Loud Pipes Save Lives: Motorcycle Myth or Words to Live By?

We’ve all heard the phrase time and time again. Loud Pipes Save Lives

Strangely enough it’s only the people who have loud pipes who seem to decree this. Coincidence?

The clever boys and girls who make up the dry-clutch sportbike set have their own cutsey version of the saying: Loud Clutches Save Lives. Loud mouths don’t save lives very often. Nor do loud patterned Hawaiian shirts. Rarely do you find a loud mouth in a Hawaiian shirt saving anyone.

Ducati 996 and Long Island's Big Duck

My too loud Ducati 996

What do you think? Loud Pipes: Do they save lives or do they just annoy the crap out of your neighbors?


Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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18 Responses

  1. Nate says:

    I have never seen empirical evidence to show that loud pipes save lives, but my riding experience tells me that anything that can bring attention to the rider will help to avoid common accidents.

    Too many times I have seen cars cut riders off in their lane, pull out in front of them, or take left turns into their path. The louder the bike the better the odds you will get noticed, at least in my opinion.

  2. soth says:

    Fuzzy said – “Rarely do you find a loud mouth in a Hawaiian shirt saving anyone.”

    I beg to differ… what about Magnum PI?

  3. soth says:

    But seriously, I’ve had both quiet bikes and loud bikes, my current bike being the loudest ever and I find the whole thing to be a catch 22 –

    Loud bikes annoy me (especially when the asshat on the bike likes to blip the throttle). I also think that by owning and riding a loud bike, it makes the rest of the motorcycling community look bad because loud bikes have got to annoy most everyone.

    On the other hand, my last bike was fairly quiet and my current bike is pretty damn loud. With my current bike I’ve noticed that cars rarely ever cut me off or fail to notice me. Why? I’m not sure but my best guess is that they hear me long before they see me. My lady hates how loud my bike is, she finds it extremely annoying, but at the same time, she’s glad for it.
    When I rode a friend’s bike recently (it’s sounds like a sewing machine), I had a few people cut me off and wave apologies to me because they didn’t know I was there. Coincidence?

    Does that mean I enjoy my loud bike? Nope, I hate it, it’s TOO LOUD. When in town I lug the engine and pull in the clutch A LOT. I’ve never been one of those throttle blippers either.

    So if I hate my loud bike so much why don’t I do anything about it?
    Well, the main reason is this – while I may not believe in the rallying cry of “Loud pipes saves lives!!” I certainly believe that my loud pipes keep me away from trouble… that is until bill 416A gets passed.

  4. Keith says:

    It’s not just my neighbors. They piss me off.

    If you’re concerned about safety, the cost of loud pipes would be much better spent taking a riding lesson or 2.

  5. FuzzyGalore says:

    Loud Pipes Save Lives: Motorcycle Myth or Words to Live By? http://goo.gl/fb/Tbei

  6. Stacy says:

    @Nate: You’d be surprised how many times an ambulance with full lights and sirens will get cut off during a call.

    Never underestimate the stupidity of a distracted driver. Lights, sirens, monkeys from space… All the attention getters in the world don’t help.

  7. CrudMop says:

    At speed, loud pipes only help identify the motorcycle after it has passed, which is counterproductive. They might not save lives, but they are a VERY good “asswipe detector” – especially the “ride up to every stop sign winding out and screaming the motor in a desperate attempt to get anyone’s attention” method.

  8. soth says:

    @ Crud –

    Fast forward to about 4:10 🙂 I’m behind Tommy, while he’s listening to NIN…


  9. OG says:

    I doubt people even notice loud pipes anymore. I suppose if I were the only idiot with a loud V-Twin, I might stand out. I am, however, only one of thousands. So, it’s best assume everyone has their head up their ass….or at least glued to the 4inch glowing screen in their hand.

  10. redbone says:

    anything that will get you noticed by the cage drivers earlier is a good thing.

  11. CrudMop says:

    I’ve had plenty of people cut in front of me with my louder exhaust – I just don’t buy that it’s the lifesaver everyone makes it out to be. I’d much rather all the nimrods with open pipes admit “it’s all about being an attention whore”, because that is most often the case – don’t hide behind this supposed sense of security.

  12. JD says:

    Loud jackets save lives.

  13. Pinto says:

    Loud paint is where it’s at, baby! 🙂

    I can think of a few times I’ve heard a bike approaching from the rear while caging. Each time the rider has been traveling just slightly faster than the speed of traffic, so that you have time to register a faint sound, recognize it as a bike and begin to look for the source. That type of approach leaves far too much time for the unwashed masses (“What the heck is that noise?”) to make a bonehead move. Better to assume a defensive posture and travel at a higher speed than traffic, I think.

    I do have a Muzzy exhaust on my current ride, and while louder than stock, it is not obnoxiously so. Most of that is probably due to my geriatric riding style and limp wrist, though!

  14. FuzzyGalore says:

    Loud Pipes Save Lives: Motorcycle Myth or Words to Live By? http://bit.ly/5bsOj4

  15. Danny says:

    Situational awareness and defensive riding saves lives. Loud pipes very effectively mask the noise of surrounding traffic…(Not a good thing).

    Assume the cage pilots don’t see OR hear you. Speaking to that-I’ve heard car audio setups louder than ANY pipes. (Odd you don’t see the claim “Loud Subwoofers Save Lives”)… especially considering how subs throw their sound in every direction—not just behind.

    Face it, even a Kia vs Boss Hoss collision will put more hurt on the bike rider…

  16. megan says:

    I drive an electric scooter, cute little Vespa looking thing, it makes not noise what so ever and I want it louder to stop pedestrians from walking out in front of me in parking lots. Loud pipes maybe annoying, they maybe be used by egotistical maniacs more than others, but they do help to make you seen.

  1. January 19, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FuzzyGalore, FuzzyGalore. FuzzyGalore said: Loud Pipes Save Lives: Motorcycle Myth or Words to Live By? http://goo.gl/fb/Tbei […]

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