Sound Off

Sound Off: Motorcycle mufflers

Are there any laws governing how loud motorcycles can be?

State law requires motorcycles to have a working exhaust system, just like any other licensed motor vehicle on the roadway. KSA 8-1739 states, “every vehicle shall be equipped, maintained and operated so as to prevent excessive or unusual noise. Every motor vehicle at all times shall be equipped with a muffler or other effective noise suppressing system in good working order and in constant operation.”


Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Our former neighbor must have relocated in that persons neighborhood. Don't expect LPD to deal with this. Certainly not with any consistency.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

My vette is as loud as most Harleys (at idle it rattles the china in our house) and I've had LPD officers tell me how nice it sounds.

For once I have to agree with Merril. Unless it's an excuse to stop someone for a different reason, it isn't a problem the police bother with.

gccs14r 5 years, 3 months ago

"My vette is as loud as most Harleys (at idle it rattles the china in our house)..."

They have a pill for that now.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll take the car over the pill any time. It makes me think with the big head.

To you, it's just a car that might irritate you at a stop light. To me, it was my attempt at combining the best exhaust flow to match my cam, intake, heads and headers with an attempt to duplicate the sound of the cars I grew up watching everyone else have and hoping one day to have one. It took a little calculus, geometry and welding but it worked out in the end.

To you it is it's about pills, to me it was a way of using my abilities to duplicate a sensation from 40 years ago. Do you think you could do it? Do you think a pill could help you do it?

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

I hate silent cars that can creep up on you when you are walking. I like a car or bike with a nice growley sound. Your comment reminded me of the old tv show Diagnosis Murder where the doctor had a nice vette.

I like the look of Vettes and those older cars. I don't like the little square cars of today that all look alike. And, the ones that could be driven around the back yard? Yowsa!

skinny 5 years, 3 months ago

Motorcycles are loud for a reason! To keep people from running them over. You'd be amazed at how many people don't even look before pulling out or switching lanes.

repaste 5 years, 3 months ago

That is a bunch of malarky! They should be under same decibel requirements as cars, and they are not. New is exactly right, "Look at me! Look at me!" Josh nailed it.

optimist 5 years, 3 months ago

Coming from someone that clearly doesn't ride a motorcycle.

Mike Hoffmann 5 years, 3 months ago

Hard to run over them when they sit idling in their driveway for 5 minutes at 10:00pm.

kernal 5 years, 3 months ago

Well then, skinny, if your premise is correct then perhaps pedestrians better start yelling at the top of their lungs when crossing the street or walking on sidewalks that intersect with parking lot entrances and exits.

grimpeur 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh, good grief. The fact that the loudest bikes--Harleys, uncorked crotch rockets, and the like--seem to be the ones most frequently involved in accidents indicates that loud pipes really don't have much bearing on safety, contrary to this lame attempt to justify their existence.

Rather, loud pipes seem to be more closely associated with inexperience, attention-seeking, and a lack of skill and judgment than with accident prevention.

Do you also think that "laying it down" is the best way to avoid an accident? High correlation between this dangerous misperception and loud pipes, too.

optimist 5 years, 3 months ago

I'd love to see your evidence that "that the loudest bikes--Harleys, uncorked crotch rockets, and the like--seem to be the ones most frequently involved in accidents".

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

Or maybe because they can't afford a Harley Davidson, I am sure it costs more to insure a BMW than a Honda, but which do you think is the better car?

A Harley at idle is like the heartbeat of a baby in the womb, at full throttle it is rolling thunder. God, I love that!

parrothead8 5 years, 3 months ago

Neither my car nor my bicycle are loud, and nobody has tried to run me over. The only other variable I can think of is the person operating the vehicle...hmmm.

Joe Berns 5 years, 3 months ago

If the riders really wanted attention, they wouldn't be wearing black leather. They would dress in brighly colored leathers with a helmet that stands out instead of all black. Then they use the guise of needing loud pipes so people notice them.


irnmadn88 5 years, 3 months ago

The 'loud pipes for safety argument' is a misnomer due to sound projection/reflection and the Doppler Effect. Modified exhaust pipes sound more aggressive. Similar to the negligible performance gains for the 'fart can' exhaust pipes put on import cars.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

Speaking of people wanting attention, cars that are like rolling boom boxes, with their windows rolled down no matter the weather. They too are obviously disobeying whatever noise ordinances are in place, yet the police ignore them as well. A sign of the times, I guess.

