According to Mecalm.org there are approximately 50,000 motorcycles registered in the state of Maine. Only about 60% are inspected annually. Some never are. Maine has recently passed two laws that aim to reduce motorcycle noise. The first reworded the existing law to restrict changing the stock exhaust entirely. This means that anything other than the factory exhaust is illegal and will not pass inspection. The second law which will go into effect in 2012 requires all motorcycles to display an inspection sticker viewable from the back (July n.p.). The problem is that motorcycles do not have extra room for a sticker that large near the license plate and nobody will stick it onto their paint job. The other problem is that an aftermarket exhausts should not be illegal just because the bike was not manufactured with it. The law should be based off of noise. Maine should not change motorcycle inspection laws the way lawmakers plan.
Recently Maine has changed the existing law regarding motorcycle exhaust to make anything other than stock illegal and punishable by a fine of $137. This means that a bike sitting in a parking lot can be cited even though the bike may not be excessively loud when running. All bikes manufactured after December 1982 have an EPA compliance label stamped into the stock exhaust and the frame with matching numbers (July n.p.). This is an easy way for police to check if an exhaust system is modified. Contrary to what many may think aftermarket exhausts are not just for more noise. Most people buy them to give the bike a custom look. Nowadays custom looking motorcycles can be bought at a dealership (Stuart 64-69). Stock exhausts are rarely left on because the sound doesn’t fit the look of the bike. Harley riders do not want a bike that sounds like a Honda moped. People should be able to customize their motorcycle as long as it doesn’t compromise safety. Although regardless of how loud the aftermarket exhaust is, it is now illegal and will fail inspection.
Maine’s original exhaust law allowed people cited for having a loud exhaust to claim that they did it for performance or safety reasons and not for the noise. The case was dismissed (July n.p.). Some riders believe that loud exhausts save lives because they feel it makes themselves more noticeable to other drivers on the road. They believe that their loud exhausts are a safety feature instead of an annoyance. Jeffry Tank makes the point that drivers do not hear police emergency vehicle’s sirens from inside their cars so they are not going to notice a bike with a loud exhaust (Tank n.p.). This is especially true when the other driver is listening to the radio. In certain cases loud exhausts may alert other drivers of the presence of a motorcycle but it should not be considered a safety feature like a helmet.
Currently, Maine does not require motorcycles to display inspection stickers. The new law that recently passed requires inspection stickers to be displayed on the motorcycle and be viewable from the rear (July n.p.). Even a stock motorcycle does not have enough room to put a full size inspection sticker on the back. People take pride in their bikes and will not put a big inspection sticker on their paint-job, whether it is stock paint or custom. Full size inspection stickers should not be required.
My solution is to make an inspection sticker that is the same size as the registration sticker and put it on the license plate. The sticker could have the month of inspection in number and have the color be for the year. The regular inspection sticker that is kept with the registration now could be kept as proof that that individual bike was inspected. The displayed sticker would influence riders to get inspected.
Another solution to help quiet motorcycle exhaust is to require all motorcycle inspection stations to have a device which can measure the exhaust noise. If the motorcycle is louder than 92 decibels at 35mph it fails. Another solution is to pull over and ticket the motorcyclist that operate excessively loudly and disturb the peace. Not every bike with aftermarket exhaust is a problem (July n.p.). The problem is the riders that rev the bike to the limit while driving down residential roads. California’s anti noise laws in 1967 put motorcycles and commercial trucks in the same category (Anthrop 11-16). Most bikes with any working muffler will be quieter than an 18-wheeler with dual 6 inch stacks.
In conclusion, Maine should not prohibit aftermarket motorcycle exhaust if they still muffle sound effectively. Police should stop and give fines to riders that operate their motorcycles to be excessively loud. Full size inspection stickers should not be required to be fixed to the rear of the bike because most bikes do not have a suitable place to put it. The laws may need to be changed but there is a better way to do it than the way Maine lawmakers are doing it.
Anthrop, Donald F. “Envieronmental Noise Pollution: A Threat To Sanity.” Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists 25.5 (1969): 11-16. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Dec. 2010.
“July 2010 Law Change Makes it Easier For Police To Stop and Ticket Loud Bikes.” MECALM. Maine
Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .
Stuart, Ben. “Factory/Chopped.” Popular Mechanics 187.7 (2010): 64-69. Academic Search Complete.
Web. 12 Dec. 2010.
Tank, Jeffry. “Loud Pipes Save Lives or The Madness Behind The Myth.” Virginia Wind. Virginia Wind,
2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .