Loud pipes = Safety?

Non-SD related ... booze, birds and general "boys showing off" type stuff

Do louder pipes ensure greater rider safety?

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PBRnr
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Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby PBRnr » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:15 am

Something of a never-ending debate among motorcyclists the world over and certainly one that is brought up quite frequently in various threads here (yes I searched). Do loud pipes truly save lives? It's an interesting question to pose to a group of folks (us) who have similar bikes, a limited number exhaust sound level options, and (IMO) not a very diverse range of riding attitudes/philosophy.

Time to break down the old saying into bits for my own interpretive analysis.
Loud pipes: likely aftermarket, significantly louder than stock, assumed to be clearly audible from a distance equal to or greater than the distance needed to brake to a halt
Save lives: survive an incident/accident regardless of degree of injuries sustained

When I read the above, I would answer "no." Disregarding all the social baggage associated with motorcycles and loud exhausts, it seems foolish to directly correlate a louder bike with incident survival. That being said, my understanding of how the saying is currently debated is that louder pipes provide the potential for generating greater driver awareness for the rider's presence and, thus, may help prevent some accidents from occurring.

Since becoming a father, I've become more aware of how great distraction can affect our brain's ability to multi-task, or rather, how limited our ability to truly multi-task is. If my son is focused on a task, I can sit there and repeat his name over and over again and his brain won't let him hear me. Only when I break his concentration with a hand on the shoulder will he snap his awareness back to what I'm about to say. Same goes for people texting at stop lights. They stop, make a mental note of when the light will turn green, get engrossed in the message content, and before they know it, everybody's driven off without them. With all the flashy indicators, GPS/phones/screens, sound damping technology, and growing trends in traffic congestion inside modern automobiles today, it's my opinion that loud pipes have a minimal impact on driver awareness for riders.

Early in my riding years, my bikes were all very quiet with stock exhausts and I always wondered if a louder exhaust would help me deal with the situations I found myself in where I attributed driver attention to be involved. After getting the SD, I started to reflexively try and utilize the throttle (as so many other urban riders do) to gain the attention of drivers. It became second nature to generously blip the throttle downshifting to intersections, rev a few times before the light changed, and have grand mal wrist seizures when lane splitting. I now think I was idiotically putting myself at greater danger because I was focused on using sound waves to try and change driver behavior. FFS, they're SOUND WAVES not tsunami waves. The same phenomenon happens when I try to use the horn (either in the car or on the bike). In situations needing quick evasive action, I always find myself struggling to stop/maneuver my vehicle while also laying on the horn/flashing high beams etc to "communicate" with the other driver. Other times, I find myself actually lamenting the fact that I escaped the situation unscathed but didn't manage to even reach for my horn by the time we separated and went on each others' ways...Getting back to me as a more experienced rider now vs when I started, I am very much more environmentally aware when I ride, making frequent note of road conditions, where cars are in my immediate and upcoming vicinity, which drivers appear to be a liability, what I will do when I reach them and if they react as I guess they will. I look back on the situations I walked away from as a new rider and realise that my limited skill and lesser awareness at the time had a great deal to do with my getting into those situations to begin with.

So, for those who are strong proponents of loud pipes save lives, I want to know: how much does rider awareness and driver management skills count for you in comparison to loud pipes? Sure, you can ride smart and have a loud bike at the same time, but do you think you can be just as safe (meaning able to avoid an accident that is within your skilled power to do so) with a quieter bike?
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby jmann » Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:18 am

Comrades:

This ain't no simple question. There are many situations where motorcyclists have accidents and potentially die. Unfortunately some of those are single vehicle accidents where the rider overcooks a corner, stands the bike up and hits a tree Etc. Others involve other vehicles and a subset of those are associated with a fault on the part of the other vehicle. Interestingly, riders that survive for a reasonable amount of time seem to develop a sixth sense about what they should be doing and what other people are LIKELY to do. Thus experience counts for a lot but it is not infallible.

A lot of our experience centres around the attentiveness of people in cars. In the context of the question a significant number of accidents involves the familiar "Oh sorry officer I just didn't see him". This in itself is code for I wasn't paying attention. I find this small sub-group of accidents very interesting in two telling situations: The first is when a police patrol car is nearby in the overall flow of traffic. Hands up all those that have had a "I didn't see him" type accident when there was a police car nearby? It appears as though police presence changes attentiveness with car drivers... The second situation is when there are Hells Angels nearby. Now these chaps are renown for riding big ugly LOUD bikes that handle like a pile of dog shite. Hands up all of those that have seen an Angel knocked off his bike of late? Did the offender say "Oh sorry I didn't see you" or "Oh sorry I didn't hear you"? No they don't seem to knock Angels off their bikes. Why is that? Well I think it has something to do with "Oh, WTF is that noise? Oh shit it's an Angel. I'd better pay attention in case I get hammered..." Indeed, scenario 2 is much like scenario 1 except 1 involves policemen and 2 involves Angels. Both involve something that makes other road users become more attentive. Personally, I think loud bikes have the potential to alert other road users that a bike is nearby - this could be in the next lane or around the next corner. In some potential accident situations that warning might be just enough to avoid a tragic situation. In some, possibly many it won't, but there is a reason that most essential services (fire, ambulance, police Etc) use a loud noise to signal their approach - it makes people pay attention.

