Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Motorcyclists: Our own worst enemy!

Read a great article by David Hough in Motorcycle Consumer News last weekend regarding the use of "Straight Pipes" on motorcycles. To my surprise and delight, Hough took the whole "Straight Pipes Save Lives" theory and flushed it down the can! How refreshing it was to finally hear a true motorcyclist (i.e. someone who rides for reasons other than image) speak up against the lies and propaganda being touted by certain interest groups.

For years many motorcyclists have been singing the praises of loud pipes (that is, if you can *hear* them singing), claiming that they force car drivers to take notice of motorcycles. Others even claim that the loud rumbling of exhaust pipes gives a menacing tone which makes other drivers think twice before messing with you! Obviously the rumbling tone has also affected their ability to think.

The truth is, loud pipes are dangerous. A motorcyclist must above all be aware of everything going on around him or her. If you can't hear that SUV's horn coming up too fast behind you because your chrome beast makes more noise than a 747 at take-off: you're roadkill! Hough also raised more scientific proof, like the fact that exhaust noise is comprised mostly of low frequency content, thus making it omni-directional. In a nutshell, this is the same theory as a subwoofer for your home theatre system. No matter where you install the subwoofer, the sound will propagate omnidirectionally and make itself heard throughout the room. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the location from which the sound is emanating. So in other words, although a car driver may hear the rumble of straight pipes coming, they won't be able to dicern from which direction the sound is coming.

Many independant studies have shown that straight pipes do little to nothing to prevent accidents. The latest of which being the MAIDS study in Europe. There is, however, undeniable proof that loud pipes are having a negative effect on all motorcyclist's rights and privileges. Many towns and cities have adopted laws that either limit or prohibit the use of all motorcycles during certain hours and/or on certain streets.

There's also the whole issue of outside perception. The bikers who claim that loud pipes make them seem more menacing are absolutely right! Which just adds fuel to the fire for any group that is pushing to implement restrictions on motorcyclists.

Let's face it: as motorcyclists we are greatly outnumbered on our roads and highways, and the majority rules. If we keep being a nuisance to other motorists, we're just our own worst enemy.

A word of advice to motorcyclists out there who are thinking of getting loud pipes to ensure that they get noticed - paint your bike hot pink with flashing purple lights instead; I guarantee that more people will notice you than you would care for!

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