harley-Davidson Owners: Do You ENJOY Blowing Your ears out?

First: I have nothing against harley-s except being close to one with straight (unmufflered exhaust pipes). the noise is EXTREMELY annoying! I can’t imagine that sitting on one for a few hours is good for your hearing. Anyway: do H-D owners experience hearing loss? And, do you even CARE about anybody else? Like i say, you are welcome to drive your bike-i just can’t stand the infernal noise!

I’ve never ridden a Harley but my guess would be you don’t get near the impact of all the noise as you’re motoring down the road. I mean you couldn’t subject yourself to what a pedestrian near one that passes by is exposed to without going stone cold deaf. I like 'em but when they accelerate past you, the sound level is deafening.

People with rice rockets are worse. Those ear-splitting roars can be heard for miles.


I’m with you. I like Harleys- they’ve got a great look, and seem to be good bikes. I’d love to have one someday, if only for the cachet of riding a Harley. However, I can’t stand that they’re so damn loud- frankly, I’m surprised they aren’t written up all the damn time.

Hey, I appreciate bikers enjoying their rides- but when your bike hurts everyone else’s ears as you drive past, you’re not ingratiating yourself to the people you share the road with.

I’ve been waiting for someone to Pit this! I wonder why it’s in MPSIMS? But yeah, I’m 100% with you.

There is one motherfucking asshole in my development who roars out of the nieghborhood every evening at 10 PM. Not bad you say? Well several times a week he also does it at 4 AM. I am not prone to violence but it’s a good thing I don’t have a gun at that time in the morning.

Why do Harley owners do this? It’s awful. It tells me nothing about you but that you’re an asshole. And also I will never ever buy a Harley.

ETA: Oh, and I live in a very residential neighborhood. Ugh!

Incorrect. My YZF-R1 is very quiet.

Phew. I was half afraid, Johnny, that you were coming in here to defend the loudness. I was going to have to revise my good opinion of you!

Negative. Loud Harleys annoy me. Worse than that, the pressure waves from their straight pipes hit my eardrum and cause my eyes to flutter. Very uncomfortable.

Harley drivers: If your bike is so loud it causes physical discomfort or pain, it’s too loud.

Loud motorcycles and cars both annoy me, I think a vehicle that is very quiet when running is awesome!

I hate the noise too. What I don’t understand is why the loud pipes are supposed to be a good thing on either Harleys or muscle cars. My SUV recently got a hole in the muffler and it has started to sound a little bit like a Harley. The talent and achievement lies not in making engines loud but in making them quiet. Any engine can made to be loud by ripping various parts off so I don’t see the point.

Holy crap! I was coming to the SDMB today just so I could post a rant about this!

Seriously, Harley riders: give me one good reason why you must have such loud machines! And by good, I don’t mean your fucking dick-waving. Let’s have a reasonable answer, hmm? Something that I can use to reassure myself that no, you’re not just being a dick, there’s a reason you’ve just ruptured my eardrums.

Mighty fuck, these things are loud. I find myself speeding up just to pass them on the highway so I’m not behind them – or worse, alongside – getting the full brunt of the MIGHTY STUTTERING ROAR. Jesus, even through closed windows it’s the loudest noise I can imagine. WHAT WAS THAT, HONEY? I CAN’T HEAR YOU – THERE’S A HARLEY RIGHT OUTSIDE – I SAID, I CAN’T HEAR – oh, FUCK IT.

What’s worse about it is that seemingly invariably the people riding these beasts are – surprise! – complete assholes. Ask them politely if they can stop revving it at the stoplight or in the parking lot? “What’s the matter, buddy? Can’t HANDLE IT?” is the response, along with a vicious twist of the throttle. If you’re lucky, because that’s when they’re being polite. Threats of physical violence are not, sadly, uncommon. What the fuck, assholes?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care for the high-pitched screaming coming from overpowered crotch-rockets, either. But you know what? That shit doesn’t rattle my windows or physically assault my eardrums. It’s annoying, yeah, but it isn’t painful. Harleys and their ilk? Those hurt.


Many motorcycle cops ride Harleys as well. Prolly why they (we) don’t get ticketed. They’re supposed to be loud. It’s Harley’s signature sound. They tried to patent it, believe it or not.

I work at a HD dealer, I hate loud pipes. Most useless things ever. Also, the really loud pipes, are the ones that are illegal, and the owner faces a $10K fine for having them. The stock pipes are loud, but not badly so.

The sound is not as bad when your on the bike, but at its worst when your directly behind. I have actually lost hearing just from working at dealers for the last few years. The first dealer I worked for had its dyno room about 50 feet from my workspace (it wasnt sound insulated, and the concrete wall didnt do much of anything), within the first summer I had lost some of my hearing.

Now at my current dealer i am a floor above and 100 ft away from a good dyno room, still loud but not bad, muffled. But, worst of all, the garage door is directly below me and people love to rev their bikes below me, makes my walls shake.

The owner thankfully doesnt beleive in loud pipes, and I think the projects tech is going to test aftermarket pipes that are quiet for performance bikes.


P.S. I beleive they didnt try to patent the nosie level, just the potato-potato sound of the v-twin.

The standard Harley pipes aren’t that loud; the “trademarked” sound is characteristic at any volume. The really excessive noise is usually the result of aftermarket pipes or mufflers, or home modifications.

Not that I like Harleys anyway; my Nighthawk 750 is about as loud as a percolator at idle, and it’s smooth. Almost everything about HD puts me off.

