Harley-Davidsons = noise pollution?

The preface: I don’t own a motorcycle. I have nothing against them; it’s just not a practical vehicle for me to own right now. I’ve ridden other people’s bikes - and it is fun - but just not something that makes sense for me to own. No big deal to me either way.

The background: Driving to work today, a guy on a Harley-Davidson passed me. Harleys are known for being loud, but I had the pleasant treat of having the rider gun the throttle right as he was in the lane next to me (he was accelerating to pass) – and it HURT. Literally, my left ear was ringing for almost an hour afterward.

The question: Cops are more and more clamping down on people who like to blast their car stereos at “excessive volumes”, but how is this any different? Granted, it’s annoying as all hell to have to listen to the latest ditty by Puff Daddy / Limp Bizkit / whomever, but at least I’m not left with my damn ears ringing afterward. An acquaintance of mine who owns a Harley tried to pass of some kind of “safety” line on me (basically, that having a loud bike alerts motorists that a bike is nearby, since bikes are not as easy to see as cars), but I don’t buy it. I know that the blaringly loud engine is part of the whole Harley “image”, but how is it okay for any vehicle to exist that actually hurts people nearby due to it’s sheer noise level?

Anyone - Harley owners especially - who can shed some light on this would be appreciated.

Well, the favorite phrase has always been “Loud Pipes Save Lives”, and it is true up to a point. Nowadays, they are just like the boomer stereos you mention. It is nothing but auditory aggression, and the owner getting off on you looking at them.


IANAHO (I am not a Harley owner) and I do think they’re a little too loud. Is the loudness making up for something? :stuck_out_tongue:

However, I must admit that I wouldn’t turn down the offer of a ride on one. Fun!

Prediction: This sucker ends up in Great Debates.

On one hand, you’ve got some great points.

OTOH, bikes do get overlooked quite a bit on this nation’s highways, resulting in a lot of mangled and dead bikers, so you’re likely to have a bunch of SDMB bikers chiming in to say “Loud Pipes Save Lives” until they’re blue in the face.

Personally, loud pipes don’t bother me all that much. When loud bikes approach me in my Vette, I either turn the stereo up really loud or I put my foot to the floor.

C’mon down, Bunny. My dad’ll give ya ride on his new Heritage Softail Classic

No way!!! Sweet! I think Toledo’s only, what, a hour if I drive fast? :smiley:

[sub]BTW, Unc, the link is broke.[/sub]

Yeah, I can’t make the damned link work. Here’s a picture from elsewhere.


Nice bike, eh.

I Guess some people do run them to try to be cool, but most of the people I know run open pipes for safety reasons. I kinda wish my harley was a little quieter, but people around here just don’t notice a bike unless it has blue and red flashing lights, or its loud. People pull out in front of you, turn left in front of you, or try to drive in the same lane as you…The horn does nothing, but pull the clutch in and hit the throttle, they back off.

As for the police. I have been running open pipes for 15 years or so, and have never gotten a ticket once. I used to have a Guzzi that was much louder than any harley. Most police around here understand why we run them, and won’t ticket us for it unless you do something to really piss them off.

One of the Top Ten Reasons Harley Riders Don’t Wave Back.

…3) Can’t tell if other riders are waving or just reaching back to cover their ears like everyone else.

I had this happen just a couple weeks ago.

In CA, it’s legal for cyclists to maneuver between cars in adjacent lanes of traffic. I was at a stop light, in the front row, when a Harley rider tooled his way up to the front, between me and the car to my left. It was a hot afternoon, so my driver’s side window was down.

When the light turned green, Harley rider cranked his throttle to launch himself out in front of the rest of traffic. The sound was so loud, it felt like an ice pick had been driven in my ear. It hurt for hours afterwards. I wanted to chase down that cyclist and run him over I was so enraged from the pain.

Did I mention I was pissed? I don’t want to leave that part out.

