Loud pipe laws grabbing national attention

Kelowna city government will look at a bylaw to fight motorcycle noise in today's council meeting.

For years now, we’ve been keeping you up-to-date on the spread of loud-pipe laws across the country, but the issue has skated under the radar on the national level. Not anymore.

The National Post has gotten around to writing a piece that shows readers just how wide-spread the fight against loud pipes really is, and readers are paying attention. The comments section shows just how angry people are about this issue.

It’s the usual suspects, of course; the open-pipes crowd is preaching the gospel that says their noisy exhausts are the best thing since the Red Cross, at least when it comes to saving lives, while non-riders are ready to legislate motorcycles out of existence, and then start banning lawnmowers and weed trimmers. Soon, they’ll have a ban out on kazoos. Anyway, if you have something to add to their dialogue, we suggest you register in their comments section and say your piece.


  1. Danny, where in this thread are HDs mentioned by name ?
    Its an across the board issue not just for big cruisers.
    Oh yeah, and learn how to spell and punctuate….


      Not sure what loud pipes have to do with a bike’s price tag. Give me a hacksaw or drill, and I can make any motorcycle louder. Brand name’s got nothing to do with it. But keep telling yourself you’re the kingpin of the roads because of the badge on your motorcycle tank. Hope you and your friends have fun playing Sons of Anarchy down at the local Tim Hortons.

      FWIW, I’ve got nothing against Harley-Davidson.

  2. I have been riding on the street for 41 years now. I own, insure and ride 4 motorcycles, all with OEM factory exhausts. All motorcycles should have better horns, self cancelling turn signals and ABS brakes as these features would help save lives. We do not need loud pipes. We need bikers that care for the future of the sport and their fellow citizens.

    • I agree 100%, RM. ABS, loud horns, self-canceling turn signals, reflectors on the bike, luggage and helmet – I prefer to have ’em and not need ’em than not have ’em when I need ’em. The same goes with All The Gear All The Time.

      I find it ironic that the crowd that screams loud pipes saves lives as a safety measure are usually the ones you see riding in shorts, t-shirts, sandals, beanie helmets or helmetless, on archaic machines with poor suspensions, inadequate cornering clearance and barely adequate brakes.

      Loud pipes only serve to piss off Joe Public and give motorcycles a bad image. Since Joe Public is the one that elects our fine politicians, we need to keep that in mind when drawing attention to ourselves.

  3. The problem, Daniel, is that some motorcycles belch out up to 130Db of garage-compressor-from-hell sound.

    Where I live, I’m forced to listen to the approach and departure time for a good 30 seconds. There’s also the “treat” of listening to groups of 5, 20 or more that pound out their rebellion for more than a minute as they pass.

    On a nice day when most people are outside trying to relax around their highly taxed, expensive and hopefully peaceful retreats we call homes, one or more look-at-me-and-my-bike motorcyclist blasts by every 3 to 5 minutes (that only give you a 2 – 4 minutes quiet time).
    This assault on the senses goes on all day until way after dark, many days per week for a good 5 months.

    As with the neighbour and his chainsaw, you know that he should have most of his loud work done by the end of the day and should be quiet for the rest of the season, unless you live next to a saw mill. He probably isn’t doing this for pleasure and I don’t think he modified his chainsaw to make even more noise.
    Just 1 wannabe on a loud bike riding though the city and suburbs for 1 hour can disturb more than 10,000 people. Now that’s bad neighbouring!

    BTW, I’ve been riding motorcycles for 36 years. Never had loud pipes on my bikes, cars or lawnmowers. Don’t own a chainsaw.

  4. For your information,Bathurst removed the by-law for noisy motorcycle. The chamber of commerce said they were loosing up to 25% of the bussiness and want the motorcycle back in town. The city counsils vote in favor to remove it 7 for and 1 against it.
    Another point it’s there is another law for excessive noise including House party, cars, trucks etc. etc.So why having another law specificly for motorcycle. It’s harassement
    A chainsaw can produce as much as 110 DB, but no one will say something. A noisy motorcycle, you hear it comming and within 10 sec. he’s gone. A neibourght with is chain saw will give you excessive noise all day. Beside the motorcycle season it’s pretty shot in this country.

  5. How to conduct actual test? simple; here is example:

    1. Legal part: establish conditions and circumstances of test procedure. This should be part of legal code (Highway Act). For example engine at idle hold at 2,000 RPM; probe aligned with muffler 2 m away from nozzle.

