The truth about loud pipes

Loud pipes save lives!

Actually, no they don’t, and it’s because of the Doppler Effect.

The theory is, loud pipes automatically make the rider safer, because car drivers can hear there is a motorcycle present and will therefore drive more cautiously. However, the Doppler Effect mutes this.

The Internet has lots to say about the Doppler Effect, but here’s a nutshell summary from Wikipedia: “The Doppler effect … is the change in frequency of a wave … for an observer moving relative to its source … It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from an observer. Compared to the emitted frequency, the received frequency is higher during the approach, identical at the instant of passing by, and lower during the recession.”

In other words, the deep, throaty roar of loud pipes isn’t really very deep or throaty until the vehicle has passed the listener. You can see the Doppler Effect in action in the first few seconds of this video, and see it explained below.

So you may hear a motorcycle approaching, but you won’t really hear much noise until it is next to you or past you.

Now, consider the definitive Motorcycle Accidents In-Depth Study from Europe, in which researchers found the vast majority of motorcycle collisions come from the front of the bike. That’s bad news for a motorcyclist, if he or she is relying on loud pipes as an Distant Early Warning system. The Doppler Effect means your exhaust could be creating a dangerous false confidence; by the time the car driver knows you’re there, it may be too late.

Noise fatigue

Prolonged exposure to noise can have very dangerous effects on a motorcycle rider.

Hearing loss will reduce your ability to perceive audible danger signs (sirens, mechanical problems, or vehicles in close proximity), and will also reduce your concentration (according to the US Dept. of Labor), as well as impair your “performance in spatial attention” due to background noise, according to this US government study from 2006.

This isn’t top-secret information. Riders have known about noise fatigue for years, which is why helmets like Schuberth’s C3 Pro or HJC’s RPHA Max are popular with touring riders: they greatly reduce in-helmet noise. Even if they don’t have pricey helmets, many riders at least wear earplugs when riding. So if safety experts inside and outside the motorcycle world know that loud noise can actually increase the risk of danger, why subject yourself to the blast of loud pipes? Even if the rider is spared the true noise thanks to the Doppler Effect, what about fellow motorcyclists, tailing behind on a group ride?

Prolonged exposure to loud noise is actually bad for you, which is why quiet helmets like the Schuberth C3 Pro command a high price.
Prolonged exposure to loud noise is actually bad for you, which is why quiet helmets like the Schuberth C3 Pro command a high price.

Statistics don’t back up the claim

Some riders will still believe they avoided a crash when a car heard their exhaust, and maybe that really did happen. But North America’s best-known study on motorcycle safety, the 1981 Hurt Report, found  motorcycles with loud pipes were not less likely to be involved in crashes — if anything, they were a little more likely to crash. As the report states on page 421:

“The modified exhaust system was typical of many accident-involved motorcycles, and also typical of many motorcycles observed during exposure data collection. The modified exhaust is overrepresented in these data, but not with high significance.”

If you read the MAIDS report, nowhere in that report’s findings does it recommend loud pipes for safety. Instead, on Page 98: “The ability of the PTW (Powered Two Wheeler) rider to see and be seen is a critical element of PTW safety. As mentioned above, the largest number of PTW accidents is due to a perception failure on the part of the OV (Other Vehicles) driver or the PTW rider. The vehicle operator failed to see a PTW or OV.  It then states outright that “The use of the PTW headlamp has been recognised as an aid to conspicuity,” but nowhere does it make a similar statement about loud pipes.

In other words, riders need to make sure car drivers can see them by turning on their headlight, not by turning up their pipes.

Fact is, loud pipes are really starting to irritate the general public, with even South Park taking a swipe at loud motorcycles.
Fact is, loud pipes are really starting to irritate the general public, with even South Park taking a swipe at loud motorcycles.

So who cares?

The public cares, and pissed-off citizens are slowly but surely mobilizing to fight against loud pipes. In recent years, city after city across Canada has started its own campaign to put an end to loud pipes.  Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Bathurst, Saint John, St. John’s, and Kelowna have all taken first steps in the fight against loud motorcycles, to name a few.

Quebec City has actually gone so far as to ban motorcycles from the Old City, because of their noise. The rest of the province is in the middle of a five-year pilot project, with police officers using sound meters to check motorcycle exhaust noise in an effort to figure out how to properly measure exhaust volume. That data will be used to make sure lawmakers implement effective anti-noise legislation in the future (and raise ticket revenue while they’re at it).

And the public is irritated for good reason.  Sam Blue is working on a petition in Saint John, N.B., to have police and lawmakers address the problem of “vehicles with their muffler removed and replaced with modified exhausts that are illegal, causing excessive emissions and noise.” Why? Because, he says: “Based on conversations I have had with other residents and business owners, it does factor into their quality of life. It impacts where people choose to live, and has an impact on businesses that depend on tourism and outdoor traffic, or dining on patios, and it also interferes with outdoor festivals or events.”

The former head of the Saint John police department’s traffic division remembers why the city publicly announced a crackdown on loud pipes back in 2001 — it was due to media coverage of the issue. Public pressure resulted in increased attention from law enforcement. As Jeff LaFrance recalls, it only resulted in a couple of tickets, one of which was thrown out in court, but public unhappiness over loud pipes results in riders being hassled.

