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How Loud is Too Loud?

Prue Mottram

There's not much better than the roar of a motorcycle exhaust.

However, is there such thing as too loud? Yes.

As riders, we know a louder motorcycle is a safer motorcycle. Motorcycles are smaller than a car, and a lot smaller than a truck. Many motorists do not pay enough attention whilst driving and do not see motorcyclists. End result? A crashed motorcycle, a hurting rider and a slightly squished car.

Your ears prick up when you hear a loud V8 Commodore, or a beefed up Subaru. A loud motorcycle is no different. People honk horns all the time, and personally I believe that people tune horns out, or are so used to their sound that they don't notice them.

However, there are many different ways to get a motorists attention, so just keep that in mind.
I cover the different ways in another article - "Do loud pipes actually saves lives?"

That still leaves the question, how loud is too loud? How do I know if it's too loud?

Well, there are rules and laws about this. Let's do a quick recap on them.

If you are reported to the EPA for a noisy vehicle, you may have to take your vehicle to an inspection station to have it's noise levels checked. If it is found to breach the legal requirements, you may have to pay a fine, or even have your registration suspended until the issue has been rectified.
The same is true for if the police pull you over for excessive noise.

Having a bike off the road - not cool.

If the EPA are running a campaign, you may be issued a fine on the spot.

So what are the actual limits? Keep in mind that it may vary between each State/Territory.
(The below has been taken from https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/noise/vehicle-noise/avoiding-noisy-vehicle-exhaust)

*For motorcycles built on or after 1 March 1984, and manufactured for use on a road, the level is 94 decibels
*The noise level for other motorcycles is 100 decibels

For vehicles certified since ADR 83/00 came into force,clauses 4(b) and (c) of the Protection of the Environment (Noise Control) Regulation state;

*For vehicles with compliance plate dates of 1 September 2011 or earlier, the prescribed noise level is the higher of either the level in Schedule 1 or the ADR 83/00 signature level plus 5 decibels
*For vehicles with compliance plate dates after 1 September 2011, the prescribed noise level is the ADR 83/00 signature level plus 5 decibels

If you are interested in all the different fines you can receive, just visit
https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/noise/vehicle-noise

When choosing an aftermarket exhaust, look at the specs. It will state how many decibels you will gain (along with how much weight you will save and the power you will gain). If it doesn't list this information, or if the information isn't accessible...I would advise you to not purchase it.

So how do you avoid this?
1. Don't be a moron. Revving your bike like a maniac, especially near police or in a highly populated area is a sure fire way to get reported or pulled over, and fined. Don't get me wrong, I love a good noise contest as much as the next rider...however there's a time and a place.
This also comes into play in other situations. If you are pulled over for another reason, eg speeding, be polite to the police officer. If you are a smart-ass or abusive, they will check over the entire bike and pin you for everything. So just use your head and be respectful.

2. Be aware of any noise sensitive areas you may ride through. A highway or industrial area is less likely to have people around late at night as opposed to a residential area. No-one likes being woken up by some idiot with a loud pipe at 3am.

3. Think seriously about what exhaust you put on your motorcycle. If it's some cheap can from Ebay, chances are it will be excessively loud, and probably sound terrible anyway. Look at getting an exhaust from a motorcycle dealer, or at least from a reputable company.
Some motorcycle manufacturing companies team up with aftermarket companies to create genuine exhaust options. Yamaha and Akrapovic are one such collaboration. If a road Yamaha motorcycle has a genuine aftermarket option available, it'll be an Akrapovic.

4. Does the motorcycle have a removable baffle? Many motorcycle exhausts have removable baffles. If you choose to remove the baffle, for Pete's sake hold onto it! If you are done for excessive noise, replacing the baffle is the cheapest and easiest way to ensure your bike will pass the EPA test.
There are some brands that actually have interchangeable baffles, such as Two Brothers. Their baffles drop the decibels by 2-3db, 5-6db or 7-8db.

5. Ensure your exhaust system is in good working order. Especially after a drop or crash, ensure there are no holes or issues with your exhaust system.

6. Keep the stock exhaust. Simple.

So there you have it. Hopefully you are now armed with the information you need to ensure you are not getting in trouble for your exhaust being too loud.

Ride safe and have a good one!

Got questions? Send me an email at [email protected]

This advice is a guide only. It is general in nature. It cannot be relied upon for you to make decisions. All efforts are made for information to be accurate at the time of publishing.