Petition to change motorcycle exhaust noise rules

Call to challenge exhaust noise fines

Following a police crackdown in at least two states on motorcycle exhaust noise and heated discussion on our website, a Queensland sports bike rider has launched a petition to have the noise rules changes.

Click here to sign his petition to Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads director-general Neil Scales. It has attracted more than 7000 signatures after about one week.

James Elwood motorcycle noise petition
James and his Suzuki

Suzuki GSXR1000 rider James Elwood says he has not been fined for exhaust noise in his 20 years of riding.

“To be honest, I don’t believe my exhaust noise would be above the legal limit,” he says. 

However, he is incensed that police are fining riders for the issue of exhaust noise which he believes can alert drivers to their presence.

Click here to read about challenging noise fines.

“Irrespective of laws that prohibit drivers from using mobile phones while driving, fines for phone use are being issued at record highs every year,” James says. 

“This means that riders are on the roads with the most distracted drivers in history. Further to that, these drivers are looking at the roads less and less which is taking away their ability to see riders that are around them, or approaching their vehicle. 

“The next best thing we can do as riders in this environment is be heard. 

“Again, we are not saying that having a driver see us is our safety net, we simply want to mitigate some risk associated with the new wave of driver distractions. 

“In 2018, that means being heard when we aren’t seen.”

Click here to read about an incorrect police sign about noise testing.

Loud pipes save lives

Loud pipes save lives keyring - motorcycles EPA cars
Buy your “Loud pipes save lives” keyring now!

James admits that riders are divided over whether loud pipes save lives.

“I have taken my fair share of heat from some riders who have believed that my opinion (and the opinion of riders like me) is that I rely on the sound of my bike to save me from all danger, and that I don’t practise any safe methods of defensive or skilled riding. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. 

“I just know from 20 years of riding, that there have been enough instances where a driver has heard me, looked for me and then seen me, and as a result stopped making a sudden lane change until I had passed. Now, that may not have saved my life, but it might have saved my leg or worse. 

“Among the popular opinions, we also have one of the greatest furphys ever known … and that’s that cars will never hear a motorcycle exhaust coming because it is pointing in the opposing direction. Stand on any street and you will hear a rider approaching before they are on you. It can’t be more simple than that. 

“Car drivers don’t want to hit riders, and we have had plenty of support from drivers who want to know we are safe. 

“That’s not to suggest we should have excessive noise levels. Lets just be sure to be heard, be seen and be safe.” 

James Elwood motorcycle noise petition
James says “be heard”

Review motorcycle exhaust noise rules

James says the Department of Transport and Main Roads has recently reviewed the motorcycle licensing in consultation with stakeholders and he is now asking for a review of the noise laws.

However a spokesman for the department says the federal Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities administers and reviews noise level limits.

“So it would be best to direct your enquiries there,” the spokesperson said. 

James says the motivation for starting the petition came after noise complaints by Tambourine Mountain residents unhappy with the sounds of “excessively loud motorbikes in and around their area”.

“Soon after, it was announced that Queensland Police were setting up roadside tests as part of yet another operation that was targeting riders

“It seems like every other week we have another target on our backs.” 

23 Comments

  1. Loud pipes don’t make any difference these days.
    Most cages these days have very effective sound deadening and good sound systems some with noise cancelling. Even a cheap Korean import from ten years ago has more luxury and a much quieter cabin than was the norm when the noise limits were first set. My cage is a ten year old cheap Korean import so I know how quiet it is in the cabin and I can say that only a completely illegal and dangerous level of noise to the rider can be heard when the bike is either beside or in front of me. Now most truly awful drivers are attracted to cars with a reputation for safety and most of those are up market brands like Mercedes-Benz BMW Volvo etc and the cabins in those vehicles are sound proofed very effectively and are most likely to have noise cancelling sound systems that only let the driver hear sirens and will block out the average HD or similar.
    So loud pipes only irritate those who can hear then and are likely to cause road rage so I doubt very much that any statistics will fall in their favour.
    Most of my bikes have been quite and I commute every day to work though horrible traffic filtering long before it became a new source of random revenue generation, I would have up to fifty oh shit moments a day and can say that in almost all loud pipes would not have made any difference and the one where they might have the guy was actually deaf!

  2. Loud pipes do not save lives. Go read the hurt report (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurt_Report ). It is really annoying to hear the statement loud pipes save lives, they don’t. Being seen saves lives, good riding skills save lives, being observant saves lives.

    Loud pipes are sound pollution, damage hearing, and quite frankly annoy those who are otherwise trying to enjoy their surroundings.

    1. The Hurt Report was 40 years ago. Back when roads were near-empty, half the motorcycles had no muffler, and the motorcycles with mufflers still made a decent noise. Conditions are different in this century, when a standard muffler is required to be whisper-quiet, roads are packed, and drivers are looking at their phones.

  3. Its not a clear cut issue. I’ve had a few Vtwins that would be a litlle over the legal limit and other similar bikes are okay in my view. Most IL4s are fine. But a lot of Harleys are just way too loud… seriously obnoxious.
    A lot of cagers are seriously inept and having some exhaust noise has saved me numerous times over 30 yeats of riding. There is definitely less focus on the road by drivers these days. A lot of them are in their own little world totally unawares of their surrounding (and any vehicles behind them).
    Theres not much you can do defensively to predict or counter “split second lane” jumpers. Slow down or brake to avoid them and you risk getting rear ended.
    Lack of skill and demonstrated lack of knowledge of road rules and intentional dangerous behaviour is getting worse year after year.
    Ive ridden a Zero S which quickly highlights the danger of being quiet. The same issue that has resulted in many pedestrians being hit by Prius’s and other electric vehicles.

