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Good Question: What Are The Rules For Motorcycle Noise?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We’ve all heard that sound — a motorcycle so loud it can hurt your ears. Some bikers say they do it to be safer on the road, but being too loud is against Minnesota law.

So what are the rules for motorcycle noise?

“If I wanted to modify my bike to make it quicker, or something like that, the muffler is the first thing to go,” said Bryan Hoch, who repairs motorcycles in Fridley.

He says he used to ride a loud bike because of the “cool factor,” but quieted down as he got older.

When asked of his understanding of the motorcycle noise law, he replied: “Basically, what’s not loud enough to get caught, but no one really knows what that is.”

In all his years of riding, Hoch said he’d never seen anyone ticketed or pulled over.

The state law regarding mufflers applies to motorcycles and cars.It reads, in part:

“Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order which blends the exhaust noise into the overall vehicle noise and is in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and no person shall use a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a street or highway. The exhaust system shall not emit or produce a sharp popping or crackling sound.”

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sets a limit of 85-95 decibels (depending on speed and age of vehicle) at 30 feet. That’s the level at which experts recommend ear plugs. Other motor vehicles have slightly lower limits.

Cities can also have their own noise control ordinances. Much of Minneapolis’ is set to decibel levels.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. William Palmer said he thinks enforcing such laws in unlikely, due to officers not having the proper equipment. He added that he’s never known of anyone giving a ticket for loud motorcycle pipes – but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. He says officers are more likely to give citations or warning to cars playing loud music.

“I think all officers and troopers will take action when they can,” said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Robert Zak. “We don’t have that equipment in our cars, but can tell pretty easily, what blends, what’s factory, what’s normal exhaust noise.”

Some motorcyclists say they modify their bikes for safety.

“The argument is that if we weren’t able to be seen, at least we could be heard,” Hoch said.

But not everyone buys that argument.

“It’s really annoying, and it’s all like pay attention to me,” said Jennifer Plombom of Minneapolis.

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