The Great Motorcycle Debate

Ok since we’ve had a number of threads about motorcycles in the last few weeks and they all kinda
turn into debates I thought that I would open one up here. Just so it doesn’t get sent to the pit, we’re
not gonna go on about what type of bike is best or fastest, or how bad one type is etc, we’ll keep it
about helmets, loud pipes the normal stuff.

Ok here’s my thoughts.

Helmets: I wear one all the time, full face. I’ve only ever heard people say that you are better off
without one. I’ve had two accidents, one which I screwed up and locked up the rear brake and went
down. The other I hit a deer at highway speeds. Both times I landed on my head, NO pains to the
neck and nothing wrong with my head, at least from the accidents. :smiley: My wife was with me when I
locked up the rear brake, she would be dead had she not been wearing a helmet as she also landed on
her head, broke the helmet and got a concussion.

When my wife was first staring to ride she really screwed up and ran into a building head first, no head
injuries. I bring this up because one guy said that if you hit a building at anything above 10mph you will
break your neck, well I guess not cause she didn’t. The bike’s forks were destroyed so she hit it pretty
good. My feelings on helmets are that even if you do get a broken neck it would have happened
without a helmet.

Loud Pipes: I fail to see how they help. In 40,000 miles I have had only one person pull into my lane
and almost hit me. I have plenty of people pull over in front of me, but I don’t ride in people blind spot
so that really helps to be seen. Riding next to someone is a huge mistake. I ride to work everyday
through DC traffic so you can stay out of blind spots even in the worst traffic.

So lets hear what people think. I don’t want to hear about what happened to some guy you heard
about, if it happened to you that’s fine, but I know loads of stories that I’ve heard but I want to
know first hand stuff not some passed down story. And any concrete evidence in the form of links is
good too.

Sorry it went up twice, it told me it didn’t go and told me to refresh and thats what happens.

Full face helmet first, formost, and always for me! I don’t like bugs splatting my face. I haven’t yet actually had an accident on my bike (in 10,000 miles of riding in the bay area… not bad if I do say so myself.) The only times my bike has been metal side down were stupid mistakes on my part while I was STANDING STILL… only thing hurt… my pride.

I do think louder pipes make a difference in this area. The traffic congestion is HORRIBLE here and we are allowed to lane split. The extra noise does help the drivers to know that you are coming. Many will often move over in their lane so that you can go by without trouble. (The jerks move towards you when they hear you coming.)

Somewhere out there (sorry… couldn’t find them, but maybe someone could) there are stats for CA that show a reduction in motorcycle accident deaths when the helmet law was put into place. Now they want to repeal it… oh well… sounds like Darwin in action to me.


I personally think loud pipes save lives. And besides they sound gooooood. Especially on hogs.

I don’t think there should be a mandatory helmet law. I think if the insurance are all worried about it let them buy advertising or put fliers in the premium bills to warn bikers about not wearing helmets. I don’t want to be told to wear a helmet I will wear one if I think the conditions are warranted to do so. But if I am out in the middle of the county I want that wind on my face and blowing through my hair without the fuzz giving me a swat with ticket.


Are you the same bigred1 that posted on the LBMB if you are, hi! And if you arn’t, hi anyways!

I really like New Hampshires seatbelt law:

“mandatory under 18 – common sence for all”

They lose millions of dollars of federal highway funding every year for not having an adult seatbelt law, but you have to admire their approach.

I certainly do. And I also think that is crappy of the fed gov’t from withholding money from states that don’t agree with what those bozos(fed govt that got lobbied by the insurance companies to pass that assinine law in the first place) think is right.

I don’t like loud pipes. When I’m in a car and an unmuffled Harley pulls up next to me, the pressure waves (I kid you not) cause my vision to jump. I guess I have a very sensitive ear. Happens if I’m making a phone call and the ringer in the earphone is too loud, too. It’s very uncomfortable. Ever had your ears flushed with cold water? It’s like that. That’s why I don’t like loud pipes.

Helmets. I always wear one when I’m on the motorcycle. I’ve worn one since I was six years old. I consider myself an intelligent person, and I am able to judge the risk/benefit equation. I’ve decided it’s better to wear a helmet. But I hate having a paternalistic government tell me I have to wear one. I’m smart enough to figure it out on my own. As the bikers say (I consider myself a “motorcyclist”), “Let those who ride decide.”

Except for some “squids”, most motorcyclists (and bikers. Friendly jab at Zette) know what they’re doing. I would go so far as to say they’re better than car drivers because so much depends on their situational awareness. For this reason I believe that lane-sharing should be legal in all 50 states.


What is lane sharing? I think I know but I want to be sure.

“Lane sharing” is riding between lanes of cars (e.g., to the right of the car in the #1 lane and to the left of the can in the #2 lane) when traffic slows down. I’ve heard it’s illegal in a lot of states, but it’s perfectly okay here in CA (one of the things I’ll miss when I move away).

I once had a guy with CO plates yell at me, and tell me that what I was doing is illegal. It’s called “straddling”, he said. I pointed out that it’s not illegal in CA, but I forgot to point out that it’s hard to straddle two lanes when you’re on a single-track vehicle! :wink:

Oh, and bigred1, if you see a guy riding a blue Yamaha Seca II (perfect bike for commuting on L.A. freeways! :)) on the 405, wearing a “Heli Boy” helmet, be sure to wave!

A typo, but appropriate! :smiley:

That’s what I thought. I too think lane sharing should be legal. Give the biker some advantage for having to put up with all the bad car drivers. huh?

