Noisy exhaust pipes don’t save lives, but that doesn’t stop some motorcyclists from believing that louder is better, says a group dedicated to safety on our roads.
“In any group of people, there’s always going to be your problem children,” said Liane Langlois, president of the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society.
“In the case of the motorcycle world, there’s always going to be that group of people who need to be heard. They are just loud for the sake of being loud.”
Langlois said there are no studies that prove loud motorcycles save lives, and the society believes motorcyclists should hone their driving skills instead.
“There will be people who say I cracked my pipes and a deer ran in the other direction, or a vehicle all of a sudden swerved because they saw me and got out of my way. That might be true to some degree, but for the most part, the physics behind it don’t really work.”
Red Deer RCMP reminded residents this week that vehicle noise can trigger a $155 fine. The Alberta Highway Traffic Act prohibits mufflers that create excessive noise, or operating a vehicle in a way that causes unnecessary noise, such as revving engines at intersections or squealing tires.
Langlois said noisy vehicles are disruptive, and enforcement is warranted, but motorcycles should not be singled out.
“There are definitely trucks with straight pipes and vehicles with what’s called soup can exhaust, even those really loud booming stereos.
“All of that stuff contributes to noise pollution. As long as enforcement is doing it fairly across the board, and not just doing the easy target of motorcycles, I don’t see why there shouldn’t be enforcement on excessively loud vehicles of any kind,” Langlois said.
Jim Hazen, of Cycle Works Motorsports, said the majority of his Yamaha customers do not modify their motorcycles.
“I would say less than one per cent of our customers actually make any modifications that would affect the decibel rating of the motorcycle,” Hazen said.
And there are more younger or female riders who are opting for sport bikes that are light-weight, nimble and quieter, he said.
“What the 300 series and smaller bikes allow you is a shorter inseam, which makes it a lot easier to ride,” Hazen said.
Scotty Watters, Alberta Motorcycle Training co-owner, said he personally doesn’t like noisy motorcycles, but noted some people insist they’re safer and they like the sound.
“The saying is, ‘they hear me coming.’ Well, they don’t hear you coming. They hear you going. Don’t forget the noise is behind you,” Watters said.