II . Excessive sound
(i.e. loud exhaust)
Threat: Excessive sound is one of the most challenging issues facing motorcycling and off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding, including dirt-bikes and ATVs. Excessively loud streetbikes are more prevalent now than at any time in memory, owing to the growth in on-highway motorcycle sales over the last two decades.
• The relatively small number of motorcyclists and ATV riders who ride on streets and trails with unmuffled straight pipes or competition aftermarket exhaust systems perpetuate a public myth that all motorcycles and OHVs are too loud and therefore must be eliminated from public places or severely regulated.
• Even a single loud motorcycle or OHV reinforces the stereotype.
• This issue is further complicated by the difficulty that regulators encounter when trying to accurately measure sound pressure in dB(A).
Status: Riders are divided on the issue: in some cases peer pressure is effective, but there are many riders who hold onto the belief that loud pipes are OK.
• Municipalities and local governments, responding to complaints from citizens, have attempted to rein in excessively loud motorcycles. Denver and Boston are two notable examples.
• Ordinances require EPA-compliant exhaust systems on motorcycles manufactured after December 31, 1982. This approach is impractical because original equipment (OE) exhausts are expensive when they are available, and most aftermarket suppliers cannot afford to meet the complex EPA certification process.
• By unfairly singling out motorcycles, municipalities hold riders to a higher standard than other offenders: loud cars and trucks, boom boxes, generators and leaf blowers, etc.
• Even on motorcycles with OE exhaust systems, the EPA-compliance label is often hidden by saddlebags, heat shields, etc., making fair enforcement difficult or impossible.
• In 2009, the SAE announced J2825, a sound measurement standard for on-highway motorcycles. The testing methodology parallels J1287.
What riders can do: Riders should maintain exhaust systems so that they are not excessively loud.
• Check state laws to ensure compliance. See amadirectlink.com/legisltn/laws.asp.
• Riders should exert peer pressure on this issue whenever prudent.
• The AMA has a grant program to provide riding clubs with sound meters and test procedures so that members can check their machines.
• Riders should act now before unfair legislation is enacted. Approach your local elected officials and encourage them to adopt J2825 for motorcycles as part of a larger strategy to address excessive noise from all sources.
III. Performance and equipment modifications
Threat: The federal government has banned riders from making modifications that can render a motorcycle incompliant with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards. California also has stringent regulations.
Status: The ability of a rider to alter the emissions of a street motorcycle is already highly regulated. Starting in 2006, a new EPA rule made it legal to build and own a "kit bike" motorcycle subject to the following conditions:
• One emissions-exempt kit bike is allowed in the owner's lifetime.
• An owner may not sell an emissions-exempt kit bike for five years after its final assembly.
• The EPA regulations only apply to motorcycles built for model year 2006 and later.
• For EPA regs, see epa.gov/oms/roadbike.htm.
In California, street bike and OHV emissions are also regulated by the Calif. Air Resources Board (CARB), and therefore riders must also comply with CARB regulations.
arb.ca.gov/msprog/motcycle/onrdmc.htm and arb.ca.gov/msprog/offroad/orrec/orrec.htm.
What riders can do: If riders intend to modify a motorcycle in a manner that renders it incompliant, they should be aware of the requirements placed upon them under the current federal law and state law where applicable.