Certain towns in Southern California are starting to crack down on loud pipes!

California motorcycle lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez discusses loud pipes on motorcyclesIt looks like the loud pipe crackdown is starting to spread across the nation. I have written articles about Malibu, California, and Denver, Colorado cracking down on loud pipes. I have now heard reports from people calling my office that certain cities in the Inland Empire are starting to crack down on loud pipes as well.

I have also heard reports from my brothers in Minnesota, that there is a crackdown happening in certain cities there too.

I will again reiterate my position that loud pipes on motorcycles do save lives, because it forces the cagers to notice you! I have received many comments on the Blog from readers who have differing opinions that mine and that is OK.

Free Speech amongst bikers will not be infringed upon in my Blog.

The bottom line is that the law requires that stock exhaust systems not be modified or tampered with. However, it is absurd that a biker or motorcyclist should have to buy OEM exhaust from the manufacturer of their motorcycles in order to be in compliance with the law. They should have a choice as to what pipes they want to put on! This is a free country right?

We all know that there are guys out there running open pipes and that things can get kind of loud. I guess there needs to be a happy medium otherwise we are all going to be screwed into having to run OEM pipes no matter what.

There are many aftermarket systems out there that come with baffles that will quiet the motorcycle down to a reasonable level.

Where I live it is biker valley. There are more registered motorcycles in the San Fernando Valley, California, than any other geographic location of the same size anywhere in the country. I just saw a guy riding down a street called Devonshire, whose bike was so loud that it really was ridicules. You know it takes a lot for me to say that because I advocate that loud pipes save lives.

Nonetheless it is guys like this that are and will cause the crackdown on all of us.

Imagine if cars were running open headers? I know, when I was a teen, I had a souped up Nova with open headers. I was promptly given a ticket and this was in 1979 or 80. I do not remember the exact year.

So what am I saying; let’s keep a happy medium. There is no reason to be running open pipes. You can still have a reasonably loud bike with baffles installed or tuned. Obviously I am not advocating breaking any laws.

For all of you guys with aftermarket pipes, you better do yourself a favor and keep your OEM pipes just in case you get stopped for loud pipes. It is cheaper to just re-install them on your motorcycle if you do get stopped, rather than having to buy a new set.

I kept my OEM’s from Harley Davidson and they are in my garage.

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © 2007

18 Responses to Certain towns in Southern California are starting to crack down on loud pipes!

  1. I save everything taken off my bike when I customize, now I have a reason why I store the stuff in my garage!! LAND OF THE FREE…….I wonder about that now??? Hope your vacation was good Norm.

  2. ENJOY THE TIME OFF!!! You are going to have sore fingers. The civil suit with the Gerry Morelock Family vs. Billy Lane and Dodge settled out of court after mediation. I saw a post where Billy Lane has not drank any booze since he killed Mr. Morelock. Miss your articles but look forward to the pictures from your vacation……are we on the Harley????

  3. You’ll like this Norm. I was talking to a friend today, telling him how I’m riding my bicycle to get in better shape. First thing he said was CAREFUL! at least you can hear a motorcycle next to you but bicycles are silent.


  4. I appreciate your push for moderation in exhaust tones. It is certainly the bikers who ride with extremely loud straight pipes who are turning public attention on noise ordinance for motorcycles.

    What I do not understand is your insistance that loud pipes save lives. This is often repeated by bikers like a mantra, and there simply is no proof of this. In fact, what little research there is suggests the opposite, that bikers with loud pipes tend to get in more accidents. I’m sure that I enjoy the deep rumble of my motorcycle as much you like the sound of yours, but lets face it, bikers like the sound and use the myth as an excuse to justify it. If cruisers were really concerned about the safety aspect, they would also be wearing bright reflective clothing and wearing full-face helmets, both of which are proven to increase safety.


  5. Victor with new rules coming out many Motorcycle Clubs are getting more strict on what goes on the back of the Colors. As the back is shown as to wear the person is from, the Patch, and their Road Name.

    Yes I know there are a lot of Bikers out there in no Clubs, but have you heard some of the Factory pipes now a days.

    Can you say a silent Harley coming right out of the truck.

