September 28, 2007

Loud Pipes...

...Ban Bikes.

I was wondering when this would start:

Since July First of this year, motorcyclists in Denver have had to ride with a ticket on their mufflers proving that they are in compliance with 80 dB bylaws.

This is in direct response to insecure idiots who want to make as big a noise as they can. There is NOTHING to loud pipes other than a whining refrain of "look at me look at me look at me", and there never has been.

A big part of the appeal of motorcycling is standing out from the crowd. This is true for all bikes: cruisers, crotch-rockets, touring rigs, even standards. Every one of us wants to be independent, an individual who is loosely affiliated with others on two wheels but ultimately rides alone. There's a swagger that comes with the helmet, and a sneer for those dressed in "fashion leather": useless, pretty boy stuff without even pockets for armour. We're taller in our boots.


For all our determined (some would say desperate) separation, we need a crowd to be separate from. No use rebelling when there's nothing to rebel against, despite Brando's best efforts.

So we loves us a crowd.

And, just like the kids who can't build a damn thing so they break stuff instead, some of us aren't able to draw attention on looks alone. So we do it by being assholes instead.

The idea of "Loud Pipes Save Lives" is simple idiocy. Ever heard of the Doppler Effect, Bucky? A coffin-driver may hear you, but they'll have no idea what direction you're coming from: they'll only hear you when you're past them, and then your loud pipes will be as useless as teats on a bull. And it's not just the drivers you're annoying.

I live in a valley. With certain bikes, I can hear them from inside my house for a good sixty seconds after they've left town. Don't think sixty seconds is a long time? Punch up the clock on your 'puter and listen to this. (Too old to hear that? Try this one.)

Ed Moreland, the AMA's vice-president of government regulations, insisted that the rule would force motorcyclists to use only those mufflers provided by the original manufacturers:

"That would force everyone who drives a Ford to return to the Ford dealer and get the exact replacement muffler every time their exhaust system wore out."

Ed's got it completely wrong on this, of course; just like the emission standards that didn't kill off auto manufacturing, despite the best predictions of doom and gloom. The free market simply came up with a better design on engine. In the same way, if muffler manufacturers have to stay within certain limits, they will.

The rather pathetic excuse that regulation mufflers "kill the power" is utter nonsense, too: most bikes have far more power than the people riding them can use (170 horses in a 500 lb machine, anyone?). Even the most relaxed-breathing ("race only" - heh) pipes only add 3-4 horsepower at best.

What it really comes down to is basic math:

[cars outnumbering bikes by 1000 to 1 ratio] + [living in a democracy] = incredibly annoyed voters ban bikes from region.

So why do some of us insist on loud pipes? I have a theory (other than the "belligerent asshole" one):

Most riders don't bother with ear plugs, so between the bike noise and the wind blast (it happens in full face skid lids, too) most older bikers can't hear a damn thing, so perhaps it's akin the old women who's sense of smell has completely deteriorated so they soak themselves down in whatever scent was popular when they were in their teens.

It's called "recapturing your youth through delusion"; and some people think it works.


posted by Thursday at 8:07 pm


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