Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?


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roadieric
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Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby roadieric » Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:13 am



First off, please know I'm NOT trying to start any arguments here. Seriously.

This rhetorical inquiry stems from comments made by other members on other threads here on the "Chat" forum that I've read recently, and my natural curiosity was piqued, hence the poll for other opinions.

With that said, a little background.

For almost 40 years my rides have mostly been stripped-down, fast & loud "fire-breathers" (only 1 Harley in the bunch, for whatever that's worth). As previously mentioned in another thread, I became "enlightened" (so to speak) in 2002 upon the purchase of my very first Gold Wing, and there's been absolutely no regrets ever since. One advantage I noticed almost immediately was a really LOUD horn on the Wing to wake up errant drivers encroaching dangerously on my space. No meek little "beep-beep" here.

The other advantage was what I refer to as the "stealth factor".

In times gone by, if I felt inclined to ride in a "spirited fashion" on my previous beasts, "Officer Friendly" would already have his (or her) radar/laser gun at the ready, pointed in my oncoming direction.

On my 1800 (which is clearly no slouch) with stock exhaust, I have unintentionally passed idle law enforcement officers at speeds significantly over the posted limit only to find that they never even looked up from their newspaper (or porn mag?) as I went barreling past, assuming of course that my stereo was turned down. (smile :D )

Whew! Score one for the home team.

With a couple of those experiences safely behind me, I soon "connected the dots". Loud pipes may well attract attention alright, but not necessarily the welcome kind, especially for those of us without an unlimited legal defense budget.

Further consideration led me to the following conjecture, which may be a bit obscure for younger riders, as well as you nice folks from outside the U.S. of A., but stay with me here.

As a proud member of the venerable "baby boomer" generation, I have fond memories of riding my Schwinn "Sting Ray" bike, complete with "banana seat" and "ape-hanger" handlebars up & down the streets of suburban Chicago. Good times.

In addition to basking in the cool styling of my always shiny little 24in. "chopper", I soon followed suit of many of my neighborhood buddies and carefully installed two crisp new baseball cards (with spring-type clothes-pins liberated from Mom's laundry basket) in an attempt to get that perpetual "clickity-clack" sound that the cards made by rubbing against the shiny chrome spokes of my whitewall-shod wheels.

"Hey, look at me --- I'm riding a cool bike!"

Decades later I look back on those halcyon days, and in sharp 20/20 retrospect I can't help but speculate. Is THAT really the underlying cause that subconsciously motivates a lot of riders (especially newbies) to strip perfectly functional exhaust systems off their motorcycles in lieu of an over-priced set of virtually unbaffled 2-foot straight pipes that are not only obnoxiously loud to delicate citizenry but also typically rob most modern motorcycle engines of precious performance by way of the precisely calculated back-pressure specified by the manufacturer?

"Hey, look at me --- I'm riding a bad-ass motorcycle!"

So once again I pose the question: is the main purpose of loud pipes really to "save lives"?

Based on my own experience, I would argue not so much.

Discuss?


Ride safe, read often & rock on!

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Dave Crook
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby Dave Crook » Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:50 am

It is my opinion that the only thing loud pipes do is enrich the hearing aid industry (most loud pipe owners don't like wearing helmets either) and tick off neighbors and most other drivers.... :roll:

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby themainviking » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:00 am

Having had several Harleys, till this first Goldwing, and still owning said Harleys (or at least some of them) - I have to concur with the original poster.
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby Fatwing Chris » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:18 am

Being as most of the noise is behind you it sure isn't going to keep anyone from turning left or pulling out if front of you.Being more visible would do far more for you IMHO.
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby seelyark1 » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:53 am

Loud pipes just make more noise. The bike must have a problem with an idle as they have to keep reving it up at red lights, and have to be excellerated at any underpass. :lol: I think they may have vibrated enough that the baffles fell off. ;)
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby GeorgeA » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:32 pm

If loud pipes save lives, why haven't insurance companies required them, or given discounts for them?

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:34 pm

I can make only one qualified opinion: Whenever I am driving my car, and a Harley with road-cannon blasting pipes is nearby, I'm only made aware of him once he's ALREADY PAST me. I have no clue that he's approaching, because all the noise is being blasted out the back, away from me.