    Bikes are small the the only true way for someone to notice you is the loud pipes, but not the drag ones Norman is talking about, or if you just have a 14 foot long trike

  6. I find it really humorous when bikers attempt to rationalize their juvenile and obnoxious obsession with loud exhausts by claiming that they save lives. Riiiight, sure, that’s why you’re doing it.

    I guess we should require all cars to have their mufflers removed and all bicycles to have ear-splitting air horns installed, so we’ll all be “safer”.

    As someone who lives in a neighborhood where bikers occasionally like to ride around in circles, deliberately revving up their loud exhausts, I fully support any crackdown, and I hope you all get lots of expensive tickets. You get absolutely no sympathy from me. I hope the cities get lots of money from you.

  7. Hello Norm,

    My primary comment really had to do with the ‘safety” claims of loud pipes, and to that I would say:

    (1) You canÂ’t seriously expect anyone to believe that safety is any significant portion of the reason why bikers do it? Anyone who believes that, I have a bridge IÂ’d like to sell them. Until you can quote an actual scientific study that proves this, you arenÂ’t doing yourself any favors with this claim, it is just going to make people stop taking you seriously.

    (2) My advice is to be cautious with these safety claims. If your claims that motorcycles are inherently incredibly dangerous are taken to their logical extreme, you run the risk of people thinking, well, okay if theyÂ’re so dangerous then perhaps we should just outlaw motorcycles altogether (not something I support). There is precedence for society outlawing activities that are dangerous, particularly in the area of traffic laws, because, as they like to point out in driver ed, driving is a privilege not a right.

    (3) Nobody is forcing you to ride a motorcycle, it is not necessary, it is simply your choice to engage in what is (by your own admission) a dangerous activity. Therefore, most of the general public would not see why they need to be subjected to the unreasonable discomfort of sleepless nights and split eardrums caused by obnoxiously loud pipes just so you can be a little safer in this optional activity that you chose.

    (4) The safety argument overlooks the fact that it is mostly vehicles beside and in front of you that are the primary danger to you, yet most of the exhaust noise is behind you. I have been in cars many times when I have not heard the roar until it has passed me by. Likewise in the famous “left turn in front of the motorcycle” case, it is the person in front of you making the left turn that is the danger. If safety is your true concern, then I challenge you to start turning your pipes facing forward, so that the noise is in front of you instead of behind you. (What? This might be uncomfortable for you? Well, you’re perfectly willing to subject the rest of us to extreme discomfort for your safety, why wouldn’t you be willing to do it to yourself?)

    As to my neighborhood, that must of course remain undisclosed, due to fears of retaliation.

    As to your suggestion to rent a motorcycle, IÂ’ll pass on that, you have convinced me that it is an inherently incredibly dangerous and risky activity, and I have no desire to participate.

    Finally, I would just like to say that I am not some rabid anti-motorcycle nut. I fully support your ability to ride a motorcycle. I only object when you start doing in a way that is deliberately obnoxious, and dangerous to me (my eardrums) when IÂ’m walking down the sidewalk. I am merely echoing your own pleas (in your own blog) to please be reasonable about it. Surely you donÂ’t really expect the general public to like it unnecessarily loud and obnoxious pipes, and welcome you with open arms, do you? CÂ’mon, be honest.

  8. Norm,
    I appreciate your strong statements that some riders go too far and are possibly ruining it for the rest of you.
    I’m not a biker (I’m actually encouraging my community to stop straight pipes), but do see the beauty in a bike and enjoy a gentle roar (not one that I can hear for half a mile or blocks away even when my house is all closed up).
    I’m asking my community to enforce laws already on the books. I don’t know what is too loud, and what is ok…but everyone always hears the loudest bike and groups them together. It’s very simple…the laws are clearly visible, if you don’t follow them…you can be ticketed. Bikers should either comply or do something to change the laws.

    Why don’t “you bikers” start alienating those with straight pipes that give you a bad name?

    I’d also like to point out how other actions contribute to a negative perception of bikers. On my town’s Main Street, groups of bikers frequent a few restaurants. When it comes time for them to leave, the group of 15 or so bikers slowly get ready and will block traffic so the entire group can leave at once (all this while straight piped bikes sit there rev’ing).
    If this group exit is done for safety, why can’t you go in smaller groups to block traffic less? You could wait for the rest of the group to catch up with in a lower traffic area.