My little experiment for the next couple of weeks is to ditch the "Baby Aboard" sign and drive my car around with a sign that reads "Hells Angel Aboard". I wonder how much courtesy or road rage I'll see? I hope I don't get taken out by a rival Chapter :lol:

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby battleshaft » Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:51 am

Safety is ultimately down to the rider and no reliance should be placed on the noisy pipes, although a loud exhaust might mitigate the risk of going unseen. Our brains react to sound faster than other sensory stimuli, so there is a chance that in some circumstances you may be noticed sooner with a louder pipe than standard...

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Dirtydutch » Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:55 pm

It will only have effect on slow speeds and intersections. At highway speeds no one in front of the bike will hear you on time.

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby ojw123 » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:23 pm

I'm kinda of the opinion that the loud pipes argument falls under the every little helps mantra. While I don't put much stock in expecting someone to hear me coming at any great speed with a loud pipe, perhaps just that little blip and pop on the downshift coming up to a junction or roundabout, that with a louder pipe is going to catch someones ear could make all the difference.

That said, I think there is certainly a line though between the standard quiet stock units and the cut off gp style screamers and I always like to err on the quieter side, rather than appear to be too inconsiderate

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Aphex » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:34 pm

I think the placement of your exhaust plays a large part in it as well.

The 990 has the perfect window level under tail exhaust that really seems to reverberate well. At speed I don't think my pipes do anything to help me but between pulling the passing light trigger to whatever music I'm listening to and my exhaust I definitely notice people looking in their mirrors and moving over a bit more for me as opposed to riding my girls stock Duke 390 while lane splitting on the highway (something I do every day in dead stopped traffic on the 15).
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Motogoon » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:28 pm

Based on my experience I would say no.

24 years riding I've only come off once (on the road that is, different on the track racing, that tally is up to 4), and that was totally my fault. 1st year of riding on the road I lost the front in a 50km/h corner because I didn't know you had to warm your tyres up before charging into the first corner up the street from your house!

Anyway I've mostly had fairly quiet bikes, this 990 without baffles and open airbox is by far the loudest and I would say I've had just as many idiots cut across the front of me as any quiet bike I've owned.

I can see how at very low speed when filtering cars are definitely more aware that you're there but as soon as any speed is involved where you're actually more likely to die I don't believe it helps. All the shit seems to happen in front of you and having pipes blasting out behind seems pretty ineffective, I've never had any close calls from vehicles coming up behind me either on a quiet or loud bike.

Closest call I guess I've had is T-boning a car that decided to u-turn in front of me without indicating in a 50km/h area, I saw her sitting there as I was riding along so was kind of watching with suspicion and emergency braking when she pulled across ment I just ended up putting a dent in her drivers door rather than going over the bars. Point is I was far enough back that having loud pipes would have made no difference to her noticing me.

Interesting the comment about hells angels, there actually seems to be a fairly regular amount of bike gang members on loud Harleys that get killed on the roads here, whether it's a cars fault or not I don't know.

Now if you could point your loud exhaust forward then I think it would definitely make a difference. As it is I think they mostly just piss people off and give us a bad name. And I'll probably piss a few people of saying this as well but I've often found over the years that people with the loudest pipes are often not the fastest riders. (I'm ducking for cover!) I don't.know how it is in other countries but in New Zealand there seems to be a lot of people who equate that louder = faster.

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby AGRO! » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:07 pm

Motogoon Your probably right about the loud pipes = slow rider just ask the Moto Gp paddock :lol: Anyhow loud pipes have probably saved some lives but in reality your better off just pretending your invisible to all road users.
I had someone ask me once when riding or driving how far ahead are you scanning for danger?
I said I've never even taken any notice but the next time I was on the road I took note of what I'm actually doing and I noticed that I'm actually scanning way ahead of my position looking for any up coming events.
I think this has come from ridding for So many years anyhow next time you're out on the road take note of how far your scanning for trouble I think you will be surprised.

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Motogoon » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:50 pm

AGRO! wrote:Motogoon Your probably right about the loud pipes = slow rider just ask the Moto Gp paddock :lol:


Haha yeah I knew someone would bring out race bikes, I should've said road bikes!

