Loud Pipes Are An Expression, Not Safety Equipment

Loud Exhaust; Safety or Expression?

By Scott Cochran, Editor

This will, in all probability, be the most unpopular editorial I have written in the ten years of puking out ink in this space.

I don’t know any other way to say it, but I’m throwing a BS flag on the popular slogan, “Loud Pipes Save Lives.”

Normally I don’t make it my business to debunk pithy helmet stickers.  There are plenty out there that are as suspect as the Loud Pipes sticker, but most of them are assumed to be tongue in cheek and not taken seriously.

Some of my favorite stickers are “For a small town this sure has a lot of assholes” and “If I don’t remember…it didn’t happen!” The one I’ve used in conversation recently is,  “Who Lit The Fuse On Your Tampon?” And one that is applicable here, “I have the right to remain silent but not the ability.”

But, back on loud pipes.

My first real “road” bike was previously owned.   The original owner had removed the stock exhaust and replaced it with “straight” pipes.

I remember how much I loved the sound of that bike.  I especially enjoyed riding through the concrete canyons of metro areas late at night and blipping the throttle to hear the thunder echo through the alleyways and empty parking garages.

My current bike has aftermarket pipes which are louder than stock, but not obnoxiously so.  The note is deeper and more throaty but still louder.

But, I’ve never believed those loud pipes have saved my life, or caused anything other than admiration at the sound, or irritation at the noise, depending on the person’s viewpoint.

Exhaust noise travels backwards.  Unless you’re riding 3 mph and blipping the throttle constantly, there’s little chance anyone in front of you will hear your “loud pipes.”

True enough some drivers will turn their head when you ride by and you may have convinced yourself that you “got their attention” with your loud pipes but as any baseball outfielder will attest, you see the ball heading your way before you hear the crack of the bat.

You would do much better to invest in the loudest train horn you can find to alert inattentive drivers who may turn or pull out in front of you.

“OK Cochran, but what about on the interstate when I’m riding alongside some soccer mom talking on the cell phone and yelling at her kids in the back?  She hears my pipes and it keeps her from pulling into my lane!”

Personally I never ride along beside anyone on the interstate. I’m usually riding slightly faster than the flow, but I still say a extremely loud horn is more effective, but arguably not as cool.

Now I know many of you will disagree with me, and that’s OK.  I’ve been on the politically incorrect side  of the fence before and I’m sure I’ll be there again.

Don’t misunderstand me, I like my exhaust to be louder than stock.  California’s recent legislation which will make it illegal to have anything on your new bike other than stock exhaust,  really chaps my ass.  I think it’s a slippery slope and one that begins to erode the guarantees of the First Amendment.

But my point is that loud pipes are not a “safety” issue and we, as a community and as voters, shouldn’t try to frame our arguments against noise legislation around that.  Loud pipes are an expression, just as pithy helmet stickers and “The Bitch Fell Off” t-shirts.

Plus the EPA sticker on most new bikes is placed in obscure locations, not easily read by law enforcement and in some cases only viewable by removing plastic or chrome parts.  This  will undoubtedly result in subjective enforcement until more legislation is passed to standardize placement of the EPA stamps.

Recently Dublin Georgia (30 miles from my office) enacted an ordinance which bans “saggy pants” and if you get caught with your pants 3 inches below your hips you’ll get slapped with a $200 fine.   Not many motorcyclists worry about getting pinched on this one but, I’m sure that the majority of you reading this editorial probably agree with that ordinance because you dislike seeing urban gang-bangers walking around the mall with their pants half to their knees and their boxers hiked up over their shirts.

But, the truth is, what is offensive to some of us is a form of expression, rebellion or a statement of individuality to others.

I think it’s juvenile to wear your pants half down to your knees but there are just as many people who believe its juvenile to ride a motorcycle that’s louder than a fire truck and those same people are convinced that social nirvana is reached by outlawing anything that offends either their eyes or their ears.

I’m not proposing we all replace our aftermarket pipes with factory silencers, but if we’re going to win this one we’d better get the non-riding public on our side.

Since I don’t see that happening any time soon, I’ll enjoy my aftermarket exhaust as long as possible.

