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Motorcycle Exhaust Noise

Posted By JDawg     May 24, 2013    


Exhaust Noise 


In an effort not to start a big discussion on the use of loud, or should I say non-stock exhaust pipes, I am going to stick to the facts as much as possible. First of all, I realize that the number one reason given (in my experience) for the use of non-stock exhaust systems is performance. The second is awareness.


So, let’s discuss the second reason, awareness. I, like other motorcyclists, know that at times it seems that we [motorcycles] are invisible to other traffic on the road. Because of this situation, we do things to try and heighten our presence when riding. Some of these measures include periodic lane changing, flickering or multicolored headlights and tail lights, bright clothing, stick-on Mohawk hair on our helmets, and of course louder than stock exhaust systems, which have become an issue when riding with regard to the cagers. As the number of motorcyclists increases, so does the contempt for loud intrusive exhaust systems. I realize (reverting back to my second point above) that the conventional theory on loud exhaust is that even if the motorcycle is not seen it will be heard, thereby making the other drivers aware of its presence.


I can personally attest to the accuracy of this theory from experience. Like most of us, I also operate (on a bad day) other motor vehicles such as a car and pick-up truck. While operating those other forms of transportation I, too, am distracted by the radio, kids in the back seat, and the cell phone. On many occasions I was made aware of the presence of a motorcycle by the sound of its exhaust long before I was able to see it.  With this awareness, I was able to start looking for the motorcycle and avoid an potentially disastrous outcome. Now for the BUT… even though louder can contribute to a safer journey, there is a fine line between louder exhaust and obnoxiously loud exhaust. Also, to the first point regarding performance, loud does not equal better. Exhaust noise does not always (emphasis on the always) need to be ear splitting to increase performance. If you are just changing the exhaust and making no other modifications, then there is a chance that you have done nothing to increase performance. 


All that being said, here is the reality of loud exhaust with regard to the different communities and towns frequented by motorcyclists. People do not like the intrusion it causes and are looking toward local, state, and federal governments to make it go away. As the photo of the sign in this article indicates, there are laws being passed in response to public complaint. This is not a good thing for the sport. It causes people to look differently at a motorcyclist as opposed to other taxpaying citizens that travel the back roads of North America.


The answer to this, in my opinion, is to exercise good judgment when operating a motorcycle. I would say if you are driving down the road setting off car alarms then your exhaust is probably too loud. There are other ways to deal with this and it involves common sense. When operating in communities and towns, be conscious of your actions. Operate in a higher gear when possible to reduce the exhaust noise level, refrain from excessive or unnecessary racing of the engine, and keep the noise level to a bare minimum. If we as the motorcycling community do not self-regulate this issue, there are lawmakers who will do it for us.  Motorcycle in North America, ride some of the best roads in the world, and at all times be aware of your presence with regard to the others that vacation here as well.

Ride Safe and Ride Often


Telling Bikers Where To Go