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Why we like it loud

Motorbike Engines: 5 Reasons Riders Like It Loud

A large part of a V-twin cruiser bike’s allure is the rumbling sound of the exhaust and the thrill of powerful engines. Many riders consider the bike’s sound as vital to enjoying the overall riding experience. In fact, loud pipes are synonymous with owning a V-twin cruiser motorcycle – at least for many bike owners. There’s no denying that loud exhausts attract attention. Anyone who has been riding for many years can attest to that.

Many riders love the appeal of riding a customized bike while donned in classic or stylish leather riding gear with an aftermarket exhaust pipe emitting a thunderous roar. There’s an exuberant and growing cult of riders in today’s motorcycle world who are eager to invest in noise enhancement upgrades such as aftermarket exhaust systems.

On the other hand, there is a mushrooming group of motorcycle owners against the use of loud pipes. While most motorcycles’ maximum noise levels are 80-85 decibels, most aftermarket high-performance exhaust systems produce excess noise levels beyond that. While keeping all this in mind, the key question is – why do riders like their exhausts loud?

Here, we’re going to look at some of the main reasons why motorcycles are loud, why riders like them loud, and what the future holds with noisy exhausts increasingly gaining more attention from the public, riders on two sides of the spotlight, and law enforcement.

Why Are Motorcycles So Loud?

Many motorcycle riders often get questioned by riders and non-riders alike about why their motorcycles are so loud and whether they do that on purpose. While the answer may be simple, it deserves a more detailed and technical explanation. When you think of how modern cars produce less sound, except for performance and sports cars, and then think of motorcycle sounds, it’s no wonder motorcycles are deemed ever-noisy.

Motorcycle mufflers are much smaller – Motorcycle exhaust mufflers are designed to reduce the sound that comes out of the engine through the exhaust. These mufflers are much smaller than car exhaust mufflers, and at just several inches, motorcycles end up producing more sound.

Shorter exhaust pipes – Another reason why motorcycles are loud is the exhaust pipes’ length – just about three feet long, unlike 10 – 15 feet long in cars. That means the sound and air rushing out of the motorcycle engine doesn’t have as much residence time inside the exhaust to slow down, bounce off internal walls, and lose velocity and energy. Shorter exhaust pipes mean a higher force of exhaust and air coming out of the exhaust pipes, making a louder sound.

Open motorcycle engine design – A motorcycle’s engine is open to the atmosphere and air. Nothing is shielding the sound coming from the engine pistons going up and down inside the bike’s engine. Thousands of mini-explosions happen every minute inside motorcycle engines, which can get extremely loud. Without engine encasing, it’s evident that motorcycles become pretty loud for anyone to hear.

Remember that motorcycles can also produce other loud engine noises when accelerating, braking, or even cruising along the highway, depending on your riding style and your bike’s condition. If you’re worried about any unusual engine noises, it’s worth checking it out.

5 Reasons Why Riders Like It Loud

If you ride a motorcycle with a stock muffler or a previously owned one, you’ve probably had fellow riders telling you to opt for an aftermarket exhaust for various reasons like improving the sound and the bike’s performance. Upgrading the exhaust system is often at the top of the custom upgrade priority list for most motorcycle owners.

Why would anyone want a loud exhaust? Is it because louder pipes are more appealing, or is it all about improving motorcycle safety on the roads? It turns out that the reasons are different depending on individual riders. Here are five reasons why V-twin cruiser bike riders like it loud:

1. They Simply Enjoy the Sound

If you’re not the type who loves motorcycles or even never owned one, it’s easy to wonder how riders would like riding motorcycles that are so loud and not feel uncomfortable about it. Contrary to that line of thought, most motorcyclists interviewed about their loud exhaust pipes simply say they enjoy the loud sound – it’s part of the riding experience.

There’s no way to explain that, but some people enjoy hearing that loud sound as they ride their favorite bike. Think of classic ‘70s to ‘90s V-twin motorcycles like the Suzuki Intruder, Honda Valkyrie, Yamaha V-Max, Indian Chief, or the Harley Davidson Fat Boy. These bikes are loud, and many people don’t mind the rumble of an old classic bike. The sounds are even louder with newer customized bikes with aftermarket exhausts.

Many riders will appreciate that loud and good looking pipes draw attention when cruising along the highway or anywhere else. This, when combined with a stylish custom cruiser bike, certainly gets people looking, and that feels good for riders who love the loud sound.

2. The Appeal of Aftermarket Exhaust Systems

More and more V-twin cruiser bikers, from the faithful Harley-Davidson riders on Fatboys to riders on Indians, Vulcans, and Suzukis, are telling dealers to replace factory exhaust pipes with aftermarket exhaust systems. They spend as much as $1000 in the process. Why? Because they want louder exhausts that perform better and stand out from other riders.

We can’t understate the appeal of aftermarket exhaust systems. It’s part of today’s ever-growing custom motorcycle culture – factory sounds are not enough. Many riders like it loud because they can have it as they wish. TV shows like ”Sons of Anarchy” and advertisements for aftermarket pipes project that appealing bike image with revving engines and the unmistakable loud pipes.

With snaggy chrome and matte black exhaust names like Cobra High Boy Shotguns to Screaming Eagles and SVT Boneshakers designed to make your Harley louder, there’s no doubt that the aftermarket appeal is one of the reasons why more people like it loud. Any rider can get their hands on aftermarket exhaust systems. How loud they want it depends on preference and, of course, the local laws on excessive noise control.

