Fix that exhaust problem of yours Mr.

[April 19, 2007]

Here's something funny for you.  I don't know if you have experienced this or not but the R12R is remarkably quiet.  So much so that I dare say if you're beyond 20 yards of the bike, it will be hard for you to hear it.  In a way that's very nice.  No noise pollution to kill everybody's eardrums.  As for me, I rely on visual cues to alert cars that I'm around.  In other words, I ride traffic speeds and don't try to do anything stupid to surprise cagers.  I have been so successful at visual contact that I see plenty of cars giving me plenty of buffer.  To that, I thank all the car drivers out there for seeing me putt putting around town.  But this is not the funny part.  Here's the funny part.

Today, while commuting home from work, I take my usual route to get home.  As I near my house, approximate 1/4 mile, a guy on a Harley rides up to me while I'm waiting at a light.  I said Hi to him and he gave a nod in response.  When the light finally green, I was unsure whether he was going to go or I was going to go.  Eventually, I led the charge.  After a short moment he's in the right lane and I'm in the left lane.  We stop again at the next light and what does he tell me?  He said, "Your exhaust is too quiet.  You should change it out for a louder one."  In semi shock and surprise, I thanked him and he rode off.  A split second later, I was busting my guts on my bike from laughing so hard.  He thinks that I'm not visible to drivers because I'm so quiet.  For me it wasn't a problem even with the super quiet pipe.  The cars behind me were giving me so much room that they're small little cars in my rear view mirror.  Remember that rear view mirror normally say "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear" and the cars in the mirrors are tiny tiny, that means they're way way behind me.  I think that's an indication that car drivers see me.  I have never had problems with cars seeing me.  In fact, my riding habits force cars to take note of me.  I don't make any sudden stupid maneuvers that would surprise the car driver and cause them to give me grief.  I purposefully make my action deliberate and obvious to the driver.  They can't mistake what my intentions are.  I respect cars, and I see them respecting me.  I have no problems being in and around traffic.  Everybody seems to get along just fine.  Of course there are the occasional crazy people but that is few in between.  To think that I need louder pipes to be safe is questionable.  I rather have people see me first before hearing me.  I'm sure car drivers out there appreciate the fact that I don't bust their eardrums while I idle at a light next to them.

As for my exhaust itself, I like the fact that the bike is quiet.  It makes me feel comfortable because there is no noise pollution to deal with (e.g. additional vibration up and above the engine's vibration).  It's likely that most Harley riders out there don't even wear ear plugs.  With the level of noise they generate with straight pipes, wind noise, and a lack of earplugs, they must get fatigued really easily.

Thank you but no thank you.  I like my bike just the way it is ... stock.

When I told Layton (my parts buddy at Brown Motor Works) about this, he said I should have told the Harley guy to fix his pipes so I can at least hear what he's trying to say.  Too funny.

Update [July 18, 2007]

I just recently received an email at work asking us motorcycle commuters to take it easy on our way out because our neighbors, a equestrian club, has recently experienced a loud motorcycles that disturbed some of the horses in the vicinity.  I don't mind complying with the request as my R12R is stock and you can barely hear it as it is.  That's just the way I like it.  However, I don't like the idea of being stereotyped as loud just because I have a motorcycle.

All this talk and concerned about loud pipes had me wondering.  Some claim that having loud pipes save lives.  I never believed that in the first place but thought I'd do some research on the net to see what everybody else thinks about the matter.  My suspicions were verified the more and more I read.  Loud pipes are for ego boosting and that's about it.  As for safety, that's just a farce.  In fact, all a loud pipe will do for you is piss off everybody around you.  That just makes it worse for the rest of us who are simply being stereotyped.  See a biker, run him over because he annoys me with his exhaust.  I don't know about you but I definitely don't like that notion.

So the kind gentleman that told me to fix my exhaust because I'm too quiet can go play Beethoven's 5th with his overly expensive chromed plated after market tail pipes.

The question is posed to the motorcycle community:

Would you prefer to ride your motorcycle quietly, or not ride it at all?

I think the answer is easy.  I would prefer to ride it quietly instead of never riding a bike again, for the rest of my life.

By the way, I'm a guy that rides around with a helmet cam on my head and my moto is as quiet as a calm summer breeze.  From my last two years of riding around with an obnoxiously obvious camera on my head, I can see car drivers' behavior.  It's obvious to me car drivers see me because they all slow from fear of the camera on my head.  If they're not observant, they wouldn't back off and keep their distance from me.  They might claim they don't see you, but they do.  Who wouldn't give an excuse to get out from having heavy fines slapped on them.  Unfortunately "I didn't see him" is all too convenient of an excuse.  For those that question my helmet camera experience, slap a helmet cam on your helmet and ride around town.  Next, take it off and ride around town.  Do these two things for several weeks and you'll see a pattern develop.  You'll be surprise at how drivers behave when they know they're being taped.  The side effect to having a helmet cam on is, you'll attract way more attention than you would ever care for.


From the hip [Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly]
Loud Pipes Do What? [Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly]
Loud Pipes' Cost [Motorcycle Cruiser]
"Loud Pipes Save Lives" or The Madness Behind the Myth [Virginia Wind]
Loud pipes save lives or risk rights? [Minnesota Public Radio]

Written on: April 19, 2007
Last modified: July 18, 2007