  9. I used to ride, and quit because cars scare the holy heck out of me!

    I tried again recently, and found that I really enjoyed the ride when I was on a road with no cars; once there was a car anywhere near me, I knew I could not trust them to make the right move.

    That said, I feel the exact same way when I drive in a car, that I don’t know what the other person is going to do. I could drive around with the horn blaring constantly to make sure people know I’m there. Of course, I wouldn’t do that, as it would be illegal and obnoxious. The same applies to a motorcycle: riding with loud pipes to wake up other drivers would be rude, obnoxious, and mostly ineffective, unless, as another writer pointed out, you have the pipes facing forward to warn those in front of you.

    When I rode many years ago, I pulled the baffles from my mufflers, because I thought it sounded “cool”. Well, within 2 days, one of my neighbors politely asked me to quiet my bike, since it woke them up when I came home after bedtime. Being a decent civilized person, and understanding their concerns, I put the baffles back in. After all, I don’t need to impress everyone else with my coolness by being excessively loud.

    I guess if I wanted to make sure that I was heard when I drive a car, I could remove the muffler on that: I would be heard a block ahead, but I would kill my hearing, and be really illegal.

    I really do have concern for the safety of bikers, but I think riding in a pack with normal legal pipes would provide a significant degree of comfort.

    If bikers really want to improve their safety on the road, they should petition their local government to ban cell phone use while driving, even hands-free, as most people simply aren’t paying attention to their surroundings when they are talking on a cell phone, even hands-free. Those cell drivers are probably the greatest threat to motorcycle safety today.

  10. Hallelujah. I’m a “cager” (like 99% of the US population), and loud after market pipes need to go. I have a neighborhood house w/ 3 bikers, and they love to rev up their bikes when everybody is asleep. This type of inconsideration is the reason why the vast majority of the population is going after outlawing loud bikes.

    I would hope that bikers could help each other out in telling these inconsiderate type of bikers to at LEAST try to cruise into their homes, rather than driving up to their house at 50 mph (on a small residential street). Otherwise, you’ll continue to see these type of ordinances being passed.

  11. You know? It’s about time something like this was put into effect.

    I’ve been riding for only about a year now on the street, but I’ve been listening to incredibly loud, hearing-damaging noise from Harley’s ever since I moved to California nearly 9 years ago. Not to mention these riders (seem to)tend to go out of their way to get next to people in cars with open windows, next to sport bike riders, or next to pedestrians and crack their throttle wide open so they can either scare the crap out of people or harm their hearing. Or blast around quiet neighborhood streets in unnecessarily loud ways- its not hard to keep your bike quiet, even with a quiet exhaust, hats off to those Harley riders who keep their throttle dialed way back in residential. Of course, these are also the quacks who see themselves as “real” bikers and believe the grace of what ever God they believe in will shield their face, arms and legs against all damage when they hit the ground and go sliding because they insist on wearing shorts and smelly armpit-less shirts and not correct protective gear such as a full face helmet, jacket and pants (this goes doubly for squids).

    What do I ride? What would I like to ride? My thoughts on loud pipes/cans in general?

    I currently ride a 1982 KZ440 with a modified exhaust. By far not obnoxiously loud, however better than stock which makes it wheezy and too quiet. The bike I was riding before I got in my accident was an ’82 Suzuki GS750E with a Yoshimura exhaust. It was a straight baffle and could set off car alarms if you wanted. Though at most RPM ranges the bike was acceptable but had enough bark to make itself be known if you needed to crack the throttle to get someone’s attention.

    My next bikes will likely be an SV650, Bandit 1250 and a VF500 or 750. All of these bikes carry enough bass with their stock exhaust systems to get people to notice if you wrap on it once or twice, even in a quiet car such as a Lexus or other piece of crap like that.

    I do believe that exhausts to a certain degree can offer additional safety, however so can wearing a reflective vest and riding well; be cautious of driveways, alleyways, side streets, etc… Don’t put yourself in positions such as blind spots- I’m sure you’ve driven a car at least once, so you can’t claim stupidity for not knowing that riding next to someone’s rear door (on a sedan) is a blind spot, for instance. Not splitting lanes aggressively and quickly. Headlight modulators certainly tend to catch people’s eyes as I’ve noticed even though I don’t have one. Same for tail lamp flashers. Exercising common sense and a sense of self preservation is the best course of action. Not making your motorcycle so loud it can cause kids and adults alike permanent hearing damage.