So far, we’ve been lucky in Canada. Despite growing public frustration with loud pipes, we haven’t seen much punitive police action, at least in most jurisdictions (Quebecois readers might disagree). We aren’t seeing hundreds of exhausts seized and crushed, which does happen in other countries. But if the motorcycle industry and individual riders don’t realize where things are headed, we may enter a future in Canada where all owners of aftermarket or modified exhausts are punished, thanks to the actions of a few, and that’s something we don’t need — especially since those loud pipes aren’t saving lives in the first place.

134 thoughts on “The truth about loud pipes”

    1. Kind of funny how some folks will spend $$ for a nice bike.
      They will spend another good amount of $$ to make it nicer with accessories…

      Yet, they don’t have the $ to fix their muffler?

  1. I find it somewhat amusing that, according to the so-called experts, loud pipes have little or no ability to alert
    other motorists that a motorcycle is in the vicinity thus possibly preventing a collision, but they sure can piss of the vast majority of these other motorists….

    1. I don’t think that motorcyclists with loud pipes annoy other motorists nearly as much as they annoy people in homes and yards everywhere. People in a vehicle tend not to hear a bike until it has passed them. Sitting out in your back yard, there’s no insulation, engine whine or road noise to drown out the sound of the offenders.

      I’m really not sure how or why all of this is amusing. The people complaining about loud pipes are generally not drivers, they are home owners who are sick to death of the unnecessasry blat of exhaust. Yes, that includes big trucks with loud air brakes and the like. The difference between a loud transport and a passal of wannabe pirates is that the former is viewed as a necessary evil. The latter is viewed as merely evil.

    2. There must be quite a few accidents with “custom” riders in front of Cafe/Bar/restaurants… because they sure certainly try to make themselves heard in those locations…

    3. I am most annoyed by them when they pass me on the highway and I have to put up my window, or they cruise through town and blast me while I am walking, their exhaust reverberating the windows of every shop and shattering the peace and quite of a nice lunch or just a leisurely walk or when they leave home at 6 or 7 am and roar down the road and wake me up. It isn’t really necessary.

    1. The reason posers like the noise is because of the “look at me, look at me, I’m a big bad, rough tough biker” syndrome, and they have a teeny tiny penis!

  2. Wow – you really hit a chord with this topic. I’m hearing lots of sour notes. Seems a lot of both noise lovers and haters are piping up. I guess it’s a topic that just resonates with alot of folks.

    😊

    1. I call bullshit.avid rider and racer.i like the added safety of hearing them,often before you can see them.nice article but laced with bull

  3. This article is biased to Canada reality. Wide streets, wide roads, open terrain.
    Try riding a quiet bike via streets of London. Pedestrians with headphones on and music max crossing g where they see fit (it is not illegal), cars stuck in traffic so drivers do not pay attention.
    On loud bike cars move out of the way, on quiet bike they do not. Clearly shows loud pipes is more visibility.
    Uh also so frequency changes due to doppler effect. So what that horn example is perfect example of how it would work. Sound volume builds up as you approach so if sound keeps getting louder something is coming towards you. No need for explanation or justification that is a fact.

  4. There is a difference between loud pipes and annoyingly loud pipes. As a lifelong rider I would like to beat the snotty shit out of these turdstools that blat their pipes through residential areas . Idiots

    1. The LPSL argument is a placebo to those who want to lord it over the general population how cool they are. Truth is, everyone but they know it.

      Those who sport loud pipes are inconsiderate asshats, plain & simple.

  5. How much longer will the motorcycle noise beleaguered citizenry have to endure the hedonistic, irresponsible, illegal conduct of the Loud Biker Cult[ure]? These pathetic and selfish morons have become an indelible blot on the fabric of our culture and it’s past time to get some “strong” stain remover.

    Please see my video on the silly subject of LPSL myth at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRxyoSj4sNU

    My article on this subject at: The Truth about Loud Motorcycles the Police Won’t or Can’t tell you: https://rickeyholtsclaw.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/the-truth-about-loud-motorcycles-the-police-wont-or-cant-tell-you/

    Rick Holtsclaw, Houston PD/Retired
    Concerned Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles – Facebook

  6. It’s just one of several things that help with visibility. Most are indifferent to the sound some love it. Granted there is a small minority it annoys but if it saves 1 life they’re worth it. I’ve been noticed by distracted drivers several times because of the sound so I say to you who whine about this Go Fuck Yourself.

    1. ” Go fuck yourself” ???

      That’s deep Garth.

      Any other important insights in the human condition you can offer up for the benefit of us lesser lights ?
      Noise is noise, whether its a train, airplane, diesel truck. lawn mower or motorcycle with LOUD PIPES.
      I have no scientific basis to make this claim, just hearing loss and tinnitus from too many years of not using hearing protection and paying the price.
      Every time some clown on a cruiser or in a 4 door Civic with a fart-bomb muffler passes me with his tunes blaring so he can hear them over the sound of his own exhaust I ask myself ‘how stupid is that’ ?
      I will not debate the safety of such activity, just the lack of common courtesy expressed by such activities – whatever the method of transportation.

      I await your reply, your humble servant….

