Do Loud Pipes Save Lives?

by: MCg

Do Loud Motorcycle Pipes Save Lives?THE DEBATE GOES ON. I’ve never struggled so much to write a motorcycle article as I have with this one. A reader challenged me to enter the discussion about loud pipes earlier this year. At the time, I thought it an easy endeavor because I had my own years of experience and opinion on the matter.

However, I made a mistake: I decided to research the matter. And in the process, my opinion has been somewhat modified.

The Search for Evidence: “Loud Pipes Save Lives”

As you, too, might be inclined to do when seeking more info on a subject, I did an Internet search for “Loud Pipes Save Lives” and read through numerous articles at the top of the search results and much lower in the results.

What I came away with was less certainty on the subject than when I started. And more so than any time before, I recognized that truth can be illusive.

Now I don’t know if my personal experience is typical, or atypical, but I did ride for years with high-performance (and loud), exhaust pipes – when I was much younger. To this day, I don’t know how my ears survived. (Well, the fact is, now that I’m considerably more mature, the question of how well they survived is just as murky as my research on the matter of whether loud pipes save lives, or not.)

Although it appears my hearing is not as good as it used to be, how much of that is due to loud pipes or lots and lots of very loud concerts and very loud music blasting through headphones is difficult to discern. I’m sure it’s safe to say that neither supported long-term optimal hearing. (I only started wearing ear plugs while riding several years ago).

Loud Pipes Are Impractical For Long-Distance Touring

My first coast-to-coast motorcycle trip was on a motorbike with a high-performance, non-stock exhaust system that did not endear the neighbors to my notion of a spirited form of transportation. Although I’ve ridden coast-to-coast across North America a number of times since, I recall that first trip as a highlight of my life. And although I could discourse about the virtues of that summer adventure, in the early 80’s, for hours on end, one thing that I realized without any advice, feedback or suggestions from anyone else, was that loud pipes made for uncomfortable long-distance riding (and also that I would be switching from chain-drive to shaft-drive motorbikes for touring).

Personally, I don’t like loud pipes. As much as I love each and every kind of motorcycle, the only ones that diminish my enthusiasm for the brotherhood are those that disrupt the neighborhood harmony by announcing their every breath coming and going.

So, here I am, a long-distance, mature rider, with hundreds of thousands of miles of motorbike experience, who “used” to ride with loud pipes, and who has not liked them for years, and who is philosophically opposed to them due to their inherent and ongoing damage to the motorsport in the way they impinge on the lives of those non-riders whom are adversely effected by the noise pollution of their very existence. Hence, wouldn’t you think I’d be a vociferous opponent of the same?

Which brings me to the point of the first paragraph. I was already aware of the lack of real evidence that supports the concept that “loud pipes save lives.”

But lo and behold, my research did find anecdotal reports that extol the virtues of loud pipes.

The Truth, or Not?

So, what is the truth?

Are those riders who state that loud pipes “have” saved their lives just plain wrong?

What my research did “not” do is change my perspective on whether I, personally, will integrate loud pipes back into my riding: I won’t. In fact, in the future, I will likely include an electric motorcycle (which are practically silent), within a stable of riding choices.

However, what has resulted from my research regarding loud pipes is a softening of my perspective. Even though scientifically unproven, if riders’ lives have been saved because of loud pipes, or if riders believe they are safer with loud pipes, those are some compelling factors – at least for those individuals.

Even so, such does not address the rights of others to “not” be subjected to the noise of loud motorcycle exhaust systems.

In conclusion, although I am not an advocate for loud pipes, and even though I disagree with the use of the most obnoxious ones, and even though there is no hard evidence in support of their use as a safety catalyst, and even though the loudest pipes do damage to the overall public perception of motorcycling, I respect that there have been “some” quantity of riders (however large or small), who are still riding, purportedly as a result of loud pipes. Which has caused me to re-evaluate their application.

Better yet, what do YOU consider is the truth? Do loud motorcycle pipes save lives?

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718 Responses to “Do Loud Pipes Save Lives?”
  1. Dan says:


    LOL…thirty minutes?…what kind of learning disorder do you have, Bob…other than being a liberal?

