I really don't believe the reason of the loud pipes as a "safety feature". I try to avoid those with loud pipes when riding. What bothers me the most is those that start their bikes a 6AM..sit out there and let it warm up for 10-15 minutes, every now and then blipping the throttle (for some reason..to keep it running??) and then just shut the bike off and not ride! WTH?!? They need to get their daily fix of noise?
There are a number of articles that disprove the theory, but it is instead a personal choice of the V-twin owner to go with straight pipes and claim they are saving lives....no...they are just annoying the hell out of a lot of people!
No...I don't like loud pipes!
Loud pipes save lives
This myth is originated in the very biking world and is has a lot of supporters among both riders and custom aftermarket exhaust pipes manufacturers. Basically, those who claim that loud pipes save lives assume that the louder the noise a motorcycle makes on the road, the more chances they have of being noticed by other road-colleagues and thus less likely the occurrence of an accident.
The truth behind such a claim disproves this myth on so many levels: simple, common physics, common sense or plain reason can bring in countless reasons because this is just a myth. Let's tread the path of physics a bit and analyze what's happening from a strictly mechanical point of view.
Motorcycle exhausts openings are facing towards the rear of the bike, and it's obviously to the back where the gases and all the noise are directed. Assuming that the noise a motorcycle makes travels in an omnidirectional manner is just wrong, because noise is air (or other gases, for what's worth) in movement. With the air/ gas jest directed towards the rear of the bike, it's there where all the noise goes. And if you don't believe this, just 'start your engine in the open and then check the noise levels when facing the bike and behind it, alternatively.
When riding at higher speeds, things are even worse, because you're not only remaining close to the place where all the exhaust gases start to make noise hitting the mass of air, but you're traveling further from that zone as you advance on the road. Now, having established that pipes generate a lot more noise behind the bike than in front of it, claiming that loud(er) pipes would help getting you noticed by the man driving the car in front sounds just silly. A loud exhaust pipe could come in handy when splitting the lanes at low speed, letting the drivers in front of you know “something is approaching” and maybe preventing them from cutting you off or opening the doors. Analyzing the crash reports, statistics indicate that around 77% of the hazards come in front of the biker, and only 3% approach from behind. What's next, front-facing exhausts?
Having installed modified pipes on a bike may indeed make it sound a lot different, with a touch of more aggressive tone, and could, beyond any shadow of doubt, make the rider feel better about him/herself and his or her machinery. Cool pipes make any bike look better, there's too much truth in here to start a debate; but along with the mean looks come a lot of other things...
Common sense urges us to think about noise pollution: while a rider might believe that the new sound of the bike is the most beautiful music in the world, many others might (and will) strongly disagree. Throttling the bike at 11PM thundering down the alley will simply increase the prejudice most non-bikers have against us, the riders. For most people, this sound is as pleasant as a dumpster truck on a Sunday at 5 AM, after returning from a party and getting one hour of sleep.
Adding “it's my bike and I'll do with it as I see fit” is not helping; au contraire, it just makes a very lame excuse for making excessive noise. Owning a motorcycle does not come with the right to break the noise regulations, and even though a racing exhaust might receive clearance for installation on common bikes, this brings little comfort to the passers-by and traffic-fellows. It's just a matter of being polite and care for those around you.
Aftermarket exhausts will also increase the horsepower (both the loud and the properly muffled ones), but claiming this as the main reason for making excessive noise just doesn't cut it. With most of the motorcycles being manufactured these days already coming with more than sufficient power for pretty much any rider or road conditions, it's rather hard to believe that all that was missing was the 5 or 10 bhp increase granted by a hollow exhaust.
Finally, it's the simple fact that a louder pipe is by no means a proactive or primary safety measure, but a secondary one. Again, learning how to ride well (throttle, turn, brake and so on) and keeping a close eye to the traffic around you are essential to making it home safely.
The first rule of avoiding a crash is not placing yourself in a critical traffic situation, and this means riding carefully and being able to detect the potential hazards early. It's always easier to avoid a nasty situation than to find a safe exit from one.
Installing a better horn, wearing a bright color helmet or a high-visibility jacket/ vest are proven methods of making yourself noticed easier in traffic. Even more, these measures are most likely not to offend anyone, and the roads will be a bit safer having less annoyed, less aggressive drivers.
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Last edited by wingpilot08; 07-14-2017 at 08:29 AM.