  7. Great article. Loud pipes are extremely annoying to the general population. I have been a avid rider for years. I have owned cruisers (Road King HD), sport touring, (ST1300 and Concours 1000) and a touring BMW. I also rode a HD Police Bike in Saint John NB for about 5 years. I retired now . I notice in the article that it refers to the crackdown on loud vehicles in SJ. Yes it was all loud vehicles. ..most of the tickets were written by me for the worst offenders. For example one incident was a HD rider in the South End of the city I could hear over a km away at 2AM while I was riding. I just followed the noise to find him…. I am sure he woke up all the neighborhood. … inconsiderate idiot comes to mind…. loud cars…trucks or bikes….no need of it. Unfortunately the NB motor vehicle act is weak on wording for the excessive noise section and we could not get convictions in court…this was around 2012. And our attempts (Jeff LaFrance and I ) could not get any help from the province to change the legislation. …. the Registrar did not even answer email or return phone calls. So enforcement turned to checks and warnings….no real teeth….no real effect.
    My point is most accidents I have investigated involving more then just the Bike leaving the roadway… the other driver did not see the MC…. sometimes due to the speed of the MC fyi… so if this riders with loud pipes and in most cases on bike with that culture. ..inadequate head protection. …black riding gear or almost none …were concerned about safety. .. best thing to do is full face helmet. .. conspicuous riding gear with armour and good lighting…..don’t let your vanity kill you.

    1. Thanks for the reply, Mr. Jones. Having input from experienced observers is pretty valuable.

      I believe we’ve actually met before on the streets? I think. And no, it wasn’t to write me a ticket. 🙂

      1. He actually proves the point I was about to make…the Doppler effect does not change the loudness, timbre, or amplitude of the sound, only the apparent FREQUENCY. At “a km” away the Doppler shift affecting the motorcycle is minimal – Mr. Jones heard it because of the pipe’s loudness and amplitude and quietness of the night. I have stock pipes on my ride, but many times I wish they were louder…to alert drivers sooner and for audible clue of my gear changes when at highway speeds.

        1. I am constantly amazed that people don’t see that a bracing set of air horns is soooo much more effective in announcing your presence to drivers. Air horns are directional and will be louder facing forward than will the loud pipes that the rider is hoping will save lives, but is actuallly just pissing off those they’ve already passed. The only thing I really see about this is that the loud pipes crew are just too damn lazy to take a stab at that horn button. They want to be HEARD, damn it.

          To the detriment of all riders. Being that mosquito in the public’s ear will get us swatted. Horns are an acceptable means of alerting a driver. Insane-decibel pipes, not so much.

        2. I had to use the horn last year, truck looked like he was about to pull in front of me, he heard the horn, paused, gave me the finger and waited until it was clear. I really don’t think a loud pipe would have made a difference and I’d rather annoy that one driver than every other person on my travels.

  8. My pipes aren’t stupid loud but I do gear down so the bike is a bit noisier when travelling through areas the local deer are known to congregate. I also occasionally crack the throttle to wake up dazed drivers about to cut me off and it certainly has the desired impact. I’m also guilty of cracking it wide open to rip past a vehicle that just cut me off. When someone scares me my intention is clear, to scare them back. Maybe next time they’ll look.

  9. Sick of hearing about it or discussing it, it’s old news. Don’t know why CMG has to always create so much noise – pardon the pun – on the subject. Is there nothing else to talk about? Are there not positive stories of motorcycling anywhere?

    1. We haven’t had a feature article on loud pipes in at least a year. As for the news articles — well, we can’t help the news. Every time another city steps up to fight loud pipes, people need to know.

      1. Bullshit Zac, you’re obsessed with it. No other bike publications or website that I frequent devotes so much time to this issue that’s been around as long as I’ve existed. Which is a shame, we could instead (or also) devote time to talking about how motorcycles are part of gridlock solution throughout the world, or rider safety issues, or insurance insights, or any number of subjects that might promote and evolve our sport.

        Instead, you’re biting the hand that feeds you to either feed your little pet issue, or just generate traffic – no matter the kind. Read the comments, what has this accomplished exactly Zac?

  10. Meh. It’s not that big a deal. There are many things louder than ‘loud pipes’. Ever hear a train going through town? A semi loudly breaking or accelerating? How about a jet loudly turning overhead. Or a jackhammer in action. Or lawn mowers? What about skytrain? I go visit my friend in Burnaby and literally can’t sleep all night because of skytrain. Hell, I live by the Fraser River and I hear the loud fishing boats cruising around on the river. Oh! Omg. And the blueberry farm next door fires off cannons every half hour to scare away the birds. People need to stop whining. There will always be annoying noises in an industrialized society. Out of all those noises, the only one that accompanied someone experiencing joy is the person on the motorcycle. Give motorcyclists a break. And if a loud pair of pipes saved one life out there, somewhere, then wtf! It’s worth it! Besides, it’s not only the rider whose life is saved. The motorist is spared the grief of killing a rider they did not see or hear. Ask me about the highway worker that almost killed me and my daughter. If I had had loud pipes at the time, he might have heard me beside him, and might not have merged into me. Which he did because he was driving distracted, doing his job, scanning the side of the road for stray boulders. If he had killed my daughter and I that day, I’ll bet he wished that he had at least heard us beside him. It was a very close call. And the ONLY thing that saved us was my experience as a rider and the ABS on my bike.

