motorcycle 101 guides

Is Riding Without a Muffler Bad for Your Motorcycle?

Is Riding Without a Muffler Bad for Your Motorcycle?

Mufflers reduce the noise caused by the expelling of gases from the engine out of the exhaust. Besides reducing noise, exhaust pipes and mufflers also help improve engine performance and fuel efficiency and convert harmful gases into reduced emissions.

Nowadays, most stock motorcycle exhaust systems are heavier, quieter, and less appealing. They often do not suit rider preferences, which is why most motorcycle enthusiasts and custom builders prefer installing an aftermarket exhaust or removing the muffler. Some riders prefer riding motorcycles without a muffler that produces a loud sound. Read this article to learn whether riding a motorcycle without a muffler is bad.

1. Why is Riding Without a Muffler Bad For Your Motorcycle?

Why is Riding Without a Muffler Bad For Your Motorcycle?
Produces loud noise
Increases noise pollution
Can cause hearing loss
Hurts your reputation as a motorcyclist
Encourages irresponsible behavior
Produces more heat emission
Can hurt the passenger
Can damage your motorcycle boots
Can hurt your legs
Can damage the engine
Cause damage the frame
Gives motorcycle an unfinished look

1.1 Too Loud

Riding without a muffler can produce loud noises that can damage your ears. Your ears can only withstand a high frequency for a limited duration. Exposure to loud motorcycle sounds for a long time can cause permanent hearing damage.


1.2 Encourages Irresponsible Behavior

Being a motorcyclist, you are responsible for following all the rules of the road and safety guidelines. The rules state that your motorcycle must not be able to release a high concentration of pollutants. Catalyzed mufflers also convert toxic gases into reduced emissions that follow emission standards.

1.3 Unsafe

Riding a motorcycle without a muffler is also unsafe for the rider and passenger as it randomly emits high heat that is not properly channeled. It can damage your motorcycle boots and injure your legs. Excessive heat can also damage the frame and paint around the exhaust pipe.

1.4 Provides Unfinished Look

A motorcycle without a muffler is not aesthetically pleasing as it gives your vehicle an unfinished look.

2. Why is Riding Without a Muffler Bad for Your Motorcycle

Riding without a muffler can damage the engine and reduce overall performance. A muffler is essential as it creates the required back pressure to ensure better low-end performance. The back pressure also helps the motorcycle when idling or during deceleration. Without the required back pressure, mistimed explosions and exhaust cycles can occur and damage the engine.

2.1 Does Riding a Motorcycle Without a Muffler Increase Horsepower?

No, riding a motorcycle without a muffler does not increase horsepower. It was confirmed by Ari Henning, the contributing editor of Motorcyclists Magazine after performing the Dyno Tests that removing the muffler does not increase horsepower.

3. Is It Legal to Ride a Motorcycle Without a Muffler?

It is legal to ride a motorcycle without a muffler if it does not produce too much smoke and noise that violates federal regulations and emission standards. However, removing a muffler from a motorcycle will likely result in the volume of the noise being above the limit.

The motorcycle noise laws are different between U.S. states. If you are living in California, the motorcycle noise limits are as follows:

California Motorcycle Noise Law
Manufactured in Noise Limit
1969-1972 88 dB
1973-1974 86 dB
1975-1985 83 dB
1986-Onwards 80 dB

If you are living in Connecticut and you are riding a motorcycle that was manufactured after 1978, the noise limit must not exceed 84 dB.

4. What You Should Do If You Want Both Sound and Performance

If you want your motorcycle to produce more noise within the permissible range without compromising performance, install an aftermarket slip-on exhaust or a lightweight full exhaust instead of removing the exhaust system completely. This will improve your motorcycle’s aesthetics and performance. You will notice a slight increase in the engine’s power output with a slip-on exhaust. An aftermarket slip-on exhaust may be slightly expensive but will provide several advantages, including easy installation and no backfiring. If you buy an aftermarket slip-on exhaust from a reputable brand, you will not have to make any adjustments to the exhaust system or install sensors and catalyzers for better fuel efficiency.

What You Should Do If You Want Both Sound and Performance

Photo Credit: Ultimate Motorcycling


5. Takeaway

If you are a responsible motorcycle rider, avoid making any changes to the motorcycle that can harm you and the environment. Removing the muffler from a motorcycle will only harm your ears and reduce performance. It can also damage the motorcycle’s paint job, your riding boots, and your legs. If you want your motorcycle to create adequate noise with a slight increase in power output, you can replace the stock exhaust pipes with slip-on mufflers.

If you love customizing your motorcycle, there are several aftermarket parts available at Viking Bags to improve comfort, aesthetics, performance, and safety. These include sissy bars, backrests, handlebars, seats, crash bars, and fairings. If you want to carry more stuff with you on motorcycle tours, Viking Bags also offers several luggage options, including sissy bar bags, saddlebags, and tank bags.

Reading next

Can You Wear Shorts While Riding a Motorcycle?
A Complete 101 Guide to Motorcycle Exhausts (Purpose, Parts, and Types)

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.