Skip to comments.Running Out Of Vroom: Cities Are Muffling Bikers (Hush that Hog — NOW!)
Posted on 08/24/2007 8:27:53 AM PDT by devane617
MILWAUKEE - Cities from New York to Denver are giving motorcyclists the silent treatment.
That worries riders rights groups, which fear that a wave of ordinances aimed at muffling Harley-Davidsons, hushing Hondas and stifling Suzukis will create a confusing patchwork of laws that motorcyclists won't be able to navigate. The motorcycle industry is concerned it could turn these frustrated riders away.
'From our perspective, this creates enormous problems for us because people notice the one motorcycle that makes a lot of noise,' said Bill Wood, spokesman for the American Motorcyclist Association. 'They don't notice the 50 that pass that don't. So there's a perception that motorcycles are noisy.'
Ordinances come in many forms. Some are against certain types of products, like mufflers that would rattle the apples off of trees, but others are aimed more on the intent of the driver, who may want to turn some heads or rile up the neighbors on a Sunday afternoon.
As of July 1, riders in New York City are subject to a minimum $440 fine for having a muffler or exhaust system audible more than 200 feet.
In Lancaster, Pa., starting this month riders and all motor vehicle drivers could be ticketed for drawing attention to themselves, whether by creating too much noise by revving their engines or doing hard accelerations. Tickets start at $150.
As of July 1, motorcyclists in Denver could be ticketed $500 for putting mufflers on their bikes made by someone other than the original manufacturer, if the bike is 25 years old or less. These so-called after-market products can be louder than their manufacturer-made counterparts.
Denver's plan is unique because it targets the after-market equipment. Wood said it limits riders' freedom to choose what products to use. Many motorcyclists who need to replace parts use these products, rather than go to a dealer, which can be more expensive, Wood said.
Ordinances restricting motorcycle noise have been around for years. The American Motorcyclist Association does not track the number of ordinances and often hears about them only as they're being passed, Wood said.
The association would rather see an ordinance that targets all vehicles or uses a decibel test to measure actual noise output.
The changes leave riders confused, said Pamela Amette, vice president of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the industry's trade group. Enforcement can be subjective, too.
The Council is working with the American Society of Engineers to establish a sound test that would help equalize enforcement. A similar test has been set for off-road bikes, and several states have adopted it, Amette said.
The group hopes to have the test ready next year. The new tests could even heighten demand for quieter systems, she said, because riders will know what they need.
'Unless it's very precise and adopted uniformly, then it's just really not fair to the riders and to the industry,' Amette said.
The stakes for the industry are big. There were 1.1 million new motorcycles sold for $9.8 billion in 2005, the most recent year available, the Council said. Parts, including those after-market mufflers, accessories and riding apparel, were an additional $2.8 billion.
Noise complaints of all types are on the rise, as more Americans feel they are losing control of their neighborhoods, said Ted Rueter, who leads a national antinoise group. Denver's ordinance is music to his ears.
'I think more and more people are putting pressure on communities,' said Rueter, director of Noise Free America, based in Madison, Wis. 'That fact that Denver has done so is going to give a lot of encouragement to people who love peace and quiet.'
Harley-Davidson, which tried in the 1990s to trademark its products' distinctive rumble, is monitoring the growth of antinoise ordinances that target motorcyclists, said Rebecca Bortner, a Harley spokeswoman.
The Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker feels the issue is less about the equipment and more about what riders do with it. The company asked its dealers a few years ago to stop carrying the loudest of after-market mufflers, straight unmuffled pipes, Bortner said.
All motorcycles sold for road use in the United States are subject to federal noise laws keeping them within a certain range of decibels, below 80 decibels from 50 feet away, said the industry council's Amette. A good rule of thumb is that your average motorcycle, as approved by government standards, should hum like a sewing machine, she said.
So is it about the ride or about making noise?
Let’s not forget all those modified rice burners. They can be equally as loud and annoying. Or would that be considered profiling?
It is painful when they pass on the highway. Your freedom ends at my aching eardrum, or something like that.
Sorry dudes, gals.
boy that sounds so nice....more nanny state....no smoking....9 year olds in car seats ...etc
ya'll can have it
In keeping with this (bullsh!t) theory, I've wired my car horn so it's always on. I just drive around with it blaring away. It's about safety, you wouldn't understand...
well....not too loud.
We had the exact same problem. 2:00am and the guy fires up his hog and sits there and just revs it for a while while drinking a beer and yelling (can't talk with a revving hog) with his friends that all just got back from the bar.
I go outside in my bathrobe and yell across the street "Hey people are trying to sleep." They flip me off.
Wife comes outside and yells "turn it off or I'm calling the cops". They laugh at her and flip her off.
We go back inside and call the cops. Less then 5 minutes later cops are there. (I love living a block from the station...they could probably hear it themselves).
Neighbor gets a ticket for disturbing the peace.
Now he revs his hog from 10pm to 11pm which is right before noise ordinance kicks in.
I've NEVER seen him actually ride the thing, he just sits in his driveway and revs it.
The sound of power being wasted.
You have to tune the bike, prefferable on a dyno, after modifying the exhaust. Most of the tards riding around with straight pipes have actualy lost a couple horse power.
My BMW is quiet to the point where you can stand a foot away, and not know that it’s running. She still manages to set off car alarms. Blame the idiot car owners for setting the things to hair trigger.