Oh, and my new favorite sticker? “Yes it’s loud, but you’re ugly and you don’t hear me suggesting you get plastic surgery do you?

Ride Safe, and always take the road less traveled.


Funny Caption Contest

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Just when we thought we’d seen everything along comes this photo.  This is just wrong on so many levels. But, it’s some funny stuff so tell us the best caption and we’ll pick the winners in the December issue.  Comment here or on our Facebook page

Get A Quote and Help Road Guardians

From a Press Release

Motorcyclists are about 37 times more likely than car occupants to die in a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Allstate is helping bikers stay safe on the road by donating $5 to Road Guardians for every person who calls for a quote for motorcycle insurance.

“I believe Allstate’s coverage for cyclists is the best there is. But, we know that regardless of insurance coverage, a rider has to take personal steps to ensure safety on the road,” said Chuck Paul, vice president of Allstate’s emerging businesses. “Anyone who gets a quote for their bike through Allstate is helping their fellow riders stay safe at the same time.”

Allstate’s quote donation program with the Road Guardians will run through December 31, 2010. Road Guardians provides safety and education resources to cyclists, including a first responder-based curriculum that teaches riders how to start proper & effective emergency care at the scene of a motorcycle accident until help arrives. To date, nearly one-third of the students who’ve received Road Guardians first-responder training have used their skills within three years of instruction.

“The funding from Allstate will be used to help train and educate road riders to be there for their fellow cyclists when they need it most,” said Vicki Sanfelipo, president of Road Guardians. “We’re working with Allstate to help save lives by offering on-the-road training to help prevent and respond to crashes.”

Riders who are interested in getting a quote from Allstate that benefits Road Guardians can call 877-871-0500 for a motorcycle insurance quote. For every completed quote, $5 will go to the Road Guardians.

DISCLAIMER: No purchase necessary. Program applies to motorcycle insurance. For each quote received, $5 will benefit the Road Guardians. Maximum Allstate donation is $100,000. Program donations limited to quotes received beginning now and ending December 31, 2010. This promotion is not available in AL, AK, ME, MA, NC, NY and UT. The Road Guardians name and logo are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, expressed or implied, of any product, service, company or individual.


Funny Caption Contest

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Will Future Cars “See” Motorcycles Better?

Car companies are heralding the day when the industry produces a “zero fatality” automobile.  That’s right, aside from a meteor falling on you while driving down the expressway, the automobile industry believes that in the next 10 to 20 years, computer simulations and virtual engineering will enable manufacturers to construct cars with a near zero fatality rating.

New technology will provide magnesium and carbon-fiber parts in strategic locations and active safety systems that slow the car as it follows curves in the road, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication that warns you about approaching vehicular, motorcycle, even pedestrian traffic.

Volvo has gone so far to announce that “By 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.”

This is great news for motorcyclists, many of who are killed or injured when auto drivers cross into their lane or turn left in their path.

To reach zero fatalaty rating, auto companies are relying on making vehicles that can avoid other vehicles, and in the event of an unforeseeable and unavoidable impact, a vehicle that can crash safer.

Focusing on safer motorcycle crashes  is something motorcycle rights activists have lobbied against for years believing that better auto driver awareness is the key to saving motorcyclists lives.

However, some motorcycle manufacturers have, in the past few years, made improvements in protecting motorcyclists during a crash.

American Honda Motor Co. (which includes Honda and Acura cars, as well as Honda motorcycles, motors and power equipment) has dedicated a lot of money and time to crash analyses with high powered computer model simulations in many different scenarios.

Honda was the first and currently the only motorcycle manufacturer to install air bags on a motorcycle.  The Goldwing air bag is designed to be deployed in the event of  a frontal impact which will slow the operators rate of ejection and th erotically lessen the force of the impact to the operator.

Safety vests, which use compressed gas to instantly inflate upon a rider being ejected from the motorcycle seat have also been marketed and have been successful in several real world accidents.

Automobiles that sense motorcycles and prevent the operator from crossing into the path of the oncoming bike will undoubtedly save many lives, but will have little impact on reducing single vehicle accidents where rider error is the cause, that where safety advocates say additional training is needed.


