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We wrote a safety tip about loud pipes recently and it has stirred considerable comment. Let’s clarify a bit. In the state of Washington, it’s illegal to modify a motorcycle’s exhaust system to make it louder. You can see what’s legal in your state in this compilation by the AAA here. You might also want to check local regulations.
Of course, no one would suggest that motorcycles run silently, or more quietly than the manufacturer provides. Electric motorcycles need noisemakers to be safer for riders and for pedestrians—who can’t hear them coming otherwise. If you’re wondering about how the Doppler effect changes the perception of muffler noise, well, that’s above our pay grade. But you can read the Doppler effect here. There’s even a video.
No matter how loud your pipes are (as long as they’re legal), that’s up to you.
We do, however, suggest that additional visibility is a good thing. So consider bright, even reflective, clothing, decals, patches. Where they are legal, you might also add LED lights to your ride.