    Looks likes someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday, eh?

    Take another long swig off that giant jug of liberal Kool-Aide…or a couple hits on your crack pipe…whatever it is your using, and take another nap, Bob.

    Dream your kaleidoscopic dreams of silent pipes, unicorns, and the Ebola Ayatollah obama…and wipe the drool off your chin.

    But, for those with a clear mind that might be interested, here’s an old, but related, news story about “loud pipes”…doesn’t “prove” anything…but does show another example of the difference between those that actually “do” and those that merely legislate…because “they know best!”


  2. Bob says:

    Oh Danny boy the pipes, the pipes, are calling you….Just wanted to let you know that I saw your post, but have not read it and won’t. One only ever needs to read one of your posts to know where you’re coming from. Do me a favor and write another post in response to this one. Waste another another 30 minutes of your time. At least for that 30 minutes you won’t be out disturbing your townsfolk with your LOUD PIPES!

  3. Bob says:

    Dan – Just wanted to let you know that I saw your post, but have not read it and won’t. One only ever needs to read one of your posts to know where you’re coming from. Do me a favor and write another post in response to this one. Waste another another 30 minutes of your time. At least for that 30 minutes you won’t be out disturbing your townsfolk with your LOUD PIPES!

  4. Dan says:

    LOL…is that you Doug…or is it Memorex?

    Actually, the answer to your dilemma… the reason you had such difficulty reaching the number “four”… is because, coincidentally, that’s the upper limit of your IQ.

    If you would follow my advice, and pay attention, we could easily skyrocket that number…possibly even reaching double digits….a lofty goal for any liberal, I know, but, under my tutelage, not impossible!

    However, you absolutely MUST go “cold turkey”, place your hand on some stolen Bible, and swear to God to lay off the obama Kool-Aide…and mean it, for God will know what’s really in your heart!… as it will surely drown out any spark of enlightenment before it can turn into embers, in that primordial soup sloshing around inside your semi-empty skull, instead of actual grey matter.

    Now, on to another matter….

    Yesterday, as I wheeled my Harley Night Train…with the Screamin’ Eagle slip on mufflers…through the back roads of the Michigan countryside, enjoying the brilliant fall colors God paints His landscape with this time of year, I observed another example of the 360 degree, omni-directional characteristics of sound waves…easily observable to anyone who simply “observes”.

    As my “iron horse” leisurely galloped along the two lane country black top, I saw an elderly couple up ahead.

    The were sitting side by side in lawn chairs near a small “stand” they had placed in their yard, near the road side.

    The “stand” consisted of a large “beach type” umbrella, and a folding “card table”, upon which there were placed about a dozen “Mason” jars full of some kind of liquid, that they were selling to the public.

    I also observed a “yard sign” indicating their choice of Mark Shauer, democrat candidate for Michigan governor in the upcoming election…a puzzling choice for sure, as our present governor, Republican Rick Snyder has done a very good job improving the state economy…devastated by eight years of democrat party destruction, at the hands of the lying, democrat, Jennifer Granholm…obama lover.

    Anyway, as I neared the elderly couple’s homemade display, within about 200 feet or so, I saw their heads turn in my direction in unison, clearly indicating they had both heard the melodious sound of my iron steed’s “Milwaukee Music”…potato potato potato…as I approached.

    Yet, how could this possibly be?…as all the “Loud pipes save lives” deniers on this thread have continually claimed that ALL the sound emits to the rear…only…and can not possibly be heard by others in front, or to the sides, of any nearby motorcycle?

    Yet, there it was…another example of undeniable, positive proof, of the “Loud pipes save lives” believers claim, that sound does, without a doubt, emanate, forward, aft, above, and below it’s source.

    Continuing along, as I neared their stand, the elderly couple smiled and waved their hands in friendly greeting…again in unison…at me and my “loud pipes” Harley Davidson Night Train.

    As I rolled past them and their display, I waved back to return their friendly gesture, and read their home made, hand painted sign….

    It read….

    “Pure Michigan Honey….and Hershey bars…a hundred dollars…’bout a hundred dollars!”

