noise noisy exh plate machismo crackdown

Crackdown grows on noisy bike exhausts

Several European countries are closing more and more roads to motorcycles because of noise while one German state proposes a crackdown, including rolling off the throttle in built-up areas and a complete ban on aftermarket exhausts.

Baden-Wurttenberg state government’s noise protection office and local councillors also want tighter rules on adjusting the tune of factory-fitted exhausts on new models, more police monitoring and a shift towards quiet electric motorcycles.

Riders will also be banned from certain areas over weekends and public holidays as in several other countries such as the Netherlands and throughout Germany.

Noise cameras

Noisy cameras noise exhaustNoisy cameras noise exhaust
Paris noise camera

This comes as the UK Department of Transport and French noise pollution agency Bruitparif are trialling cameras that detect noise, identify the culprit, take a photo and automatically issue a fine.

While they are set up to detect any noisy vehicles, the Parisienne devices are specifically targeting motorcycles with one set up in Saint-Forget, a hilly rural area near Paris popular with riders.

These “noise cameras” or “noise radars” are still under trial and no fines have been issued fines yet, but it may not be long before they are being used in Australia and other countries.

We contacted police in each state and received mainly non-committal replies saying they monitor the development and introduction of all traffic enforcement technologies around the world.

WA Police were the only ones to admit they were actively monitoring the UK prototype noise cameras and said they would “seek information on its operational effectiveness”.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads say they have trialled other equipment but only to detect noise levels of heavy vehicles.

“Although the technology can potentially be used for detecting noisy, modified or defective exhausts in light vehicles and/or motorcycles there is currently no plan to extend the trials or legislation to include those vehicles in Queensland,” a spokesperson told us.

Noise crackdown

Call to challenge exhaust noise fines sign noise cameras
Police conduct roadside noise test at Mt Tamborine

While Australia is yet to introduce Draconian laws like the road bans in Europe, police and transport officers do occasionally operate noise monitoring checks on popular motorcycle routes.

It may seem heavy handed, discriminatory and ignoring the perceived safety benefits of “loud pipes save lives”, but it’s nothing compared with Indian police methods.

In India, police make a subjective assessment followed by smashing the offending exhaust pipe on the roadside.If you think the cops are tough on noisy aftermarket exhausts here, try India where they hammer them flat by the roadside, or confiscated them and flattened them with a backhoe.

They have also made an example of their crackdown by steam rolling confiscated pipes.

  1. “Loud pipes save lives” only applies on high-speed, controlled-access roads (highways, freeways, etc) because it’s not silence that kills, it’s speed. Insisting on bothering dense urban areas with insane noise levels will only result in regulation overkill, hence the extreme bans in Germany and other countries.

  2. To record a video I hired a hall in Basingstoke over 50mtrs from road and roundabout and well over 1Km away from any speed limit over 40MPH. Several times in 1 hour the excessive noise from bikers opening the throttle, drowned out our speech within the hall and ruined the video.

    There was no need to open up since rider would be well over the speed limit in a built up area in any direction.

    If bikers do not want to have a police crackdown on noise and speed then perhaps, as a group, the responsible bikers should reign in the reckless riders themselves.

  3. Summer used to be just “Summer”. Now I consider it motorcycle dickhead hell. As soon as the temperature is comfortable enough for the macho warrior types to mount their ego enhancers, people who live on busy streets in any urban center or rural town have to deal with “15 seconds” of their “safety public service announcements” tens, even hundreds of times per day.

    Not all Harleys are that bad, the ones that were purchased and have stock exhaust systems. But I’m convinced that is the minority at this point. The culture is clear, it’s all about being an obnoxious jerk to everyone else to satisfy the macho ego of the rider. The safety excuse is just so pathetic. Yeah, sure that’s what it’s all about.

    Other motorcyclists not riding Harleys are addicted to being high revving annoyance jerks. I’ve seen these jerks come up to a stop light and revving their engines at such high rpms (shocking when you don’t expect that to happen) that pedestrians are visibly shaken by it, especially the elderly. But do you think these jerks care? No they don’t. Same with cruising down residential streets at high rpms when all they have to do is shift gears.