  4. The only way to be certain is if the statistics prove that there are less incidents with loud bikes, but as no one can have stats on a near miss, the politicians are not going to heed the loud pipes mantra.

  5. I’ve signed this, but Change petiotions are useless. There is a parliamentary petition system that when a compleated, have to be presented to parliament. Change ones carry zero weight.

  6. Frankly anything louder than 100db/1meter is dangerous to the riders hearing, so all riders should limit the noise for their own long term health. So the current regulations of max 94db and 100db for pre 1983 machines is more than reasonable and anything louder should definitely be avoided. I downloaded the noise level app for my smartphone and checked my bike with its aftermarket muffler and while it certainly is louder than standard it is still only 91db at idle and borderline 94db at 1/2power or 3750rpm. At this level it is just legal and I can still ride it for hours without the noise giving me a headache or risking becoming deaf.

    1. So does being seen and heard. Why do emergency vehicles have flashing lights and sirens? To be seen and heard. Give it a rest, Ron.

      1. Riding defensively ensures you can be seen. Anybody who thinks he needs to make a lot of noise to be seen needs to do an advanced riding course and learn some road-craft, or otherwise catch the bus. Emergency vehicles make a lot of noise and have flashing lights so that others can be aware of their presence from some distance away to allow for rapid progress. Not the same thing.

        1. Like yourself Ron, I’ve been riding for well over 30 years. I’ve done countless defensive riding courses. I agree that the best way to remain alive is defensive riding. But unlike you, I can also see that if other factors can be of assistance in regards to rider safety, then an argument can be made for using them.

          Now, I’ve had periods where I’ve owned both quiet and louder bikes. My experience has shown me that on the thankfully rare occasions where I’m put in danger by errant motorists, i.e cut off or similar, it’s always on the quiet bike, never my Harley. I’m not riding in any different manner, I’m not riding at different times of the day, the only difference is the bike’s audibility. Being noticed, by any means, in my experience keeps me safer, as drivers know I’m around. I’ll take my chances with regards to the law as my first priority is to return home safe to my family, by whatever means.

          But it seems to me you have a chip on your shoulder. It seems to me, you are unable to be objective regarding this topic. Your childish moniker says it all and makes that very clear…….I’d put it to you that if you’ve never riden a louder than standard bike for any real time, then you are in no position to appreciate the difference. That’s your business, but many of us have seen for ourselves the difference audibility can make.

          If I might offer you some advice, it’s broaden your horizons – maybe listen to the experiences of other experienced riders. Maybe take that overseas trip with your missus next time and learn some from the wider world rather than rely simply on your myopic views. Predjudice and hate clouds one’s objectivity. Ride safe and take care.

          1. I spent half my life travelling overseas in a previous career, so that’s a ridiculous assumption on your part. It sound to me like you have a chip on your shoulder and are trying to defend your choice to ride a noisy, outdated, under-performing and overweight bike.

  7. Wish the police would give the motorcyclists a break for a while and target the cagers with the illegal overbright headlights being used on the road all times of the day

  8. Actually I doubt very much loud pipes save lives or they save exactly as many as speed cameras.
    Excessive noise is very likely to cause road rage or cause distraction and poor driving.
    I particularly hate being on a group ride and getting stuck behind the American 2cyl VW with no muffler. I find myself considering letting the air out of their tyres at the next pit stop even if it’s a friends bike. If some dickhead has blasted his exhaust outside my home at night I lament the lack of a shotgun the sound of which would be drowned out by their exhaust .
    I think those idiots who drop rev bombs instead of using their horn are particularly stupid as they are putting too much effort into making a noise often when they need full control and attention! I’ve seen a few of them crash because they lost control thanks to the practice.
    If there was a petition for much louder and directional horns I’d sign that!

    1. It’s simple how the theory of Loud Pipes works. For someone in a Car if they hear a bike they haven’t seen they are aware it’s around them somewhere, so therefore take the time to have a second look or at least make no irrational moves.
      The other thing that possibly happens, is they think “Oh shit, it may be a violent bastard that will bash me if I hit them, and again take care.
      Either result is good, and yes loud pipes can be annoying but most, not all are considerate in suburban areas.

  9. Change the law……visibility, rider skills, defensive riding, being alert, visibility AND audibility are all useful tools to keep motorcyclists safe. Why rule out one of our senses, hearing and claim it is of no use in helping motorists be aware we are around them? Sound is omni directional from its source i.e. it can be heard in all directions. Some stock exhaust systems render bikes as quiet as sewing machines. In my experience, some exhaust note absolutely helps alert motorists to a bike’s presence. It’s just another tool in a rider’s favour. The fact that one bike can be legal at over 104 dB plus, yet another can be no more than 94 dB (or less!) is a sure sign that the status quo is broken. I congratulate James on his initiative.

    1. If we hear you it is more than likely that you are riding an American V-Twin and trying to draw attention to yourself to make up for your perceived inadequacies.

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