Tim Quest 5 years, 3 months ago

Shoot...the police don't ALWAYS ignore them. Flash back to summer 1999, when the diligent and benevolent Lawrence Police Department gave an 18-year-old FarneyMac a noise violation for blasting some awful late-90s rap from his rockin' Saturn on Mass St.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 3 months ago

I commend the officers for taking action in such a terrible situation. This is what they are trained for.

shawneekat 5 years, 3 months ago

My husband and I ride, and we understand the concern that too many people are so involved in everything but driving when they drive that they don't see motorcycles. Heck I drove a full size red pickup truck that distracted drivers never saw. But, that's not a good excuse for the loud pipes. Best advise to riders, always ride like you are invisible, because to most people you are (regardless of how loud your bike is). Loud pipes are attention getters, but it's not the attention you profess it to be. It's just annoying.

The solution to the problem is all drivers should pay more attention to their surroundings when they drive. Good luck that will never be accomplished, cars/trucks are so simple to drive and full of distractions, and too many people are too self absorbed to care.

Mark Currie 5 years, 3 months ago

I agree with you. My first Harley was very loud. For the first week or so, I thought it sounded cool. This has been several years ago, as I've been riding off and on since the early 70s. As to the coolness, that turned into a headache after about 2 weeks. Even with a helmet on it annoyed me. My 2nd Harley had stock pipes on it, it was loud, but not real loud. That started to bug me after awhile too. I have got to the point I don't care what someone's bike sounds like. I just tolerate it. Now the high powered sound systems spewing out the f bomb and other stuff, I find harder to tolerate.

WoodsB 5 years, 3 months ago

I ride a bike quite a bit and I can tell you the ones with the loud pipes are just trying to look cool and get attention. They sit at a red light or a stop sign waiting to go and all they want to do is crack the throttle a bunch of times and make a lot of unnecessary noise. A lot of people on bikes don't get what the ride is all about in my opinion.

gccs14r 5 years, 3 months ago

The other reason for blipping the throttle is because they've over-carbed it in addition to removing all the exhaust backpressure, so it won't stay running at idle. So they've taken a well-engineered system and made it slower, louder, less efficient, and more difficult to ride, and in so doing, encourage others to lobby against motorcycles in general.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 3 months ago

Sometimes, you have no choice in how loud your pipes are. My bike is an Antique now. The stock exhaust WAS quieter than the system that is on there now. The stock system rusted out(35+ years old). I would prefer a quieter exhaust but there are no more choices. I even went with a fully Baffled 4 into 2 system and Again, it was the ONLY choice or I can't ride at all.

optimist 5 years, 3 months ago

The reality is that the problem is not the noise but the lack of courtesy. While I have a performance exhaust on my motorcycle it still contains a baffle which manages the noise. However even the stock exhaust on larger bikes are too loud to be idled in ones driveway in the late hours of the evening. This issue isn't really so much about the noise level as it is about the lack of consideration that many have for others. My exhaust is loud but legal and I refrain from letting it idle in the driveway when my neighbors or their children would be sleeping and I avoid "hammering" on it, especially in residential areas as to avoid being discourteous. There is no reason I can’t have fun at the same time as I respect others. This being said those of you that annoy others with your exhaust are rude and obnoxious and those of you that moan and complain (or worse demand legislation) about everything everyone else does just because you don’t like it should get a life. You may some day find yourself on the receiving end of someone else’s dislike for something you appreciate.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't have a problem with SUVs and/or motorcycles. It's old people that I don't like.

gccs14r 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes, lots of places now ban all motorcycles because of the loud pipe contingent.

Keith 5 years, 3 months ago

Loud pipes save Loud pipe manufacturers!

irvan moore 5 years, 3 months ago

that wasn't my motorcycle you heard last night, it was my snowblower

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

"Effective" is subjective. I think straight pipes are perfectly effective. As long as the pipe terminates behind the rearmost rider to mitigate the possibility of CO poisoning, those will suffice.

Roll up your window if you don't like it.

gccs14r 5 years, 3 months ago

"Roll up your window if you don't like it."

