Let’s talk about these super loud motorcycles around town. What the hell?! I’m tired of turning a blind eye, or ear for that matter, to the subject. These guys think they can just blast through our neighborhoods anytime of the day while breaking the sound barrier. And we all just sit around and take it. What gives them the right to do this? To trample upon our quiet time. Noise pollution is a real thing and it runs rampant throughout our lovely city. How is it still legal to parade around on a glorified chrome bicycle with a blustering squeeze box?! These bikers have no regard for other people’s peace of mind. There’s no law against farting out loud, but most of us have enough common sense not to do it during a movie or near someone else. Motorcycle noise is pretty much the same. Any decent person would have the common courtesy not to crank one out right next to someone’s ear. What I’m really bitching about is protecting the sanctimonious gift of personal space. When you rev your engine past my house, it treads on me, and on my peace of mind. Do us all a favor and take your bike to the shop tomorrow to tone it down. It’s not going to make you any less cool if your bike purrs like a kitten. — The Guy Down the Block, North Park
I’ve known my fair share of bikers over the years, from crusty, helmetless Harley riders; to ATGATT nerds on those Beemers that were designed to cross continents, not parking lots; to hipsters on retromodern café racers and metric choppers; and, the rarest breed of all, people who consider a motorcycle just another way to get around, rather than an emblematic lifestyle choice. With the possible exception of the last category, all of them will answer your question by picking from a variety of stock phrases. You may hear, “Loud pipes save lives, bro!” which, somewhat spuriously, assumes that motorists will suddenly stop snapping freeway selfies and start driving with reasonable care because they heard a motorcycle. You also might get, “Quit treading on my freedom, because America, bro! If you don’t like it, go back where you came from!” by which the speaker of course means that you should retire to a gated community with all the other Prius drivers because you’re neither as cool nor as badass as the biker in question.
My money’s on, “They just want to be cool.” But virtually nobody will come out and say that, because few things come off less cool than admitting a desire for coolness. People constantly underestimate the importance of coolness; of possessing some immeasurable allowance of cultural cachet; of inspiring the admiration and envy of one’s peers. But, that’s what it is. People want loud bikes because they’re cool, or at least cool to some, and they will 100 percent disagree with you on the whole kitten-purr thing.
And it’s not, strictly speaking, “legal.” Consult California Vehicle Code § 27202 if you don’t believe me.
So, when your idea of what’s cool bumps squarely against someone else’s, who wins?
I have racked my brain on this very subject and have yet to come up with a reliable solution. Wars have been fought for less. Don’t hate the messenger on this one, I’m just trying to offer a little explication.