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
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
Generally, original equipment, however loud or, in the case of
headlights, however bright, meets federal standards and is
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
“Then you have the ‘after market’ pipes. Generally speaking they
make the bike louder but they also make it more efficient and it
“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.”