Over in another thread, I have asked for any stat that would show that louder bikes are hit less often, and was not given any. I have checked the NHSI, Consumer Reports, & car & driver- and that theory is not even mentioned. Louder bikes are certainly more annoying, and damage the hearing of the riders, so, if you riders think they are safer, lets see your stats.

The “loud bikes alert other drivers” argument is bogus. Almost all the sound created by a loud bike is headed backwards, since that’s where the tailpipes are pointed. And drivers behind the bike have already seen it and already know it’s there. The drivers you need to alert are in front of the bike, where they can hardly hear it at all.

It seems the only people who believe it helps are hog riders, who like the sound of their bikes and are looking for an excuse to keep them loud.

The sound of a bike goes out in all directions, and since the speed of sound is much higher that the speed of a bike, drivers in front WILL hear you. I’ve found that if I need to get a driver’s attention, a quick blip of the throttle is more effective than a toot on the weedy little horn. Also, I’ve found that at highway speeds, wind noise is louder than the bike noise (even with a full face helmet) so I don’t buy the hearing damage argument. As for helmets, I’m required to here in the UK, but when I lived in Kansas I sometimes wouldn’t. On the highway I generally wore a full face since my bike didn’t have a windshield, but in town I’d go without so I could better hear what was going on around me. Kansas went thru several cycles of having and not having helmet laws. I saw some stats in an ABATE newsletter that every time the helmet law went on, deaths went up, and when it came off, deaths went down.

I personally don’t like the sound all that much, and if it werent for the saftey issue, would probably muffle my bike. Daniel, there is no stats either way that I am aware of, because as far as I know no-one has ever taken statistics on it. Personally, having loud pipes has saved me more than a few times that I know of and probably more than i know about. I remember one time a lady almoust ran me off a freeway overpass, and was playing the radio so loud she couldnt hear me at first, and never would have heard a horn. I pulled in the clutch, and had to rev the bike way up before she heard me, and pulled back into her lane. I would have been hamburger if I had had a muffler. Many times I will see a car pulling out of a parking lot directly in front of me, and they will not even notice me until I pull the clutch in and rev the bike.

I talked to both of my parents, since I don’t yet ride, and they have been doing so for many years.
Me: Mom, is it safest to wear a helmet?
Mom: Yes.
Me: It doesn’t obstruct your view or your hearing?
Mom: No, it doesn’t.
Me: Dad, what’s the purpose of loud pipes.
Dad: They’re cool.
Me: There’s not a safety factor.
Dad: Nope. They’re just cool.
Me: Oh ok.

There ya have it.
FTR, I love the sound of loud pipes. The louder the better.

Yeah you can’t hear the bike because you’re on it and the MOJORITY of the sound goes back. Yes some sound comes forward but not as much as you’d think. I was following a couple of louder bikes to work a few weeks ago and it was loud behind them, but once I got in front you couldn’t hear it as much.

One can also get louder horns cheaper than changing the exaust around. I’ve only had two people try and pull into my lane in the last couple of years, one guy didn’t bother to look and the other happened this morning. Some woman was behind me, thought she could pass in a left hand lane that was ending. I thought that she was going to pass a number of cars but at the last second she decided she only wanted around me. She starts pulling over, I blow the horn since I couldn’t go anywhere, she looks at me and gives me the finger. WTF? you KNEW I was there, I think she just wanted to see what I’d do.

I would say that the majority of the problems I have is with people tailing me too close. I hate that and nothing seems to get these people off sometimes. I have problems with people cutting me off, but not so much that all I have to do is make sure that they are not slowing down, and people who pull out in front of me. Even that’s not too much of a problem.

I don’t think I’ve had a time when I feel that loud pipes would have done anything for me.

Pepperlandgirl, I’ll beg to differ with your mother: A helmet does obstruct your hearing to some degree. Not that you’ll catch me riding without one, mind - but at low speed, you would hear better without a helmet. At high speed, the wind noise drowns out most sounds anyway, helmet or no helmet. Hell, I wear earplugs for long trips - tinnitus sucks. Anyway, I look cooler with a helmet, especially a full-face one.

I tend to be sceptical about loud pipes’ life-saving attributes, but in the absence of stats, it’s not easy to settle.

They do piss people off, however - and they certainly contribute to the “bad-ass biker” stereotype when a jerk with loud pipes projects his “I’ve got a loud bike and I DON’T CARE that it’s 3 a.m” attitude over a large area. Increases aggression towards riders in general.

S. Norman

I ride sport bikes, so my opinion is based on them.

Helmet: Full face all the way. Even if I lived in a state that had no helmet law, I’d wear one. If you don’t want to wear one, thats fine, but I’d prefer not to leave a trail of my melted face on the pavement. I passed two hog-type riders today on the way to work. The first was wearing a half helmet, goggles and a sweatshirt. The second had on a full face, leather jacket, and either leather pants or chaps. I felt a lot more respect for the second.

Loud Pipes: A friends recently put a slip-on on his bike, and we swapped bikes soon after for some twisties near Harpers Ferry, WV. Oh man, pulling it low thru a corner, then hitting that throttle on the way out was heaven. I kept blipping the throttle just to listen to it. Hated getting back on my bike. So my opinion is coolness and fun factor. Never gave a thought to safety, but aftermarket exhausts on sport bikes aren’t as loud as hogs less you really wind it up.

If you don’t want to wear a helmet (or a seat belt) sign a DNR and an organ donor card. Personally, I think fighting for the right to be terminally stupid is the least effective use of a civil libertarian’s energy.