Are you using your horn enough?

Motorcycle Horn

Your motorcycle horn is there for a reason, but are you using it enough, too much, is it loud enough or too loud?

How often do you use your motorcycle horn? Do you even remember the last time you used it?

Standard motorcycle horns are usually puny and tinny sounding, nothing like what you would expect from a big and powerful motorcycle.

Check out this video of Bill Davidson with a 1917 model … skip forward to the 25-second mark to hear him blow the horn!

So some riders replace the standard horn with aftermarket units.

That is legal so long as you observe the noise limits in your jurisdiction.

In Australia, the noise can be no louder than 120dB and if you have a gimmicky two-or-more-tone model, the limit is 85dB.Motorcycle Horn

Most available aftermarket horns are legal, but if you fit two, they could be louder than permitted.

To check, you can download a noise meter app on your phone. It may not be extremely accurate but should be a good indicator.

Even if you just fit a horn that is too loud and don’t use it, the fine for an offending horn is up to $400.

But be aware that you can’t use the horn wantonly, for fun or as a way of venting frustration or anger.

In fact, there are big fines in some countries, such as Japan, for using a horn except in a legitimate emergency.

In other countries, such as Italy and India, the motorcycle horn is one of the most important safety devices of any vehicle. Consequently, Royal Enfields and many Italian bikes come with powerful dual units.

In most countries, such as Australia, you can use it sparingly to alert traffic, animals or as part of an anti-theft device.

A short “toot-toot” is a great way of alerting traffic to your presence and a lot less offensive than overly loud exhausts. Plus, the noise is pointed forwards, not backwards like an exhaust, and is an alert tone that drivers will recognise.

But be aware you cannot use the horn excessively such as constantly blowing it as you filter down a long line of traffic.

Your motorcycle horn is also handy for warning animals and birds to get off the road.

I find it is better than those wind-activated supersonic whistles you can attach to your bike.

15 Comments

  1. In the UK you can only use a horn for the purpose of warning other road users of your presence. I use mine more than most as at T junctions some drivers waiting prefer to look the other way first. I try and draw their attention back to me approaching and sometimes it works. I sound my horn when close to high canal bridges which are usually only one vehicle wide and to warn others approaching from the other side and who cannot see me and I cannot see them. I warn them of my presence. The horn can be sounded before an overtake to help ensure others of your intentions to overtake them.

    When filtering I put my indicator on and I have had a buzzer fitted so that I can remember that my indicator is still on when turning at junctions etc,. I find it extremely useful to use it when filtering slowly and safely as I believe that it draws the attention of drivers to my approach from behind them. It sounds like a Truck reversing sound. bleep bleep bleep.

  2. I’ve just returned from Italy, where it seems that unlike in most countries they press the horn button to stop the noise, most bikes and mopeds have them tooting by default!

  3. Screaming Banshee do a horn just like you want Robert a short tap for the std horn and a longer press to bring the house down with the air horn.

    I have a Wolo Bad Boy on the Vulcan and must say I don’t use it anywhere as much as I thought I would, mainly because I don’t put myself in those situations.

    Also have air horns on the 4wd they get more of a workout than the bike but I still have my std horn wired and the airs on a separate button.

  4. What’s the average legal noise level for a vehicle? I think on bikes it’s something like 98 decibels so what’s the point of a horn that’s quieter than most vehicles?
    85 decibels for a multi tone horn what imbascile thought that was a good idea?

  5. I fitted a Denali Sound Bomb Mini to the Street Triple last week, so yeah, I’ve been using the horn a lot lately!

  6. Sound levels are logarithmic, if you add an additional identical horn you only get an increase in overal sound level of 3dB . Obtuse though thus may appear adding a 110dB horn to an existing 110dB would only result in an output of 113dB . 3dB is also the minimal change in volume detectable as louder to the human ear.

    Dave Moore Member Audio Engineering Society.

      1. It could depend on where they are placed and how they are aimed.
        Both close together and facing the same way may put you over but put them on opposite sides and face them at an angle and you will only get a reading from one horn most likely.

  7. …… just such a coincidence! – last Thursday just fitted a car horn of 110 db’s to my bike – makes a big difference for warning animals & birds to get off the road (& mobile phone users too, such a dangerous annoyance).
    Save the Wolf whistle for the girls (lol).

    http://youtu.be/Uny1K5jnkYo

  8. There’s an opening for some tech savvy, appropriate toot sounds from the one device, from a friendly to to an angry honk, I’ll wait for the speech enabled device I think.

    1. Speaking of tech solutions and horns, do you think someone could make your horn go off if there is a Volvo in the vicinity?

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