    If a person were to come stand outside of any of these road warriors’ homes with a loud speaker multiple times a day broadcasting loud noises that would interrupt their peace they would come out and threaten to beat you to a pulp.

  4. What strikes me is how little (some) bikers care about non-bikers’ point of view/feelings. Let’s remember than (as explained on Wikipedia), “Noise from traffic, in particular, is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the worst environmental stressors for humans, second only to air pollution.” But apparently, the rather childish pleasure of making VROOM-VROOM trumps the well-being of the general population.

    About the need to be noisy for safety reasons: first of all, the safety argument would be more credible if bikers in general drove less recklessly. Second, if the only way to drive a motorbike safely is to make yourself a nuisance to everyone else, then — in my opinion — motorbikes are not an acceptable means of transportation.

    (Some) Bikers are incensed by what they see as a threat to their freedom. There’s an easy solution to that: respect other people, don’t piss them off needlessly, and you’ll be free to ride your bike all you want.

    1. As an ex motorcycle dealer in the US have a few comments. Part of the problem here is that police identify more with bikers than regular citizens. Here in San Francisco i would estimate at least 80 percent of police bikes have illegal exhausts. In some cases the exhausts on bikes are louder than no exhaust, the pipes actually increase the sound. Now here everyone sees Harleys are let through, so other bikes and cars opting for “illegal” exhausts also. Many kids will have permanently damaged hearing for life.

  5. I think there needs to be more acceptance of the damage caused by noise pollution amongst bikers.

    We are only at the beginning of research into it. But essentially noise pollution is killing people, reducing overall health and costing the Health Services millions/billions. Plus it is overwhelmingly the poor who are suffering most from it, as they are from air pollution. We thought seat belts were stupid, we thought banning smoking in pubs and trains etc was stupid. We will still be allowed to ride bikes, they’re not being banned. Reducing the noise a bit is something we have to live with.

    ‘The role of noise as an environmental pollutant and its impact on health are being increasingly recognized. Beyond its effects on the auditory system, noise causes annoyance and disturbs sleep, and it impairs cognitive performance. Furthermore, evidence from epidemiologic studies demonstrates that environmental noise is associated with an increased incidence of arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Both observational and experimental studies indicate that in particular night-time noise can cause disruptions of sleep structure, vegetative arousals (e.g. increases of blood pressure and heart rate) and increases in stress hormone levels and oxidative stress, which in turn may result in endothelial dysfunction and arterial hypertension. This review focuses on the cardiovascular consequences of environmental noise exposure and stresses the importance of noise mitigation strategies for public health.’

    NOTE: When sleeping even if a loud noise does not wake the sleeper up the central nervous system registers the noise and cortisol, blood pressure and heartrate increase.

  6. I’m seeing a growing resentment from people in rural areas here in West Sussex. We can’t really blame people living in towns like Wisborough Green or Petworth on the A272. Their weekend wake up call kicks off around 0600 as the first riders come thru. and carrries on throughout the weekend. It’s being referred to antisocial motorcycling and now has the attention of West Sussex police and local MP’s. I expect they will look at options for enforcing 80dcb limits using portable noise cameras in addition to more speed checks. I can also see more Community Speedwatch Groups being set up. People are getting pretty pissed off with us.

  7. It’s time the after market motorcycle exhaust manufacturers took a leaf out of the automobile exhaust manufacturers books and produced a “bypass” baffle arrangement so that when riding through residential areas the rider could select “neighbourly mode” then when out of town select “aural pleasing mode”

  8. Years of riding have taught me that if you’re noticed, you’re safer and a lot less likely to get squashed by a 4WD. Hearing and vision are the main means humans use to sense their environment and hence YOU. So lights and sound help, not fool proof though. Nothing will save you from the dickhead with the full volume DOFF DOFF other than your own sense and a little luck. I love the sound of a beautiful LOUD exhaust, for me it is part of riding and always has been. I have several bikes and the first thing that goes on is an open-ish pipe. Harleys can be very loud but most 1970s 2-strokes with expansion chambers put them all to shame!!!
    It will be a sad day if we are all forced to sound like a busted fart!!