    NOW, the “Mark Shauer , democrat, for governor” sign made sense!

    I had to smile as I continued on…enjoying the divinely inspired, magnificent colors of a late October day in Michigan’s wonderful countryside.

    Welcome back…”Rain Man”….lol


  5. doug says:

    hi tc!

    ya, sure, maybe we can all get along. after the apocalypse? :>) but don’t forget – man has killed (and is *STILL* killing) more men, fighting over who has the best imaginary friend, over all other causes combined. so, since human beings are so stupid that they fight and kill over fairy tales, i wouldn’t hold my breath if i were you… ;~)

  6. TC says:

    “People, I just want to say,
    can we all get along?
    Can we get along?”

  7. doug says:

    dan, it’s funny hearing you complaining about others lying, when over 90% of what you post is lies. i guessed i missed a 4th thing about you – unapologetic liar. keep up the good work!

  8. Dan says:


    Well stated, Doug…and  two out of three ain’t bad…proving that you have learned much, and are indeed much smarter than you were…I’m  quite impressed!

    It’s very gratifying to see the spark of enlightenment begin to glow in the skull full of mush of a formerly brain dead liberal.

    See what paying a little attention can do?

    My goodness…you make me feel just like a proud new papa!

    But remember, we must remain ever vigilant against the never ending lies and hypocrisy of all liberals, their “we know best mentality”, and their oppressive, and tyrannical, agenda…  and that our education never ends.

    Now, repeat after me…


    P.S. I don’t blame the constantly lying obama for things like Brussels sprouts…but that fat-assed, America hating Michelle…like all things “obama”… HAS become an expensive, and wasteful, drain on our nation’s budget!

  9. doug says:

    i have learned three things about dan from his posts.
    – if dan doesn’t like something, it is bad. period. end of discussion.
    – if dan thinks something is bad, then whoever disagrees w/him must like obama. period end of discussion.
    – if dan thinks something is bad, then no matter what it is, it is obama’s fault. period. end of discussion.

  10. Dan says:


    Yep….I knew it…voted for him twice, didn’t ya’, Bob?  lol

    Actually, the topic of this thread is “Do loud pipes save lives?”…it would seem that the only reasonable, honest answer is, “It’s possible.”…pretty simple, as you and I seem to agree.

    Sorry you “didn’t read” my post, Bob…I was actually trying to be nice and point out that I agreed with much of what you said.

    I do have a question for you though…if you “didn’t read” my post as you claim, where’d all that homina, homina, homina….la la la la …hands over the ears, liberal gibberish come from?…was that in the daily White House talking points all you guys seem to get, ’cause it sure sounds a lot like  Bo Jangles’ standard shuck and jive routine when asked a question about any of the dozen or so scandals he’s behind.

    My goodness…from your stammering, repetitive, rapid fire, multiple postings, and the four hour time lag from first post to last, it sure looks like your panties were twisted into a pretty tight knot there, Bobby…all that without even reading my post, eh?  lol…jeez…don’t you liberal guys EVER tell the truth…about ANYTHING? 

    It’s probably better that you “didn’t read” my post, though, as you say…with such a highly strung, and sensitive nature, if you had, you might have had blood shooting out of your eyes, and could easily be mistaken for another one of obama’s Ebola carriers…or an extra from the TV show, “The Walking Dead”… lol

    Anyway, sorry to ruffle your feathers…come Sunday, just flip on your Ipod…take a big swig of that Kool-Aide…pull up one of your favorite, monotonous,  obama speeches…and drift off to “La La land!”

    Enjoy your nap.


    P.S. If even the Mau Mau decended Kenyan’s repetitive, boring speeches can’t put you to sleep, just imagine that you’re Ron Klain, obama’s new political hack “Ebola Czar”…and, instead of sheep,  imagine counting the 535 MILLION taxpayer dollar bailout money he orchestrated for the bankrupt Solyndra company scam, as part of obama’s phony “stimulus package”, and was a major political payoff to the Kaiser family for their support and campaign contributions bundling for obama…surely you’ll be asleep before you finish that tidy sum!…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  11. Bob says:

    Vern – I think you and I are on the same page or at least within the same chapter. Yeah it was my bad mentioning someone I didn’t need to mention. I have gotten the long reply and deleted it before reading. Sorry Dan – my bad. I’m down with whatever makes you happy as long it does infringe upon the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of others. In my case my pursuit of happiness involves a Sunday afternoon nap without having the windows of my house rattled by overly noisy motorcycle pipes.