That doesn't do any good except to annoy the people who are already aware he's there.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby dingdong » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:17 pm

I can relate a personal experience regarding loud pipes. In this case loud pipes definitely helped to avoid an accident and possibility saved a life. While driving my truck, at a four way stop four lane intersection I was in the right lane and a guy on a Harley was in the left lane. In front of him was a car waiting to turn left. As I crossed the intersection the right lane that I was in ended about 50 yards ahead. So I had to merge left. The guy on the Harley, after waiting his turn, accelerated hard (and loud) determined to prevent me from merging into the left lane ahead of him. If not for hearing his pipes I probably would have merged into him as I thought he was still far enough behind for it to be safe for me to move left. Which it would have been if he had been riding like a sane person. So in this one instance I was thankful for his loud pipes. Him? Clueless!!!
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby littlebeaver » Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:37 pm

Those loud bikes annoy me....I thank my lucky stars we don't have a next door
neighbor with one... :shock:
Last edited by littlebeaver on Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby Mh434 » Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:34 pm

In one of the groups I ride with, there is one HD with wide-open, megaphone pipes. When I'm ahead of him, I hear the racket echoing off buildings, rocks etc. (no way for a bystander to tell where it was coming from, exactly), but it's not too bad. On the other hand, when I have to follow him, it's so loud it's painful & our ears ring for hours afterward. To me, that signals the onset of actual hearing damage. On top of that, there's often particles of carbon shooting out of his pipes - like riding in a sandstorm.

At the next stop, I decided to have words with him about this. His response was the old "loud pipes save lives" saying. I asked him if he believes it's okay to cause others permanent hearing loss so he can enjoy his obnoxious pipes. He didn't know what to say at that point. I should add that he's a church pastor...

So far, he hasn't changed the pipes. I always try to ride in front of him when possible but, as my bike is equipped with CB & I often get designated tail-end rider, I sometimes get stuck following him for hours at a time. I don't think I should have to wear hearing protection due to his love of wide open exhaust (aside from the fact that not being able to hear traffic around me when wearing it would be a grave hazard as well).

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby golden highway » Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:32 pm

I have had fewer people not see me on the wing than on my loud bikes. Maybe the wing is larger and more noticeable. So I have to say the thing loud bikes do is tick people off.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby DJnRF » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:16 pm

The "Loud pipes save lives" saying is just that. There have been some constant
studies on this. To date there has never been any real evidence that the
saying is fact.

Loud pipes might have a little bearing to save from a crash IF traffic is tight,
and slow moving (as if at a crowded intersection, or a long line of stopped,
or very slow moving vehicles), but as speed increases the sound is only heard
mostly by traffic to the rear of the sound. If a car is stopped at a light, and
a loud motorcycle is approaching from the left, right, or ahead, one might
hear it, but they might not be able to identify from which direction, or
at what speed.

So far, no study has shown that having a loud exhaust on a motorcycle is
in any way a help to save a life. Only in the very rarest of incidents can
this happen. It is just very, very rare, though.
"Survival is one's own ability to cope with and overcome any adverse or threatening situation, condition, casualty or event." ©Dj 1969

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby hotwire » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:48 pm

The already stated fact that practically all the noise generated by the engine goes out the back has a lot of bearing on why it is my personal belief loud pipes do little to prevent "clear distance ahead" accidents. I won't go into a great detail 'bout the subject, but a law of sound called the Doppler effect is worth looking into for yourself.
It is a phenomenon caused when moving objects emit sounds. A good example of this is trains, or a low flying fighter jet. It is very difficult to even know they are coming until they are on top of you. The main brunt of their noise signature is the moment they pass you, and then the noise depletes as they move away. I have actually noticed this when a bike with loud pipes has approached me as I wait at an intersection to pull out. ( Of course, I WATCH for bikes ), and also when my brother - in - law rides behind me and then passes me. ( He has straight pipes ). I am like minded with other posters, in the thought of making yourself VISIBLE as possible is probably the best safety aspect of a good ride! But also being alert at all times is worth it's weight in gold, 'nuff said. :) :)

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby DJnRF » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:43 pm

hotwire wrote:a law of sound called the Doppler effect is worth looking into for yourself.


Good point, Hotwire. However, it presumes that those who strongly believe in the saying
are smart enough to be able to read and understand what they read on the Doppler effect.
The other examples might get them thinking about it with some understanding.
(Still some room for doubt.) When a mind is stuck in a rut, though, there is little one can
do to change it.

Dave.
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby tom84std » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:10 pm

A whole lot of how loud a motorcycle is depends on how it's ridden. I noticed one time long ago and have paid attention since, a lot of guys MAKE their bikes produce more noise quite intentionally. The Harley guy.. He's riding in the left lane, moderate traffic. He's got a hundred yards between himself and the car ahead of him. He accelerates and causes a "chugging" from his exhaust. He catches up to the car ahead, decelerates to widen the gap. Again he accelerates, noise increases, repeat.... I've observed this many times.
You can ride a bike with minimal baffling and not make excessive noise. You don't need to accelerate to 50 MPH if you know there's a stop sign in 200 yards.
Stop-light switching patterns are pretty universal. You can see a stop light from a long distance away. It's pattern is very predictable. Several cars waiting in the line will take around seven seconds to begin rolling once it turns green. Why do people race up to the line and slam on their brakes? I check my mirrors, slow and fall in just as the traffic begins to roll and hardly ever touch my brakes. A lot of it is in the hands of the rider.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby littlebeaver » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:59 pm

I asked this very same question on here somewhere and someone cracked me up by saying it was the Me first syndrome ... Some guys have to be first,, race from one light to the next, I ride the speed limit as I don't have lots of extra money for tickets, what gets me is how they rev their engines at a stop light or when riding around a empty parking lot,,, What are doing warning the ghost they are coming LOL ha haha :lol: Trying to scare the birds...lol

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby Happytrails » Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:07 am

I had racing pipes on one of my sport bikes and felt like I was invisible. Personally I dont think loud pipes do much more than annoy people. And I dont think people see my goldwing with all its lights.
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby suvcw04 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:48 am

If loud pipes save lives, then why is the horn on EVERY vehicle from a bicycle to a boat on the FRONT.

