Sound test not reliable


Apparently there’s more to testing sound than just holding a meter by an exhaust pipe.

University of Alberta student Stuart Young contested a pair of tickets he got last July, when a police officer, supposedly using the testing method described below, determined that his bike was too loud. The fines totalled $500.

Young’s case was dismissed yesterday after commissioner William Andrew could not be convinced that the SAE-approved testing method was properly executed when Young was given the tickets.

According to Edmonton bylaw 15442, sound must be measured using an approved “sound level meter” and a motorcycle cannot be operated if it is capable of:

 1. emitting any sound exceeding 92 dB(A), as measured at 50 centimetres from the exhaust outlet, while the engine is at idle; or 2. emitting any sound exceeding 96 dB(A), as measured at 50 centimetres from the exhaust outlet, while the engine is at any speed greater than idle.

According to, operators will get a $250 fine if their bikes exceed 92 dB(A) at idle, 96 dB(A) at 2,000 rpm for bikes with less than three cylinders and 100 dB(A) at 5,000 rpm for three and four-cylinder bikes.

Commissioner Andrew put the testing method into question when it could not be proven if ambient sound was taken into account, or if the bike’s exhaust was at the minimum required distance from obstacles, as stipulated in the SAE testing method.

Other municipalities will likely be watching the outcome of all of this, as Edmonton was the first city in Canada to implement such a testing procedure.

Unfortunately for the other Edmonton motorcyclists who might feel they were wrongfully ticketed for excessive noise last summer, this doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. They’ll still have to show up in court, where each case will be handled individually.

Makes you wonder what the Edmonton police will do with the eight sound-testing kits they bought, which Global News Edmonton reported last year cost $24,000 apiece, if the bylaw is changed.   


  1. What about sending the driver with his bike for a Security testing government shop that has qualified tester and equipment.
    The certificate from that shop could be valid for a period of time so you don’t have to go back every week.

  2. A guy at work is retiring, and I’ve asked for his hat… So I can be just like a politician or cop…

    It says: S.W.A.T.

    S = Service
    W = Without
    A = Adequate
    T = Training.


  3. Oh just great! What happens when this sound test/bylaw gets thrown out? It gets replaced by something worse, that’s what. Former Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger of California just late last year passed the most repressive near sighted ill conceived motorcycle only exhaust pipe law yet. Basically, you HAVE to have the STOCK exhaust on your bike PERIOD with official state stamp proving such. Any aftermarket pipe has to have this stamp that is expensive/hard to get & probably not worth manufacturing especially for small aftermarket pipemakers. Keep challenging this new noise test by-law @ your own peril. It can EASILY be replaced by something much worse.

  4. There’s so much talk and issues with Load pipes!
    I don’t understand why so many riders need to crank the noise up on their bikes to validate themselves, can’t they see in the big picture that they are creating a negative image of riding to the general public? How many of these same riders are disgusted when they hear a tuner-car pull up beside them with very loud stereo and subwoofers cranking rap tunes? That sound is “music” to the ears of that tuner-car driver, just like Loud pipes are music to theirs.
    It’s all subjective, but when someones preferences inflict others, perhaps they should consider other more constructive modifications to their bikes.

  5. “50cm from the outlet”. This can be interpreted as a radius of 50 cm.
    “Officer, can you pls stand in front of the bike when you take the reading. Tx.”

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