As you read through this issue you'll notice our Inside the Industry section has a different layout. Instead of several short pieces about happenings in the industry we dedicated four pages to some of the most important topics that could impact our passion for motorcycles and riding. One of the most debated topics for years has been exhaust noise.
Loud pipes save lives. Sure it sounds good in theory and looks good on a bumper sticker, but is the statement actually true? I don't know. In researching the topic on the internet, I found what many others had found, no actual evidence or case studies deeming the statement as fact or fallacy. What I did find was a lot of personal opinions, personal experiences, personal attacks, and bickering.
Exhaust noise is a very touchy subject amongst our Harley and custom bike community. We all know that one of the first things almost all of us do with a new bike is change the exhaust, whether it be for looks, performance, sound, or a combination of the three. And while I can appreciate the sound of a deep exhaust note as much as the next enthusiast, I can also appreciate the joy of peace and quiet as thoroughly as my non-riding neighbors. And yes, I know that motorcycles are not the only contributors to noise, and that weed-eaters, leaf blowers, cars, trucks, and loud stereos can be just as offending. However, I am concerned with the ability for all of us riders to enjoy our passion for riding and tinkering with our bikes.
While we might act like or think that driving a car or riding a motorcycle is our right, they are both privileges afforded to us. And one thing I would hope we all keep in mind is respect. We all want cagers and the non-motorcycling community to respect us when we are on the road (i.e., share the road and be aware of motorcyclists when they are around). But it's like the old saying goes, "You have to give respect to get respect." I am all for people having a choice when it comes to their exhaust and if people feel the need to have excessively loud exhaust that's fine but I think it should come with some responsibility. That means not ripping through your neighborhood wide open in second gear or continually whacking the throttle as you crawl down main street. We gotta remember not everyone is as found of loud exhausts as we are, we are definitely in the minority. Unfortunately, for far too long many riders haven't been respectful of those around them (I've probably fallen into this category) and this has led to the enactment/stricter enforcement of excessive noise regulations across the country.
As you'll see in our Inside the Industry section, the AMA proposes that the motorcycling community encourage their local officials to adopt J2825 for not only motorcycles but to address excessive noise from all sources. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2825 sound test standard outlines specific testing procedures, equipment, and conditions. It also recommends a limit of 92 dBA for all idling engines and in set RPM or swept RPM tests, the recommended cap is 100 dBA for three- or four-cylinder engines, and 96 dBA for engines with less than three or more than four cylinders (this is where our V-twins would fall). The SAE J2825 dBA readings are all higher than the current 83dBA cap. Keep in mind that 100dBA is equal to a passing subway train at about 10 feet.
Sure these recommendations might not appeal to everyone's opinion as to what is too loud, how we like our motorcycles to sound, or what we might think is loud enough for others to notice/hear us coming. But I think I would rather deal with these slightly higher recommendations than live with the enforcement of lower standards. Yes it is possible to ride with somewhat loud pipes respectfully and not piss off everyone around you. We are under enough pressure and scrutiny as it is; just think when you ride, and be respectful of those around you. You don't want to be "that guy." Eric