Germany and BMW may get quieter

Quieter BMW Scrambler

Germany is cracking down on noisy exhausts with special noise cameras, no-go areas and an 80dB limit on motorcycle exhausts that could make all BMW motorcycles quieter.

The government is yet to vote on the proposals. If these measures are approved, it could have ramifications beyond its borders.

Apart from other authorities copying the moves, it could mean all BMW bikes are quieter as it is unlikely the company would build separate specification bikes for various markets.

BMW R NineT Scrambler project
BMW Scrambler with standard Akrapovic exhaust

The measures also include banning all but electric vehicles from certain areas on Sundays and public holidays and giving police impound rights for noisy offenders.

It follows a February move by German state Baden-Wurttenberg which first proposed the crackdown and a complete ban on aftermarket exhausts.

Several other European countries are also closing roads to motorcycles because of noise and banning them from certain areas over weekends and public holidays.

Noise cameras

Noisy cameras noise exhaustNoisy cameras noise exhaust
Paris noise camera

Germany plans to use similar noise cameras to those trialled by the UK Department of Transport and French noise pollution agency Bruitparif last year.

The cameras 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.

Last year 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.

Quieter roads

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.

3 Comments

  1. Good. I’d like my bikes to be as quiet as my ex-factory/5 BMW. If you do any long-distance riding, loud exhaust can quickly wear on you.

    1. I’m of two minds about it, personally. On the one hand, the idiots who put on the ear-splittingly loud straight pipes on their cruisers deserve whatever comes their way. On the other hand, 80dB is ridiculously quiet, remember it’s a logarithmic scale. That’s literally ten times quieter than the laws where I live (92dB) and HALF of what even cars are allowed (84dB). For a point of comparison, toilet flushes are usually 80dB, so making a combustion powered bike that quiet is going to be basically impossible. That law pretty much makes 90% of stock bikes illegal all in one go.

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