Mar 25, 2014

Can You Hear Me Now?

This report, Noisy Motorcycles – An Environmental Quality of Life Issue, is a pretty good picture of where we are today and how far motorcycle manufacturers are from grasping reality. Tom Austin, the MIC’s so-called “technical expert,” delivered an intellectually TKO with the claim that “OEMs support SAE J2825 as an alternative test for replacement systems because it offers direct economic benefits and increased floor traffic for their dealers who will be able to sell compliant aftermarket systems. He added that a more enforceable standard would have a positive effect on the public acceptance of motorcycles.” Yep, that’s what the public is concerned with, dealers’ ability to sell noisy exhaust systems as a legal upgrade. That’s exactly what I hear from my neighbors when they curse some bozo riding through our neighborhood on a blubber-machine that out-guns the Guard’s helicopters, noise-wise.

My takeaway from this paper is that motorcyclists’ disorganizations and the MIC have thrown up so many barriers to controlling motorcycle noise that the real “solution” will be to simply ban motorcycles from public roads. No part of the discussion has anything to do with protecting the public’s right to peace and quiet. As long as that is not the primary purpose of figuring out this huge (for motorcycling, while completely inconsequential for humanity and society) issue, we are heading down the drain without a floatation device.

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  1. Thomas,
    Living in a northern Midwest tourist community that is a loud H-D magnet, nearly everyone I know has been emotionally or physically jarred by a sudden audible intrusion. It might happen as you step out of a restaurant, or upon being passed while driving with a window rolled down. It might happen on a calm Sunday morning that is briefly interrupted by a window-rattling drive-by auditory display performed for your pleasure/annoyance. It might happen as you walk through an urban parking ramp. Often the sudden shock of extreme auditory intrusion can leave one in a momentary PTSD-like stunned state, followed by the anger of having your space violated by sophomoric exuberance…Or intentional aggression…Let’s face it, if you are still doing this in your forties, maybe you should seek help.

    As an oldster who has been aware of the fragile and fleeting nature of hearing acuity, I make it a point to limit my exposure to loud noises of all kinds. I am just hoping to avoid the geriatric onset of deafness that impacted the lives of my father and his mother. I always ride with hearing protection. I would not fly, attend a motor race, a concert or operate motorized yard equipment without hearing protection. When someone catches me unaware and unprepared, for a moment I am a bit offended.

    Growing up in the fifties and sixties, I was made aware of the limits placed upon my own youthful desire to discharge motorized racket. In my little town, I well knew that the sheriff’s deputy would pull the offender over and cite any operator for glass-packs, lakes pipes, cut-outs, straight pipes driven with gusto. Any neighbor who had had his fill of window-rattling would give a dad a call. Dad would see to it that the OEM specs prevailed. Both dad and junior knew that the next call might be to the sheriff…And the deputy would pay a visit.

    Common sense, neighborliness, and the threat of enforcement seemed to carry the day. There was an understanding that teenage exuberance was a natural course of events to be followed by maturity, responsibility and a mortgage. “He will be OK…It is just a phase, dear.” Eventually, junior got the message.

    Today in the liberty-land of ‘me’, the common good holds little notice. Adults buy $30,000 motorcycles and $60,000 pick-up trucks. Adults remove $3,000 OEM exhaust systems and install $3,000 noise generators on both cars and pick-up trucks. Adults alter exhaust emission system components and programming because our brave soldiers died for the freedom to do so. Common good?... Ask the rugged individualist swaggering past young families through Appleby’s with his 9mm on his proud, freedom-loving hip. Ask the rumbling individual rider accelerating down main street. The common good is for sissies. Man-Up.

    …Or Grow-Up? Our children learn from our example.

  2. We've become a nation of bullies. Intimidation and bravado rule the day. Anything that impedes corporate profit must be removed. I'm amazed that I've started to sound like my Grandfather... we're going to hell in a hand basket.

  3. Chuck, you clearly had a hip grandfather. Good for you and him.

    Going the bully route is how empires have failed since we started banging the rocks together.


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