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Sound Debate

Colleen explores the benefits of reduced exhaust sound emissions.


In this month’s issue, MPN offers dealers its annual roundup of aftermarket exhaust products for a wide range of powersport products, from scooters right on up to Harleys.

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While it’s important to continue to manage our greenhouse gas emissions, powersports products are relatively green compared to their four-wheeled counterparts. The neighbors ain’t complaining too much about Harley smog, but they definitely will sound off if you fire up your bike on an early Saturday morning and it wakes up the hard-of-hearing granny three doors down.

Back in February, American Motorcyclist Association president and CEO Rob Dingman outlined why he thinks excessive exhaust noise is the single greatest threat to motorcycling in America.

“Nearly everyone we talk to in the motorcycling and OHV (off-highway vehicle) community echoes this concern,” says Dingman. “For many riders, their machines are an extension of their personalities, and this includes the distinctive sound of their engine’s exhaust. I completely understand that. But as motorcyclists, we have to realize that we live in a world already filled with unwanted distractions, and chief among them is sound that is so excessive that it becomes a nuisance to the general public. Excessive exhaust sound plants targets squarely on the backs of all riders, even those who ride with reasonably quiet exhaust systems.”


Dingman suggests that motorcyclists lead the charge against excessive noise by piping down a bit!

Many reputable aftermarket providers, including the class-leaders featured starting on page 41 of this issue, offer performance-pumping exhaust systems with decibel-killing options.

Take responsibility on your end by advocating responsible sound emissions. Don’t sell competition-only units with a wink and a nod. Clearly state if a unit is for track use only and remind riders that local law enforcement can and will crack down on illegal exhaust pipes.

I’m not saying that it’s fair, or that I advocate law enforcement targeting motorcyclists, but in many cases that’s a reality that we have to live with, for now.


In the future, if we can police ourselves and effectively manage sound, perhaps we can live without the fear of further government regulation.

In addition to selling exhaust responsibly, you can raise awareness by hosting a sound-testing at your dealership.

The AMA provides sound-testing kits through a grant program and there’s a great chance an area club could already have the test kits on hand. The kits test units to help riders understand how much noise they’re really putting out there. While designed for race-compliance, there’s nothing stopping you from testing your average joe’s noise pollution levels. Change can’t happen without awareness, and its up riders everywhere to promote sound exhaust choices.


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