  12. Bob says:

    I don’t have nor will I waste my time reading run on nonsense. The topic is motorcycle noise.

  13. Bob says:

    Dan – I don’t have nor will I waste my time reading your run on nonsense. The topic is motorcycle noise.

  14. Bob says:

    Dan – Reading just one of your posts is enough of your mindset for a lifetime. I don’t have the time to read your nonsense. Picture me with my hands over my ears and going LA – LA – LA – LA.

  15. Dan says:


    LOL…Bob, you broke the code…but missed the point.

    The topic of this thread…and every post I have made here (except for one or two)…is, and has always been, motorcycle exhaust VOLUME,  as it relates to… possibly… added rider safety,  and what is “too much” volume…sorry if you’ve missed that.

    You might be surprised, since you evidently haven’t paid a lot of attention, but I absolutely agree with your opinion…have from my very first post, and stated it plainly…sorry you missed that too.

    I’ve also worn a helmet for many decades while riding, but am totally against government forced helmet laws…go figure!  lol

    Where we would vastly disagree, and I’ve tried to make that clear also, but it seems, to no avail, is just WHO should decide what is “too loud”.

    I don’t know how it is where you live, but in the three nearest DMV (SOS) offices here in Michigan, all the clerks are plump, middle aged women, with possibly one man working there.  I highly doubt that they ride motorcycles, therefore would have ZERO idea of what is safe for riders and what makes no difference.

    Your DMV may be totally different, and therefore you may have total confidence that they know better than you do, and are happy to let them make your choices for you. I don’t think so,  and  I definitely do NOT want these types of people deciding such issues and making those choices for me, yet that is how laws are sometimes ultimately decided…and is why I have continually used the comparison of people…riders or politicians…who have the same arrogant, “we know best” mentality deciding everything relevant to our lives these days, no matter how incompetent, dishonest, or deliberately destructive of our liberties those riders or politicians may be….i.e. the Kenyan and his ilk.

    I won’t apologize for…in fact I revel in… pointing out the continuing, multiple mistakes and deliberately destructive agenda  of obama, and tying them in with other arrogant, incompetent, anti freedom, liberal bureaucrats who make laws that take our choices in life away, from healthcare, to “Big Gulps”,  to exhaust pipe sound limits…they’re all connected.

    If it bothers you, maybe it’s a sign of a guilty conscience…stop voting for these people..

    As I have stated in previous posts…which I’m sure you are unaware of…I have actually had my motorcycles tested with decibel meters…they fall  within the state law’s limits here in Michigan,  “rattle” no one’s windows, set off no “car alarms”, and fail by almost 50% of even approaching “150 decibels”.

    I have no love for “obnoxiously loud” pipes…and have repeatedly stated that opinion…yet I get the impression from these last two posts, that, somehow, the belief is that that is what I am advocating.  That’s wrong. 

    However, I would much prefer having to put up with that one lone, occasional sociopath blasting through the night with “loud pipes” from time to time,  as there are already other, more appropriate measures to deal with those types, than having incompetent, non bike riding, dishonest politicians or their appointed lapdog bureaucrats deciding that every bike, from moped to Boss Hoss, be required to emit no more than 80 decibels from their exhausts as measured from fifty feet away…about the same sound level as the average home vacuum cleaner….but hey, I’m a freedom loving American, riding a Harley and a Victory V-Twin…just call me crazy.

    My apologies if my lack of “succinct-ness” may be a bit  challenging for some readers, but hey, think of reading my posts, not merely for the  “destination” you reach…but come along for the journey…it’s what motorcycles are all about anyway…enjoy the ride!  Remember, no one is forcing anyone here to follow along without taking breaks, stretching their legs, or getting a drink of water…and it is usually required to be a bit detailed when explaining ones position in a reply, to show just “why” the feeling is strong, and make the message clear.