3. For Safety Reasons

Safety when riding on the road is one of the biggest reasons motorcycle riders like to have loud exhaust systems. Many people will argue about whether or not this is true. But if you ask a motorcyclist, anything that can help other motorists notice them.

When a motorcycle is loud enough, other drivers on the road are more likely to hear or notice them. That, in turn, makes them more aware of the riders so they can drive accordingly. In fact, reports have shown that drivers are the biggest cause of motorcycle accidents. When a driver can’t recognize or detect a motorcycle in traffic, they’re more likely to cause an accident.

That’s because they didn’t see the motorcycle until it’s too late to avoid the accident. It’s no wonder many riders want to be loud enough to be noticeable on the road. However, it’s important to note that louder doesn’t mean safer. Apart from being heard by other motorists on the road, being seen is equally as important and is perhaps the most important thing for riders to keep in mind.

4. The Influence of Peer Pressure

Some motorcycle riders also admit to the influence of peer pressure. If you spend a lot of time around Harley riders or others with loud V-twin cruiser bikes, you’re more likely to be encouraged to upgrade your stock exhaust system and go for more stylish and louder pipes. You’re not alone – many riders encounter a lot of teasing, especially by riders with bigger and louder bikes, but the choice is yours.

Peer pressure is more of an influence when you’re part of a group of friends or riders who ride together regularly. It may seem something small, but many riders end up joining the club of loud exhausts or switching to the growing number of riders supporting less noise for motorcycles for the sake of the people around them. That may or may not be you. Whichever way, the influence of peer pressure shouldn’t determine your riding lifestyle.

5. A Boost in Engine Performance and Power

Whether it’s an old motorcycle rumble or a throaty modern sound, you just want your cruiser motorcycle to sound great when riding down the road. An aftermarket exhaust is one of the easiest ways to improve the sound of a bike. But for some riders, loud is not the only benefit. There are gains made in engine performance and power, especially with high-performance exhaust systems.

There are endless options available, making it easier for motorcycle owners to not only enjoy great exhaust sounds but also get to boost engine horsepower and overall riding satisfaction. Such riders want faster, more powerful, and better-performing bikes that stand out from the rest. Plus, a new exhaust amps up the style of the motorcycle.

Motorcycle Exhaust Sound Best Practices

Now that we know why riders like their bikes loud, there’s still one question: how loud is too loud? Well, there are laws and rules about this, depending on where you live or your country. In most cases, you can be reported to authorities or arrested by traffic law enforcement for exceeding the recommended motorcycle noise levels – usually around 80-85 decibels.

If you breach the legal requirements, you may have your motorcycle registration suspended until the issue is rectified or pay a fine. It’s important to always check to see rules for excessive noise whenever you’re riding in any new place, so you know the actual limits.

Unfortunately, most aftermarket exhaust systems produce higher sounds than the recommended levels. To be on the safe side, always look at the exhaust system’s specs if you’re doing an upgrade. It will be clear on how many decibels you’ll gain and other details. If this information is not listed or you can’t access this information, don’t purchase it.

You’ll also want to keep these motorcycle exhaust sound best practices in mind:

Be smart – Revving your motorcycle like a maniac, especially in highly populated areas or near police, is a sure way to get pulled over or get reported and fined. Having a noise contest with fellow riders is thrilling, but there’s always a place and time to do that. Be a smart rider and respect others on the road, too, even as you enjoy your ride.

Be aware of noise-sensitive areas – Whenever you’re riding, be mindful of any sensitive areas you’re riding through like schools, hospitals, residential neighborhoods, and others. No one wants to be woken up at night by loud exhausts.

Consider your exhaust upgrade carefully – Cheap exhaust systems are likely to be excessively loud and probably sound horrible. Get an aftermarket exhaust system from a dealer or a reputable company. This way, you can get a high-quality exhaust that sounds and performs great.

Ensure your exhaust system is in good shape – A damaged exhaust system may produce excessive sound, especially after a crash or drop. Make sure there are no holes or issues with the motorcycle exhaust system.

Want to remove the baffle? – Most motorcycle exhausts have removable baffles. If you remove yours, be sure to hold on to it. If you’re going to sell your bike or want to switch back to a less noisy exhaust, you may want to replace the stock baffle so you can also pass sound tests.

Note: Always keep your stock exhaust after replacing it with an aftermarket upgrade. You may need it at some point.

The Future of Loud Motorcycle Exhausts

Motorcycle engine technology has changed significantly over the years. That’s why you’ll quickly note that older motorcycles have louder exhausts than the newest models. Most of the older bikes were made at a time when loud exhausts were a real fad, whereas nowadays, it’s not the main focus.

More riders want a bike that meets their unique riding needs while also offering the perks of a powerful, great-sounding bike. Today, motorcycles are more efficient, meaning they aren’t nearly as loud as the engines on older motorcycles. For those on the other side of less noisy exhausts, the introduction of electric bikes in the market is even a more appealing development.

The future of loud motorcycle exhaust sounds remains strong. But, as more people share their concerns about excessive noise, especially near public areas or residential areas, laws may change to control where loud motorcycles may be allowed. What lies ahead remains to be seen

A guest article:
Jordan McDowell is a writer and automotive enthusiast. He specializes in content that helps car and truck owners get the most from their vehicles through aftermarket upgrades.

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