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May 2010 Vol 10 - No 5 - Tech Talk: Loud Pipes PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 18 May 2010 08:21
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May 2010 Vol 10 - No 5
Bike of the month Contest
ISRA News: Two new Constellations aboard!
Motorcycle Diaries: Lakes & Mountains
Tech Talk: Loud Pipes
Globalizer: Sao Paulo Star Riders of ISRA
Pic of the Month: Guided by Rainbows
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Tech Talk: Loud Pipes

Asocial Sound vs. Social Responsibility


By Ben Harper,

Star Cruiser Co-Editor,



Most people are aware that our planet is becoming ever smaller, with increasing population and urban density. With that knowledge come certain realities that sometimes seem arbitrary or unfair. For those of us who ride motorcycles, recent decisions by the courts have often appeared to be onerous and restrictive, with little benefit to us or society in general.


One of those decisions involves the restriction on loud exhaust pipes in urban and suburban areas. Although many among us disagree with these restrictions, we often have only ourselves to blame.


When the only motorcycles with loud pipes were of the American brand, there were, quite frankly, not enough loud motorcycles to cause unrest in neighborhoods across America. With the advent of metric cruisers, and the resounding popularity of aftermarket accessories, we now face the fact that there are many more motorcycles on the road, and much more noise from those motorcycles with aftermarket exhaust pipes.


There are basically two issues here. The first, and most bothersome to citizens, is the basic free flow of the exhaust system itself. Most aftermarket pipes are not legal on the street, being more appropriate for racing or other off-highway purposes. This is because most pipes are much louder than stock pipes, and contributes to the increase in noise.


The other issue is exclusively the fault of riders themselves. When I hear a loud bike, it is usually because the bike is running at a higher RPM than is necessary, and is therefore louder than it needs to be. Rather than upshift to make less noise, it is often preferable to ride in a lower gear and make more noise.


This is not to say that everyone must ride with stock pipes to prevent the incidents of loud exhaust noise, citations, and fines. In most cases, responsible riding techniques will abate the complaints about your particular machine. I myself was notorious for having the fastest (and noisiest) Road Star in my small Colorado city (population 90,000). I rode responsibly, and never had a complaint from any neighbor.


But times are changing, and we must all look to the future if we want to continue our pleasure in riding. Most countries other than the USA already prohibit aftermarket pipes, and soon America will do the same in a nationwide manner. If we want to keep our freedom to select aftermarket exhaust systems, we must learn to ride in a manner that does not intrude on others. After all, everyone has a right to enjoy their lives without interference, just as we do.


So, if you choose to use loud pipes, ride responsibly, don’t annoy the police or your neighbors, and do your best to be a good neighbor. You are either part of the solution, or you are part of the problem. As an ISRA member, your behavior reflects on the Association, and hopefully that is a good reflection.


Last Updated on Friday, 21 May 2010 12:45
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