Loud pipes save lives - is that true?

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Do loud pipes save lives?

The answer is a firm NO. In some instances a car driver may indeed notice you, such as when you're riding next to a car which has the driver's side window down. Situations like this one are extremely rare. Most dangers to motorcyclists come from the front, where your loud exhaust can't be heard; the sound waves from the exhaust pipe(s) propagate backward. The driver of that car about to make a left turn in front of you (by far the largest cause of motorcycling deaths) simply will not hear you. Think about it: picture yourself in a car, with the windows up, the A/C (or heat) on, and the radio at a comfortable level. Just how much outside noise do you think YOU hear? Especially the noise traveling away from you, where only the few sound waves that bounce back are even capable of being heard in the first place...

How loud exhaust can actually be dangerous to you

  • Noise fatigue and hearing damage.
Research has shown that the biggest cause of fatigue on long rides is noise. Noise from your own bike will tire you out faster, dulling your senses and thus increasing the risk of an accident - precisely the thing that you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Also think about your hearing. It doesn't become better as you age, and you will be the closest person to those drag pipes...
  • Irritated cagers
Have you ever thought about how annoying the loud pipes are to the car drivers around you? Especially to the ones who have to follow you for miles in dense traffic? While it has never been proven, it is possible that noise from your motorcycle makes car drivers irritated, angry, more aggressive, and thus more dangerous to you.

Loud pipes lose rights

Noise coming from customized exhausts is one of the major public relations issues for motorcyclists. You have to remember that your average legislators and voters do not ride. These people already have a bias against motorcycling, and antagonizing them even further is a bad idea. Organizers of various motorcycling events can already feel the animosity by being turned away from parks and other preferable locations. Right now we, the motorcycle riders, enjoy numerous benefits, such as lower tolls, preferred parking, or the right to use carpool lanes. If we behave irresponsibly we may well lose those benefits. This doesn't even include targeted enforcement: just think how bad it would be if cops started pulling over everyone on two wheels.


To summarize it all, loud pipes are a bad idea. They do nothing for your safety, and annoy the people around you, negatively affecting the public perception of motorcyclists. If you're concerned about safety, take a rider training course, get a louder horn and a set of bright, reflective protective gear, and don't propagate the "loud pipes save lives" myth.

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