    1. Exactly! Plus, being inconvenienced in a minor way for 15 seconds by a passing loud bike is being taken seriously on the basis that a few rotten Harleys are spoiling it for everyone else, whereas the perpetually-irritated and permanently unhappy make no distinction between Harleys, 2-strokes or any other bike. As cars have gotten quieter, so the sound of bikes are noticed more, even when they’re stock, modern Japanese bikes. Any argument that focusses the blame on Harleys just reinforces negative perceptions towards ICE bikes in general.

      1. Really? It’s not just a few rotten Harleys, I’d say it’s more like the majority of them!

        Re the 2 stroke comment…seriously, how many do you see on the road these days? Not too bloody many!!! Harley, on the other hand seem like they are a dime a dozen…

        It’s interesting that you mention the “dickheads” with the full volume DOFF DOFF…I’d actually say Harley riders with straight through exhausts are the motorcycle equivalent!

        1. I didn’t call anyone a dickhead. Yes, Harleys are loud, but they don’t inconvenience me or even irritate me, because the sound is gone in 15 seconds, usually. I’d rather hear the sound of a Harley (any) than millenials’ music, strangers’ inane phone conversations, etc. Around here (the UK), the infrequent sound of a Harley is a sort of buffer from complaints about all other things. If you couldn’t hear anything at all from road traffic, the same people complaining about bikes now would complain about barbecues, brightly coloured clothes, etc.

          1. Sorry Loomies Fan, the “dickhead” comment was in reply to Crasher’s comment…
            Cheers 🙂

    2. Years of driving have shown that bikers are much less likely to get squashed if they behaved considerately.

      Its no use racing up behind someone, then staying inches from their bumper, pressurising them to pull over if they cannot pull over safely. You just distract the driver in front and become a danger to yourself.

      Consider that most drivers are driving within their own abilities. Excess noise or trying to get a driver to to go faster or move over will push them over their abilities.

      There are other road users apart from car drivers. Nowadays pedal cyclist, horse riders and walkers will be on the road a lot more. Excessive noise will startle and lead to unpredictable results. If the horse rears or the cyclist wobbles you could be just as dead as they will be.

  9. But Harleys are all about attention seeking behaviour (Posing).

    They are loud and lots of shining chrome. Making it quiet greatly diminishes its’ usefulness.

    You don’t ride it for its’ prowess, it can’t corner without self-harm, and they aren’t fast, unless you cheat and start comparing them family cars.

    1. Hello, Glenn.
      Frankly, your narrow-minded, dim-witted, over-generalised opinion offers nothing to this motorcycle exhaust -noise debate. Now get back on your Vespa.. 😉

      1. Dear Hardly Rider (Wreckage), I take it you are one of the “Loud pipes save lives” HOG group. Loud pipes do not save lives, only annoy the average citizen. I have owned bikes with loud pipes and my narrow minded, dim witted, over generalised opinion offers my views on this subject. I have owned Hardlys and do not consider them more than a means of going from one coffee shop to another. I have been riding for around 60 years now and will continue until I can no longer lift my leg over the bike. Vespas are cool anyway.

  10. So how does the noise detecting camera verify the source of the noise where (say) a compliant bike is alongside a noisy one?

    1. Michael, I believe they use the doppler effect with multiple microphones. I have seen some amazing noise detection devices including one that can identify a gunshot in a town environment (lots of bounces) which can be linked to a machine gun mounted on a vehicle. Amazing stuff!

  11. The issue was, the kid didn’t look…

    If you think noise would’ve alerted him to your presence then you could always have sounded your horn…That’s why your motorcycle has one… 🙂

    1. Sit in your modern car, listening to your favourite music. No matter how loud the bike is, you will not hear it.

  12. Pedestrians in cities and towns just walk out into the middle of the road to cross, when there’s heavy traffic and cars are either moving slowly or at a standstill. They don’t look first. The sound of the bike can make them look.