  11. Locally I’ve found by far the loudest pipes are found with the Harley riders. The two Harley mentalities are are either the rider that feels society is against them and is hell bent on causing as much disturbance as possible or the rider that requires constant “look at me” attention and finds the open pipes achieve this whenever he (she ?) turns the loud handle. The sport bike riders are usually the second group but it’s rare their exhaust are as loud as the Milwaukee open pipe crowd.

  12. I live on a rural road that is very popular with motorcyclists. Every single sunny day, at least one group of poorly muffled motorcycles thunders past my house and wakes the baby, scares my horses, or just generally interrupts my serenity. Last year I mounted two loudspeakers on a pole at the end of my driveway with a blu-tooth receiver/ amplifier (with solar panels). When the hoards come, I say things to them at 145 dB. Sometimes I’m nice “you are exceeding the legal sound limit, Please put a muffler on it”. Sometimes I’m not. After a few blaring warnings, the number and volume of the offenders has started to diminish. This has greatly added to quality of my home life, but didn’t improve my road experience. So when I bought my BMW motorcycle, the first enhancement I added was a very loud horn. When another motorcycle intentionally annoys me with loud exhaust, I just lay on my horn for as long as it takes. Two can play this game. Am I part of the problem, or part of the solution? I don’t know but it makes me happy to give back as good as I get.

  13. If you actually believed this “loud noise”argument you’d install air horns on your bike for use when noise is appropriate. That would give you your “alert indicator” when you needed it and it wouldn’t bother people at other times.

  14. This whole argument is just silly. Loud pipes piss off the public. If we insist on loud pipes we’ll get legislated off the roads. It’s that simple. They have already taken the first step in that direction with motorcycle focused noise enforcement. Wake up people!

  15. Correct conclusion.

    Incorrect science. Doppler effect is not relevant here, although I guess it makes the author sound smart to the scientifically-illiterate.

    a) Doppler shift does not affect volume (they call them loud pipes, not low-frequency pipes)

    b) Doppler shift for bike/observer speed difference of 50mph will increase the frequency of an exhaust note’s fundamental by about one musical semi-tone, which is inconsequential. (Math disclosure: assuming 120Hz exhaust note and 343 m/s speed of sound that day yield a 128Hz observed exhaust note)

    c) If the bike/observer (bike/vehicle) speed difference is really 50 mph, the guy on the bike needs to slow the hell down!

    1. Nowhere does it say it influences volume. It does, however, affect the tone of the sound of your exhaust to the hearer, as both clips audibly demonstrate.

      But although the Doppler effect does not have anything to do with the volume of the noise with regards to distance from the hearer, in those clips it is obvious that the closer the noisemaker, the louder the noise (see here for some very interesting calculators related to that).

      Your loud pipes don’t do you any good if you’re too far away for a cager to hear you. Traveling beside a car at relatively the same speed, sure, your exhaust may let him know you’re there — but wouldn’t your horn do the trick as well? Or maybe defensive driving?

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      1. “The theory is, loud pipes automatically make the rider safer, because car drivers can hear there is a motorcycle present and will therefore drive more cautiously. However, the Doppler Effect mutes this.”

        That certainly implies that the author believes that the Doppler Effect has something to do with the loudness of pipes.

        And elsewhere we read, “In other words, the deep, throaty roar of loud pipes isn’t really very deep or throaty until the vehicle has passed the listener. You can see the Doppler Effect in action in the first few seconds of this video, and see it explained below. [VIDEO explaining Doppler Effect]

        So you may hear a motorcycle approaching, but you won’t really hear much noise until it is next to you or past you.”

        Again, the word “So” implies that the sentence’s conclusion (you won’t hear much noise) is somehow related to preceded explanation (Doppler Effect). In fact, the conclusion is correct, but for unrelated reasons. For example, one reason we don’t hear loud pipes approaching us from behind is that the exhaust system on a motorcycle is pointed backward.

        A car and a bike travel in traffic at very nearly the same speed. This means that any Doppler shift will be so small as to be imperceivable. And in the case when the bike is traveling 50 mph faster than the cars around him (!!!!!) the Doppler shift will only be about one musical semitone (i.e. the interval between adjacent frets on a guitar neck). To persons without perfect pitch, a one semitone difference is undetectable without a reference pitch to compare with. Again, this means that the effect of the Doppler Effect has no bearing at all on loud pipes, beneficial, or otherwise.

        I have been crusading again LOUD PIPES for years. The only issue I take with this article is that the opening section is so irrelevant that readers may conclude that the entire has no factual basis.

      2. The reality is that with the directionality of exhaust vs horns, loud horns are just SO much more effective in getting drivers’ attention. I can’t even think of a time I wanted to get audible attention of somebody behind me when driving. The horn button has always been my go-to when trying to alert a driver to my side or ahead of me.