The machines are typically so poorly tuned that if these yahoos didn't rev the engine, they'd stall out. I've seen it many times; the bikes just can't idle for long before dying.
We’ve got a couple of those jokers in our ‘hood, too. They seem to think that once they pull out of their cul de sac, they can then make their roaring noise on their way to the nearest through street.
” people notice the one motorcycle that makes a lot of noise,’ snip “They don’t notice the 50 that pass that don’t.”
Well Bill, the 50 that don’t make noise won’t be getting tickets! The one that does make noise will.
Holey Pow, Batman! That is some writing!
I don’t mind the bikes that are moderately loud, but the ones with straight pipes that rattle my teeth when they go by are the ones that really cheese me off. There is no valid reason to have them that loud other than to be a public ass.
I have a 2007 Harely Davidson Sportster with stock pipes on it. I continually read at HD forums about guys that want to know if putting this or that exhaust on their bike makes it louder or not.
I tell them if it is just noise they are after they should just scream as they go down the highway.
If you must, ticket the loud pipes, but for Heaven’s sake don’t ticket the guys doing wheelies down the interstate, that’s cool.
Same old same old: a few are going to wreck it for everybody.
I have no big problem with loud mufflers as long as they are restricted to daylight, perhaps 8am until 8pm.
The guy who rides past my house at 5:30am everymorning and shakes me out of bed is rude and because of his inconsideration/stupidity I will probably push for enforcement of our noise ordinance and he’ll ruin it for all his hog pals.
Yes, very clever.
The writer could have added something about "attenuating Aprilias", or "de-volumizing Ducatis", but perhaps that would be too arcane.
I hate those nice quite picnic days in a local park where, without fail, a herd of Hogs will come along and rattle everyone to the bone. The loud Hogs have ruined many parks, and nice weekends.
Don’t blame Harley Davidson - a stock Harley Davidson is pretty quiet.
Blame the aftermarket guys that sell these god dang straight pipes and the Harley Davidson dealers that convince customers they have to slap on something other than HD pipes, change out the air cleaners, and dyno the machine to “get them to run right” —— all for just about $1,200 or so.
One is born every minute.
Some kind of national, measurable standard needs to be set; preferably one which captures those punks of all skin colors who drive around with 2,000 watt stereo systems booming.
In keeping with this (bullsh!t) theory, I've wired my car horn so it's always on. I just drive around with it blaring away.
That right there is funny...
They should have added to this list of morons the ones that drive their cars around with the bass audio turned up to brain emulsifying levels so you can feel the vibrations a half mile away.
I don’t care who ya are....
I live next to the highway, and I can't even check the mail without having to run a gauntlet of bikers zooming up and down the road. The noise is deafening, and you can't hide from it since it penetrates walls. Citizen complaints go no where, since our wonderful elected officials always cite the $$$$$$$$ that the bikers bring into the town.
So, we have to grin and bear it... :(
The complete failure of one seems to open the door for the other
I know people think they're cool, tooling around with their heavy hogs - and you know, maybe one in five thousand bystanders thinks the noise is super sweet.
But what bikers don't seem to realize is that everyone else thinks they're complete and total jerks.
And that "Straight Pipes Save Lives" bologna is one of the biggest lines of crap anyone ever came up with. If riding your little toy is really so dangerous that you literally have to wake up entire neighborhoods just to feel safe, then maybe you should get yourself a little toy that's reasonably civil to play with.
...not anymore...he got drunk and pulled his wide-glide in front of a pickup truck. Now he has steel rods in his leg, and is in danger of losing it. finally, peace and quite.
All motorcycles must pass the same EPA drive-by noise test. Harleys and sport bikes off the assembly line are equally quiet. It's obnoxious owners who make them loud.
If you have to ask you wouldn'tt understand.
“Loud pipes save lives” when the pipe is loud enough to make others look your way, but not loud enough to piss them off. The biggest threat to a rider is the guy in the next lane who is blissfully unaware of your presence even though you’re just 3 feet from the driver’s door. That’s also why you often see us jack-rabbit ahead of cars in the next lane; we just don’t want to ride beside someone.
About two months ago I was taking a Sunday drive through the country with my daughters. We came upon a pretty grizzly motorcycle accident where one rider was on the ground, his body and his bike both pretty mangled. His buddies (these were all Harley riders, natch)were all by the side of the road watching the cops and paramedics doing their thing. One of my daughters asked me what happened. I told her it looked like somebody on a Harley had done something stupid and pondered what the odds of a Harley rider doing something stupid were. I feel pretty confident in guessing that in the seconds before the crash, there was a LOT of noise and motorcylce preening going on.
I personally like the loud sound of the Harleys! I also like the sweet sound of American V8’s with aftermarket exhaust. The gov’t needs to stay out of our business.
Seriously, I’m not going to take you seriously. No offense.
At least motorcycles quickly pass by but the loud record player in the next apartment never stops. We fled the noise by buying a house on a large lot.
There are laws about this for automobiles. I don't find them all that confusing.
I have been riding motorcycles since the 50s. Bikers also get into accidents because they outdrive their abilities, headlights, eyesight, tires and/or brains.
So other than being stoned out of their minds (bad enough, granted), there’s no other reason? Like, maybe the sort of person who would alter their engine to the point where it can be annoying from several city blocks away might also be the sort of person given to reckless and moronic behavior on the open road?