to thank when restrictive legislation and drastically increased police scrutiny, to say nothing of the potentially unfortunate actions of beleaguered citizens who find no relief otherwise, become commonplace in the US like public smoking bans.

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