        I remember way back in the day (early ’80s) when I was parts manager at Gran Prix Cycle. There were a large number of street-friendly aftermarket exhausts. Heck, Kerker’s 4-into-1 even made it onto the KZ1000 ELR straight from the factory. And yet the public decided those great-sounding pipes just weren’t loud enough. I went through a period of seeing people forgoing streetable Yoshimura and Kerker pipes for race-only offerings from Bassani and their ilk. Nowadays, it seems as though you have either a choice of too quiet or too loud.

        Where are the cans that offer a pleasing timbre along with streetable, neighbourhood-friendly volume? 🙁

  16. Zac…maybe part two of your article can be the Truth About High Beams.

    These are just my own observations so I could be wrong. Whenever a highbeamer is approaching me it is distracting. Yes one might think then it works but distracting to a point where it it blinding and I have to look down and to the side to see where I am going. This takes away my ability to look ahead while riding.

    So in some respects while highbeams may make YOU safer you are putting others in danger.

    And then there are the strobe lights…..

  17. It is true that having loud pipes on a motorcycle provides absolutely nothing in way of safety for the rider, but that has nothing to do with the Doppler effect. The Doppler effect.is not applicable here and is not the proper way to rebut the ridiculous loud pipes for “safety” canard those who ride loud motorcycles so often put forward in their lame attempts to justify subjecting the public with excessive noise.

    The proper way to rebut the LPSL canard is hinted at in the above paragraph. Besides the fact the loud pipes do noting for safety, loud pipes are illegal, as is the act of tampering the proponents of loud pipes commit in order to render their motorcycles excessively loud. That is not done for “safety”. It is done for vanity. It is a desire on the part those who commit that illicit act of tampering, not a necessary. Loud pipes are ILLEGAL, period. And when the loud pipe advocates invoke the LPSL canard, they are openly admitting to violating the law and signaling that they will continue to do so as long as the laws they are violating are not enforced.

    That is the proper way to rebut the LPSL canard. Remember it and and use it, forget the Doppler effect based rebuttal. And one more thing. Pressure the authorities to enforce the muffler laws that prohibit loud pipes and take those loud pipes away from the loud pipe advocates.

  18. More time than none, the person in the car who hears you coming, knows your there. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. But hey, a 20 ton truck downshifting at a red light, that doesn’t make noise or a STM bus flooring it at a green light cuz he can, that doesn’t make noise either or as my good friend mentioned, the cheap ass who still has his lawnmower from the 70’s and thinks its a perfect idea to mow his lawn at 7am or 9pm, that shit don’t matter. But the guy who loves to ride, well that guy……lets fuck up all the roads, pot holes and all, raise his registration and insurance just for shits and giggles and then what, what the fuck can we complain about now….HMMM???? Loud Pipes…MOFO $%^&*(&%^@$#%^&*(%^$….

  19. Loud motorcycles do not piss off everyone. Many people roll their window down when beside me in traffic just to listen to the engine. People wave, some ask to trade vehicles for the day, kids have big smiles on their faces and love it when you acknoledge them at a red light. I have been riding street motorcycles for 30 years and logged over 250,000 km. I have had quiet bikes and loud bikes and have experienced just about everything there is to experience including T-Boning a deer at 110 km/hr. In my experience… is a loud bike a safer bike? Yes. What upsets me is people that pick on motorcycles for noise. The amount of loud cars, trucks and stereos are just as bad if not worse in some areas and most people just seem to look the other way. If you are going to implement noise laws then make it apply across the board… for everyone, no matter what you drive.

    1. You know what I love best?

      Playing an outdoor gig and having a couple of a-holes on bikes with LOUD PIPES stop in traffic and drown us out. Oh, yeah, people love that!

      It’s almost as awesome as having to shout at people across the table in the patio over lunch because some dickwad with LOUD PIPES thinks advertising his small penis is more important than my ability to enjoy my meal.

      It’s too bad I have never had these experiences with loud cars, trucks, and stereos. Then my life would be complete!

  20. Better off fitting a louder horn, people respond to a horn far better than a loudly revved engine, just wish the manufacturers would fit a decent horn in the first place as most sound like a mouse being strangled.

  21. You know what infuriating your neighbor starting up lawn mower at seven a.m and mowing for 3hours…. A biker starts up and leaves it’s very short duration.life is noisy! You want quiet stick your head in the library…

  22. Some guys buy a bike and think now they are bad boys and when they put strait pipe they become a bad ass …
    In fact if you are a nobody before
    After you get the bike you still a nobody now whit a bike

  23. Let’s face it we all like aftermarket exhaust. I Do. I don’t need to make an argument that it will or won’t save lives. Look at the % of accidents that are rider error versus other drivers. So loud pipes high beams or a bat signal…do what makes you happy. I have my exhaust because it makes my bike sound better than a sewing machine on steroids. Riding with a loud can or pipes but doing wheelies on the 401 or riding like you are on the track….hauling as s in and out of traffic means you reach into the bag and pull out some luck . Well lucks gonna run out…so let’s not get it twisted here people….safe skilled riding saves lives……and the EMS teams (maybe)that arrive when the aforementioned reach into the luck bag and come up empty…

  24. The fact is, it would seem that the only bikes that don’t get stopped for loud pipes are iron mongers. Put one on any other type and see what happens…. Also, if there weren’t so many shit drivers around that would help. Part of the test should be merging, wtf the two outside lanes are for, where a semi is supposed to be on a highway….. The list goes on……
    The 401 highway is riddled with tossers who are asleep in the outside lanes.

