Motorcycles have become a popular mode of transportation over the years, providing riders with a sense of freedom and adventure on the open road.
However, one of the most criticized aspects of motorcycles is their noise level. Motorcycles often produce a loud and distinct sound that can be heard from miles away. While some riders like the loud rumbling sound and consider it a stable motorcycle culture, others find it obnoxious and disruptive. But what causes motorcycles to be so loud?
This article will explain the top reasons why motorcycles produce such loud noises.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Why Do Motorcyclists Prefer Loud Motorcycles?
- 2. Reasons Why Motorcycles are So Loud
- 2.1 Open Exhaust System
- 2.2 Engine Design and Size
- 2.3 Aftermarket Exhaust System
- 2.4 Loud Pipes Save Lives
- 2.5 Mufflers
- 3. Why are New Motorcycles Quieter than Older Motorcycles?
- 4. Risks of Riding a Loud Motorcycle
- 5. Motorcycle Noise Law
- 6. How to Make Your Motorcycle Less Noisy?
- 6.1 Replace the Muffler
- 6.2 Wrap the Exhaust Pipes
- 6.3 Buy an Exhaust Silencer
- 6.4 Check for Holes in the Exhaust
- 7. Last Words
1. Why Do Motorcyclists Prefer Loud Motorcycles?
Many motorcyclists love riding bikes that produce a lot of noise at high speed. Several reasons for this include:
- Many riders, especially teenagers, believe riding on loud motorcycles makes them look cooler.
- Sadly, some riders are inconsiderate towards other people and do not bother muffling the noise their motorcycles make.
- Most riders love riding at high speeds, with their motorcycle engines producing more noise when riding at high speed.
2. Reasons Why Motorcycles are So Loud
2.1 Open Exhaust System
Open exhaust systems allow the engine to breathe more freely and produce a louder sound. Open exhaust systems are also popular because they increase the engine’s power output, which improves the motorcycle’s overall performance. However, they also increase the volume of the engine, making it much louder than a stock exhaust system.
2.2 Engine Design and Size
Most motorcycles are equipped with a V-twin engine or an inline-four engine, each of which produces a unique sound. The number of cylinders and the angle between them can also affect the engine noise. The larger the engine, the more power it produces, and the louder the sound it makes. Additionally, the exhaust system plays a significant role in amplifying the engine noise.
2.3 Aftermarket Exhaust System
Motorcycles are not usually noisy with their factory settings. They commonly produce a noise below 90 dB with the stock format. However, many riders choose to replace the factory exhaust with a louder aftermarket exhaust. Some riders want to increase the power output of their engines, while others want to make their motorcycles louder. Aftermarket exhaust systems can improve motorcycle performance by increasing exhaust flow and reducing back pressure. However, they also increase the volume of engine noise, which can be disruptive to others on the road.
2.4 Loud Pipes Save Lives
A common justification for loud motorcycles is the "loud pipes save lives" argument. This argument states that loud pipes help make motorcycles easier to spot by other drivers, reducing the risk of accidents. While this argument has some truth, it is not entirely accurate. A loud motorcycle may be more noticeable, but it can also be a dangerous distraction to other drivers and pedestrians.
Mufflers are built from sound-absorbing materials that help muffle the sound emitted by the exhaust. Motorcycle mufflers are smaller than those on larger vehicles, limiting how much noise they cancel out.
3. Why are New Motorcycles Quieter than Older Motorcycles?
New motorcycles are usually designed with up-to-date technology and modern engineering techniques that prioritize noise reduction. Most manufacturers strive to create quieter engines and exhaust systems that comply with noise pollution regulations while improving the overall riding experience.
Meanwhile, older motorcycles were typically designed with less emphasis on noise reduction. Older motorcycle engines were less efficient and produced more noise due to less advanced technology and less strict noise regulations. Additionally, many riders in the past enjoyed the loud sound produced by their motorcycles and often modified their exhaust systems to increase the volume.
Advancements in technology, stricter regulations, and a shift in consumer preferences toward quieter motorcycles have resulted in overall reduced noise levels.
4. Risks of Riding a Loud Motorcycle
A motorcycle that produces a lot of noise can make it difficult to focus and could distract you when on the road. The noise from your motorcycle may drown out the sounds of other vehicles. This will result in less awareness of your surroundings.
4.2 Increase Risk of an Accident
Riding a loud motorcycle increases the risk of getting into an accident since you will not be able to hear all surrounding noise while traveling at high speed.
4.3 Public Disturbance
Riding a noisy motorcycle can be a cause for annoyance to other people, especially when traveling late at night.
4.4 Hearing Impairment
There is a higher chance of damaging your hearing if you ride a loud motorcycle. If you ride often without wearing a noise-canceling helmet, it can result in even worse hearing loss.
5. Motorcycle Noise Law
Many countries have noise pollution laws that set a limit on the volume of exhaust noise. In the United States, the EPA states that motorcycles should not be louder than 84 dB at 35 mph and 80 dB when stationary.
Motorcycle companies and aftermarket parts manufacturers build their products to comply with these standards. These rules do not apply to motorbikes built before 1986.
EPA Regulations on Motorcycle Noise Limits
Hard Site (Above 35 mph)
Hard Site (35 mph or Less)
Soft Site (Above 35 mph)
Soft Site (35 mph, or Less)
6. How to Make Your Motorcycle Less Noisy?
6.1 Replace the Muffler
The muffler may need to be replaced if your bike suddenly starts making unusually loud sounds. Luckily, mufflers are easily accessible and affordable.
Most motorbikes come with a standard factory muffler, i.e., bullet muffler, which is ineffective at reducing exhaust noise. You can replace the stock muffler with a more effective aftermarket muffler. Consider using resonator mufflers as they are made of soundproof fiberglass that will reduce noise.
6.2 Wrap the Exhaust Pipes
Wrapping around the exhaust pipes are made from durable metals like titanium that help the exhaust pipes better withstand higher temperatures, reduce vibrations, and lower the volume of the exhaust noise. They are also easy to install and more affordable.
6.3 Buy an Exhaust Silencer
An exhaust silencer comes with a fiberglass wrap that reduces the size of the exhaust pipe’s opening. It’s readily available and easy to install.
6.4 Check for Holes in the Exhaust
Holes in the exhaust cause your motorcycle to become too loud. These holes are usually caused by corrosion. You can easily seal them with exhaust wrap. If the holes are on the larger side of the exhaust, you’ll need to use resin and a patch to seal it.
7. Last Words
There are many reasons why motorcycles are so loud. The engine design and size, open exhaust systems, smaller mufflers, aftermarket exhaust systems, and the "loud pipes save lives" argument all contribute to the noise created by motorcycles. While some riders enjoy the loud sound produced by their motorcycles, others find it disruptive and obnoxious. As motorcycle technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how these factors influence the future of motorcycle noise.