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Old 18 Jul 2003
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Loud Pipes Save Lives?

I would like to open up a debate about peoples opinions on this issue.

As a RTW biker I always had a loud pipe on my bike. Not offensively loud, but enough to compete with the noise of Calcutta, Bangkok, Nairobi and Bogota traffic. I felt that a loud bike would be more noticeable and create an impression in traffic so that I wouldn't have to rely so much on horn, brakes, swerving and intuition. I have a new bike now and I am considering buying a louder exhaust for it.

It would be nice to travel in a silent world, without offending nature, neighbours and fellow nomads, but I feel my survival may be at stake. Opinions anyone??
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Old 21 Jul 2003
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Forget the loud pipes. . . get your self a real good set of air horns. . .
They are especially handy in places like India. We still haven't taken ours off our bikes even though they are not really allowed to be used in Australia.
They saved us on quite a few occasions.
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Old 21 Jul 2003
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Forget the loud pipes. . . get your self a real good set of air horns. . .
They are especially handy in places like India. We still haven't taken ours off our bikes even though they are not really allowed to be used in Australia.
They saved us on quite a few occasions.
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Old 21 Jul 2003
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My Tenere has an Arrow's exhaust on and I'll have to agree with your opinion.
A loud pipe made a noticeable difference for me.
Although I must admit that if I didn't have earplugs for the open road I would probably be deaf by now.
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Old 21 Jul 2003
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I recon anything that increases your chances of staying alive are good. A loud pipe and a (very very very) loud horn are a good idea when persuading pedestrians and wildlife not to kill you while they are attempting to commit suicide.

Unfortunately, the majority of 4 (and 3) wheeled 'drivers' (while normally, outside their charriot, being sane individuals), do tend to become maniacs when being the wheel. I found the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt and Kenya to be particularly bad.

Also be aware that if you're coming from behind to overtaking somebody they can't necessarily hear you.
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Old 25 Jul 2003
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Location: Geelong, Vic, Australia
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good topic

when i had my XTZ660,i put a staintune pipe
on it after about two months,and i am sure
that it made a difference to the people
around me,they seemed to give me more room
and looked in their mirrors more.i think
loud pipes(not offensively loud)are a good
thing,sound great and might even save a life
how can that be a bad thing...
Cheers Slugnugget
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Old 26 Jul 2003
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From the NY Times
I can see the day when enforcement will start.
July 25, 2003
The Biker Question: To Roar or Not to Roar

SOMEBODY out there is making Wayne Doenges look bad,
and he's not happy about it. Mr. Doenges has been
riding motorcycles for 30 years, and with his white
hair and reflective two-toned riding jacket, he cuts
an impressive figure on the roads of Indiana on his
chromed-out six-cylinder Honda Valkyrie. "The bike
attracts attention," he said, adding a significant
phrase, "in a positive way."

Because he likes that positive reaction, he will not
allow his bike to assault you with a mighty avalanche
of sound.

Bruce Czerwinski and Michele Moshier see things
differently. They are a handsome, ruggedly stylish
couple, favoring leather jackets. When Mr. Czerwinski
cranks up the 1,500-cc V-twin-cylinder motor of his
Suzuki Intruder, the exhaust pipes emit a thunderous
roar and a deafening staccato blat-blat-blat. He has
replaced the exhaust system that came on his
motorcycle with straight pipes — hollow chrome tubes
devoid of any noise-dampening system.

"I do rev the engine at stoplights and I do enjoy
showing off," Mr. Czerwinski said. "It's big boys with
their big loud toys."

Ms. Moshier said she shared the thrill, reveling in
the ear-splitting victory laps the couple take around
their hometown of Lowville, N.Y. "Everybody knows it's
us," she said.

In the motorcycle world, Mr. Czerwinski, a 42-year-old
factory worker, is part of an exuberant and growing
cult, contemptuous of noise rules and eagerly supplied
with noise enhancement by the aftermarket — the trade
in car and motorcycle parts added by owners.

He is also on one side of a mushrooming conflict among
motorcycle owners, pitting the noise lovers against
riders like Mr. Doenges, who think the fun isn't worth
alienating fellow citizens. (Mr. Doenges, a
75-year-old retired engineer from New Haven, Ind.,
said his opposition crystallized when he was getting
ready to start his bike at a rest stop and saw a small
boy cover his ears. He assured the boy not all bikes
were loud, he said, annoyed that he had to "make up
for what somebody else ruined.")

