Loud Pipes Saves Lives & They
Annoy Power-Puff-Snobby Riders!
By Gabriel J. Carrera “aka” The Attorney That RIDES
Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA
February 28, 2019
Now that you read my obnoxious eye-catching headline the question remains Is there a safety benefit in sporting loud straight-pipes in the mildly baffled motorcycle exhaust? Before I delve into my argument, presentation, and research I am starting the premise from my gut instinct that Loud Pipes does save lives.
With my riding experience since 1979, former motorcycle mechanic completing my studies at the American Motorcycle Institute (Daytona Beach, FL) in 1987, having wrenched for various years; having ridden multiple brand motorcycles with and without stock or silencing pipes; I believe that my premise has positive relevant merit. Not only that I am a Personal Injury Attorney that advertises as the Attorney That Rides (www.AttorneyThatRIDES.com) representing motorcyclists of all walks of life – I have seen the dangers of auto vs motorcycle crashes first hand in my life.
IS THE LOUD PIPES MYTH JUST WRONG?
The biggest argument that I confront in most articles, and coming from bikers and clients is that the loud pipes did not stop someone from pulling in front of the forward moving bike causing a crash. True that the majority of the sound from a motorcycle exhaust rolls backwards not forward. That most cars today have tight-sealed cages canceling out the outside noise for further comfort. I am not even going to get into the distractions like cell phones, radio, eating in the car, make-up, ect ect. Those issues are important but for today’s purposes we are focusing on the question at hand. You forgot already? Go read paragraph one again 🙂
We hear of all the accidents of bikers with loud pipes that are documented in different jurisdictional police reports, articles, and scientific studies. Those individuals that did NOT go down for sporting LOUD PIPES just keep on riding with no need to report an avoided crash. When was the last time that you called the police to report a near miss? My point exactly! How does a researcher keep numbers on an event that never happened or close misses that could have been an accident? All the empirical evidence gathered seems to be with those that crashed and non-existent on the side of those that missed that bad accident by the skin of their teeth! So when I hear the lopsided argument that loud pips did not stop an accident I estimate there are 100 misses to the one accident.
I personally know of situations in my past rides that folks attempted to roll into my lane and as they got closer they heard me while I was in their blind spot causing them to go back into their original lane thus avoiding what could have been an injurious crash. I have heard a lot of people state this to be true and similar in their experiences.
Just recently I posted in Facebook asking my biker friends to opine on the question: “Is there a safety benefit in sporting loud straight-pipes in the mildly baffled motorcycle exhaust?” These bikers ride different bikes and each of them had their opinions on Loud Pipes….does it really save lives? As you can imagine all the opinions varied in detail. On average most of the people who did not ride Harley’s were against loud pipes where most of the Harley guys and gals were in favor of loud pipes if they rode Harley’s. There were some Harley folks that voiced that pipes did not save lives 100%, but allowed in certain circumstances to be heard where the individual driving the cage would look around for them or their attention would be caught and noted that there was a motorcycle nearby. I walked away from the conversations that the majority of Non-American bike riding folks (I dont want to hear about it from you Honda folks!), that they were the most invested to school the Harley knuckle dragging caveman biker that loud pipes saving lives is a myth.
HARLEY HATE OR SIMPLY A VALID HURT REPORT?
One of the guys posted three articles regarding loud pipes, but in my opinion none of them were scientific. There was a Revzilla article whose title stated, “stop saying loud pipes save lives.” I read the article before I requested people’s thoughts on Facebook and my post. In my opinion the article was totally opinionated because the only cited one scientific source that had nothing to do with loud pipes. The Revzilla article commence attacking bikers for stating that loud pipes save lives. I found it completely offensive but I hold back for now on calling a boycott since that is not my capitalist-style.
If I was not writing this article I would’ve clicked away from this web-article knowing that it was a hit job against the traditional American Biker. they even threw in a little thing about the Hurt Report that they even state is 40 years old. This was in efforts to legitimize their direct insult by claiming that the saying of loud pipes save lives is the “dumbest thing commonly heard from riders.”
I did some research on Wikipedia finding out what this Hurt Report was all about. The Hurt Report was a motorcycle safety study conducted in the United States, initiated in 1976 and published in 1981. The report is named after its primary author, Professor Harry Hurt. Noted motorcycle journalist David L. Hough described the Hurt Report as “the most comprehensive motorcycle safety study of the 20th century.” The study was initiated by the Department of Transportation‘s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which contracted with the University of Southern California Traffic Safety Center — the work was ultimately conducted by USC professor Harry Hurt.
