ZVOX Blog

How Loud Motorcycles Could Reduce The Deficit

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Many many motorcycles are too loud.
Don't get us wrong. Sometimes we like loud stuff -- great music, a good movie. ZVOX is all about loud when loud is good. But when we're reading a book in the back yard the sound of a 40-second 103 decibel internal combustion fart is just bad.
If you don't own a Harley, you're almost certain to agree with us.
If you do own one, you're almost certain to disagree with us. You'll tell us that your Harley needs to be loud for safety reasons. Then you'll put on your low-visibility black leather jacket and your totally useless skullcap helmet and ride away, thus demonstrating that your safety concerns are limited to areas that make you look (or sound) cool.
The EPA has national regulations banning the use of loud motorcycle exhaust pipes, and many states and towns have laws on the books. But they are rarely enforced, because proving that the bike is too loud is complicated and requires testing equipment and, often, court appearances. Maine has passed a law that requires bikers to have a current stamp proving their systems are within the legal noise limits. They even require the sticker be displayed prominently from the rear -- so police officers can see (or not see) it.
Monetizing noise.
Here's an idea. Each state should do what Maine's doing -- then enforce the law. Start collecting $250 fines from every loud Harley, every time it gets caught. Then offer a "safety exemption sticker." For $1,000 a month, motorcyclists can get a sticker that allows them to ride around with loud pipes. Currently there are about 7 million motorcycles in the United States. We don't know how many have illegal pipes -- but it sounds like a lot of them. If 10% of all motorcyclists received one $100 noise citation, that would raise $70 million. If 10% of bikers chose to pay $1,000 a month for the privilege of being loud -- for just four months of the year -- that would raise $2.8 billion a year. And if any bikers decided to go back to legal pipes, the world would become a better, quieter place -- and a lot of mechanics would get a lot of work. Good for unemployment!
Of course we think that the people buying the "safety exemption" stickers should also have to agree to wear bright pink helmets and jackets (to help them stay safe), but state legislators probably aren't as cruel-hearted as we are.
For more information about noise pollution of all sorts, check out www.noiseoff.org -- a truly great web site.

7 comments :

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. People who ride loud motorcycles are simply inconsiderate boors.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, here's an idea why don't we stop the petty crapola that Maine has started and get more cycle awareness. It's a fact that four wheeled vehicle's and bigger do not see two wheels as they should. It's also a fact that vehicles turn in front of motorcycles at intersections when pulling out of businesses. This list goes on from inexperienced to the senior citizen and the foreign folks how have little to zero experience in driving the public streets of America. So to the person or persons who have started this campaign in Maine I would have to believe that they are just not tune with free america and the motorcycle history. Or they cannot ride a cycle and are possibly jealous of the freedom that's experienced with this behavior. But it's probably that individual who is miserable and hates life and people in general. So I respectively request that you don't talk on your cell phone or read a book or shave your ass when me and my brother and sister rider's come thru your town with our loud pipes so that you can hear us before you kill us with your illegal in car discrations! P.S. Why did they only point out the Harley in this article?

Shadow Shack said...

Everyone is guilty of making noise. As long as you don't mind those same fines being imposed on people booming their loud home theatre systems for hours on end, motorcyclists shouldn't have a problem applying it to the few seconds it takes to ride by such residences.

Ah, wait...there's laws on the books for that as well. Rarely enforced as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow Tom, mad at bikers today ha?

Being a biker that fits none of the stereo-types you listed in your blog, I can agree that loud pipes can in fact be too loud. Yes I agree that many bikers seem to be compensating for something with their "pipes". However I find the whole thought ridiculous. The issue is noise pollution not bikes or bikers. Noise pollution should be addressed on a whole not just single out bikes.

I've been woke up or disturbed by loud pipes on pickups or cars more than motorcycles. And what about audio? All the complaints when I used to live in an apartment were from the volume of peoples stereos. Heck on the street I hear just as much if not more noise pollution from cars driving by with their stereo's cranked to "11" than from motorcycles.

As far as noise being a safety "feature", I hesitantly have to somewhat agree with that. I have two examples. I was on motorcycle one day when some idiot decided to pass in a no passing zone, I had to dive to the shoulder in order to not be a blood spot on her windshield. That was one time I wished my pipes were louder. Also this summer I was beginning to make a lane change while a bike was in my blind spot. I don't know what happened as I had checked my blind spots, I think he came up on me really fast. Anyway the only reason I didn't make the lane change is cause I heard the bike if I hadn't heard him who know's what would have happened.

Anyway here is a good article about loud pipes that I can agree with: http://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/tech/0805_crup_loud_pipes_tech/index.html

Did you write that article too? Slight resemblance.

Anonymous said...

You know, you're onto something here. First, collect the noise tax from the loud harley riders, then the loud sportbike squids, then the fart can rice rocket drivers, then the blinged out Escalades with the boom stereo systems, and finally the loud home theater / audiophiles who play their systems too loud.

Goose, meet Gander

Mike Cronin said...

HELLS YEAH. Our neighborhood is particularly hard-hit in the summertime. The south coast of Massachusetts seems to be a migratory landing spot for summertime motorcyclist, and we can get trains of them that drive by for minutes at a time.

I find the safety reason complete bunk -- they just like to be loud.

Larry B said...

Pick your Poison!!!!! Mine is loud music erupting from automobiles. I love loud motorcycles. Can't make everyone happy all the time.

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