Boston bans loud pipes


Motorcyclists in Boston will be forced to use exhaust systems that wear a stamp of approval or face a $300 fine.

The city passed a law today making exhaust systems without a federal Environmental Protection Agency label illegal.

At a public hearing in May, residents, police, and government officials testified that new legal measures are needed to control motorcycle noise. Residents said their neighbourhoods are disturbed by the sound of unmuffled bikes.

Some motorcyclists, however, are working on a lawsuit against the new rule. They claim that existing laws could be used to maintain neighbourhood peace and that exhaust systems that don’t carry the EPA label aren’t necessarily loud, but simply weren’t certified by the manufacturer.


  1. I ride a Harley soft tail with the pipes half muffled. It seems to be at about the same sound level as a transport truck on the highway, judging by what I hear sitting in traffic. I want some sound out of these pipes so that people know where I am on the road — especially little kids stepping off the curb in supermarket parking lots. However, I agree completely that some jerks overdo it as part of some confused notion about “lifestyle”. If the sound level requirement is equivalent to the diesel trucks I mentioned, then I don’t have any personal problems with such regulations.

  2. Thank you all you ignorant bikers that have cast all motorcyclists into a bad light. Loud pipes may save lives (they may not – there is no conclusive evidence either way), but those ear busting exhausts distract and confuse drivers and piss people off and make them dislike all bikers. If you feel the need to prove your manhood, instead of loud pipes, hang some of those metal testicles from the back of your bike, and grow up!

  3. They already can regulate the requirements for a motorcycle to be street legal; brakes, turn signals, for example, can not be removed legally. As easily, and perhaps already in law for all I know (no, I did not bother researching the issue), one could prohibit modifying the stock exhaust, end of story. They they would all have to meet the original Transport Canada requirements. The point being, this is not exactly a draconian march down uncharted regulatory territory, they can already tell you what you can’t modify to be street legal.

  4. So where do we get the stickers? Anybody seen one? My bike has stock pipes, but no stickers – does that mean I’ll get fined? What about the tuner cars with “coke-dealer” exhausts and boom boxes in the trunk? There are several motorcycles in my neighborhood, some louder than others, but the most annoying jerk is the one in the tuner car that rattles (literally) my walls every time he passes. WHat laws protect me from this jerk? The SAE has developed a new standard that can be tested with the bike stationary – let’s use that to check if a bike is too loud.

  5. Ok, how do we do it then? The street Hindle exhaust on my Fireblade that I bought when it was perfectly legal, should I just suck it up and toss it? There’s no tag on my stock Road King pipes, should I just pay the fines as our local constabulary sees fit? Yeah, that’s it, give MORE discretionary roadside powers to our cops.

    And why just bikes? I’m most bothered by diesels myself, can we do something there? And man – what a noise that my mother in law makes – can we outlaw her? Please??

    C’mon geniuses, what the plan?

  6. Those of you saying it’s a “holier than thou” attitude clearly don’t live in the city and probably out in the boons.

    There are just way too many a-holes that drive around town with straight-pipes and the cops don’t squat. Reporting loud jerks is also a huge pain… who has the time to go to the station and submit a formal report??

    It time to bring pipe certifications to Canada like in the UK (or Boston).

  7. I have a solution.
    If a bike is loud it should have to earn it.
    At least make the noise level requirement proportional to the power output of the engine.
    BIG EVIL 70hp TWINS sounding like Lancaster bombers will be gone, and the few that legitimately have the right to make noise, will earn our respect and admiration … cough.

  8. Good for Boston.
    There’s loud, like you hear them coming up the street… and LOUD!!! where the cups rattle on the shelf when the moron is a street away. Noise laws are indeed sufficient and unenforced, but basically unenforceable: patrol cops don’t have the equipment to test sound levels and testing on a public road (ie a noise stop like a radar stop) would be rather easily challendged in court – distance, meter calibration, extraneous noise, etc. So a sound level based test is really only possible in a controlled environment. So a certification based law is at least enforceable.

  9. When I hear the loud pipe guys cruising and re-cruising downtown Halifax, with their “skull mask” bandanas making them look super-scary-touch, as likely as not they are riding block after block with their turn signal blinking, and/or their feet sticking out to make sure they don’t topple over. Actually the latter is more often the loud sport bikes.

  10. Another unnecessary law. No one can convince me that Boston’s preexisting noise bylaws couldn’t have adequately dealt with this situation. This is what happens when some people make themselves a pain; politicians play whack-a-mole with them in order to curry votes.

  11. ^ there’s more of everything out there, in the same space. Again, the only difference is the holier than thou attitudes that everyone seems to have.

  12. Having lived through the ’50s and motorcycled in at least part of the ’60s, I can tell you that the major difference is not the loudness of some exhaust pipes, but the numbers of them. There are many times more motorcycles on the road today, and the residents who complain about their noise are subjected to a multiple of the number of loud motorcycles their parents had to listen to. A large multiple.

  13. We all know the loud pipes saves lives BS [b]IS[/b] BS. But what’s worse is today’s society that thinks it should create a law for everything deemed wrong. Wrong by who’s standards? It seems that today’s generation has forgotten what it took to win freedom. Loud pipes are nothing new, I betcha there a higher % of bikes today that are quieter than the 60’s and 70’s. The only thing that’s new is the lack of tolerance and your collective passivity.

  14. Message to the “Loud Pipes Save Lives” crowd:

    Wake the f*** up! This is how it all started with second hand cigarette smoke. When enough people get ticked off to enact a change in legislation in one city, the rest of the country is soon to follow. Oh, they’ve heard you, alright…

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