Have some courtesy, you guys. If you’re going to ride it that loud, then don’t blast people at close range with your pipes.

Personally, I think you’d all be better off with a BMW, anyway.

There are two issues at work here.

There are the loud rumbling pipes that basically make it impossible to have a conversation or hear the stereo of your car while they cruise alongside you on the highway. I have no issue with these people, and I mean people, not bikes. I can genuinely believe that these people are safer with the loud pipes. Granted thats not why they put them there, but it is a nice side benefit.

The other group at issue are the flaming morons who pound the throttle at EVERY stop light no matter the location, time of day or night, or proximity of other traffic. They know damn well they are loud, but they don’t give a fuck. [rant]There’s a pair of guys in my neighborhood who like to gun it at 3AM any night of the week. If I once see these bikes parked on the street I’m going to cut their pipes off and hand them to them. Little dicked fucks, maybe if they were getting laid at night instead of getting their prostates hummed by 1100ccs they may not need that shit.[/rant] Anyways, the cops would be a hell of a lot better served writting tickets for this than for parking meters. Hell, I wouldn’t give two rats ass if they did it midday or even at 10PM, but theres no goddamn good reason to be retarded at 3AM.

Don’t get me started on the cabbies who honk at every pedestrian throughout the slow weeknights in hopes that that manuver will inspire them to become a fare.

Well, this is just my opinion, but I think they ought to be sodomized with a cedar stick.

I experienced the exact same scenario not too long ago and dammit it hurt. I can appreciate “loud pipes save lives” but this felt (literally) excessive.

Well…thats why I run open pipes. I have a set of pipes laying out in my shed with baffles, and I am tempted to put them on occasionally, because Im an adult and don’t need to prove I’m bad by having the loudest ride out there. When I was a teenager I had a 66 Corvair running glasspacks that was louder than any harley. I did that because I thought it was cool. But I have ridden a bike with mufflers, and have had too many close calls. I had mufflers on my guzzi for a while, I took them back off. I had mufflers on the BMW and one my BSA’s. And my Triumph 750 bonnie. Almost died. I had the misfortune of riding a Kawa 1100 all over Utah, with stock pipes, and good lord, Utah is dangerous enough with all those irrigation ditches without being run into them by people who just flat out dont see you. I now run straight open drag pipes, and I try not rev it too loud at stop lights, but I’m not gonna get squashed just so someone can hear thier radio better.

bdgr’s has it. I wanted to go back to baffels because I thought it sounded to loud. But, if you can’t be seen you better be heard.

Yeah, well that may be true, but if another Harley rider makes my ears bleed, I’m going to chase him down and shove an ice pick into his ear.

So it seems like there’s a trade off there some haven’t considered.

<minor hijack>
Why are they so loud? The engine is smaller than a car’s, so shouldn’t it be quieter? Is it all due to the design of exhaust system, then? Or are the engine cases just not as well insulated as the hood of a car, which presumably also cuts noise?
</minor hijack>

Cars have mufflers which cut down on the noise. If you put straight pipes on a car,it would be loud. The exaust pipe on our Ford Aerostar broke once and it sounded like a helicopter.:smiley: So if a motorcycle had a muffler,then it wouldn’t be so loud,but still more than a car.

Loud pipes save lives is more BS than fact. It’s just a (poor) rationalization for “auditory agression”.
I can’t stand loud Harleys. I’ve owned several motorcycles, nearly all high-performance bikes*. I ran my GS1100E for about two weeks with a racing baffle and was ticketed twice in that time and given four verbal and written warnings, all for noise, not speed. The aggravating part was that my bike was not nearly as loud as a lot of V-twin bikes out there. It is just a matter of discrimination. Harley owners get away with a lot more than they deserve. Ask any four-cylinder bike owner.

*CM400A:confused:, GS550E, VFR1000R, GS1100E(very heavily modified :cool: ), Bandit 1200, and a GSXR1150.