Loud motorcycles are becoming such a nuisance in much of Europe that laws against them are starting to be enacted.
In addition to the standard, louder noise of gas-powered motorcycles compared to other vehicles, many riders install aftermarket exhaust systems to tune their exhaust sound and increase the volume.
Others simply rev the engine for attention at stoplights.
While the noise might not bother as many people in rural areas where few people live within earshot, it has been causing serious debate in densely populated cities across Europe where motorcycles are more popular. And now some countries are taking matters into their own hands.
France has installed microphone systems to in several cities to measure the volume of vehicles as they pass by. The goal is to eventually use the system and the data it gathers to penalize those that create excessive noise in highly populated areas.
Germany is seeing a number of its own gas motorcycle noise-reduction measures. Lighter measures include signs that measure roadside noise decibels and alert riders who are creating too much noise. More heavy-handed alternatives include outlawing aftermarket exhaust systems and instituting fines for those who tinker with their factory exhaust systems.
A gas-powered motorcycle meet-up
The increase in regulations regarding the sound level of gas-powered motorcycles highlights an obvious advantage of electric motorcycles.
These initiatives also come at a time when electric motorcycle companies are reporting record-breaking sales. Energica has apparently already sold more electric motorcycles in the first few months of this year as it did in all of 2019.
And with more riders switching to electric motorcycles and new training programs being instituted specifically to teach riders on electric motorcycles, could electric motorcycles be the answer to solving the nuisance of loud gas-powered motorcycles once and for all?
A much quieter electric sportbike (Zero SR/S)
Electric motorcycles are definitely the answer here.
“But Micah, don’t you know that loud pipes save lives yada yada yada… ” goes the refrain.
I don’t buy that. I don’t think loud exhaust systems make anyone safer. For one thing, most motorcyclists still surprise drivers because their “loud pipes” only become loud once they are on top of cars, or rather whizzing by them. Thus, many drivers are startled when a loud motorcycle suddenly pops up next to them. Unless a gas motorcycle is putting out ridiculous decibels, it doesn’t give enough warning time to make a difference when a motorcyclist is already moving.
Next, I think this idea of “loud pipes saves lives” is giving novice (or even experienced) riders a false sense of security. I see such riders taking risks all the time — risks I’d never take as an electric motorcyclist. Because I know that my quiet motorcycle isn’t announcing itself, I’m hyperaware of my surroundings and try to maintain constant situational awareness. I don’t rely on drivers hearing me and accounting for me — rather, I account for other drivers.
Rider awareness is more beneficial than noise pollution
Lastly, I consider myself to be a halfway decent person, and as a halfway decent person I try to not ruin other people’s days. Part of why I enjoy riding electric motorcycles is that I can get the thrill of flying on two wheels without bothering anyone. I don’t need to rev my engine to look cool or wind it up to ear-splitting levels. Rather, I get a kick out of smoking someone at a green light while barely making a sound. Nothing makes me giggle quicker than when another motorcyclist revs at me, and then I watch them disappear in the mirrors of my electric motorcycle, making barely any more noise than my electric bicycles.
There’s a way to have fun and enjoy the adventure that comes with riding motorcycles while not contributing to the noise pollution of the cities we share with our neighbors. And the answer is the electric motorcycle.
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