The pipes are loud to cover up the rattles and clangs from the bikes.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby golden highway » Sun Feb 08, 2015 12:07 pm

Let's face it loud pipes save lives is an excuse to have loud pipes. At every bike gathering there are guys cranking their throttle smiling from ear to ear while I lose my hearing. They aren't smiling because they the safest rider in the crowd.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby suvcw04 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:55 pm

golden highway wrote:Let's face it loud pipes save lives is an excuse to have loud pipes. At every bike gathering there are guys cranking their throttle smiling from ear to ear while I lose my hearing. They aren't smiling because they the safest rider in the crowd.


Nor the brightest.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby DJnRF » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:12 pm

suvcw04 wrote:
golden highway wrote:Let's face it loud pipes save lives is an excuse to have loud pipes. At every bike gathering there are guys cranking their throttle smiling from ear to ear while I lose my hearing. They aren't smiling because they the safest rider in the crowd.


Nor the brightest.


I guess we just have to face it. Either those that have loud pipes are young, new riders that think it's cool,
or a Harley rider, because he can.

What that means is that we have to face the fact that in either case, both are almost able to be declared
legally brain dead. They must have eaten, or drank the wrong things when they were young to have
either stunted their growth, or dulled their brain. I guess we already know which happened to them.

Dave.
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby roadwanderer2 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:59 pm

I don't know about you guys, but I like being able to hear my stereo on my bike rather than listening to an overbearing exhaust system, besides, I find that I get more respect from other drivers by being a sane, safe rider with a large touring bike, staying in my lane, signaling when ever I change lanes or make a turn, using my horn when its necessary instead of being on a "hog" a "sportster" or a "crotch rocket" with an "sound barrier" blasting exhaust.

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby HawkeyeGL1200 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:33 pm

I don't have any scientific evidence to support or refute the loud pipes discussion. What I can tell you is a story related to me by a good friend, who used to own a fairly heavily modified Harley Sportster with drag pipes on it. One evening he's riding his Sportster down the highway, and a deer is standing in a field feeding as he starts to ride past. Within a few seconds, the deer is running along the side of his bike.. and all he could figure is the exhaust sound must have echoed off the woods and frightened the deer into running directly toward the source of the sound.

He and I have talked about the benefit of running "loud" pipes, and neither of us has concluded whether we think there's a + or - to the sound level of the exhaust.

I can tell you that deer (and I suppose people) do hear my bike(s) as I approach... I can tell, because the deer seem to look right at me, and I suppose people who look at motorcycles or are otherwise aware of their surroundings appear to look in the general direction of the bike as I approach.

I do like a throaty sound to a motorcycle exhaust, not into the buzzing of some of the superbikes... but not annoying loud, than you!
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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby ronjr123 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:27 pm

littlebeaver wrote:Those loud bikes annoy me....I thank my lucky stars we don't have a next door
neighbor with one... :shock:


I do! Two of them. While along the fence line drinking a beer with them one evening, one asked if I ever rode. I told him I have rode over 7000 miles in the six months I have owned it.

He was flabbergasted and stated he never heard come and go. He then said he hasn't ran that many miles in three years!

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Re: Do loud pipes REALLY "save lives"?

Postby f1xrupr » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:11 am

Interesting thread...Years ago at a younge age, I took a hack saw to my pipes on a GS 550t that I bought new, and it only had about 8000 miles on it, and I can promise you, it had nothing to do with safety...(dummy). I ride in the country of Va, and there a lot of deer here, and I think it may help them to hearme sooner because they are tuned into sound and sight, as I have modified exhaust because of the rust factor of goldwing exhausts (I like quiet exhaust). In road safety, people are taught to "look both ways"...it's always "look" not "listen"...when it comes to crossing the street, road, yield, merge...we "look" across our shoulder-in our mirrors-it's all about sight! We are taught that from a kid...we are not tuned in to sound when it comes to the road. The average person has their window up, radio on, cell phone, eating, talking to passengers, a1979 chevy 4-door with big wheels, and some kind of thumping going on that rattles your windows...I really hope no one really believes that loud pipes saves lives....do they?.....lights on for safety.....that's the short version....


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