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Loud pipes don't save lives - a view

Discussion in 'Research, Studies, and Data' started by robsalvv, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. http://www.canada.com/Loud+motorcycle+pipes+improve+safety/4866786/story.html

    Loud motorcycle pipes don't improve safety
    By Dave Hay, The Daily News May 31, 2011

    As a rider into my 48th year on two wheels, a retired police motorcycle rider and instructor and a licensed riding instructor with my own company that teaches safety and correct riding techniques, I have to respond to some letters written in the Daily News.

    Some have been touting illegally modified motorcycle exhausts as a safety system. My experience, training and opinion differs from those who want to use the "noise-is-safety excuse." I would call my option "an effective approach to motorcycle safety."

    Car drivers need to be made aware of the presence and vulnerability of motorcyclists and during the 2008 riding season I created a series of TV commercials and a media campaign to do just that. I would suggest that ICBC could spend money and effort to continue reminding drivers.

    To say that a response to public complaints about being annoyed by illegally modified exhausts, and observations of unsafe riding actions that the motorcyclist is being a safe rider is ridiculous. Noisy exhausts are not the sound of safety, they are the sound that annoys other people. Doing wheelies, stoppies and riding aggressively is not hazard avoidance.

    A safe rider has accepted their vulnerability and they ride accordingly by being proactive, scanning ahead, observing traffic in front and behind and making sure the cars see them. Install a headlight modulator and a decent aftermarket horn, as I did. I also wear a high visibility jacket. That way when you see a problem you are prepared with an escape route and a plan of action.

    If someone starts moving into your lane then use the modulator, hit the horn, slow down and move out of the way. If you are relying on rear facing loud pipes to save you from an approaching car that turns across your path, you are throwing away the most effective tools. If you have time to ride along revving your engine, you have time to do something that will really be effective and safe.

    Loud pipes don't save lives -- they annoy the very public that we as riders want to respect us as road users.

    Dave Hay
    Campbell River

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    I have a sound meter - one of these days I will have to test it's sound profile.
  2. False dichotomy: you can do all of the stuff he recommends and still have loud pipes as well. It's one more tool in the same tool kit, and no-one is suggesting that we should rely on loud pipes to the exclusion of all the other available tools.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  3. My exhaust is quiet on the DR so I have taped down my horn button.

    Encourage all that have loud pipes to do the same as well, I mean it might get a driver to notice you and you can never be too safe :)

    Oh smeg, I hope that wasn't contrarian robslav
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  4. All things being equal (which of course they never are) a bike that can be heard as well as seen is more likely to be noticed. As both a rider and a driver, I notice that you're more likely to miss or fail to see a bike that's very quiet.

    Of course, attracting a lot of attention isn't always what you want, especially if you're being a bit naughty.

    I would suggest there is some relationship between loud pipes and belligerent / aggressive / arrogant / irresponsible riders, whose other road safety practices may be below standard. If you were able to gather statistics about loud v quiet, I think this would make them look a lot worse. As I said, if things are equal, but they never are...
  5. In the last 10-15 years the majority of cars have been replaced with ones that are Tinted, Airconditioned, sound isolated and 6+ speaker sound-systemed.

    No one in their cages can hear shit IMO.

    Loud pipes will give performance, but do squat to let a cager know you're there unless they're right on top of you (hopefully not literally).
  6. 2 words:
    Air Horn! Should be standard on every bike!
  7. I have mixed views, based on my F-SAE exhaust design and day to day living and engineeringness.

    Scenario where I think a loud muffler might help:
    Bike directly alongside a car or beside a car, in or near the blindspot. There's enough physical proximity that they ought to be able to hear it clearly assuming there's no other auditory distractions (eg: music at a moderate volume inside the car).

    On the other hand, low frequency bass tends to go through objects, wrap around objects, and basically be as non-directional as sound can be. The car driver's probably going to know there's a loud bike SOMEWHERE nearby but not necessarily precisely where, so you're relying on them to actively have a look.

    Scenarios where a loud muffler won't do shit:
    "Closing" maneuvers, where the bike and car have a good relative velocity, either head-on or oblique or one pursuing the other.

    Sound falls off using the inverse square law, once an observer is more than a handful metres away your bike will be basically inaudible, particularly with all that sound insulation and sheet metal. If there's a significant difference in speeds then it won't be until the last second (literally) that you're audible.

    So no, I wouldn't rely on them for universal safety.

    That said, I still like (tastefully) loud exhausts, as a subjective/taste/awesome-sound thing. A nice glasspack muffler's growl is so much nicer than the raspy sewing-machine sound of so many EURO4 compliant bikes. :p
  8. Why do so many retired plods become instructors ???
    +1 to the 2,000 mega watt 14 speakered, Ipod swilling sat nav'ed DVD playing entertainment systems blocking out everything on the road. They run into each other all day every day. What chance do we have, when we can be blocked by their bloody crystals or dream catchers hanging off their mirrors.
    Not really sure if a loud pipe helps or not. As said above and the point that sound bounces, and the idiot will always be a self centered idiot and not know or care where the sound is coming from.
  9. Bollocks, I've added loud pipes on my cruiser and I've seen a difference in cages attitudes, trust me they know I'm there
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  10. My view exactly.
  11. What Bravus said.

    Logic fail.
  12. +100. This argument is based on an assumption that loud pipes must inevitably accompany "...doing wheelies, stoppies and riding aggressively"...

    er, think I'll stop there.8-[

    So anyway, now that road authorities here are thinking about fitting warning beepers to silent running electric cars for safety reasons, this argument would refute that premise, would it?
  13. I agree with some bits and not others. A loud pipe is an addition and it helps your "presence". Sure it isn't a primary safety device and doesn't mean you can just not learn proper riding skills but it work.

    On y cb400 stock exhaust - it just isn't loud enough to have a presence often. However the minute that i rev it if someone comes across - they look. Cagers, if they hear a horn ignore it half the time because they are used to cutting people off. Hear a bike exhaust and they think oh shit - if I hit a bike I am in trouble.

    That isn't to say the pipe needs to be illegally loud. However, having a pipe with "presence" definitely doesn't hurt. They probably don't save lives but they increase the perception of your size on the road. As mentioned - another tool.

    I mean drivers rely on sight and sound. If they can't see something hearing it is the next best thing. I think the writer of that article is ignoring some common sense thinking there. That said, I think it is quite right to assume that it isn't a primary safety device or one to be relied upon.
  14. +1. Every little bit helps.
    Just because I have a loud pipe, doesn't mean I have stopped being a defensive driver.
  15. I look at loud pipes a bit like ATGATT. If you rely on it for your safety then you're not going to be very safe.

    Combine loud(er) pipes with training, vigilance, concentration, maintenance, even ATGATT etc etc and you stand a better than average chance of surviving the ride.

    Although, how many times have you seen people seemingly not notice, or simply ignore, the big red fire truck with lights a sirens blazing....
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Also... when driving in the car, I have never not known when a Harley is about to pass me.
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    • Informative Informative x 1
  17. + another one for @Bravus - couldn't have put it better.
    I'm sure emergency services vehicles don't rely on their sirens either...
  18. Are these beepers more than 94DB?
  19. [MENTION=14639]smee[/MENTION] Oh yeh, I remember that tosser, foaming at the mouth with anti motorcycling vitriol.

    The article in the OP is written without any foam and by a highly qualified rider to boot. I think he's wrong, but it's hot off the presses so worth a thread of it's own.