Do Loud Pipes Really Save Lives?
Loud Pipes and What You Need to Know
As a motorcyclist, you’ve probably heard this before: the louder the noise your motorcycle makes, the more chances you have of being noticed by other motorists and thus less likely the occurrence of a crash. This myth has a lot of supporters among riders because upon immediate consideration it seems to make sense. If other people on the road can hear you, then they’re aware of you, right?
Simple, common rules of physics say otherwise. Let’s explore this scientific thread of reasoning a bit to analyze the effects of loud pipes from a mechanical point of view.
It’s a misconception that noise from a loud motorcycle emanates in an omnidirectional manner. After all, noise, just like gas, is air in movement. Since the openings of motorcycle exhausts typically face towards the rear of the bike, that is where all the noise is directed. Test this out for yourself by starting your engine in an open space and then checking the noise levels when facing the bike and behind it, alternatively.
This is not to say loud pipes are completely ineffective. It can come in handy when splitting lanes at low speeds – loud pipes may let the drivers in front know that you are coming and perhaps prevent them from changing lanes right in front of you.
However, the loud pipes myth becomes problematic at high speeds because 1) the higher a bike’s velocity, the less noise reaches motorists in front and 2) it gives riders a false sense of assurance, encouraging them to exercise less caution around drivers who may not be aware of their presence. Statistics indicate that around 77 percent of hazards come in front of the biker, and only 3 percent approach from behind.
Ultimately, motorcycle safety is not about having the loudest pipes – it’s about learning how to ride well, staying vigilant while on the road, wearing the right gear, and preventing nasty situations before they even start.
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