Noisy motorcycles

Why are motorcycles exempt from normal vehicular noise regulations; i.e., why aren’t they required to have mufflers as effective as those on cars?

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it. (Karl Marx, 1845)

I always thought that as long as your vehicle passed the emissions test for your state (if applicable) then your car/motor cycle could be as loud as you want it.

[personal experience] I feel that loud pipes save lives on motor cylces. They are definately harder to see than a car and when the other drivers hear my bike it is less likely that I’ll get run over. [/personal experience]

-Jesus Saves
He passes to Mike Modano. THEY SCORE!!!

I’m sure there’s a federal noise spec on motorcycles. What you hear on Harleys are aftermarket pipes, clearly marked for off-road use only. The Harley dealer near me claims they can’t sell a new bike without the quiet pipes. Loud pipes save lives but it’s hard to sneak back into the garage at 4 AM unless you shut it down a block away and push it home.

“Hope is not a method”

I’ve never heard a quiet Harley. The spec isn’t anywhere near that of a car. As far as I know, my husband’s Harley has standard pipes, and it’s loud. He wants to get drag pipes, which will be even louder. And agree with the other guy – loud pipes save lives. Doesn’t do much to save your hearing, though.

"Loud Pipes Save Lives" - my favorite non-humorous bumper-sticker.

First off, while emission standards may be tied to the Feds, noise levels are decided at the state / local level. And each state has its own acceptability level for 'cycles. Grossly violating these standards is a good reason to get pulled over - not much fun regardless of the legality of your bike. But the acceptable noise standards are typically higher than for cars.

The noise standard is generally different for bikes than it is for cars, because many state legislators have been convinced of the arguments posted above. Loud pipes really do save lives. Just about all of the close calls I have had on my bike over the past several years have been caused by other drivers not noticing me. As was stated above, the smaller profile of a bike renders it harder to see. When someone changes lanes, pulls out of a driveway, or whatever, the quick glance they make (if that) can easily miss me. In addition, the sleeker profile (the bike, not mine!) makes distances and rates of speed harder to judge. The sound of an oncoming bike makes my presence much more known, and thereby safer.

Keeping in mind that a small fender-bender between two cars can be fatal when a 'cycle is involved, I’d like to apologize for annoying you. [melodramatic]I’d rather do this than ask for your apology for killing me.[/melodramatic]

On a last note - the above arguments hold no water for defending those chuckleheads who insist on gunning their engines, revving up, etc. at three am. You can shoot at them.

Once in a while you can get shown the light
in the strangest of places
if you look at it right…

In Massachusetts, its illegal. From MGL, Chp 90, Sec 16 (


Nobody ever calls me after they’ve done something smart.

Like I really needed two links to that web site…sheesh


Nobody ever calls me after they’ve done something smart.

What you’ve printed above is known locally as the “broomstick law.” Strictly enforced by some asshole cop in Loudon County, Virginia (even after he was shot), the basic premise is that if you can stick a length of broomstick all the way through the muffler, the baffles have obviously been removed and the vehicle is therefore illegal. It’s a comparatively old statute.

My Harley-owning housemate explained to me that in Virginia, the officer on the scene is allowed to decide if a motorcycle is “too loud.” He is then allowed to pull the biker over and apply the broomstick test.

This particular officer was mainly interested in driving away the “bad element” that tended to hang out at a bar across the street from the Leesburg Court House. So he revived the broomstick law, and wrote a helluva lot of tickets to bikers, even though Flowmaster-type baffle technology has rendered the law essentially useless, as they rely on an open center channel to aid in the wave cancellation process.

Most contested cases were thrown out, and the officer in question had an unfortunate collision with a bullet, but he recovered and supposedly has continued his efforts to this day.

[Howdy to all you guys out there in Leesburg–my girlfriend’s bra is hanging on your wall. That’s a lot more than I came away with.]