The Hurt Report findings significantly advanced the state of knowledge of the causes of motorcycle accidents, in particular pointing out the widespread problem of car drivers failing to see an approaching motorcycle and precipitating a crash by violating the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. The study also provided data clearly showing that helmets significantly reduce deaths and brain injuries without any increased risk of accident involvement or neck injury. The full title of the report was Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, Volume 1: Technical Report. If you would like to go to Wikipedia and read more of the hurt report here is the link.
YESTERDAY VS. TODAY 2019
The saying loud pipes save lives has been around since the 1960s when people used to complain about those loud motorcycle dirty non-bathing bikers rolling around disrupting the peace. Automobiles were more porous in that the seal and the insulation did not cancel out the outside noise. During the 1970s and 1980s a biker would pull up revving his engine making his presence known so that others around him would take notice. Also, as posted on Facebook by an experienced Biker, when somebody was to downshift and brake to avoid a distracted cager; the biker would goose the gas throttle in an effort to gain the attention of the cager to avoid a painful crash.
Moving forward in time to the present of 2019, most automobile companies pride themselves on the noise canceling products that they offer the American public. With the technological advances of radio systems, amplifiers, and equalizers with strong speakers would leave those specific categorized cagers death to the sounds of loud pipes…… in most circumstances. I have even seen commercials for incoming text on the dashboard radio counsel screen with streaming movies and other smart tech options. All they need to add now to the carnival world of cager distrations is holograms of strippers on poles for the dashboard to further threaten Biker lives. Not everybody blasts the music so loud that they cannot hear a motorcycle next to them.
Many of my friends state that lights, fog lights, brightly covered riding gear, and other bright color accessories to gain the visual attention of those in cages are the solution. I tend to agree somewhat with them because it makes some sense, but that is not the question that was posed at the beginning of this conversation whether there was or is a safety benefit in having loud pipes in addition to being cool. You forgot the question again right?
Others that posted on my Facebook page stating that using the horn on the motorcycle is equal to or better than goosing the throttle. I for one have experienced that the horn hardly places on their stock motorcycles suck. There is no other word for them there low in dB. Although they did a better job on the 2019 horn it is still is not heard in many circumstances. One Biker got it right by stating he has a train horn on his bike even though I have never seen it. Show us some videos of that one!
The dB of a straight pipe coming out of a strong Harley American Engine will get the curious attention of those around you much more efficient than those that use their horn. I am not in all in or all out type guy because there is a time to use your horn and then there’s a time to use your loud straight pipes. My argument is that loud pipes do save lives, but not in every circumstance. Many that are against loud pipes would like to deny the pro-loud pipes biker the tool that could save his or her life in certain specific circumstances. There is a percentage of those that are against loud pipes just because its on a Harley and they don’t believe in the Harley-Davidson American traditional biker lifestyle so they use that issue to make themselves look smarter by bashing and insulting a large group of people just as the Revzilla article did. (There are the exceptions people).
THE DOPPLER EFFECT OR JUST DOPERS?
My HHMC friend on Facebook posted a Canadian article from Canada Moto Guide E-magazine that was titled: “The truth about loud pipes.” their article actually had an interesting theory that I believe plays out in some circumstances, but not all. Canada has great riding roads, but can a riding magazine kill the belief that Loud Pipes Save Lives????Canada Moto guide introduces the theory of the Doppler Effect. “The theory is, loud pipes automatically make the rider safer, because car drivers can hear there is a motorcycle present and will therefore drive more cautiously. However, the Doppler Effect mutes this.”
“The Internet has lots to say about the Doppler Effect, but here’s a nutshell summary from Wikipedia: “The Doppler effect … is the change in frequency of a wave … for an observer moving relative to its source … It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from an observer. Compared to the emitted frequency, the received frequency is higher during the approach, identical at the instant of passing by, and lower during the recession.”
In other words, the deep, throaty roar of loud pipes isn’t really very deep or throaty until the vehicle has passed the listener. You can see the Doppler Effect in action in the first few seconds of this video, and see it explained below. (Yes, I stole the video for you to watch but the original article is referenced here in a link).
