In motorcycling, the topic “loud pipes save lives” never seems to die. Chances are you’ve seen the biker stickers and patches with this phrase. But is it myth or truth? The phrase is related to two extremes of an argument. Some argue that loud motorcycle pipes prevent accidents and save lives; others argue that the loud noise is merely a nuisance.

Many cities and communities in the United States have banned motorcycles because of residents complaining about the noise. And before I became immersed in motorcycle culture, I would have probably supported a city ordinance banning motorcycles if the noise bothered me.

But on today’s’ crowded highways, at a time when more and more things are competing for your attention as a driver, it’s easier to notice a loud motorcycle. It’s even almost impossible to miss a very loud one, whether its in your blind spot, in front or behind you. I can’t think of another method that increases visibility of motorcyclists, without them being visible per se.

So, loud pipes make motorcyclists more visible to others on the road, and this increases safety. Now how much this contributes to saving lives is difficult to measure, but you might say that increased safety reduces the chances of serious accidents. There’s your answer: “loud pipes save lives” is truth.

A question then comes to mind:

Does this mean that the rest of humanity has to cope with the noise?

55 Responses to Loud Pipes Save Lives – Is It a Myth or Truth

  1. Archie Lester says:

    the louder the better

  2. Cory Waite says:

    They’ve saved my bacon!

  3. Timothy Lee says:

    Truth! If I can’t make eye contact I want them to hear me coming!.

  4. Melanie Wertanen says:

    P.S. I eventually plan on getting louder pipes when the $ comes my way…

  5. Gru says:

    So should pedestrians carry air horns and blast them constantly as they walk through neighborhoods just to make sure everyone can see them?

  6. Gru says:

    So should pedestrians carry air horns and blast them constantly as they walk through neighborhoods just to make sure everyone can hear them?

  7. nAL rETRAC says:

    Pedestrians don’t share the sidewalk with vehicles that can turn them into bags of goo.

  8. wut says:

    False, some of these douchebags don’t even take proactive efforts to increase their visibility.

  9. Jasper jeep says:

    Loud pipes piss off everyone else and lead to more legal restrictions on bikers. That’s a fact.

  10. Toby Williams says:

    All I know is that loud pipes have saved me more than once. Especially when someone in their 4wheeler cant put down the phone long enough to use a mirror. as for pissing people off? well, im not really worried about someones feelings, when it comes to saving my ass. I guess i’ll choose quiet pipes, and toss a spark plug through their window. Pedestrians and Air horns? Don’t be dumb.

  11. RLT says:

    I ride a quite Honda ST 1300. I also have a Stebel aftermarket air horn that blast 130 decibels when needed. It is the best of both worlds. The four wheeler on the cell phone at the intersection gets a blast and sees me. People who are responsibly driving are spared.

  12. Technoloog says:

    LPSL, seriously?
    As Neal Stephenson puts it in ‘Zodiac’ (The words in brackets [ ] were added by another blogger.):
    ” First, a word on motorcycle safety:
    If you’ve put yourself in a position where someone has to see [hear] you in order for you to be safe — to see [hear] you, and to give a f**k — you’ve already blown it.”
    This blogger also makes another good point; How long does it take the driver of a car to identify the source of a siren? I assure you I’m working much harder to find the siren than the loud bike. second, what makes you think the average driver that doesn’t care can hear your pipes over his stereo? The only thing that keeps you safe is the instrument between your ears. use it and drive defensivly. The only thing loud pipes buy you is a false sense of invincibility. I don’t have any science behind that either, but it’s worth as much as your love of “the sound”.

  13. Barry S says:

    So that’s the purpose of loud pipes – to be sure that motorists know that you’re there, right? So I’m sure that you guys with open pipes also wear all kinds of reflective clothing and have reflectors all over your bike to be sure that motorists can see you at night, right? bullsh*t! following the “loud pipes save lives” logic, all pedestrians should blow airhorns whenever they step into the street. in fact, that would be kind of a fun thing to do – walk up right up behind a bike stopped at a red light, and blast a 150db air horn. when the startled rider turns around, just say “hey – airhorns save lives!”

  14. Andrew n says:

    I’ve been looking through different answers to this for much of the afternoon. My conclusion is, the pros are far outweighed by the cons. Hearing you is not seeing you, most drivers will just be annoyed and discount the sound. Also, you’re creating animosity toward all riders. Ultimately, even if you are convinced you’re safer- what gives you the right? You chose to ride a vehicle that has inherent safety issues. Others around you should not be affected by your choice. You want to ride, suck it up and do what you can to increase safety without being a nuisance to others.

  15. John H says:

    When bikers have to share the road with dumb bitches driving and putting lipstick on, dipshit kids staring at their cell phones while going 80 on the high way, and fat whores driving with their knees while they pound a Whopper in their meat smoker, talk on a cell phone and finger diddling themselves and giving a hand job while on the road all at the same time, we need all the extra help we can get.

  16. Biker 50+ yrs says:

    Just another line of BS to try to justify annoying others. Loud pipes only impress the other small minds running them.

  17. Sherri says:

    What is it with these people. regardless of how u feel we r all entitled to our opinions. those of us that ride feel that loud pipes r just an added precaution. we r not trying to piss anyone off or annoy you. we use the roads as do cars so if we r doing our part to protect ourselves we ask that u just look past ur freakin noses and get the hell off the phones, use ur mirrors.