Funny Caption Contest for September Issue

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While there might not be anything inherently humorous in this candid shot, taken during Bike Week in Daytona almost 10 years ago, we’re sure if you try, you can add just the right caption to highlight the funny.

Funny Caption Contest for August

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Sometimes even the most mundane photos can be spiced up with just the right caption.  We think this is one.  Comment below or on our Facebook page and we’ll send the winner a cool collectible hat from USRiderNews, suitable for framing, but much better wearing on your head.

Zoning Board vs Harley-Davidson Dealer

There must be something in my DNA that enjoys a good fight, or rather hates to see people being bullied.
I’ll fire off a Letter to the Editor in a heartbeat and more often as not, stick my nose in where it probably otherwise doesn’t belong.  As I’ve aged, I’ve tried to tone it down a bit just to get along.
This is one of those times when I’m having trouble keeping my unsolicited opinion to myself.
Rocky Timms is the owner of a Harley-Davidson dealership in Anderson South Carolina.  No, he doesn’t advertise, so I’m not taking his side for any other reason than he’s being unfairly targeted by a few small minded anti-motorcycle “zoning police” that live around his dealership.
Timms hosts a bike night in Anderson every Thursday, and has been since May.  By all accounts, it’s fairly successful and attracts a decent sized crowd from 6-9 or 9:30.
By 9:45 the lot is mostly empty.
But, for Wayne Self, and his neighbors opposed to the bike night, those 3, to 3 and a half hours of “noise” were enough to complain to the zoning board and ask the county to shut the bike nights down.
I don’t know about you, but this sort of whining chaps my ass.  Here you have an honest businessman, doing everything he can in this economy to make a profit and keep jobs for local citizens and a group of penny ninnys complain that their quiet neighborhood is disrupted for a few hours a week?  During daylight hours no less?
I’d bet a dollar to a donut that not the first complainer has ever owned a business where he or she had to make payroll, or had the kind of investment that Timms has and stands to lose if the dealership folds.
The complainers said that the extra cars that come in create a parking problem and a hazard in the neighborhood.  Timms told the cops to tow any vehicle that was creating a parking hazard.  Apparently that wasn’t good enough.
The planning director for Anderson said Timms could apply to have his property rezoned to support outdoor commercial recreation.
That’s all well and good but if a few neighbors, and it’s only a few not a majority, can cause the city to shut down his bike night, even though the property is currently zoned commercial business, what kind of chance do you think he’ll have with a rezoning request.
I see this sort of attitude in the news almost everyday.  Sometimes it’s legitimate and business owners go too far and deliberately break the rules and do not care how it affects their neighbors.
Then there are those people who let their 5th grade hall monitor appointment go to their head and still get a sense of importance by being the “zoning police” or “noise nanny” of the neighborhood.
These are the same people who call the police if they see someone parked in a “no parking zone” even though doesn’t affect them.  They just don’t like to see someone else “breaking the rules” as they understand them.
They’re also the ones who generally dislike motorcyclists because they see us as being too “free spirited” and “rebellious.”
I’ll admit that 80 or 100 motorcycles, especially Harley-Davidson’s, will create a fair amount of noise as they come and go into a dealership.  I won’t argue that it probably does cause somewhat of an inconvenience to some of Timms neighbors during the bike night hours.
But this is America and while you might not agree with it, or fully understand it, capitalism and our free market system is the engine that powers our economy.  I have no doubt that Timms Harley-Davidson writes a  large property tax check to the city and county every year and receives no more government services than do his neighbors.  He shouldn’t be molested when it comes to making a legal profit.  Customer events are an important part of a successful motorcycle dealership.

But that’s probably something his neighbors wouldn’t understand.

-Editor Scott Cochran

Funny Caption Contest

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Don't Look Ethel!!!

Legendary two-stroke tuner headed for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is pleased to announce the eighth member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2010: Eyvind Boyesen, one of the most accomplished two-stroke engine tuners in motorsports. Boyesen, whose skills in the garage translated into success in the marketplace, will be among the legends of motorcycling honored at the 2010 induction ceremony at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas on Nov. 19.