Agree with your point about always assuming that no-one can see you, that's a good way to put it. I don't even really get road rage anymore I just assume everyone is an idiot and not paying attention to what's going on around them and that seems to keep me out of trouble.

Funnely enough on my way into town today to try and find a bolt to modify into a crank tdc lock (didn't find one) and on the opposite side of the road was an ambulance with lights and siren blazing stuck behind a car for at least 300 metres that had no clue it was behind them and didn't pull over. I see that all the time. Just goes to show that no matter how loud and visible you are some people just will not see you.

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby SUPER DUKE #1 » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:44 pm

Double or triple edge sword loud pipes are IMO. Yes in slow moving traffic loud pipes get the attention of vehicles around the motorcycle, but does that attention toward you also take away the attention the other driver's around you should be aware of to them that they should be aware of? A driver hears your louder motorcycle looks to find you somewhere in a mirror or leaning forward to check a blind spot and doesn't notice that traffic ahead or around them is slowing down or coming to a stop. Don't know how many times I've heard a louder vehicle somewhere around me and I get distracted trying to find the location of the sound when I should keep my focus on my driving. Kind of like the mayhem that happens when you first hear an emergency vehicle siren and you and everyone else that hears it starts the panic to stop or pull over, exaggeration yes but a basic reaction to a louder than normal sound while driving.

The other edge is the fact that your louder bike also works in reverse because you, along with wearing a helmet, have less sound awareness of quieter vehicles around you also. Next time you're in your car or truck in traffic turn your audio system off, roll down all of the window and listen to the vehicles all around you. You can pretty much hear everything from their audio systems to the electric fans kicking in to that faint squeal of grit on their brakes. Diesel vehicles are the best at being found by ear.

Once vehicle to vehicle sensor tech becomes more common (motorcycles included) we can once again bring back the basic defense for loud pipes BECAUSE THEY SOUND GREAT and not need to uses the lame excuse that they save lives. Loud pipes if they do have some awareness benefits, that benefit is mostly at slow speeds where the accidents are not as life threatening as where louds pipes sound best WFO. Maybe someone can adapt a vehicle audio beeping sound like a backup alarm when speeds are under 25 MPH and the vehicle sensor is in slow moving traffic.....now that would be really annoying, probably get a few water bottles and objects thrown at you from the vehicles around you. :lol: :lol:

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby DribbleDuke » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:03 am

When I was a child we would put cards on our bikes attached with Mom's clothe's pins that struck the spokes to pretend that it gave a motor sound. I found an expensive set of plastic cards in the junk drawer that gave off a markedly louder sound. They were the rage and all my friends and sisters had to have a set of louder jokers. When I was +- 10 years old my grandma got me a Mattel Varooom. It was a battery powered noise maker that you mounted on the bar of your stingray and when you moved the shift lever back or forth it would make a revving motor sound. Moving on to mini bikes and the many small engined powered frankencreations any self respecting greased up under fingernail pottie mouthed truant could steal enough gas to parade through a neighborhood it was common knowledge that the loader the noise spewing out the rear end of the machine the faster and therefore cooler such machine and by guilt by association ,I, was. If you want to turn a head put high heels on a women walking just out of your view or not recognized in your view till the sound hits your ear. As soon as the sound reaches my Pavlovian drum all other thoughts that do not occupy the primordal synopsis leave me. I hear a twin turbo 6" exhausted Dodge Cummins deisel within earshot and I stop all and relish in the torque that is so abundant some of it spills out through the airwaves and raises the blood pressure just enough to dance a bit inside." It may get loud" is anthem not warning. Loud pipes save lives is an argument save for some trailer trash looser who though I am sure has spent many a day in court, would not be the one that passed the bar, if you know what I mean.
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Dirtydutch » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:52 am

And another consequence is here in the netherlands roads are being closed because of noise polution from bikes in the weekend.

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Aphex » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:35 pm

Dirtydutch wrote:And another consequence is here in the netherlands roads are being closed because of noise polution from bikes in the weekend.



Good thing here in America our loud pipes are covered by the first amendment. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby AGRO! » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:56 pm

Aphex wrote:
Dirtydutch wrote:And another consequence is here in the netherlands roads are being closed because of noise polution from bikes in the weekend.



Good thing here in America our loud pipes are covered by the first amendment. :lol: :lol: :lol:

You would be screwed then If Obama was still President :lol: 8)

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby shadowman » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:44 am

I really love the bellow of an open pipe with a motor on cam or in the zone. Two or four stroke, two or four cylinders (or six in the case of a CBX going back a while) I have enjoyed them all.