The two groups don't mingle often, but they both show
up at events like the Americade Motorcycle Rally, held
last month in Lake George, N.Y., where Mr. Czerwinski
and some other bikers on both sides of the issue were

More and more American bikers, from the faithful on
Harley-Davidson Fatboys to riders on Kawasaki Vulcans
and Suzukis like Mr. Czerwinski's, are telling dealers
to replace the factory exhaust pipes with aftermarket
high-performance exhaust systems, plunking down as
much as $1,000 in the process. The snazzy chrome
exhaust pipes have macho names like Samson Big Guns,
Screaming Eagles and Cobra High Boy Shotguns. The
noise they let out is often in excess of the federal
maximum for motorcycles of 80 decibels.

Still, it's not enough for some. Federal regulations
say all motorcycle exhaust systems must contain noise
dampeners, typically baffles, a series of passages
through the muffler that dissipate sound. Straight
pipes have no noise dampeners at all, in direct
defiance of the law. To demonstrate the effect, Mr.
Czerwinski cranked his Intruder's engine. The pipes
spat out a Niagara of noise.

Movies like "Biker Boyz" and television programs like
"American Chopper," on the Discovery Channel, project
an outlaw biker image that celebrates sonic
aggression, and many motorcycle magazines not only
carry advertisements for performance pipes but print
covers showing the kind of behavior that goes with
them — riders leaning fast bikes aggressively into
curves or doing burnouts: holding the hand brake while
revving the engine and spinning the rear wheel until
it smokes.

"If people are sitting at an outdoor cafe and 50
motorcycles drive by quietly, no one notices," said Ed
Moreland, a lobbyist in Washington for the
270,000-member American Motorcyclist Association,
which is officially opposed to excessively loud pipes.
"Then one guy rips off a salvo and they snap their
heads around. People think all bikes are loud because
that's the one they remember."

He sees one result firsthand — part of his job is
fighting outright bans on motorcycles, which he said
are being proposed in many parks and gated communities
and for some public roads by people fed up with the

All new on-road motorcycles sold in the United States
must meet the 80-decibel noise limit. But nearly half
of the five million or so registered motorcycles on
the road — a conservative estimate is at least two
million — have modified exhausts, according to a
survey by the Motorcycle Industry Council, a
motorcycle trade association representing
manufacturers and distributors. Many aftermarket pipes
are stamped "for closed-course competition only," but
it is widely accepted that they end up on street

"Right now," said Pamela Amette, vice president of the
industry council, "it's illegal to install an exhaust
system that does not meet federal requirements, but
it's not being enforced."

States that inspect motorcycles check for exhaust
leaks but not noise. Police with decibel meters would
have to test bikes under controlled conditions that
aren't feasible on the street. With little to stop
riders from knocking out baffles, straight pipes can
emit 110 decibels or more, akin to the sound level of
a jet climbing at 1,000 feet.

A large part of the motorcycle's allure is the
visceral thrill of horsepower, and many riders
consider the bike's sound as vital to this sensory
experience as the rushing of the wind. The sound of
loud pipes is "like opera," according to a Screaming
Eagles fan who stated his opinion in a chat room at

Some loud-pipe owners may enjoy annoying people. Paul
Priolo, 30, a chiropractor from Brightwaters, N.Y.,
rode to Americade on his Harley Fatboy equipped with
performance pipes. "I have to be kind and patient all
week," he said. "On the bike I let it all hang out.
Plus I like being a little obnoxious, riding down the
street and setting off car alarms." As for quieter
motorcycles, Dr. Priolo said: "I have a friend with a
BMW that sounds like a blender. I tell him, `Hey, I'll
have two smoothies with that.' "

Cris Dunham, a 52-year-old bus operator from Queens,
is one of many bikers who contend that loud pipes save
lives. Ostensibly, the extra noise makes motorcycles
more noticeable to drivers in cars and trucks. Ms.
Dunham's Kawasaki Vulcan breathes through nonbaffled
Vance & Hines Long Shots. With the motor idling, they
put forth a deep, loud drumbeat that reaches an
earth-shaking crescendo when she revs the engine.
"Having been a professional driver for many years, I
think it's better for bikes to be seen and heard," she
said. She also admits to the influence of peer
pressure. "I mainly ride with Harley guys who teased
me when I had a smaller bike," she said. "They told me
it went tick-tick-tickety."

No lifesaving value in loud pipes has been proved.
Most collisions of motorcycles with larger vehicles
occur when cars and trucks turn left in front of
oncoming bikes, according to a study by the University
of California at Los Angeles. Since exhaust noise is
emitted behind the motorcycle, these drivers do not
hear loud pipes.

