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Basem Wasef

New York City Tries to Ban Loud Motorcycle Exhausts

By December 15, 2008

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Loud motorcycle pipes "Today we go a long way toward taking the squeal out of the hogs," announced Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

Vallone Jr. was referencing a final bill hearing that intends to bring an unprecedented approach towards eradicating loud motorcycles in New York City. According to the NY Daily News, the proposal would require every single bike in the city to wear an Environmental Protection Agency sticker proving that the motorcycle complies with the established 80 decibel limit.

The bill, which is expected to pass on December 18th, calls for a first offense to carry a maximum $1,000 fine and temporary bike confiscation until the amount is paid. A second offense? A $2,500 maximum fine and permanent forfeiture of your ride... yep, you read correctly; the city could basically repossess your motorcycle-- even while it's parked-- if it doesn't wear the right sticker.

The AMA has posted a response which states "This is no way to operate in a democracy," adding that "The issue is that the New York City Council is unfairly singling out motorcyclists because motorcycles are the only vehicles covered under the bill." They also provide contact info for Speaker of City Council Christine Quinn, who is no doubt eager to hear from those of you with an opinion in the matter.

I've never personally been a fan of pipes so loud they're deafening, but the idea of requiring stickers based on a vague 80 decibel limit seems Draconian. Surely there's a halfway point where lawmakers and enthusiasts can meet, isn't there?

***UPDATE: Turns out the bill has been tabled for the time being... thanks to all who expressed their opinions to NYC officials!***


Photo Harley-Davidson
Click to enlarge

December 15, 2008 at 11:54 am
(1) scottie says:

I live in NYC and once made the mistake of living on 1st Avenue. The city, or rather the transit system, is the worst noise offender. There is a screech that emanates from the transmission coupling of the accordion buses that pierces the brain. Then there are container trucks that sound like thunder with every bump they hit. Then there are the rolling doors on delivery vehicles that chatter on every road imperfection. I didn’t sleep much that year.

Now when I walk across 1st on my way to the subway, I am still astounded at the noise. Compared to that, some reasonable pipes would be a soothing sound.

December 15, 2008 at 8:33 pm
(2) Erika says:

On a good note, the issue has been tabled for now with no date as of yet to reintroduce the bill. Some of us are taking this extra time to rally as many voices as possible because they’re just waiting for us to cool down and slip it by again. If anyone in NYC wants to voice your opinion, here’s the list of council members…


Or if you just want to voice your opinion from anywhere outside of NYC, it couldn’t hurt.


December 15, 2008 at 9:04 pm
(3) Simon Barsinister says:

I’m currently in my lab working on a device that would accuratly measure exhaust sound, and when comple will donate it to the city so that we all not need suffer for the sins of others. Notice how i call them “others” as opposed to idiots…

December 16, 2008 at 2:26 am
(4) john koskela says:

If the bill ever does pass, it would eliminate biker toy runs for children in the city, parade participation by some motorcyclists, and unknowing tourists on motorcycles would be at great risk of having their bikes confiscated and damaged. The city would become a dead zone for all motorcycles.

December 16, 2008 at 10:40 am
(5) Scottie says:

Good point, Erika.

My rep, Jessica Lappin, wasn’t a sponsor, but I gave her my opinion anyway.

Control freaks in this city. Some days (maybe most!) I just can’t wait to move west, buy land and live in a yurt.

December 16, 2008 at 3:33 pm
(6) Sal the stock broker says:

Theres only two ways to prevent bills like this ever coming into play. First way would be to police ourselves and reduce the noise polution, which will never happen, most noise makers neither know how close this bill is to being pass nor care. The second and more realistic way is to show the city theres worse evils than noise, for example, thousands of motorcyclists stopping to smell the roses on the brooklyn bridge or celebrating counting our pennies at all tolls in the city during rush hour, everyday till we get our way…

December 16, 2008 at 9:35 pm
(7) Andy says:

I *hate* loud pipes. I hope this eventually passes in NYC, and everywhere. It is unfair that only bikes are targetted, but realistically, 99% of the offenders are bikes.