The Doppler Video
And then there is this comical surmise of the Doppler effect…..yes, most people don’t get it. Click on it you will laugh!
I understand that the Doppler effect increases in volume the closer the noise gets to the target and diminishes upon passing the further away it goes. That is just a specific circumstance that could make loud pipes moot. Now let’s change the fact pattern. What if there were 15 motorcyclists with loud pipes and the mean evil vehicle that was going to turn into their lane and take them all out all the sudden hear the first motorcycle loud pipes in the group? I believe it would be fair to say that the other 14 motorcyclists lives or bodily extremities would have been saved due to the first motorcyclist.
This is especially true if they are in congested city traffic. Yes there is safety in numbers but I am sure when the pipes are heard people out of curiosity tend to look around and in their mirrors to see where it is coming from just as they do with sirens on ambulances.
The Doppler effect in my opinion is a valid theory, but then again it only applies in certain circumstances and NOT the silver bullet killing loud pipes. Loud pipes also are not the silver bullet that saves individuals lives from all accidents. Even on the Facebook post clients of mine were posting that the people that pulled out in front of them did not hear their loud pipes. This is a fact that cannot be denied. But the other fact is that loud pipes in certain circumstances do you get the attention of the person in the automobile causing them to take notice and look in their mirrors for the motorcyclists to avoid a collision. (am I repeating myself here?).
In those specific instances that are not publicly recorded in police records for statisticians to take government grant money to create a report on motorcycle accidents because those loud pipes saved lives. If more than two lives are saved because of allowed motorcycle exhaust pipes then the saying is true there is a positive benefit in having loud pipes. In Fact, I would challenge all the naysayers to prove that loud pipes have not saved 5-lives or more! This would be a hard thing to prove I admit but in the reverse, when opponents use the crash stories or safety studies of accidents reported its a bully beating up on a strawman. It’s a just statement that its not a fair fight.
WILDLIFE LOVES MOTORCYCLES ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT!
An interesting point that one of the Hoka Hey Riders, Mr. Bruce Rhimes, made mention is the subject of wildlife in the road or grazing on the side of the road. Those that have Rode long distance in the country in the middle of nowhere can attest to deer in other wildlife being in the roads. Many among us have split dear and other wildlife on the roads we travel on those dark lonely country nights. I personally have seen black bears in Alaska and after starting my bike and reving it they go back into the woods. Riding South to America the Lama looking things are a bit smarter than deer and they tend to run in the opposite direction upon hearing my LOUD PIPES!
PUTTING THE CAP ON THE BOTTLE FINALLY!
In Conclusion, it has been demonstrated that you can’t convince a man with an experience using intellectual arguments. Many on the Facebook post swear that Loud Pipes have saved their lives. Others use college gandure in an effort quiet the streets of America. The Hurt Report in my educated and street wise opinion does not support nor deny that Loud Pipes saves Lives just that its normally the cager’s fault. The Doppler Effect partially supports the naysayers but does NOT destroy my presented premise that Loud Pipes offers a safety feature that saves lives in certain situations. I through out a gantlet challenge for these naysayers (Talking to you Revzilla), to prove that Loud Pipes has NEVER or ever saved 5 or more lives. I conclude that even if Loud Pipes save 5 lives out of 100 documented crashes then it is a true saying that LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES
EDITOR’S COMMENTS & OPINIONS: As to the Connecticut Yankee BMW SNOB Knucklehead who stated that “You People” (meaning me and my HD friends), have kept you out of certain locations in Las Vegas because of loud pipes…… in my opinion your a Ding-Dong! Why would you want to go to a place that wont allow all Bikers? Maybe your just like them or you believe yourself to be of a higher caliber because you ride German bike instead of keeping your $$$$ in the United States to improve your country’s economy. Putting the motorcycle’s make aside; you thru your riding brothers under the bus for petty self absorbing issues. (in my opinion) Your elitist way of thinking has destroyed the Northeast and you use the loud pipes issue to discriminate against other Bikers that Ride Long Distance (LDR). Shame on you sir for your ignorance and bigoted way of thinking. I hope that those in our riding group organization shut their ears to your backward way of thinking! The only thing that came out of your insulting post was the opportunity to prove your ignorant ass WRONG! Loud Pipes ((DO)) Save Lives!