    Far too many freedom lovers, for far too many years, have remained silent in the face of the constant assault on our liberties by the dishonest, oppressive, liberal agenda.

    If anyone prefers a blank page, those are certainly available with just a “click”…and I hear QVC or MSNBC can be quite “interesting”, and since their prime time liberal viewership has now dropped below 125,000…even lower than the totally dishonest, politically partisan CNN…I’m sure you’ll be welcomed there…in a liberal democrat, frontal-lobotomy-patient sort of way.

    And, one last thing…the difference between “hate and despise”…

    I “HATE” the smell of Brussel sprouts cooking…and the mendacity of the entire liberal political agenda as they seek to control every aspect of the lives of all Americans “from the cradle to the grave”.

    I “DESPISE” any arrogant charlatan, whether born in America, like Hillary, or Africa, like obama, because they always act as if “they know better” than anyone else…and they never do, yet if foolishly given political control, they ram through tyrannical legislation over the will of the overwhelmingly vast majority of Americans, ala, obama-care, and make political decisions in matters of American’s safety, as in  obama’s coming total amnesty for all illegal mexican criminals…or obama’s no flight ban to help stop the spread of Ebola to America.

    They ruin lives and get people killed,  and obama…who has brought America multiple muslim terrorist attacks, and a muslim beheading, while refusing to label them muslim terrorist attacks, and last night, the fourth case of the deadly Ebola virus, with exposure to dozens, or even hundreds of New Yorkers,  due to his repeated, and dangerous,  failure to ban flights from western Africa, risking the lives of a nation… as the totally dishonest leader of that corrupt, anti American group of people, known as the liberal democrat party,  is destroying this country and everything it stands for.

    Look closely at the examples…there’s a difference.

    Is obama’s radical thinking and oppressive agenda, and the “we know best”…”you don’t know how to ride”…”you’re a jerk”  mentality of the “anti loud pipes” crowd one and the same?…is the Pope Catholic?


  16. Vern Rosa says:

    Bob, you realize of course that you have now let yourself in for a very long answer from at least one of our resident critics on here. You comments concerning the volume of bikes in the night rattling windows (and setting off car alarms, which you didn’t mention) is one of my pet peeves too. I ride a Harley but it, as with the Skyline Drive bikes you described, is set up for touring, not road racing. It has a nice rumble but won’t make any ears bleed. I don’t really believe that setting up a bike to exceed 150 db (even though YES they will hear you coming) is in anyone’s best interest. That kind of sound will draw everyone’s attention (including cops enforcing noise laws) and, since most non-riders paint us all with a broad brush, will cause more more people to want more and more laws to restrict what we riders love to do. Do loud pipes save lives? In some circumstances I suppose so, but overly loud pipes also cause problems. That’s my opinion. Everyone else is welcome to theirs.

  17. Bob says:

    OK Dan…we get your point. You hate our current president and whatever the topic may be you are going to involve him. If I may, I’d like to discuss the topic which is motorcycle exhaust volume levels.

    Yes, I do think that a certain level of volume does alert other drivers that a vehicle is coming, but how much is too much? I was recently riding on the Skyline Drive in VA. and I could hear some bikes coming in the distance. I’d say that I could hear them about 1/2 mile away. It was a low rumble. When they did pass me it was a louder low rumble, but it did not pierce eardrums and rattle items nearby. The bikes were Harleys and were set up for long hauls and not just short jaunts around town. I can live with that level of volume. What I cannot live with is excessive noise that rattles the windows in my home and wake me in the middle of the night as bikes pass. I would like to see my state DMV determine and put a cap on just how much noise is sufficient.
    In addition (and I’m sure this will get Dan’s motor revving) if bikers are so concerned with safety why don’t more of them wear helmets and protective gear. I see tons of bikers on all kinds of bikes wearing shorts, tee shirts and sneakers. No helmets, no gloves no jackets. You fall off a bike (even at the slowest speed) in shorts and a tee shirt and you’re going to look like raw hamburger.

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