    In the end, my thoughts on loud pipes should be something in the range of nothing louder than 100db at 20′. That should be a more than acceptable standard. Unfortunately, that means most Harley and other Cruiser riders will have to take off their open or cored pipes… or, wait… FORTUNATELY. There is no reason we need to hear your bike over a mile away as loudly as if it were next to us. This also means a lot of sport riders will have to stop coring their exhausts, which I am not sad about.

    That’s what I got to say. Ride safe, and have fun.

  12. most of the noise from your pipes is after you have passed by. since we can’t hear you until you are gone, how can this be any safer? your safety assumption, and i truely question your ability to provide any actuall data to support your additional safety viewpoint, is bogus.
    your noise pollution is discusting. you are destroying the peace of mankind. why should we be subjected to this because you drove by miles away from where we sit. it is by the way, miles of sound. i have measured it.
    i ride as my major means of transportation, but i would never ever ever put my fellow humans through what you think is no big deal.
    yeah, its a free country, and we all love that, but what in the world makes you think you should be able to disturb my peace from such distances? the nerve…

  13. As someone who lives in a tourist town that is becoming a biker destination, I can say with some authority that most non bikers despise loud pipes, or even factory pipes when constantly reved.
    I do not want to come on your site as a “hater”, everyone has thier thing and that should be cool. But it is offensive to have to listen to multiple motorcycles rattling thier pipes while eating, trying to talk at a normal level, ect… I have seen a glass window front break, items fall from shelves, and above all, familys and older folks with a shopping agenda declare that they will not be returning to spend thier money in our economy. So, while bars, taverns, liquor stores and motels make hay, my town is being financialy beaten in the sector that makes it a destination of note in the first place. Unfortunatly local law enforcement is overwhelmed, unable to uphold the noise laws due to sheer volume.

    If loud pipes save lives, why then do they sell quiet BMW, Honda, and other non obnoxious motorcycles?

    I realize that stereotyping all bikers as loud and rude is unproductive, but we go by what we are confronted with the most. I have to confess to a much greater rage at times than I am expressing here, but it is easyer to be objective in a quiet room than it is when your overall quality and enjoyment of life is bombarded with a couple hundred loud motorcycles a day.

  14. Thanks for giving me a status of the Lane case. The settlement does not surprise me, and yet again it does. Maybe this is the subject of another article. Time will tell on the booze issue!

    Yes, I am enjoying the time off Sandie, and we are always on a Harley 🙂

    Take care,


  15. That is a good one and ironic too.

    Today I signed up a gal who was hit by a cager while riding a bicycle. She was riding past a post office driveway and the idiot just basically ran over her as he was exiting the driveway, in the presence of her 7 year old child. She is all messed up.

    I wonder what would have happened if she was on a motorcycle with loud pipes? Maybe the cager would have seen or heard her?

    Riding bicycles carries with it a whole set of other factors to worry about especially with cagers. I did a case where a cager opened his car door without looking at traffic and caused a bicycle rider to hit the door and do a complete flip. Major injuries in that case too. You have to be very careful on a bicycle, you are totally silent!

    Good Luck,


  16. Victor it is no myth. I have had multiple instances of loud pipes causing a cager that was moving into my lane while lane splitting to move out of the way when they heard me. I have other examples too. This is from my own personal experience. The evidence comes from me. I am sure many other bikers have their own experiences.

    Emergency response vehicles have sirens so that they will be noticed. In the case of motorcycles we are flat out often invisible to cagers. Loud pipes are analogous to sirens. They help to get us noticed by cagers.

    With that being said, those running straight drag pipes are causing the crackdown that I wrote about. We have to moderate or suffer the consequences thereof!


  17. Hey ordinary citizen. Why don’t you go out and rent a motorcycle and see just how bad it is out there for us bikers i.e. cars cutting us off, moving into our lanes, turning in front of us, etc., and then you will have a better prospective of the issue at hand.

    On another note, what about other vehicles which are also loud i.e. big rig trucks?

    You live in a neighborhood where bikers ride around in circles? Where is this?


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