You see it over and over again: There on the side of the road is the local constable with a group of bikers pulled over.
"License and registration, please," says the cop.
"Why did you pull us over?" one of the guys asks.
"License and registration!" the officer bellows again
Out come the wallets, along with jingling chains. The officer glances at the bikes as he walks back to the squad car and starts running checks on the guys he pulled over. After what seems like hours, he's back, eyeing the motorcycles more closely than before. As he hands back everyone's paperwork and IDs, he starts passing around his ticket book for signatures.
"What's this for?" shouts one guy.
"Loud pipes," responds the cop.
"What do you mean, 'loud pipes'? They're not loud at all."
"Are they stock?" the cop asks
"Well, no, but they're not that loud."
"Would you rather I write you a ticket for modifying the emissions system?"
"How much does that cost?"
"You don't even want to know. I suggest you sign the ticket and be on your way," the cop replies.
This scenario seems to become more commonplace every day, with multiple agencies trying to flex their muscles in various ways. To some it's about the almighty dollar; to others it's about power and letting us know just who the boss is. With the recent changes in the EPA regulations, it seems a lot of folks are left scratching their heads as to where it's all going. For the time being, it looks as if an agreement has been worked out between the feds and a host of motorcycle industry heavyweights. Keep an eye out in the next couple of months as we have our people hot on the trail of all the latest developments. And if the guys at the EPA weren't enough to worry about, now there's news that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is making some rumblings regarding tightening its grip on everything two-wheeled.
What began as a practically unregulated industry now seems to have every bureaucrat breathing down our necks, as if all the problems of the local communities were caused by us. Are we to blame? There is definitely some truth to this way of thinking. For years, a portion of the bike community has been totally disrespectful of other people's rights, chanting the mantra "Loud Pipes Save Lives." The jury's still out on whether or not that is true, but the bottom line is that we as an industry have brought some of this on ourselves. Between pipe manufacturers building systems that do nothing to muffle the sound emanating from them to the guys who just can't help but make a racket wherever it is they ride, no wonder we're not welcomed by a lot of folks. Add to the mix the plethora of motorcycle programming on TV, and we're so far above the radar it's not even funny.
So what can we do? We can start at the manufacturing level by listening more closely to what comes from our pipes. It makes no difference whether you're a guy who makes 100 or 5,000 pipes a year; we need to realize how our actions can have a devastating effect on what we love to do. We as riders also need to be more responsible for our own actions. Do you know (or are you one of) those guys who has such a loud set of pipes on his bike that no one wants to ride next to him? There's a pretty good chance that if this is the case, your pipes are bothering way more folks than just the people riding next to you. If you're that guy, maybe you should think about a pipe swap.
While there are no easy answers to these problems, a bit of common sense on everyone's part sure could go a long way to making the situation better.