The ongoing battle between motorcyclists and the activists against “noise pollution” has put motorcycle exhausts under the microscope. Every day, motorcycle riders fight to gain attention from distracted drivers. With methods like high visibility gear, upgraded horns and loud pipes, riders have been quite successful in avoiding major accidents. Today, the saying “loud pipes save lives” is being dissected by the public, law enforcement and even motorcycle riders themselves.
The truth is, statistically speaking, nobody knows if loud pipes save lives. There isn’t any hard data to support either side of the argument. Physics argues that the direction of travel and the flow of exhaust noise makes this theory questionable. Some drivers on the highway may not hear your screaming engine over all the road noise as you approach from behind, no matter how loud your bike is. Especially if you come up so fast that your presence doesn’t even register in their wandering mind.
On the other hand, experienced motorcyclists have stories about how the rev of their engine helped save them from a distracted driver. On city roads, loud pipes may make the difference between a driver on the phone looking before they attempt to change lanes. I don’t know about you, but I would take a veteran riders experience into serious consideration over a debate like this.
So what can we really make of all this?
Loud pipes make safe riders safer.
Loud pipes can, at times, catch the attention of distracted drivers. Relying on that as your only safety buffer is probably not the brightest idea. Instead, incorporating an upgraded horn, lights and gear with an aftermarket exhaust gives you a well-rounded interest of safety. Also, learning to ride defensively doesn’t hurt. While loud pipes may not be the single most important safety factor, there is no shame in wanting them. Any biker would rather have the authoritative growl of an aftermarket exhaust system over putt-putting down the road with stock mufflers. In reality, a stock Harley is only a bit louder than a vacuum.
With that being said, there is a certain point where loud pipes may become disruptive of the peace. If you ride respectfully through neighborhoods, the “noise pollution” activists can’t get mad at you for rattling their house. Stay safe out there on the road.