Loud Pipes and Safety -- A Myth? - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 08:05 AM Thread Starter
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Loud Pipes and Safety -- A Myth?

I've been thinking about changing out the stock pipes on my Vulcan 900 for safety reasons. While I do think the aftermarket pipes sound cool, I'm one of those guys concerned about the noise (neighbors, getting sick of the drone on long trips, etc.) The main rationale I have for pipes is safety, which we hear mentioned all the time.

Is the safety argument valid?

A truck driver (18-wheeler) told me the other day that he doesn't hear motorcycles (with or without loud pipes) until they're just outside his window. He happens to have a motorcycle, too, so he certainly had no axe to grind against bikers. His point seemed to be that the argument that loud pipes enhance safety is overstated.

This article (Most Common Motorcycle Myths Debunked: Part 1 - autoevolution) argues that because most of the sound created by loud pipes is behind the bike, the safety rationale is largely a myth.

I'm still gathering information. If there isn't much safety benefit, the argument for dropping $500 on pipes goes way down for me. I realize that many like the sound, but that factor isn't enough for me.

Anyone have alternative thoughts/views/data on the safety argument?

Cheers,
Dan
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 08:45 AM
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Have you ever noticed that most people with "loud pipes save lives" patches don't wear a helmet.

"Helmets save lives" just doesn't sound as cool.

I do like my Wolo Badboy air horn and think the noise it makes is a safety benefit.

The only time I think my pipes add anything is when I'm sitting at a light and a car is approaching from behind.
A little BBRRAAPP when their 30 or 40 yards back should make sure they know I'm there.
Then again if they're playing the radio too loud I'm snot out of luck.

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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 09:16 AM
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Ok, I will take the bait. Your question is do loud pipes save lives? The idea being that noise creates visibility and gets the attention of distracted drivers, a real issue these days with cell phones and texting. I believe the answer is yes and no. There are real limitations as most of the noise is out the back of the pipes. So it may help avoid rear endings or side swipes especially in congested traffic, but you risk pissing off the drivers around you. That said, statistics say most of the trouble is out in front, people turning left in front of motorcycles. Maybe the best $50 bucks you can spend is to purchase a headlight modulator. This increases frontal visibility and catches the attention of those distracted drivers who turn left in front of you!

From my point of view, anything that increases your visibility (Sound, Light, High Viz equipment) can't hurt for those distracted drivers who say "I just didn't see them". But nothing replaces rider skill and defensive riding on the roads. If you haven't practiced swerving or high speed stops lately, it might be a good time to brush up those skills.


Ride safe
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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 10:05 AM
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the amount of actual AWARENESS that may be generated by any overly loud emission system really doesn't equate to the Fatigue and Hearing Loss endured by the rider and Nuisance Noise inflicted upon the general public..

People do NOT See with their Eyes, nor Hear with their Ears or any of the other possible ways to get into their Heads that they are about to Kill another human being.. NO they perceive their world around them thru the filter of their Brain and history of Experiences.. If they don't own/Ride a mc, they have no real comprehension of what this thing is in their way.. and why should they really care or give room rite of way? Their brains are overly occupied with Self issues and engaged in every kind of distraction our current creature comfort cars can pack in.. NOBODY is actually piloting-navigating their 2 ton cruise misiles. anymore.

The only thing(s) that get their attention are THREATS.. you have to present an IMAGE/ Sound is just adjunct and is usually late to the game, image that is somehow NOT in their best interest to mess with. NOW they cant see detail, what they see is SIZE. since we are small(er) to begin with.. Overly Brite Lites seem to be the best. some blinky stuff, particular occilating left-rite emulating a gun wielding occifer mite help some?
I make it a point besides watching every twitching movement of potential ingress and having prepare plan,, I weave around a lot and make sure people have the opportunity to Recognize my presence..
You can do a lot to mitigate your chances of being crushed like a bug.. butt you cant do a dam thing about that teenager with their head buried in their cell phone sexting.. its just yor time to bug out. poncho




not another boring list of mods;
14 guzzi v14, 14 Injun chieftain v18, 13 guzzi v7, 12 hardley 48
07 kaw v2k, 07 guzzi v11, 07 yam v17, 07 96ci 'lectraglide
06 88ci superglide, 05 hardley 883, 05 yam v17
04 zooki sv1k, 03 guzzi v11, 02 kaw v15
01 Honda 750, 00 hardley 883, 84 Honda v7 supermagna, 99 hardley 883
92 zooki v8 sport, 88 zooki 650 thumper, 84 Honda 500 thumper
80 Honda 360t, 78 Honda cb500f, 75 Honda cb750f
73 Honda cb500f, 73 Yam TX750 blow up bike, 72 Honda cb350t