  25. People that rely on loud pipes need to learn to ride and stay out of blind spots. Saw at shirt once that said “If loud pipes save lives, imagine what learning to ride that thing could do”

    1. People that rely on loud pipes need to learn to ride and stay out of blind spots. — Exactly. The whole point of this argument, which almost everyone is missing, is that loud pipes might indeed notify other drivers you’re there — but they might not, as well, so don’t take that chance! Ride as if you are invisible and also inaudible!

    2. My daughter and I were almost killed by a highways worker that was driving slowly, scanning the shoulder for rocks and debris. I was passing him like the vehicle in front of me and was beside him when he suddenly, for whatever reason, decided to come into my lane without looking or signaling. So it did not matter if I was in his ‘blind spot’ or not. I was making a correct pass of a slow moving vehicle. After, I waved him over to give him shit and he admitted he didn’t even look and was horrified because, as he said, “I ride too and normally I always look for riders”. Keep in mind this stretch of road is very popular for riders, and this professional driver who is on this road daily would know that. Bottom line. I was making a safe and routine pass that was necessary due to his slow speed. He admitted to be not thinking straight. And if he had HEARD me, maybe the whole incident wouldn’t have happened. It was so close. And the only thing that save my daughter and I is my experience as a rider, my cool head, and my braking without losing control of my bike. I know if that guy had killed us that day, I bet he would have wished he had at least heard us. Flukes happen. Even with expert riders. If loud pipes save at least one person, who could argue that?

      1. Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts Jaka and Quincy.
        Now come back up out of the basement, you momma has your laundry folded and your dinner ready.

  26. I have a road glide and a goldwing. One loud the other whisper quiet
    Both bikes bright colours. Both bikes similar in size

    I get cut off more often on the wing. But hey maybe the just don’t like Hondas

    1. I think it is association, bel eve it or not, people see bikes; but try usually assume a Harley rider is going to be more of a “you cut me off, I will pull you out of your jalope and beats will be administered l!!”where as a Goldie rider is viewed more as of your dentist, suit wearing banker…”desk job type,” in other words “harmless!! They rather take a chance cutting of the Honda than a Harley, that is why anybody that wants the “bad boy” image gets one, put on a vest and instant bad ass!!

    2. Will Dudley Seb I will second that comment; I noticed I had more people become confrontational when I was dressed like a “Power Ranger” in my Gore-Tex & full face lid than when was dressed in a half lid, fringed leather jacket & vest covered in patches & pins. Can’t say I was cut off more on one style or bike over the other & I had 75,000 km under my butt on a pair of cruisers & 75,000 km under my butt on a pair of V-Stroms. BTW all 4 bikes had stock quiet exhausts. I survived being hit by a drunk driver at a red light on my cruiser & nailing a deer at 100 kmh without crashing (in Kleinburgh); maybe loud pipes would have prevented both of those accidents 😉

  27. I can’t count how many times I’m passing and some guy not paying attention tries to force me off the road or into the barrier beside me. A little crack on the throttle you see them jump as they are startled from their slumber driving, see me, pull back into their lane and drive responsibly. Yup loud pipes don’t work all right. To the people saying they don’t ride loud pipes so obviously they don’t save lives. That’s a pretty stupid statement. You can also drive a car your entire life and never wear a seat belt or use an air bag and be perfectly fine as long as a situation doesn’t arise where you need it. Understand now?

    1. Get a loud horn and use it when you have too … Imagine riding around with a loud horn on continuously … That is what you are doing with your loud and anti social bike … Hey look at me … I am loud … Aren’t I cool? Really?

    2. I’ve ridden plenty in traffic, and can’t say that I’ve had cars come over on me any more often than it happens in my car. It helps if you don’t dawdle around in people’s blind spots. And if they’re paying enough attention to be scared back into their lane by you blipping your throttle, your horn would have also worked. Or you could just roll off the throttle or touch the brakes and let them go ahead. No need to annoy everyone all the time just to make you feel a little safer in traffic.

      Doesn’t matter, anyway – your “loud pipes save lives” mantra surely doesn’t hold any water with the people that make the laws, and thanks to people with ear-splitting exhausts (mostly cruisers, and mostly Harleys at that) we will all face new noise regulations and/or lose the right to ride in more areas. Loud pipes have already resulted in us being banned from many private neighbourhoods, campgrounds, even trailer parks, some towns, etc.

    3. Ah, you had me puzzled for a minute Ed. You mean the biker with the loud exhaust craves for attention. Could he or she not fit a shopping basket to front (and rear perhaps) 😉 I mean, you and Rachel get noticed / attention wherever you go. 🙂

    4. Haha, I kind of see what you’re getting at Steve. But the critical difference for me is that if people turn the other way, they no longer know of my existence. But then I was raised as a ‘don’t talk in cinemas, don’t listen to music on your phone’s loud speaker in public places etc’ kind of guy.

      In fact I’ve even been trying to invent a way quieten down my Honda 90 engine when entering small sleepy villages when travelling.

      But like I said, it’s just the way I was raised. Thanks mum 🙂

    5. Schrodinger Chad I know for a fact she has ridden in Toronto, where she lived for years.

      BTW I also rode one of those slow bikes (cruiser) and loud pipes are not hear as you approach a vehicle, they are heard once you are in front of their driver window. I look for bikes & pay attention to bikes as I also ride (rode over 120,000 km in Toronto in 5 yrs on bikes with QUIET pipes 😉 ) before moving west to Alberta, & I have never heard a bike until it was just about in front of my window. I was rarely cut off (less than once a year typically) becuse I paid attention to what I was doing & 99.99% of the time I had my “escape route” planned before some idiot cut me off.

      What you fail to understand while blathering on about your loud pipes, is most people inside their air conditioned cars with the windows rolled up tight & the radio blasting would barely hear you once you are in front of them, so you really expect them to hear you as you approach them? Give your head a shake.

      BTW I was also, at one time, a Canada Safety Council Motorcycle Instructor. Learn how to ride & read traffic & your lack of a “loud” pipe will not lead to your death

  28. You point out correctly the Hurt report shows most motorcycle accidents occur from ahead of the motorcycles’ point of view and the Dopler effect renders loud pipes ineffective moving towards listeners. Did you mean that loud pipes are saving lives in all other circumstances where the Doppler effect doesn’t apply? Intersections, turns, etc. I have 3 bikes, all with stock exhaust, and I don’t like loud pipes either- I wear earmuffs when mowing the lawn.

    1. In intersections and turns, you should be able to pay enough attention to avoid the kind of crashes loud pipes are supposed to prevent (I realize these crashes are happening, but I believe almost all of them are avoidable by defensive riding). I don’t believe loud pipes help fend off the dreaded “Left Hand Turner” at all.

  29. How can your statistics be anything but meaningless? There’s no mechanism to report or correlate data on accidents that DIDN’T happen or don’t exist because they were averted by ANY means- using highbeams during the day, loud pipes, etc. You make no mention of whether bikes with loud pipes involved in crashes represent a bigger or smaller demographic than they do in the general bike population. As far as I know, aftermarket pipes are still the #1 accessory purchased. Also, people who go on longer rides and bike more often are more at risk from the exposure time, do these people often have aftermarket pipes?

    1. The Hurt Report says they were “overrepresented” — I’m going to say that must mean it has to do with a bigger demographic?

      And the point of the stats was not just to quote the Hurt Report, but also the MAIDS Report, which is much more recent, and doesn’t back up the loud pipes claim, as it does not recommend their usage. I’m not saying it stands against them, but a comprehensive safety study doesn’t recommend them? Hrm …..

    2. The statistics don’t matter. The basic fact is that it isn’t reasonable to go around making an ear-splitting racket all the time just for the sake of a questionable increase in safety. Otherwise we’d all have sirens on our vehicles like emergency vehicles do.

    1. Well of course the more conspicuous you can become by sound or brightness then the more likely you are to be seen. That is why I always ride with my High Beams ON. I have installed Fiamm air horns on the majority of my past motorcycles as well and it irks me that manufacturers haven’t made them standard equipment. If a highly visible tractor trailer has these massive set of horns then why do most bikes have a horn that is more suitable for a bicycle. Shame on them!!! A progressive two stage horn button would give one the option of simply alerting a nearby car driver, or scaring the hell out of them.

  30. My son is also living proof that they save lives… to say otherwise is just pain ignorance. Dont jusy read an article and think oh they are not saving these riders lives… do the research from real people and riders alike not just some book some lame joke has put together who has never even spent any time on.a bike… this crap makes my blood boil. I know for a fact it was the loud pipe that saved my son. The driver said had he not heard his bike first he would have pulled out and ended up hitting my son…

    1. Can you explain this more fully, Jenipher? How come the car driver got to talk to your son about this afterwards? I can’t think of a single instance when a car driver has ever talked to me about not having an collision with my motorcycle. What happened in this case?

    2. My research from real people I assume you mean the unprovable anecdotal evidence of people who want their loud pipes regardless and use this “loud pipes save lives” as a rationalization for doing what they want to do?

  31. Thank you for educating the world of people who ruin it for others. It’s really just about education. A lot of people have their experience and they will twist coincidences into falsities. Also. Loud horns don’t save lives either. The data behind horns is nearly as bad. Reaction times just aren’t there. Headlights do help because light travels faster than sound. It’s far more about being seen than heard. Anyway I’m sure there will be a lot of ignorant comments posted in response to me or this article. O well. Not everyone will take the effort to accept or learn data and reality.

  32. You’re young. You don’t care. You want to be heard. Then you grow older. You have a baby. Whenever you try to put it to sleep, another younger rider revs a motorcycle with a loud pipe on the street. Shit. I wish someone had managed to show me the bigger picture more clearly when I was that younger guy. Hard thing co-existing, especially in large urban areas.

    1. When my first daughter was born, I lived on a road that was part of a very popular motorcycle touring route. All spring and summer long, cruisers with loud pipes downshifted and blipped throttles as they rolled through even though it was a 50 zone in a quiet village. My windows rattled, and it was loud enough to wake my baby and interrupt conversations even with windows and doors closed.