IANAHDR, but I can tell you a reason for the loud pipes. The Harley engine is a horrible design. It is an aircooled engine with one cylinder directly behind the other. Because of this, there is a huge amount of thermal expansion in the rear cylinder and piston. But, since the cylinder and piston don’t expand and contract at exactly the same rate, there is a lot of “slop” in the tolerances. Without this, the engine would lock up if it got too hot. But, since there is a lot of slop, the engines don’t put out much power. By putting on straight pipes (Harleys don’t come from the factory that loud), the exhaust is less restrictive and the engine is a bit more powerful.

I am in no way defending the noise level of these ear splitting Harleys. I would rather see tighter tolerances and more power. Of course that would mean that they would have to go with liquid cooling - which they finally did with the V-Rod.

They’d say that loud pipes make bikes safer because people who can hear them are aware of them in traffic situations.

To which I’d reply, I wonder if the accidents loud pipes save you from are worth it compared to the noise pollution they produce, which raises stress levels, and I don’t mean in just an annoying way: stress really does have medical consequences.

And at any rate, the loudness is most noticable at traffic stops, when you have time to look around you and see everyone. They aren’t halfway as loudseeming when they are in your blind spot on the highway. If these situations could be reversed I wouldn’t mind. (One hint: STOP REVVING YOUR FREAKIN ENGINE AT STOP LIGHTS.)


I think I have some info that will help with this. Yes the rear cylinder receives less airflow than the front, which is why it runs hotter. Back in the days of the carburator the engine had to be tuned knowing that the front would run leaner, and the rear richer, but with one carb you had to choose. Nowadays with everything having fuel injection they run the front cylinder on a leaner mix than the rear (they have two injectors). The cylinder head temps can reach nearly 400deg F before the computer starts skip firing the injector on the rear cylinder, their is also a download for the ecm that shuts down the rear cylinder while idling for parade duty.

These engines are not full of slop, they are just as precise as a car. However, one of the inneficiancies of these aircooled engines is when hot the cylinder can grow a fair amount in height. The only ways they seize is lack of oil, broken parts, seized bearings.

The current stock engines dont put out much more than 100HP with TC96-110 cubic inches (Im generalizing with the big twin engines right now, also the older TC88 made ~60HP stock). The lack of large HP numbers is mainly due to emissions and detuning by the OEM to meet these requirements. However, our shop here has built numerous engines (even from TC88’s) that break the 150HP mark, and not necessarily with loud or straight pipes.

Yes the V-rods are water/oil cooled. They acheive their 120HP via higher RPM (~9k vs ~6K), better efficiency by having closer cylinder temps, 60deg spacings, overhead cams, etc… They do make loud pipes for these bikes too.

Buell (a sportbike offshoot of HD for those that dont know) uses the smaller sportster engines with direct injection, slightly different head designs, valves, lighter flywheels, and tuned exhaust to make up to 103HP stock (the stock 1200 sportster makes around 74HP). Buell just released a new motor/bike, the 1125R, which uses a 1125cc engine, v-twin, water cooled. I beleive they are saying 146HP stock.

The straight thru non-muffled pipes do not always make more power, quite often its a loss. The reason a lot of riders put them on is they think it makes more power, they like the noise, and they live by the motto “loud pipes save lives” (utter crap I think, awareness and good training by all parties on the road saves lives, also, as a mini rant, put on some fucking gear you dipshits, that skull bucket wont do anythign for you, get some chaps, and full finger gloves, and a full jacket, and a full faced helmet, unless of course you dont like your chin, or fingers, or knees/elbows). I guess the loud pipes boils down to being cool… :rolleyes:


If you have any more questions I would be more than willing to do research etc… I have tons of resources at my fingertips.

I should probably open a Ask the Warranty Admin thread…

It’s only the loudest bikes that I hear before they’re right beside me.

The “loud pipes save lives” bullshit has to be put down.

It’s not the quiet bikes that get people killed - it’s the driver being an asshat. I accept that it feel better on a bike to cruise at a faster speed. But if you’re going too quick in an area where there is any other traffic, you deserve whatever you get.

That argument is a load of crap. To whatever degree this is true, the rider is as less likely to hear a vehicle in approaching from his blind spot. Also, noise levels that induce physical pain (or even just a startle reflex) in someone in the next lane does not enhance safety.

The most ridiculous proponent of the “loud pipes save lives!” argument I ever heard simultaneously argued that helmet laws endangered motorcyclists because helmets covered the ears, making it harder to hear approaching vehicles.


And the trash across the street from me that idles his unmuffled, backfiring bike for ten minutes every couple of days? He needs to be held down and have molten lead poured in the portals of his ears. And then shot.

There’s some asshole around the corner from us who has a couple of friends on REALLY loud Harleys revving and roaring around the neighborhood all weekend. Which is just lovely considering there are no sidewalks in this area and there are a lot of pedestrians walking on the actual roads as a result. And we won’t even discuss the fact that the asshole’s house is kitty-corner from my bedroom window, so I get the full effect of his friends’ Harleys as well as his thumping music every weekend night. Gah. I finally get the managers of the community center next door to make parties there keep their volume at a reasonable level (i.e. not making my walls vibrate), and the asshole and his Harley-riding friends move in to take up the slack.

And as someone who hates to hear loud bass-thumping music off in the distance when I’m trying to sleep, to the point where I’ve turned into the neighborhood bitch who calls the cops at 11:01 p.m. (when the noise ordinance kicks in) to complain about it on a regular basis? It’s STILL better than listening to the Harleys screeching around the neighborhood and just praying I don’t also hear the SPLATTT! of a neighbor being spattered all over the road by one.