Few other factors contribute more to misunderstanding and prejudice against the motorcycling community than excessively loud motorcycles. Attempts to regulate sound often miss the mark by singling out motorcyclists with ordinances and laws that are unfair, impractical and unenforceable. Motorcyclists have a responsibility to be part of the solution by being sensitive to community standards and respectful of their fellow citizens. Law enforcement agencies should fairly and consistently enforce appropriate laws against excessive vehicle sound, no matter the source.
Since its inception in 1924, the American Motorcyclist Association has maintained a position of strong opposition to excessive motorcycle sound. The AMA has funded information and public relations campaigns in support of quieter motorcycle use, and was the world’s first motorsports sanctioning body to regulate and reduce the sound level of racing vehicles.
The AMA believes that few other factors contribute more to misunderstanding and prejudice against the motorcycling community than excessively loud motorcycles. All motorcycles are manufactured to meet federally mandated sound control standards. Unfortunately, a small number of riders who install unmuffled aftermarket exhaust systems perpetuate a public myth that all motorcycles are loud. Efforts by regulators to rein in excessive motorcycle sound often miss the mark by singling out motorcyclists with ordinances and laws that are unfair, impractical and unenforceable.
No single segment of the motorcycling community—riders, event organizers, retailers and distributors, original equipment and aftermarket manufacturers, law enforcement and the safety community—can single-handedly solve this problem. Although there are other sources of excessive sound such as loud cars and trucks, booming car stereos, poorly maintained generators, and whining leaf blowers, motorcyclists have a responsibility to be part of the solution.
Shifting blame and failing to adopt responsible, voluntary practices will only result in greater prejudice and discrimination against all motorcyclists, including excessively rigorous state and federal standards, more expensive and less attractive motorcycles, the reduction of choices in aftermarket products, abusive enforcement of current laws, and other measures that will negatively impact both riders and the motorcycle industry.
Based on its opposition to excessive motorcycle sound, the AMA recommends the following:
- All motorcyclists should be sensitive to community standards and respect the right of fellow citizens to enjoy a peaceful environment.
- Motorcyclists should not modify exhaust systems in a way that will increase sound to a level that is offensive. This includes the installation of unmuffled exhaust systems.
- Organizers of motorcycle events should take steps—through advertising, peer pressure and enforcement–to make excessively loud motorcycles unwelcome.
- Motorcycle retailers should discourage the installation and use of excessively loud replacement exhaust systems, including unmuffled “straight pipes.”
- The motorcycle industry, including aftermarket suppliers of replacement exhaust systems, should adopt responsible product design and marketing policies aimed at limiting the cumulative impact of excessive motorcycle sound.
- Manufacturers producing motorcycles that meet the appropriate federal standards should continue to educate their dealers and customers that louder exhaust systems can decrease the performance of motorcycles.
- Law enforcement agencies should fairly and consistently enforce appropriate laws against excessive vehicle sound and other sources of undesirable sound.
- The motorcycle industry and the safety community should educate customers and riders that excessive sound can be fatiguing, thus impairing good riding skills and judgment, making riding less enjoyable.
The AMA and its Board of Directors wholeheartedly endorse these recommendations and the association will continue to advocate for responsible behavior on the part of its members and all motorcyclists.