      It is not up to some members of the public to decide what is appropriate noise levels for a motor vehicle, it is a *public legislation* issue. If I feel unsafe in my home, it is not ok for me to set man traps and plant landlines in my front yard. If the loud pipes people believe they are right, then they may press their case in city and provincial politics and courts.

      Until then, they are breaking the public peace and breaking the law. Period. Time for local law enforcement to crack down on the loud pipes, so that the conversation can move into the public discourse and off the roads.

  33. I’m living proof they work, i’ve ridden many motorcycles in the last 15 years of my life and I’ve noticed a big difference between quiet and loud pipes, drivers are definitely more aware when they hear me close by.
    Also, just because you have loud pipes, it don’t mean you have to piss off your neighbors by revving the crap out of your bike everytime you go by, loud pipes aren’t so obnoxious when ridden with some discretion.

    1. No, they are obnoxious all the time. If you have to use restraint when riding your bike in and out of your neighbourhood out of respect for your neighbours, what makes your bike any less annoying to all the other people and homes you pass while out riding?

    2. Well, after about forty years of riding anything on two wheels, My opinion is that loud pipes say , “look at me”.
      I prefer a bike with great brakes and precise handling.
      That, combined with sharp riding skills will keep you alive , much more effectively than making a lot of noise.
      The salvage yards are full of wrecked bikes with loud pipes.

    3. Loud pipes have certainly made a big difference in my daily riding and yes they do make you noticeable, wether it’s a “look at me” or plain awareness, it works either way, but that does not mean that you should be fully dependent on them, because there will still be times that even loud pipes won’t penetrate the senses of zombies in cages, so yes, you still need to use sharp riding skills and always be aware of the situation around you and think 3 steps ahead to stay alive.
      Plus, they sound soooo good! To me riding is just as much an audible experience on top of all other wonderful things that come along with riding on two wheels. Again, having loud pipes does not mean you have to go around revving the piss out of your engine everywhere you go, enjoy your loud pipes sensibly. Cheers.

    4. I call bs. Being a rider, and racer of 120db exhaust systems. The sound travels behind, not in front. Driving on the highway, I hear these loud fukkers as the have ‘finished’ passing, not before.

      All it does is annoy common folk to pressure the law-maker to enact legislation against. I guess it’s true; laws are there because people are too stupid to use common sense.

    5. How fast do people ride their loud pipes in your community? Those things must be exceeding the sound barrier if you can only hear them from behind? Either that, or you need to check your hearing? Or maybe you are just day dreaming too much? I and many other motorists have no problem hearing sounds from all directions, maybe “stupid people with no common sense” have some sort of super hearing you angry folk just weren’t born with… sorry…

  34. Loud horns save lives. Loud pipes is like a jet overhead. You hear it when it’s gone past. I hear loud pipes and automatically think chaps , leather vest and patches. The Holy trinity of motorcycle cliché. Or is it harley , leather and loud pipes ..

    1. That’s why every single sportbike I see has aftermarket pipes… because they own Harleys. Brilliant observation there Darwin. I own 2 Harleys. One has stock exhaust the other has a 2 into one, as it increases the meager performance of the bike. Bit I have has over 30 Japanese bikes over the years, and every one of them has an aftermarket exhaust to improve how the bike operates.

      1. I thought about buying a Harley, but then decided that I’d rather “Ride” for the season, not fix my bike after every brief ride. Buy an Indian instead!!!

  35. Couldn’t agree more Canada Moto Guide, but you’re gonna get a lot of angry people here that will angrily defend their desire to annoy people.

    I’ll get the popcorn 😉

    1. Reasonable article, but they are as wrong about ‘turning headlights on’ as they are correct about childish use of loud pipes. The use of headlights in daylight does not reduce ROWV’s.

    2. I disagree, I feel like loud pipes can make you more aware in traffic. Then again people have degenerated to a state that is only maybe 1 stage above zombie and don’t pay very much attention when driving a car.

    3. I don’t disagree with the phrase “Loud pipes saved me 5 seconds when filtering through traffic because someone pulled over to let me past” But to save lives they’d need a universe with different laws of physics unfortunately.

    1. It was a joke u idiot… ride what you ride and I’ll do the same. Don’t make this a battle of wits of nonsense. You and your electric scooter can fuck off

  36. The second most common accident is where a car driver in the left lane, moves right not seeing the motorcyclist who is beside them, or is wrongly sitting in the car drivers blind spot.
    In this case loud pipes do help, I’ve been in the car and heard a nearby motorcycle that I was not aware of before I heard the pipes. But hearing the noise I looked again checking blind spots to find the bike

      1. Both the maids2 study and the hurt report are linked in the article.
        The most common by the way is at an intersection and a vehicle opposite you makes a left into an on coming motorcycle that they “didn’t see”

        1. This exact scenario has happened to me numerous times when commuting to work in traffic.

          I firmly believe for this reason alone being heard does add a margin of safety (as it might in other situations), but I also strongly believe that the SPL of your bike should be within reason i.e. not at a level that is deafening or deeply disturbing to others. This topic is a hot one because there are those that feel they have the right to run ‘open pipes’ and use safety as an excuse, and others who realize that doing so only makes the general public dislike motorcyclists in general. Wouldn’t it be great if common sense was actually common?

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