  18. d says:





  19. Joe giles says:

    I have ridden over four hundred thousand miles on thirteen diffrent bikes,not to mention the race track miles. I have been hit seven times, the last time from behind, loud pipes did not do a damn thing to save my bike,but my helmet saved my life, if ya want to ride loud ,then you can pay the fine, try loud pipes in denver, it is a quick ticket! they will hunt you down and stop you and if your pipes are not stock you will pay for it

  20. Vern Lazaroff says:

    Sherri Nauman Very nice. So you use your pipes to scare people. Very nice behavior. You know, it takes a musician a life time of practice to create a sound that others enjoy. It only takes one neanderthal on a loud motorcycle to ruin an audiences’ enjoyment of that music. Any moron can pay a few dollars and have loud pipes. So Sherri, having loud pipes is the zenith of your life’s ambition? Interfering with other people’s enjoyment of their life is your pleasure? Waking up babies. Interfering with normal conversations.You want to give the world a beautiful sound? How about a sound that is not gross and offensive to most people? How about a sound that takes a little skill and mastery to achieve? I love the sound of a good fart. Would you mind if I farted in your face while you were trying trying to talk on the phone? Hate opera? How about if I drown out your bike with opera?
    You all seem to have a real animosity to automobile drivers. And you all use your loud pipes to show your animosity. It seems to me that you are all on constant road rage. So its not because you love the sound of the loud pipes-but rather tha you have a sick need to strike out others who you perceive to have somehow threatened you. And you know something-you are hated. You are really hated. You are bullies on wheels-always looking for a reason to get pissed off. The only way to control you-like all other anti-social behaviors is through strict law enforcement.
    May you all have your bikes confiscated.
    You know, people really do not see motorcycles. Its a psychological problem. Do I want to be the victim of human failure while riding on a motorcycle? No I do not. So I do not ride a motorcycle. You want to spend the rest of your life fighting with drivers who are not being evil-but who are only human-go ahead-waste your life. And while you are at it, please get everyone to obey the speed limit-and please make sure that no one ever litters again.

  21. Terry Mims says:

    I just bought a 2012 HD V-Rod Muscle. I changed out the pipes (put Tab slip-ons, changed the air cleaner, and had it super-tuned. (screamin eagle) I think it raises awareness (the x-tra sound). I sure do like it! But every time I get on my bike, I take the approach that “everyone is out to get me!”

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  23. Mike says:

    I have never known anyone to make their bike louder just to feel safer.
    Everyone I have ever met with loud pipes put them on because they like the sound. Show me statistics and I will make an opinion.

  24. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She
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  25. Biker says:

    Strongly Agee, most don’t see ya, better make sure they hear ya! Check Out Biker Stops

  26. Don says:

    Nothing to do with safety. It’s the adult version of sticking a card into the spokes of your bicycle as a kid. Pure ego/”look at me I’m SO cool” trip.
    Were it up to me I’d book every one of ’em.

    Wearing a decent helmet, not those pathetic skull cap things would make much greater difference. But you can’t look “cool” in a full face helmet can you?
    Man up & admit it. You like loud pipes for the ego trip. Nothing to do with safety. If you want motorists to see you- how about a fluro vest. But that’s
    not badass enough is it?

  27. steve says:

    I ride a vstar and anyone that thinks that a yamaha sounds like a Harley doesnt know bikes. Most jap cruisers are designed to idle faster than a Harley and have their v-twins set at different angles not to mention different cams displacement crank pins etc. Secondly, I know there are people that wanna spit out numbers about bike accidents and whether loud pipes would have helped or not. They did not mention what type of exhaust were on the bikes that made of the list. That is something I would like to know. The number of bike accidents with stock vs aftermarket exhaust. I have my exhaustnis loud at hiway speed but tame at idle. Ibdid that out of respect for my neighbor who runs a daycare. I dont want to wake kids from their naps. I have personally seen and been involved in instances where the exhaust note prevented an accident and thats good enough for me. Besides, a free flowing exhaust plus less restrictive intake makes for more power and better fuel economy.

  28. steve says:

    Dutra Cynthia…AMF wouldnt have had to buy out HD if they had built a more reliable machine. Quality Control has gotten better but I wont buy a Bike that has a dealer markup several thousand dollars just because it has HD on the tank. When the vrod came out it had an MSRP of 17,000 the average dealer price was $27,000. Sorry but Im not paying an extra
    $10k just so I can say I had a first year vrod. By the way, that vrod may have been assembled in U.S.A. but it has more German and Jap parts than my vstar which was build in the USA just like Honda are.

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  38. Wade Nelson says:

    The problem with the “loud pipes save lives” myth is that 95% of the racket is projected BEHIND the motorcycle. I know from riding bicycles this is true; passing motos are seldom heard until they’re directly beside or in front of me. I also know it from riding motorcycles; I try to ride a few feet ahead of my buddies with loud pipes. Sirens on safety vehicles face forward. If you want loud noise to save your life and warn motorists ahead, face your exhaust forward instead of to the rear! The riders who insist on excessively noisy, rear-facing pipes are no different than the kids who put cards in their spokes — except they never grew up.

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  44. matt says:

    I l ike my loud pipes, I think people see me better, yah they bring the 56 yo mind out of me ( feel 21 ) when im cracking the throttle, and when I went to Tech school I learned the faster the exhaust gets out, the faster the motor, yah im old school, ive READ about back pressure, tuned exhaust etc, so ive got a loud bike, you have a quiet one, who gives a shit, were all different, personaly, I think its all bullshit with mufflers, sales marketing, enjoy the ride, if you got a loud bike, don’t shit in your own back yard

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