December 16, 2008 at 10:03 pm
(8) Erika says:

What about the garbage trucks at 4am, the semis downshifting on the BQE, the little cars with the rattle can mufflers? And the MTA busses setting off the over-sensitive car alarms? This is a giant metropolis, motorcyclists do not make 99% of the noise!

December 17, 2008 at 9:35 am
(9) Scottie says:

Having lived in Manhattan for a few years now, I have to agree with Erika and say that there are a whole lot of offenders out there!!

December 17, 2008 at 9:58 pm
(10) Simon Barsinister says:

Andrew, take a good look in the mirror and listen to what you’re saying. “I hate loud motorcycles and i want to see everyone suffer”. Does my period go befor or after the quotes…?

December 17, 2008 at 10:09 pm
(11) Simon Barsinister says:

Andrew, you really got me riled. Most uptight people live in “complexes” and such. So i hope you complex one day soon takes the lazy route and simply bans bikes from the little shell shocked commmunity you live in. To be honest with you, i’d really rather see you hit a patch of ice while be tailgated by several large trucks, but thats just me…

December 17, 2008 at 10:34 pm
(12) Jack says:

What is she? The noise natzi! That is the way Hitler came to power!!

December 19, 2008 at 5:50 pm
(13) Anthony says:

Kiss our loud harley @$$ !! We’ll always ride loud !! Mark my words !

December 19, 2008 at 7:21 pm
(14) Garth says:

You harley guys can probably afford the summons, seeing how you’re able to pay two to three times more for a bike than its actually worth…

December 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm
(15) Pete says:

Thye can attach the “No loud pipes” sign to ones that say “$350 fine for blowing your horn”
Good luck with that….

December 30, 2008 at 11:27 pm
(16) rico rico says:

i think we should outlaw these idiots who try to take away everybody’s freedom just because they don’t like something. tough s*** if you don’t like loud pipes they do save lives, deal with it, its my right as an american tax paying citizen. whats’ next? are we going back to prohibition and outlawing alcohol next? where does all this lunacy end?

January 19, 2009 at 2:50 pm
(17) Andy B (Not the other one) says:

Yeah I’m glad this one went to the shelf, because as anybody who lives here knows, the cops who walk around giving tickets are for the most part the NYPD’s dullest bunch, so when in doubt, confiscate and collect $1000. Thats how it works. Write a ticket to every car on the street and see who takes the time to fight it in court. I’ve been here four years, received about 10 parking tickets in that time, and I’ve only had to pay ONE of them because the rest were bogus. I won’t be able to seek justice that easily when they have the right to steal my bike for whatever reason they see fit (lets be honest!!) Will I have to pay $1000 to get my bike back while I’m waiting for my case to be heard? And I guarantee that $1000 isn’t the only fee.. Don’t forget the impound fee, the towing fee, the storage fee, convenience fee, driver safety fee, for all i know they might even charge sales tax. This is obviously sponsored by some grouchy councilperson in Queens with nothing better to do than craft legislation to get back at his neighbor’s annoying hobby.

Here’s another thing though.. Loud pipes do not save lives, at least not as much as a giant florescent, retro reflective motorcycle jacket. Sure, you look like a transit worker on a motorcycle, but I can personally attest that even on the worst days on the BQE, cars stay at least twice the distance off your rear end when you’re ultra visible. Nobody cares about pipes, and you can only hear the bike once it’s gone past you, AND in the city, there’s way more noise pollution to compete with than anywhere else, and to add to what everybody else says, there are WAY worse offenders, ESPECIALLY trash trucks, buses, semis, trains and multi-megawatt sub woofers.

February 8, 2009 at 2:48 pm
(18) Yup says:

I’m a biker (over 20 years) and don’t need loud pipes and don’t like loud pipes and am sick of the idiots (yes idiots) who have them. So my letters are going out in favor of the ban. Sorry to impinge on the coolness all you harley riders exude, but I’m sick of you idiots.