Last edited by Poncho Villa; 08-25-2015 at 12:47 PM.
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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 11:13 AM
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I agree with some of whats said. if their radio is too loud to hear your rumble or in a big rig, like myself, its pointless. however, most are not blaring the radio and if they're on the phone it will be turned down.in witch case they will hear you even if you are behind them(4 wheelers only. not trucks). sound travels in all directions. can you hear a loud car/bike/ truck coming down the street at you? the noise is being emmited behind them, yet you can stll hear them coming. I can hear my neighbor coming up the hill 1 mile before he gets to the top by my house, while sitting in my livingroom. another thing to consider is wildlife. how many guys know someone or heard of someone hitting a damn deer or dog? they all have quiet mufflers. my first and second bikes had that, and I had close calls with animals on a weekly basis. since ive gone loouud, not one deer, not one dog , squirrel, or anything has come anywhere near me while tooling down the road. as far as being too loud for you to stand the noise, what can I say but "suck it up butter cup". bright flashing lights are great too. you could always wear a yellow safety vest and a blinking light on yer head. ive seen that. you wont catch me doin that. I do believe LOUD PIPES SAVES LIVES, it doesn't pertain to every situation but every little bit helps and it sounds cool too.
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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gator21 View Post
as far as being too loud for you to stand the noise, what can I say but "suck it up butter cup". I do believe LOUD PIPES SAVES LIVES, it doesn't pertain to every situation but every little bit helps and it sounds cool too.
huh? what? are you saying? I can see yor lips moving butt nothing is coming out? been riding these uncorked hardleys too long.. cant hear a dam thing anymore.. oh well, that's the price of staying alive and sounding cool.. or so it says in the hardley poser manual that came with this bike.

and yes they are louder behind than in front. sound waves emanating from exhaust are 90% energy focused rearward wether they be a strate pipe hardley or a 747 jetliner.
yes the reflective sonic wave will encompass a 360 degree pattern, but the intensity is greatly diminished proportional to the angle away from incidence. If you can hear yor neighbor coming 1 mile away, you can hear him leaving 5 miles away.




not another boring list of mods;
14 guzzi v14, 14 Injun chieftain v18, 13 guzzi v7, 12 hardley 48
07 kaw v2k, 07 guzzi v11, 07 yam v17, 07 96ci 'lectraglide
06 88ci superglide, 05 hardley 883, 05 yam v17
04 zooki sv1k, 03 guzzi v11, 02 kaw v15
01 Honda 750, 00 hardley 883, 84 Honda v7 supermagna, 99 hardley 883
92 zooki v8 sport, 88 zooki 650 thumper, 84 Honda 500 thumper
80 Honda 360t, 78 Honda cb500f, 75 Honda cb750f
73 Honda cb500f, 73 Yam TX750 blow up bike, 72 Honda cb350t
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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 01:47 PM
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There's a guy with a very loud victory down the road from me, it's a pretty sweet bike. We catch each other at an intersection frequently. Sometimes I'm on my bike, sometimes I'm in my car. Especially in my car (windows up, radio on; and I don't listen to the radio very loud and am frequently just listening to the news), I don't hear him until he's right up on me. Far too late, if I were an oblivious driver, to prevent me from pulling out in front of him.

I mean if you like loud pipes cool! I don't find anything wrong with them. They can be harmful to hearing I suppose; so can a lack of wind protection. But I'm not, personally, convinced they do much for safety.

Like Scott said, many of the "Loud Pipes Save Lives" crowd don't seem all that safety conscious; mostly just looking for an excuse for a loud bike. And I don't think they need one. What's wrong with just saying "I think it's cool".

Defensive riding and common sense visibility tactics are going to be your best bet, IMHO. Paramedics and firefighters talk about "outrunning their siren". By which they mean, drivers don't hear the siren until the ambulance/fire engine/police car is right on top of them. And those are front-facing sirens not rear-facing pipes!

