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Hey Matt:

How come motorcycles can be as loud as they want, rattling windows and setting off car alarms? If my car was that loud, I couldn't go a block. Is it because all of the powers that be are afraid of the Hell's Angels?

-- Just Forgot My Name, the web

Nowhere does it say that ear-splitting, gut-rumbling, windshield-breaking motorcycle noise is legal. By federal law the level of exhaust noise of a new mc must not be over 80 decibels. When they're ridden out of the showroom, they are street legal. And for the most part, the average motorcycle stud or studette leaves it that way. The gawd-awful racket comes from the aftermarket exhausts put on by some renegades to replace the manufacturer's polite pipes. The standard excuse for all the noise is that it's necessary for rider safety on the road-- we gotta be loud so people know we're there. Which is questionable, of course, since the sound is loudest beside and behind the bike, not in front of it. But the "notice me" part of it is true. A particularly snotty member of the Alice consortium is more than happy to admit that loud pipes sound mean and bad and irritate everybody, and that's the effect certain riders want to achieve. Law enforcement claims they do enforce the law, though proof is tricky, but speeding causes more road deaths than noise, so�.

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