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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Do Loud Pipes Save Lives?

By: By: Kaitlyn Beecroft
Some could argue about this from sun up to sun down, but the real point is being missed altogether.
The ongoing battle between motorcyclists and the activists against “noise pollution” has put motorcycle exhausts under the microscope. Every day, motorcycle riders fight to gain attention from distracted drivers. With methods like high visibility gear, upgraded horns and loud pipes, riders have been quite successful in avoiding major accidents. Today, the saying “loud pipes save lives” is being dissected by the public, law enforcement and even motorcycle riders themselves.
The truth is, statistically speaking, nobody knows if loud pipes save lives. There isn’t any hard data to support either side of the argument. Physics argues that the direction of travel and the flow of exhaust noise makes this theory questionable. Some drivers on the highway may not hear your screaming engine over all the road noise as you approach from behind, no matter how loud your bike is. Especially if you come up so fast that your presence doesn’t even register in their wandering mind.
On the other hand, experienced motorcyclists have stories about how the rev of their engine helped save them from a distracted driver. On city roads, loud pipes may make the difference between a driver on the phone looking before they attempt to change lanes. I don’t know about you, but I would take a veteran riders experience into serious consideration over a debate like this.
So what can we really make of all this?
Loud pipes make safe riders safer.
Loud pipes can, at times, catch the attention of distracted drivers. Relying on that as your only safety buffer is probably not the brightest idea. Instead, incorporating an upgraded horn, lights and gear with an aftermarket exhaust gives you a well-rounded interest of safety. Also, learning to ride defensively doesn’t hurt. While loud pipes may not be the single most important safety factor, there is no shame in wanting them. Any biker would rather have the authoritative growl of an aftermarket exhaust system over putt-putting down the road with stock mufflers. In reality, a stock Harley is only a bit louder than a vacuum.

With that being said, there is a certain point where loud pipes may become disruptive of the peace. If you ride respectfully through neighborhoods, the “noise pollution” activists can’t get mad at you for rattling their house. Stay safe out there on the road.

New California Law “Muffles” Motorcycles
Earlier this week, California Governor (and motorcyclist) Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act (SB 435), originally introduced by state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica).

What does this bill mean to bikers in California? It means that all motorcycles produced after January 2013 will be required to have a visible EPA stamp that ensures the exhaust is clean burning and doesn’t exceed a noise level of 80 decibels. For those bikes not displaying the stamp, fines of  $100 for the first infraction and $250 for subsequent violations will be imposed.

“The noise caused by illegally modified motorcycle exhaust systems is a major quality-of-life issue across the state,” Sen. Pavley said. “Basic common sense and decency dictates that when a motorcycle drives by and sets off every car alarm on the street, it’s too loud.”

It’s interesting that motorcycles are the only target in the bill’s 80-decibel limit (which is roughly as loud as a vacuum cleaner). A point could be made that an equal amount of noise is generated on a regular basis from car alarms, police and news helicopters and loud car exhausts. Is this a case of motorcyclists being unfairly targeted again — or is it a matter of a few morons racking up their pipes in residential neighborhoods and tarnishing the reputation rest of the motorcycle community?

Regardless of how you feel about the new law, it will ensure that the state’s 800,000-plus registered motorcycle owners adhere to both noise and air pollution standards. Please leave your comments here. We’d love to hear what the motorcycle community has to say.