That's exactly the attitude that is causing bikes to be banned from lots of places. The next time you see "No Motorcycles Allowed", thank yourself.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

Where, exactly, in the city of Lawrence, Kansas, where I presume you live and you may safely presume I live, can I find a sign that read "No Motorcycles Allowed". And don't try to pull any tricks like using places that prohibit motorcycles for reasons not related to sound. There's a good reason to keep bikes off of boat ramps or out of pedestrian areas regardless of their exhaust.

Post a link to the location of the sign(s) on google maps.

hipper_than_hip 5 years, 3 months ago

Winfield KS bans motorcycles during their big bluegrass fest.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

"Due to the noise, motorcycles and mopeds will not be permitted on grounds, but as a convenience to the owners, the Walnut Valley Association will provide a special parking area for these vehicles."

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 3 months ago

When I am inside my home, with the windows closed and the doors closed, trying to go to sleep for the night, rolling up my window is not going to muffle the obnoxious, eardrum-shattering squawk of some selfish idiot with something to prove. Not with the engine wrapped up to redline, and at 45 m.p.h. on a residential road. We are all very impressed.

skinny 5 years, 3 months ago

Show me one place that bans motorcycles! Then I'll make sure and go ride through their lot!

Staci Dark Simpson 5 years, 3 months ago

Well if you are pissed off about our loud pipes then the point is proven. If you notice then you know where I am. So put your cell phones down, quit reading your newspaper, putting on your lipstick, and pay attention to the road. If you don't like loud pipes, tough, they are here to stay.

gccs14r 5 years, 3 months ago

The people who hear you are behind you. You should be worried about the people in front of you.

Armstrong 5 years, 3 months ago

That's cute, and you wonder why people treat "bikers" like dirt - they act like it

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

Phred Phelps must have co-written that episode.

Wayne Propst 5 years, 3 months ago

the orthadontist "BIKER"in leathers....9 th and mass...reving his very loud HD...takes out his ear protection plugs....goes in coffee shop.......

hipper_than_hip 5 years, 3 months ago

I have stock pipes, wear a helmet, and wear hearing protection.

Tony Kisner 5 years, 3 months ago

You can always ask the gentleman operating the coveyence to dismount so that you could discuss the situation. No need for the local constable.

Armstrong 5 years, 3 months ago

Loud pipes = I'm desperate for attention, I even bought this really expensive bike so please look at me

Staci Dark Simpson 5 years, 3 months ago

First of all not a baby boomer guy so impotence not a problem. Second, our bike was probably cheaper than most of your cars. Also, if you are behind me, you are still a threat. Yeah so our bike is annoying to you, but so are yippy dogs that poop in my yard and the 1990s rap rattling out of your Prius.

Armstrong 5 years, 3 months ago

First of all not a baby boomer guy so impotence not a problem.Translation: - I own stock in Viagra

Second, our bike was probably cheaper than most of your cars. - I can barely afford to make payments on my bike

if you are behind me, you are still a threat. - I'm scared to ride in the street

Yeah so our bike is annoying to you - See above post

FiremanChris 5 years, 3 months ago

I've driven a sensible, modest, quiet motorcycle for years. It's funny how the people with the "loud pipes save lives" are usually some mid-life-crisis riders with no skill, inadequate gear, and no helmets. Loud pipes don't save nearly as many lives as skilled, practiced, attentive riding, adequate safety gear, and some freakin helmets. You can see me from far away with my riding gear, and I'm not wearing some ridiculous chaps and overpriced, Harley-branded, useless leather gear.

Staci Dark Simpson 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't bash you for quiet pipes. 1. No stocks for me. 2. Bike paid for in cash. 3. You should be scared on the road so that you notice those around you and are alert to dangerous drivers. 4. I am educated shocking as that maybe. Btw, the only licensed gear I have was bought off a clearance rack. I am a woman in my 30s so no midlife crisis yet. Continue to judge, bikers are used to it.

trinity 5 years, 3 months ago

I am still waiting to see this "Motorcycles Not Allowed" ban list thingamajig. What a load of blow. I ride. A mid-size Harley with stock pipes, reasonable decibel level. He's not quiet, but he's not nearly as loud and throaty as some Harleys. Just love all the folks who are taking this as an opportunity to rag on motorcycle riders in general....priceless. Many of us just simply love Harleys; I have absolutely zero to prove to you or anybody else. I'm with Staci-the ONLY Harley apparel I will buy is either off the clearance rack (when I cave in and actually enter a dealership-hate those places) or from a swap/second hand type thing. I'm a woman. And I am PAST my midlife crisis. I'm educated. And there's still nothing in this entire world that compares to the feeling of rolling down some two-lane highway on my bike, following my beloved hubby on HIS Harley. If we wear the "black leather" it's for protection from cold, wet, etc. And that'd be the only reason. Why am I wasting my time, as the t-shirt says-"if I have to explain, you wouldn't undestand".

