Everyone can hear them coming, and there’s a segment of society that wants to make them all go away, just as there is a segment that wants to spread the word. That word is “Loud pipes save lives.” There are purveyors of this motto that vehemently swear that their lives were saved by the tooth rattling unrestricted aftermarket exhaust note on their late-model cruiser motorcycle. They also swear that any rider without super loud custom motorcycle exhaust is practically asking to be run down. The opposing view tend to take on the notion that all motorcycles are devil wheels, and that those who do choose to run loud aftermarket motorcycle exhaust systems are the dregs of society that are better left somewhere other than down their street. They both have valid points, though they are sometimes disguised in the innuendo and politics of noise laws and disturbing the peace as opposed to staying as safe as possible on a motorcycle, regardless of how many ears you deafen.
The disguised points of having a custom aftermarket motorcycle exhaust system really do boil down to two issues positive, and two issues overlooked and politely brushed aside.
Myth #1: “Loud pipes save lives.” The problem with this issue is that you can really only hear those loud pipes when you’re on the bike, or behind the bike. A popular magazine a while back put it to the test, and in fact, the findings were that the droning sound tended to aggravate highway drivers more than a more sedate exhaust note. They debunked the myth, and in the letters column a few months later, took round criticism from many swearing that they were living proof, while others thanked the magazine for getting to the heart of the aftermarket motorcycle exhaust issue.
On the other hand, there is little doubt that a well-tuned, high quality aftermarket exhaust system on your bike can sound just this side of heavenly, and can provide just enough extra airflow to make an extra three to seven horses on a bike with proper carb setup and intake. The cool factor is what the custom motorcycle exhaust companies are selling. They try hard to avoid addressing the popular urban myth because it works in their favor, and they know that if they endorse it and someone dies, for whatever reason, on a motorcycle equipped with their custom motorcycle exhaust, they will be sued into the ground. So, it makes sense just to be honest with ourselves and admit that we want a bit louder exhaust on our bikes because it just sounds cool, and finding one that doesn’t irritate the neighbors should be the top priority.
First, get out of your mind that you’re going to find one on the cheap. Custom motorcycle exhaust systems from manufacturers such as Cobra, Vance & Hines, and Roadhouse have prices that begin at nearly four hundred dollars. While some people swear that their custom motorcycle exhaust was created simply by pulling the stuffing out of their stock exhaust, this creates the kind of undesirable sound that can get you a ticket just by sitting idling at a stoplight when a cop pulls up. You’re much better off to leave your stock exhaust unmolested and simply save up a bit to get a good custom motorcycle exhaust system. Each of these manufacturers has a variety of custom aftermarket exhaust systems, some of which are tunable to the sound you’re looking for. Also, these companies do provide some audio clips of various motorcycles from which you should be able to tell whether the particular custom motorcycle exhaust is right for you.
There’s no sense in lying to ourselves about the veracity of urban myths. Motorcycling isn’t about making excuses, after all. Instead of trying to cover up the reasons for installing an aftermarket motorcycle exhaust on our bikes, let’s just admit it: They just sound cool!