    The location of the UK camera trial is interesting. They’ve put these sound-detector cameras up at an open, main and fairly fast road in the countryside, near the entrance of a popular motorbike cafe. That cafe has always been under fire from angry residents (many of whom moved there from the city, after making a pile) who feel they have a “right” to move next to a bike cafe that’s been there for more than half a century and then have the noise and bikes gone. The only solution they will ever accept is the disappearance of the cafe, and the bikes. They don’t like outsiders. If it isn’t their Jaguar or 4×4, or their horses, they don’t want it in their (growing) village. They have their MP, a real busybody, on their side, and he’s been pestering Parliament about bikes for years. He’s even suggested making the roads dangerous for bikes around there, to discourage the use of bikes.

    There are a few issues with the sound-detector cameras. First, there is no universal dB limit for cars or bikes. The law is, when they are manufactured they are subject to noise limits. These noise limits are different depending on the year of manufacture. Old bikes were allowed more lenient limits, and very old bikes were not and are not subject to any limits. Owners are not allowed to modify a bike or car to be louder than they were originally. With regard to the sound limits, the measurements were taken with the engine at idle, not running. That’s the law, and the problem is, the noise cameras take no account of the age of the vehicle, nor the increased sound pressure levels the bikes make with increased revs. Second, there is no law that says a fine is automatically payable if a certain dB level is exceeded. Rather, it is encumbent on the police to check that the vehicle hasn’t been modified to produce a dB level in excess of what was allowed when it was first manufactured. The cameras have no way of knowing whether it’s been modified. Third, a bike may have a perfectly legal exhaust and not be modified in any way, but still fall foul of dB limits that were in place at the time of manufacture, if (as said before) it’s running, say, in a low gear or if the packing inside the stock exhaust system has burned out over time.

    My assessment of the situation is that the purpose of the trial is not so much to ascertain the effectiveness of the noise cameras, as to produce data that will be used to help formulate a new law that will have the retrospective effect of making many ICE bikes illegal to ride on the road, which are presently perfectly legal and within the bounds allowed. In other words, a new law that will change the old British system of a vehicle having to comply only with the standards (regarding safety, noise and emissions) that applied at the time of its manufacture.

    It’s a serious development and will need to be watched. It will affect classic car enthusiasts too. I suspect that the end goal is to ringfence pre-1970s high value classic cars (the Rolls Royces, Astons, etc.) but disbar the 80s and 90s cars from entering into the classic car culture, and the cameras outside the bike cafe are just a more strategically convenient move towards this (as motorcyclists are a far smaller group with much less effective advocacy, and the location of the cameras has the support of the locals).

  13. I just wish they’d crackdown on all the Harleys with their “modified” exhaust systems.
    I don’t mind an exhaust with a “bit of a note” but most of those Harleys are just obnoxious!

    1. Indeed. I don’t mind a little volume (Provided you aren’t being a twerp about it), but those Harleys are ear-splittingly loud, and they sound like crap to boot.

      I’d have no problem with my own government smashing their pipes at the side of the road. Hell, I’d have no problem with my government smashing them at the side of the road, because you’d have to be an absolute a-hole to do that kind of thing in the first place.

      1. Severely injured a kid on a push bike who crossed in front of me because he didn’t hear me coming. I don’t care how loud my Harley is. Harden up cupcakes.

          1. Totally agree about the obnoxiously loud Harleys. Nothing else seems to make a noise that forces all conversations to stop and generates looks of hatred in the general populace. Those who don’t ride find them offensive and the ones I’ve talked to don’t complain about a loud Harley -they say it’s yet another way too loud loud motorbike. We are all tarred with what a small percentage of riders think is good.

            Note that some exhausts are louder than usual and this doesn’t bother me. It’s the ten times louder Harleys I have a problem with.

            I for one don’t understand why the police seem to pick on people with other bikes that make a fraction of the noise but leave most Harleys with straight through pipes alone.

          2. OMG……….. I don’t have a Harley – and yes they are loud … but watch the people around notice them instantly………. BUT what about all the “normal” sounding bikes that are ridden to the rev limit………….seriously peakin out…………….. Just sayin

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