Valkyrie 5 years, 3 months ago

I would rather listen to a nicely tuned motorcycle engine than some moron with their car stereo turned up so loud it would drown out a 747 engine. With the bass turned down so low, it rattles your windows a block away. If I wanted to listen to their freaking music I would be sitting in their car. Yes I ride a motorcycle and she is quieter than most cars.

Mike Edson 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't agree that loud pipes save lives. I have had drivers pull out in front of me while they were looking straight at me. While I don't use drag pipes, they are louder than the stock Harley pipes. The only places I have seen that don't allow motorcycles are apartment communities. When I was looking for a place to live in Kansas City, that had to become part of the consideration on where to live. Those communities that did not ban motorcycles had a noise ordinance. In short, I like the sound of my bike, but I am not going to be a jerk about it by constantly blipping the throttle.

Jeremiah Jefferson 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't ride a motorcyle nor will I ever. I don't have anything against motorcycles or the people who ride them. If thats their way of life so be it. What I get sick of hearing is when a motorcyclist gets killed in an accident they all come together to blame everyday traffic and blame people who supposedly don't look for motorcycles. The ironic thing is that most the people I see riding bikes do not have one ounce of protective clothing or gear on there person. Its kind of hard to stick up for people who outright ignore every saftey precaution there is because they want to ride free or just look cool. If its not that, its the morons on bikes weaving in and out of traffic at high rates of speed ignoring speed limits. Its not just crotch rockets either, I see guys on Harleys doing the same stuff. Personally I don't see the sense in forcing the occupants of an automobile to wear seatbelts and not forcing motorcyclist to wear helmets by law. I will take my chances in a car all day with out a seatbelt and I wouldn't get on a motorcycle even if I did have a helmet. As far as loud pipes go, its all about looking cool. They serve no purpose other than that. This may not be true for all riders, and I am certain that it is not. I won't put up a false percentage to substantiate what are simply my observations. But this is how I see it, cut and dried.

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 3 months ago

If you happen to be one of those sensible people who rides, and has stock pipes, and you don't wrap your engine up to a number of RPMs that will probably throw a rod, and you don't "tap it" while sitting in a driveway, you are probably not the people we are addressing. MOST riders are pretty considerate and watchful. Thank you for that.
The group we are addressing is the one entailing "Those Other Guys". The "Not Stock Pipes" people. The, "Oh, look at me! I'm compensating!" people.

moralebooster 5 years, 3 months ago

I have to say that sometimes it gets frustrating when those noisy motorcycles drown out the sound of my AR-15.

redneck 5 years, 3 months ago

Loud pipes are not cool, they are simply somebody being very rude. Have a little consideration for others man! And stop crowding the center line as well. You will get the worse end of the deal if you're 800 lb ride bounces of the bumper of my 4000+ lb pickup truck. Just think about it.

Mike Edson 5 years, 3 months ago

Redneck, motorcyclists hugging the center line is done on purpose. It is taught in the motorcycle safety courses. The reason for it is that the center of most any lane has a higher concentration of oils and other automotive fluids that can greatly reduce the motorcycle's contact patch to the road. However, I do agree that hugging the line should not be riding the line.

kwilkins74 5 years, 3 months ago

Does that mean you will be over the center line then redneck? I'm speechless from your comment.

kxdad 5 years, 3 months ago

the loud pipes on the crotch rockets don't bother me so much. mainly because on "race night" (last summer it was tuesday, used to be wednesday, waiting to see what night it will be this year) after 9pm when they race out to the lake and back to iowa on clinton parkway they go by so fast i hardly hear them...

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 3 months ago

I hate that, while I really like the sound of a rumbling bike, I simultaneously despise the personality of some bikers who obviously get off making their pipes' spew.

Life is weird. I can no more call for the cessation of bike noise than I can for the dismissal of my opinion.

Listen to the exhaust. Listen to the public outcry. Let law enforcement decide what shall be punished and what shall pass. Neither side should expect "justice", life is weird.

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