Ticketing roaring motorcycles

The in basket: Steve Bartel of Port Orchard e-mailed to complain, “I have written to you several times over the past few years regarding illegal exhaust systems on motorcycles.

“The sheriff department says there is nothing they can do,” he said. “I think they just choose to ignore this problem, not get involved.

Automobiles are required to maintain certain noise levels regarding exhaust sounds…e.g. removing mufflers on a car will usually get the driver a ticket for noise violation.

“But motorcycle owners do this all the time,” he said. “They deliberately remove the stock mufflers, and put on pipes that even make the bike louder.

“We have many bikes that go past our house all day long…..and the racket from these straight pipes is very annoying.

“I am a bike owner myself,” he said, “and my motorcycle retains the original factory exhaust. I think there should be a law regarding this violation of noise level standards.

“The big Harley twin bikes are the worst offenders,” Steve said. “The Harley riders have a saying…’Loud pipes save lives.’ I disagree, loud pipes just annoy everyone not on the bike.”

The out basket: Equipment complaints, mostly about sound and too bright head lights, have been the hardest to draw a bead on during my years of writing Road Warrior. Proving a violation is harder than with many offenses, I think.

But there is a law, and it is enforced, though an oral warning is the most common result, Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton State Patrol office, tells me.

“In 2008 statewide, troopers stopped 5,952 vehicles/motorcycles for exhaust violations,” she said. “Of those stops, 726 of those stops resulted in infractions being issued (and) 1,220 received a written warning to get the problem fixed. In 2008 in Kitsap County, there were 176 stops made, 31 infractions issued and 13 written warnings.

Generally, original equipment, however loud or, in the case of headlights, however bright, meets federal standards and is legal.

The state law on motorcycle exhaust systems, RCW 46.37.537, reads, “No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motorcycle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the engine of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle, and it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorcycle not equipped as required by this section, or which has been amplified as prohibited by this section.”

Mike Dalgaard of Full Throttle magazine, a motorcycling publication, adds, “Most foreign bikes are much quieter than the American V-Twins. The varying engine technology accounts for part of that.

“Then you have the ‘after market’ pipes. Generally speaking they make the bike louder but they also make it more efficient and it runs cooler.

“Harley, Victory and other American made V-Twins are favored by many for their ability to be personalized. This includes pipes.

“In all candor,” Mike said, ” many do exceed the legal noise limits. Bikers like to say, ‘Loud pipes save lives,’ as you will know where they are by the sound.

“On freeways and highways, they are not offensive. Some, however, do take exception to riders blasting through a residential neighborhood at 2 a.m.. I know I do. Most riders with these type pipes take it easy under this type of condition but you always have a few morons who think irritating others is cool.”

8 thoughts on “Ticketing roaring motorcycles

  1. “Then you have the ‘after market’ pipes. Generally speaking they make the bike louder but they also make it more efficient…\

    Actually most louder pipes generally reduce power by 10% or more. The OEM pipes are factory engineered using the huge resources of the bikes Manufacturer and are engineering marvels easily outperforming after market or modified pipes. There are a very few exceptions that do not reduce power.

  2. “LOUD PIPES SAVES LIVES” Most cars,trucks,buses etc. can’t or don’t want to see bikes. Lately there has been alot of biker accidents. Sometimes we have to drive fast to avoid being hit by cars. But, I know, there are a few motorcycle idiots who make bikers look bad. The roads are crowed enough. Everyone PLEASE be more aware of your surroundings.

  3. good article. I agree with the need to control the motor cycls with excessive noise. Sometimes I can here them from miles away and wonder how they get by with it.

  4. As a motorcycle enthusiast for more than forty years, I am saddened by the number of inconsiderate riders on the road today. The argument that loud pipes save lives is silly. Defensive driving, riding skill, and proper protective equipment saves lives. Loud pipes wake babies in the minivan, annoy the neighbors, and make the rider sound like an idiot. Then again, those same riders usually wear leather chaps, a patch covered vest, and only half a helmet; so sounding like an idiot matches their look. When you hear the kid in the lowered Honda Civic with a bazooka exhaust and Snoop Dog blasting out the windows, know that it’s the same guy. Yep, when the Honda kid gets old, he’ll be looking for a Harley with straight pipes and more tassels than my sister’s Partridge Family hippie vest.

    Please people, don’t judge all motorcyclists by what you hear. The Leisure Suit Larrys have found a new trend, but hopefully, it soon will pass. What else would you expect from the disco generation?

  5. I have to say that i have had my fill with the people complaining about motorcycles noise. I want to hear about the super tall trucks with the diesel engines that are loud or the small honda/suzuki/whatever that have been modified and roaring through neighborhoods at 2 in morning. Your right, some people do ignore the idea that it is early in the morning before opening it up. I have the odd bike with pipes roaring up my road. How about finding out which neighbor it is and asking them to be a bit considerate?? Safer or not, thye know the bike is coming but that isnt helping i wear a bright vest/jacket and still get run off the road about once a month.

  6. Personally I don’t see the appeal of loud pipes… it’s gotta be a “biker” thing. Ya know.. “the bigger, the better” sort of mentality. But I have to agree, I don’t appreciate jogging down the road with my child in a stroller and a biker comes up behind me (engine purring) only to rev his engine as he pulls up alongside. Not only does it scare the —- out of me, it terrifies my child. I’m not impressed. No, it wasn’t done to protect me from erroneously running out into his path, I’m a very conscientious runner. It was done (several times) for attention. You want to impress me? Prove to me your a responsible and considerate driver by NOT blasting your pipes at every opportunity.

  7. The argument about loud pipes saving lives is bogus, as I’ve yet to encounter the motorcycle that exhausts forward, warning drivers of the approach, instead all they do is aggrivate the drivers behind (I disagree that they are not an issue on the highway, loud pipes bother me all the time). From the AMA, which advocates for motorcyclists’ rights, except this one: “The AMA believes that few other factors contribute more to misunderstanding and prejudice against the motorcycling community than excessively loud motorcycles.”

    As a rider with quiet OEM pipes, I resent that a few bad eggs cause my ride to be less safe because they foster feelings of discontent between the community and riders. You have to give respect to get respect, and loud pipes are disrespectful to the community.

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