Another thing I don't like; and I admittedly don't have 'figures' to back this up or anything, but is the headlight modulators. I'm not sure they grab that much attention and I always fear that a driver might glance at it and think you're "waving them on" to pull out. But that could just be me. Some people swear by them.

"8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 5:8 (NIV)

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Last edited by Romans5.8; 08-25-2015 at 01:50 PM.
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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 03:21 PM
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headlight modulators, yuk!..

the ones that got my attention were a separate set of very brite high intensity White lamps Side x Side under the headlamp which was on steady.
this pair of lamps alternated on/off in side x side fashion as you would imagine a red/blue pair on an official police vehicle.. They are White and therefor not attempting to emulate an official vehicle.. but they do Grab your Attention just as if they were. it would take you more than several moments, even a minute b4 someone would think this is not an official vehicle, but by that time they would have already slowed, stopped, given rite of way, etc.

Also, this very same bike had a Trio of very small and brite high intensity Yellow LEDs on the back in a TRIANGLE form as large as the bagged bike itself. these three led's Illuminated in sequence continuously outlining the Triangle to get your attention that this is a vehicle and may be slow moving. which this one was not.




not another boring list of mods;
14 guzzi v14, 14 Injun chieftain v18, 13 guzzi v7, 12 hardley 48
07 kaw v2k, 07 guzzi v11, 07 yam v17, 07 96ci 'lectraglide
06 88ci superglide, 05 hardley 883, 05 yam v17
04 zooki sv1k, 03 guzzi v11, 02 kaw v15
01 Honda 750, 00 hardley 883, 84 Honda v7 supermagna, 99 hardley 883
92 zooki v8 sport, 88 zooki 650 thumper, 84 Honda 500 thumper
80 Honda 360t, 78 Honda cb500f, 75 Honda cb750f
73 Honda cb500f, 73 Yam TX750 blow up bike, 72 Honda cb350t

Last edited by Poncho Villa; 08-25-2015 at 03:24 PM.
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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 04:27 PM
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Makes sense.

I've long thought a larger light 'footprint' is super helpful. If nothing else, it sets off those subconscious warning bells that something BIG is coming, even if it isn't actually something big. Fog lights / driving lights, lower lights, etc.

It's a little off topic but, a lot of people really gripe about new automatic safety features on cars, but I absolutely love the idea. I trust the average computer more than the average driver! I love the idea that as cars progress, the CARS will see me even when the driver doesn't. There are already cars that use RADAR to detect surroundings. For example, if a driver were stopped at a stop sign and you were coming, the car would refuse to let them pull out in front of you (commonly, by holding the brake and giving an audible warning; or just sometimes giving an audible warning of an oncoming vehicle before you even decide to pull out). As a motorcyclist, I think those technologies are pretty cool. Same with cars that will automatically brake when a distracted driver doesn't see the vehicle in front of them stop, etc.

Believe it or not, car accidents are on the decline. And it's not because of better drivers. Many would argue drivers are more distracted and lackadaisical about safety than ever before. The cars just keep getting better.

"8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 5:8 (NIV)

2014 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ABS SE
iPod Connector Kit, Kuryakyn Highway Pegs, Mustang Touring Seat, Marvella's Hitch, Kuryakyn Trailer Wiring Kit, Haul-Master Tag-a-Long Cargo Trailer

2011 Honda Shadow Aero 750 (Wife's)

Memphis shades quick-release windshield, OEM Solo Seat, Mustang Fender Bib, Chrome Solo Luggage Rack

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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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Good stuff here everyone. Thanks!

My takeaway:

1. We can probably all agree that loud pipes have **some** benefit of having you be heard in some instances where you otherwise wouldn't, and there is **some** contribution to safety. We might disagree about the significance of this benefit. Many think it rather small, given that most accidents occur from the front and loud pipes are heard mostly in the back.

2. Many also think the aftermarket pipes sound cool. I'm one of them!

3. The louder drone of aftermarket pipes at highway speed is aggravating to some on long trips.

4. Loud pipes undoutedly bother some neighbors and create some "noise pollution."

Whether the safety and cool factor benefits in 1 and 2 are enough to outweigh the negatives in 3 and 4 is a personal choice. This thread has helped me decide where I am on this. As I learned more about the how small the safety benefits likely are, I'll probably stick with stock pipes. I was in a different place just a few days ago before this thread. Thanks for the input!

Happy and safe riding,
Dan
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