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Science Disproves “Loud Pipes Save Lives” Mantra

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Do Loud Pipes Save Lives? Sadly for some, according to a European study, the answer is a firm, no.

It is the battle cry of many Kiwi motorcyclists, but a European study has disproven the claim that “loud pipes save lives.”

Now let’s start off by saying we’re not against loud pipes. In fact, we reckon they can add a lot of character to a bike and straight-up sound cool. We do take issue, however, with riders making the argument that they are a safety device in order to justify them.

The study in question here was a collaboration between Romania’s motorcyclist organisation MotoADN and the Politehnica University of Bucharest, and measures not only the level of noise from a motorcycle in real-world conditions (60km/h) but also whether the level of noise is enough to give the driver enough time to react.

To some, the results will come as unsurprising as the study found loud pipes do not in fact save lives.

The study found that there is a 5db measurable difference between the front and rear of the bike, and even with pipes illegally loud drivers ahead did not hear the bike in time to take meaningful action at 60kph. Here’s the conclusions of the Romanian study as posted by FEMA on their website:

A motorcycle cannot be heard in the car (in motion) if it is at a distance of more than 15 meters, no matter how modified the exhaust is and no matter the background noise in the passenger compartment.
At distances of 10 meters from the car, a motorcycle (with a noise level produced above the legal limits) can be heard, but the sound is in a low frequency area where the sound is difficult to identify by the human ear and is difficult to position in space-bar.
When the motorcycle is near the car or in front of the car, the noises produced will be heard in the car at a level that attracts the driver’s attention, even when the music is at a medium level. At this distance, however, no driver`s manoeuvre that would endanger the motorcyclist could be prevented.
To be heard in a car 15 meters away, a motorcycle should produce a sound level at the exhaust pipe of more than 135dB (A), a condition that is impossible to accomplish in reality.

Watch the full video below from the study and remember, there’s nothing wrong with liking a loud bike, just don’t try and tell us it’s a safety feature.

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