The cackle of expansion chambers, the deep rumble of a twin or the angry scream on a multi under load - all great. Add in some induction roar and its music to my ears. One of the most mournful and beautiful sounds I have ever heard was an old F1 car being thrashed round Silverstone on a test day with the sound echoing and resonating in ways nothing else ever has in my experience.

All that said the argument about safety is a load of self serving bollocks. On the open road in a car you only hear even very loud bikes when they pass you or in slow traffic in town. The vast majority of the sound energy trails behind the bike, modern cars are well insulated against sound. Loud or quiet will make zero difference to the chances of being noticed, a headlight or distinctive colour scheme moving against the background are much higher on the awareness scale.

The other thing that's obvious if you step even a little out of the bike bubble is that loud exhausts piss the general public off. Biking is not a utility activity its a hobby interest and like all hobby interests it exists on the sufferance of the wider public. Luckily, despite persistent whining to the contrary, we here in the UK live in a highly tolerant and permissive society. Yes we have rules but by and large they are flexibly interpreted and as long as what you do doesn't inflict too much loss or inconvenience on others its allowed to persist largely unhindered.

As an example I have a pilots licence and the old open exhausted machines make a racket. Its a pointless hobby with little utility but the people who enjoy it are allowed to indulge the urge, in exchange we do what we can to reduce noise pollution to villages etc and harmony is maintained. I only have one bike at the moment and it's almost silent. Over the years though I have had ear destroying machines and looking back I'm sure I helped foster a general negative impression of bikers as a result.

Long answer. Short one is "no"

Classic example of confirmation bias, some scraps of supporting evidence are grasped as evidence to support a self serving proposition. Part of human nature I guess.

I would like to hear an H2R in the flesh at some point before everything goes quiet though.
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Mr_Trecolareco » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:14 am

Well loud pipes don't save lifes...defensive driving and a little bit of luck does! 8)


Saying that after my akrapovics were fitted cars just move out of the way without having to ask for it ( not even a fast revving is needed) :twisted:

So yes at some specific traffic conditions people are more aware of my presence because of the loud pipes.


But it's no magic ball of protection, people must ride sensible and know that if the traffic is flowing at around 60km/h the other cars/bikes don't expect a 120km/h motorcycle buzzing by.
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby WHO? » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:43 am

simple defence of/for loud pipes .... other week I had the privilege of meeting a couple of the "lads" that post here for a sweet lap through the hills, met up with a bloke on a 1290sdr with short decatted zorst at a servo near brisbane & just so happened a little lady in a heavily marked up perleece car wearing all her regalia stopped to have a quick chat with us in passing & her words were:






























to quote "loud pipes save lives, have a good ride...."
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby AGRO! » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:25 am

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Duncs » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:52 am

Many years ago I had a VTR1000 with the baffles drilled out of the stock pipes. I rode it for a couple of years to work (about 25km). Same route, same time, each day. Very little filtering unless the traffic was stopped at lights.

Long story short, it was written off and I went out and bought another. While I was running it in, I left the baffles in.

Same commute to work, same driving habits, almost wore the horn out as cars tried to merge over the top of me!

After the first service, drilled out the baffles on the weekend. Come Monday, cars stopped trying to share my position. It was like night and day!

Now I realise this is purely anecdotal and not scientific at all. Maybe all the drivers had started looking for me by then? And it could be said that I’d unconsciously changed my riding habits to compensate - I don’t think I did but I can’t say I hadn’t.

But that was good enough for me. I’m a firm believer that loud pipes give you a little bit extra “visibility” and every bit helps.

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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby DukeNukem999 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:19 pm

Pretty much agree with the opinion that it helps having louder pipes. Jmann is pretty much spot on. HA's pipes are usually too loud though.
People seem to be much more attentive when they need to be. But otherwise they are lazy. Take the lack of indicating by so many drivers as an example.
I've lost count of the amount of times I see drivers eyes suddenly open wide when they eventually look in their rear view mirror due to my loud pipes catching their attention.
However, its not an absolute as some drivers (even other riders) can be totally oblivious to their surroundings (scary shit). Especially for drivers / riders with headphones on / stereo cranked up.
Watch this space when EV bikes (and EV vehicles in general) become the norm. There will be an sharp increase in accidents including pedestrians being hit for sure.
There will be a market for engine sound emulation devices, maybe even illegal to not have one on an EV one day ?.
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby Twist » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:47 am

I saw this in someone's signature on another forum and it's the best quote I have for this topic.

"Loud pipes save lives? Maybe but what will definitely save lives is spending that money on learning to ride the thing."

I gotta agree with that. Most motorcycle fatalities are single vehicle accidents involving only the rider and his/her bike. You can go through all four levels of the California Superbike School, riding their bike and using their gear, for less than the cost of a full akra system.
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Re: Loud pipes = Safety?

Postby AGRO! » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:03 pm

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