“Eyvind developed many of his innovations in an era of great change in performance off-road motorcycling, and in the process joined other AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers in becoming a household name in the sport,” said AMA Director of Operations and Hall of Famer Jack Penton. “Both everyday riders and national champions alike used Boyesen’s products over the years, and many more will in years to come.”

Although Boyesen Engineering has long since branched into other areas of innovation, off-road racers in the 1970s through the 1990s knew Boyesen products through marketing of the company’s aftermarket performance reeds. Boyesen’s reeds set the standard as one of the leading aftermarket replacement parts of the two-stroke era, and often were one of the first modifications racers made to a new machine.

“Growing up on the local scrambles and motocross tracks in eastern Pennsylvania during the early 1970s, racers knew one thing: If you wanted a power advantage over your competitors, you needed a Boyesen Power Reed,” said Douglas Strange, chair of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Ambassadors & Industry committee and an honorary member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. “It was like a magic elixir that would put your bike on the box. Boyesen Engineering’s reputation continued to grow as his business expanded, and every racer’s toolbox had a Boyesen sticker on the lid. Now, nearly 40 years later, I’m still impressed with Eyvind Boyesen’s commitment to the sport and industry, and his insight to solve problems and bring these new products to the marketplace.”

Boyesen founded Boyesen Engineering in 1972 in Lenhartsville, Pa., and built a worldwide reputation as a two-stroke engine expert. In addition to his reed-valve innovations, Boyesen is also known for a special porting technique that has been used in motorcycle, snowmobile and watercraft two-stroke engines. He also has refined methods of water pump design and developed enhanced accelerator pump operation used in four-stroke carburetion. Boyesen holds more than 40 patents for the aftermarket motorcycle industry, and his company continues to thrive today.

“To be honest I was rather surprised at hearing the news of the induction,” Boyesen said. “I immediately thought, ‘Who would have nominated me?’ I will say that my career has been balanced by my ability to do what I truly love. To this day I will always remember the first time I saw a motorcycle. It was magical. As many that have achieved any level of success (big or small), I am very fortunate to be able to contribute to this sport and industry.”

Boyesen joins previously announced members of the AMA Hall of Fame Class of 2010: championship team owner Mitch Payton, AMA 250cc Roadrace Champion David Emde, off-road rights activist Clark Collins, dirt-track racer Don Castro, off-road gear pioneers John and Rita Gregory, and sidecar roadrace champion Larry Coleman. The final 2010 inductee will be announced soon.

The Class of 2010 will officially be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on Nov. 19 as part of the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend. In addition to the induction ceremony, the weekend includes the 2010 AMA Concours d’Elegance on Saturday, Nov. 20, featuring some of the country’s most impressive original and restored classic motorcycles. The AMA Racing Championship Banquet closes out the weekend on Sunday, Nov. 21, where AMA Racing amateur champions of all ages will be recognized for their 2010 accomplishments.

The AMA Legends & Champions Weekend also includes the final round of the Geico Powersports AMA Endurocross National Championship Series on Saturday evening, Nov. 20. Ticket packages for the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend will also include access to the race, held at The Orleans Arena.

The AMA Legends & Champions Weekend will be held at the Las Vegas Red Rock Resort, a world-class spa, hotel and casino, featuring a range of entertainment, dining and family-friendly attractions. The facility’s expansive ballrooms will provide a stunning backdrop for the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend, which is certain to be memorable for the 2010 inductees, champions, families, friends and fans. More information is available online at RedRockLasVegas.com.

Lodging reservations can be made now at AmericanMotorcyclist.com/Accommodations. An announcement regarding ticket information will be made soon.

Located on the park-like campus of the AMA in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made lasting contributions to protecting and promoting the motorcycle lifestyle. Its members include those who have excelled in racing, road- and off-road riding, pushed the envelope in motorcycle design, engineering and safety, and championed the rights of riders in both the halls of government and the court of public opinion.

The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Committee includes nine members in addition to the chairman. There are eight committees, each representing a different aspect of motorcycling.

More information about the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame can be found at MotorcycleMuseum.org