    2. Testing in field: accordingly
    – if actual measurement trespassed by 10% issue warning; 2 warnings = prosecution
    – if actual measurement exceeding more than 20% stated limit, prosecution imminent

    3. Applicability: all vehicles including “tuner” sports cars

    4. Exception: race track use

    It is necessary to do something about this scourge and citizens need to contribute and to participate. I, as avid motorcyclist do not want to be labeled unfairly as “noise-maker” because I am not. Riding motorcycle must be as socially acceptable as any other public activity – with accountability.

    • Finally read the attached article and see that there is movement in right direction.

      However, not just in cities the noise levels are to be watched. Same applies elsewhere – we need provincial of even better federal legislation. Also, if those 92 decibel is starting point of unacceptability that is ridiculously high. My bet would be 85 as acceptable threshold and I do realize that scale is not linear but logarithmic.

      As far as my concern for loud exhaust makers – you have your racing market; try your best. We know that gain in output is minimal for unequally high increase of noise level. In reality, you can never use full power of motorcycle anyway – with or without them.

  6. There is relatively simple way how to implement objective and comprehensive measure against “noise abusers”.

    – to say a motorcycle is “noisy is not good enough, there must be quantification (measure based on testing procedure)

    – beginning is in maker’s court; they have to produce product which complies with the law of particular market

    – user’s duty is to maintain vehicle in best technical condition (keeping noise at original level)

    – muffler systems should be visibly marked by OEM as clear proof of current condition; no alterations permitted

    – any deviation ought to be reason to proceed with measurement using calibrated testing equipment (such as is radar)

    – offenders ticketed on spot including lost points

    – problem solved, antagonism gone

      • People do seem to be able to distinguish between sportbikes and cruisers, even in the uneducated public.

        I know I plan on getting Quiet Inserts for my Q4 mufflers.

        • The risk is that there’s little difference in annoyance between a cruiser with straight pipes and a 1098 with an open dry clutch and race Termis. Or an off-road bike with a race can that’s ripping it up in a public open space. At the end of the day, people just equate the noise with ‘bikes’ rather than worrying about the particular type of bike or rider.

          Alas, I really don’t have any answers. I do commend you for going for some dB killers, though. 🙂

  7. Isn’t there a DOT compliance stamped right in the muffller.? No stamp=a ticket. This takes car of 90% of the problem (including the bike pictured in the article). Isn’t the biggest problem bolt-on, uncertified exhausts?

    • If you want to ride off road on public land un the US your exhaust needs to have a stamp that shows it has a US forestry service approved spark arrestor. A similar measure could be taken regarding street bikes that would still allow aftermarket manufacturers to supply product.

      • The aftermarket wouldn’t sell nearly as many systems and slip-ons if they could only sell ones that meet a sound standard. I would say at least 90% of aftermarket (street) exhausts are sold because the buyers WANT to make more noise. Any performance improvements are strictly coincidental (and usually mostly in minds of the buyers).

  8. If it’s any consolation, in Quebec the SQ have been supposed to be testing motorcycles for noise since 2013… but they aren’t.
    Turns out the 1 (one) unit for testing in the Quebec City region is broken, and repeatedly breaks down.

  9. Loud motorcycle/car exhaust, cellphone/texting while driving, loud lawn and garden tools – the laws are all there.
    Is it too much work to enforce existing statutes, and if it is then why generate new ones ?
    Sounds like so much rubbish to me….

    • The existing vehicle noise laws are mostly unenforceable, where they even exist, because they don’t specify any objective standard for maximum noise levels, or how to measure them. Although, that didn’t seem to stop the cops from hassling guys with blown out mufflers or “Cherry bomb” glass packs when I was young.

      • Actually in the HTA in Ontario there is a laid down procedure for testing, it involves driving by a decibel meter at a set speed/rpm in a set gear, not sitting in neutral and revving the engine to 3000 or so rpm as the engine is not under load, therefore it will emit a higher noise level.

  10. As a motorcycle rider (I have two), I support doing something about loud exhausts. Straight pipes on a motorcycle or a vehicle are a daily annoyance. And as usual it is the few that cause the most problems.
    What I don’t understand is, there are already laws in place that police choose not to enforce. We don’t need more laws, we need the police to step up. Lets not punish everyone because a few bad actors.

    • It’s my observation that there are plenty of other ways to crack down on many of the loud pipes crowd. Give ’em a speeding ticket or something, or an illegal lane change – everybody breaks these laws all the time, and if you can’t ticket them for a loud pipe, follow them long enough and they’ll break some law or another. They’ll get the message.

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