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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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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wocka, wocka, wocka
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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
 

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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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wocka, wocka, wocka
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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.
 

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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.
 

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wocka, wocka, wocka
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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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
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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I have been using a headlight modulator for several years now. The one I have now blinks at a pretty fast rate, but still a good bit slower than the fastest legal rate. It is hard for some idiot to interpret it to mean "go ahead", though some still do. Fewer cars have pulled out on me or turned in front of me with the modulator, so I think the risk of someone thinking you are indicating they can go ahead is far outweighed by the attention grabbing factor. Also, people are becoming more aware that bikes use modulated headlights, so they don't misinterpret them as often. The more we use them, the more folks will be aware of them.

The NTSB did a study that was published a year or so ago about brake lights. Long story short, LEDs grab attention better than incandescent bulbs due to the quick on/off characteristic vs slow on/off of an incandescent bulb. Bright brake lights grab attention better than not so bright. Bright to the point of being irritating LEDs with modulators were way more effective than anything else. I think this can carry over to modulated LED headlights. They will grab attention better than a non-modulated headlight LED or not.
 

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I'm not a big proponent of super loud pipes because I generally don't hear them until they're right outside my window, which is definitely too late. Other than that, stupid loud pipes are just obnoxious in town IMO. I like some beefy thunder as much as the next guy, but I can't stand the super loud pipes. You may be better off getting a real horn for your bike.
 

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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.
why do i feel like your attacking me here? are you too deaf or too old to enjoy a good sounding machine? with replies like yours it makes me want to not say anything at all. if you cant hear a bike behind you, pull the damn crap,ear buds, or whatever is blocking up you hearing outta yer ears!:surprise:
 

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Loud Pipes Risk Rights

I'm pleasantly surprised by how many of the posts here agree that loud pipes are basically not worth much as far as "saving lives", and I'd agree that taking riding lessons and sharpening your own skills is far more important.

One thing I've noticed... folks spouting the "loud pipes save lives" idea seem to conveniently ignore this little tidbit: There are vehicles on the road right now that are producing loud noises and flashing their lights to try to get your attention -- that's right folks, emergency vehicles! Ever notice which way THEIR sirens are facing???? That's right -- they face FORWARD!!! So, what I think all the folks who run "stupid loud" pipes for "safety" should do is bend them around so they face forward, and maybe THEN they'll actually work the way they claim...

Oh, and there IS one place where loud pipes are worth the money...closed-course racing...
 

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wocka, wocka, wocka
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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.
Wally gator, u be the one tossin grenades in the mix.

Ben ther dun that. wen you wake up not too many years from now unable to hear much if at all. U may realize that it's not your obnoxiuos noise everybody is ignoring that saved your hiney but your due diligence and some intervention from outside the box, some call it luck, but we know it's not.

Hearing aids is a 10 billion dollar biz and is exploding because we are exposed to noise levels, intensity and duration as never b4 in history.
It's not just loss of hearing, over time your brain loses ability to associate sounds with meaning. It's called the silent thief. No amount of hearing restoration can fix loss of neurons. at best you mite be able to relearn some associative sounds but never full.
Count on cost of several thousand per year cost, maintenance, replacements for rest of life. I'm not writing this cuz I got nothing else to do. There your ears, destroy em all you want if it makes you feel cool. poncho
 

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I'm pleasantly surprised by how many of the posts here agree that loud pipes are basically not worth much as far as "saving lives", and I'd agree that taking riding lessons and sharpening your own skills is far more important.

One thing I've noticed... folks spouting the "loud pipes save lives" idea seem to conveniently ignore this little tidbit: There are vehicles on the road right now that are producing loud noises and flashing their lights to try to get your attention -- that's right folks, emergency vehicles! Ever notice which way THEIR sirens are facing???? That's right -- they face FORWARD!!! So, what I think all the folks who run "stupid loud" pipes for "safety" should do is bend them around so they face forward, and maybe THEN they'll actually work the way they claim...

Oh, and there IS one place where loud pipes are worth the money...closed-course racing...
If you're a motorcyclist, you probably drool at bikes. If you drool at bikes, you probably pay attention to other bikes on the road, even in your car, or on your bike. If you do this, you've probably noticed that those super loud bikes are totally silent until they are right up on you. And if you've noticed that, you've probably realized loud pipes aren't the biggest lifesaver in the world and one should rely on defensive riding techniques and visibility more than anything. A black bike with a tiny maltese cross headlight, tiny black beanie helmet and all black clothing; but loud pipes? "Safety" isn't quite what's going on here. Just man up, admit you think it's cool, and that's why you did it. There's nothing wrong with having something because you think it's cool. Why try to justify it?

A long time friend of mine is a paramedic and talks about "out running her siren". Even with a forward facing siren, people don't hear her until she's right up on them, especially if they have the radio blaring, etc. Plenty of distracted drivers on the road, they won't hear you, and they probably won't see you. If you're gonna be on the road, you've gotta be responsible for yourself.
 

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There are plenty of people that don't even see or hear a 12 foot high and 45 foot long bright red firetruck running with high intensity strobes, a rumbler, and 120dB sirens until they pull out in front of it or it's sitting on their bumper. Backward pipes mean nothing.
 

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1st time I've read this thread. Good info. I like a little bit of rumble but not going to pay high dollars for it.
 

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Loud pipes do nothing but cause hearing loss and piss people off. They do not save lives. Defensive riding is about the only thing that saves lives. I ride with a headlight modulator. I've seen people notice it before they pull out in front of me. I've had it for 3 months and have seen it help at least 3 times. Who knows maybe they would've seen me anyway. I feel like it makes me a bit more visible in the day. Of course I just expect that the guy heading toward me is going to turn left in front of me without warning. I ride that way all the time.
 

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Loud pipes do nothing but cause hearing loss and piss people off. They do not save lives. Defensive riding is about the only thing that saves lives. I ride with a headlight modulator. I've seen people notice it before they pull out in front of me. I've had it for 3 months and have seen it help at least 3 times. Who knows maybe they would've seen me anyway. I feel like it makes me a bit more visible in the day. Of course I just expect that the guy heading toward me is going to turn left in front of me without warning. I ride that way all the time.


Amen !!! a little bit of brains and Defensive riding goes a long way, straight pipes have no spark arrestors and should not be allowed in the forest or wooded areas :smile2:
 
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