Jack Savage, a motorcycle safety instructor and a
publisher of motorcycle books, isn't buying the safety
angle. "If a guy is such a poor rider that he needs
everybody to hear him coming from a mile away," Mr.
Savage said, "maybe he should take up knitting."

RICK GRAY, a 58-year-old lawyer from Lancaster, Pa.,
owns 13 motorcycles, rides 20,000 to 35,000 miles a
year and is chairman of the American Motorcyclist
Association. "Too many people tell me, `I hate
motorcycles because they're too loud,' " he said.
"This hurts us in other areas, like when we want to
lobby for fairer insurance policies."

He fears worse consequences. "If we don't recognize
we're a distinct minority in a world growing more
environmentally concerned — and that means noise,
too," he said, "we'll become an anachronism."

Personally, Mr. Gray prefers a quieter ride anyway.
"To me, riding is like a form of Buddhist meditation,"
he said. "Just hearing the sound of the wind with
nothing intruding on it, not even the engine, is a
Zen-like experience." His BMW R1100RT purrs along like
a sewing machine. "It's like being in a chair and
flying through the air," he said.

Ms. Moshier, who said she loved the attention that a
booming motorcycle attracts, may share this attitude
to a degree. "At first I hated the straight pipes,"
she said. "But it's not as loud when you're on the

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Old 26 Jul 2003
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I guess I gotta put in my 2 bits worth - quiet pipes please! WE offend enough people without adding to it with loud pipes. When some @#%^& goes by my house with loud pipes I hate him just as much as my neighbour.

As the above NY Times story says:

"No lifesaving value in loud pipes has been proved. Most collisions of motorcycles with larger vehicles occur when cars and trucks turn left in front of oncoming bikes, according to a study by the University of California at Los Angeles. Since exhaust noise is emitted behind the motorcycle, these drivers do not hear loud pipes.

'If a guy is such a poor rider that he needs everybody to hear him coming from a mile away,' Mr. Savage said, 'maybe he should take up knitting.'"


YOU are responsible for AVOIDING problem situations - if you want to trust someone ELSE with your life, go ahead - I'd rather take responsibility for myself and not get into a situation in the first place.

Awareness and avoidance is what keeps us intact, not trusting some kid with the stereo at max or a stone deaf old man to be aware of us because of the noise we make.

A GOOD rider can ride through the heaviest traffic and make it look like a ride in the park, whereas a poor rider in the exact same traffic will be constantly jamming on the brakes, swerving, honking his horn and generally getting stressed out. It's all down to rider skills, experience, and an awareness of what's GOING to happen before it actually does. Try and follow a motorcycle courier in London traffic sometime - awesome. Fast, smooth - and no loud pipes.

Grant Johnson

Seek, and ye shall find.


One world, Two wheels.
Grant Johnson

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Inspiring, Informing and Connecting travellers since 1997!
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Old 26 Jul 2003
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Location: London, UK
Posts: 254
Good debate guys

I would agree that loud pipes do get you noticed in certain circumstances. A good horn is also a valuable asset on a bike.

I'm currently riding 140 miles a day to work each and most of it is through stationery or slow moving traffic on the infamous M25 in London.

I use standard pipes on my bike but leave at 6.00am and get home at about 7.30pm. It would not be long before my neibours would be screaming out the window if I had a set of very loud pipes waking them up each day.

Only yesterday I followed 2 heavily modified sports bike through the traffic. They may have had all the mod cons you can add to a bike, exhausts that were so loud it was ridiculous. You could not fail to hear them but they riding positioning could only be described as pathetic, slamming on the brakes all the time and taking unnecessary risks and nearly nearly getting knocked off several times. These days most car drivers have stereos on in their cars which will drown most of the sounds from the exhausts anyway or are on the phone.

If you look at the stats as Grant said, most accidents are due to car drivers pulling out of junctions on changing lanes without looking. You would be better off making yourself more visible in these situations I think and riding more defensively. I personally would never really on the hope that someone has heard me rather than seen me. I always wear a highly visible belt and have experimented by using and not using it. I must say that it makes a bike difference for getting noticed.

The trail rider fellowship in the UK are fighting tooth and nail to keep green laning open to motorcyclists. One of the biggest complaints is about the noise of motorcyclists bikes disturbing the quiet of the countryside. If riders persist on being intolerant of other people it will only be a matter of time before bikes are banned from these lanes.

I think that the way you ride your bike will help you more than any aftermarket accessory. Remember some of these drivers fails to see lorries in their mirrors so what chance do you have on your bike.


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