September 12, 2009 at 8:15 pm
(19) john says:

This is the dumbest thing i have ever heard of. The city will take your bike if you dont have a stupid sticker… I agree that some bikes are loud, but deal with it!

September 21, 2009 at 3:44 am
(20) NYer says:

Simple and plain this is common decency at work. There is no justification for the insane loud pipes in a crowded city.

August 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm
(21) trey says:


Shut you fags up!

email me


September 19, 2010 at 12:27 am
(22) Adam says:

I live and work in Brooklyn and hear a lot of loud motorcycles. The noise seems really unnecessary. For each motorcycle that is making too much noise, there are thousands of people in the neighborhood that hear it through their windows. I really hope the bill passes. The bikes that pass by are so loud they set off the car alarms, making the noise worse.
To all those who ride loud bikes, you’re going to need to take it down a notch. The buildings are good at echoing the sound. For every window you blindly ride by at full blast, there are three more around the corner that can hear it just as loud. I think the problem is that you don’t really know how loud it is for us all.
If your bike weren’t so loud you could probably here all the people on the street making fun of you as you throttle up at the stop lights.
Again, I’m looking forward to seeing this bill get passed as soon as possible.

January 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm
(23) Xegunda says:

Is there a ‘fee’ for this decibel sticker? Just another tax.

March 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm
(24) Jon says:

I am so sick of hearing harleys while I’m sitting in my living room or camping in my favorite park. I cannot wait until all of these noise polluting douche bags are off the road. It’s only a matter of time. Good for you NYC!

March 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm
(25) Mack27 says:

If only I could build a white noise generator that keyed in the Harley sound. Can you imagine the biker wondering what happened to his loud exhaust pipes? He’d probably get disoriented and crash.

July 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm
(26) duh says:

Straight pipes cause permanent hearing damage. No one’s right to ride safely outweighs others’ rights to health. If one yelled in a Cop’s face at the same decibel level as a roaring harley, he would be arrested for assault. Boom cars also must be reeled in.

October 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm
(27) ec says:

Anything loud can cause hearing damage. Bikers have NO RIGHTS in this regard. (Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, thus any biker with a loud tailpipe should be jailed.). Public transit is a different story, The constitution ensures remuneration for those affected by government projects.

December 4, 2011 at 10:29 am
(28) Guirguis says:

For all the idiots here who say deal with it, deal with it, life here is tough enough with noise and everything else. It is enough we ar dealing with loud garbage trucks, loud busses..etc. Why do we have to put up with unnecessary noise that can be easily eliminated! just because you are a low life idiot who enjoys sitting on top of a noise machine it doesn’t mean that the rest need to put up with it. If you live in the suburbs of NYC in a quite boring life and the only fun you can think of is come to the city and ride a noise machine, i can tell you most of us don’t want you here. It is not a human right to want to needlessly bother everyone else with a noisy toy. I tell you, DEAL WITH IT!!!!

April 16, 2013 at 3:22 am
(29) Michael says:

Damn! I wish this bill passed, I really wish some sort of law like this would be implemented in Chicago that included loud annoying trucks and cars, and for night time offenders it would basically be the second time offense the 1st time. Do not get me wrong I once would have been on the side of all the people opposed to this bill, ever since more and more people have been getting hd bikes and it seems more and more are applying annoying ass loud after market pipes for NO REASON besides to be annoying to ride around my neighborhood at 2am… They awake me when they are idle at the light that is a block and a half away from me! I should not have to keep my windows closed because of people who wish to be dicks. From what I have noticed where I live 99% of these people do not wear helmets or any gear so its utter BS when they say “the loudness saves lives”.

October 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm
(30) Against LOUD motorcycles says:

Something needs to be done about this.
There is a good reason why ambulances are loud but no good reason for motorcycles. NYC is loud enough. Lets do something about this. Fine them $1000 at least. https://www.facebook.com/WilliamsburgResidentsAgainstLoudMotorcycles

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