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Published: Sept. 21, 2010
Updated: 3:38 p.m.
Law would crack down on roaring motorcycles
Customizing their Harley-Davidsons is a way to make their rides unique, Tom Scott and his biking buddies say. It's not necessarily about whose exhaust system is the loudest.

"Motorcycles, especially Harley-Davidson's, are a piece of jewelry and everyone likes theirs to look a little different," said Scott, who 45 years ago opened Harley-Davidson of Anaheim-Fullerton. "I'm a dealer and I hate that noise."

"As the popularity of motorcycles increases, loud pipes become offensive to the general public out there," Scott added.

The roaring motorcycles - primarily Harleys - have led to a bill that would target motorcyclists who remove factory-installed emission control devices mandated by the federal government and replace them with custom, aftermarket parts that often make their bikes louder and more polluting.

SB 435 had been approved by the state legislature and now is sitting on the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk. The Harley-riding governor has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill into law or veto it.

If the governor puts his stamp of approval on the measure, motorcyclists would be required to post a visible, unaltered Environment Protection Agency stamp to confirm the exhaust system is clean burning and does not exceed 80 decibels - about the same noise level as a vacuum cleaner. The stamp would only be required for motorcycles and aftermarket parts made after 2013.

"The noise caused by illegally modified motorcycle exhaust systems is a major quality of life issue across the state," said state Sen. Fran Pavley, a Democrat from Agoura Hills. "Basic common sense and decency dictates that when a motorcycle drives by and sets off every car alarm on the street, that is too loud."

First-time offenders would be fined up to $100; tickets could be voided if the owners bring their bikes back into compliance. Subsequent infractions would be subject to fines of $100 to $250.

Citations would only be issued if a rider is stopped for some other violation.

A common complaint

In Huntington Beach, residents often complain about loud motorcycles, said Lt. Russell Reinhart with the Huntington Beach Police Department.

"There is not a tracking system for me to tell you how often we receive that specific complaint," Reinhart said.

The majority of the complaints come from residential neighborhoods and most often from the downtown residential neighborhoods, Reinhart said. Another common complaint is from the outside dining areas on Main Street.

Police officers actively enforce existing noise laws regarding defective and modified exhaust systems, Reinhart said. Officers have also enforced motorcycle equipment and safety violations by patrolling areas frequented by motorcyclists and where crashes occur.

CHP officer Denise Quesada said when they do receive noise complaints, it typically happens when motorcyclists ride in groups on roads like Ortega and Pacific Coast highways.

At the Harley-Davidson dealership in Fullerton, all new motorcycles are noise compliant, Scott said. Aftermarket parts can hike the noise level as high as the rider wants, he said.

"As far as the newer motorcycles, in the last 10 years of production, 90 percent would comply very closely with the sound regulations as it is today," Scott said. "It's that small percentage of people that drive this type of legislation."

Pollution fighter

SB 435 started out as a pollution-fighting measure but has morphed into a bill that targets noise.

Last year, motorcyclists helped defeat a bill that mandated smog inspections every two years.

Through that measure, Pavley tried to close a loophole in state law that exempts motorcycles from pollution standards. Now, if SB 435 is signed into law, it will make the state's 826,000 registered motorcycles owners meet air pollution requirements as well as noise standards.

"It's already illegal to modify the pipe to make your bike louder," Pavley said. "So this is not a new law; it's an enforcement of an existing law."

Officials with the California Motorcycle Dealers Association oppose the measure, saying there are plenty of laws to cite owners of motorcycles that may be too loud, for mufflers that have been modified, or that are in need of repair.

"All that law enforcement officers need to do is enforce the statutes that exist today, in California's vehicle code," officials wrote in the dealer's newsletter.

5,843 Posts
The stamp would only be required for motorcycles and aftermarket parts made after 2013.

Got a few years left to go here. Most of you will be safe as who has a 2013 model bike as of this time?

15,179 Posts
Well I guess that will apply for every little car with a fart can muffler as well. Funny, no one ever says much about them........

2,263 Posts
Law law?

So this is a proposed law to enforce the current law that's not being enforced by imposing a net no cost fix it ticket in 2013, maybe.
OK, now I'm really sweating!:eek:
Get real, guys with open pipes and fake helmets driving from bar to bar in large packs every weekend don't seem to care about the current laws, and this is the group that is the target of this proposed "crack down"?
Why doesn't she propose a law against herion use on top of the existing law with a fix it ticket with a promise to kick the habit? Just about as effective.
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