That cool sound that you paid hundreds of dollars for emanating from the back of your motorcycle may wind up costing you more than the retail price. A while back I mentioned in one of my Motoworld podcasts www.themotoworld.com that a state legislator from Southern California, Fran Pavely (Dem, Santa Monica) in 2009 was working hard to get her bill, SB435, through the legislature. That piece of legislature, SB435, was targeted at motorcyclists who changed or modified their exhaust systems. The bill was aimed at two fronts, one was excess noise and the other air pollution. Citing information from the California Air Resources Board (carb), motorcycles account for less than 1% of vehicle travel miles, yet produce 10% of the smog producing emissions. Ms. Pavely’s point at the time was that modified exhaust systems were not only too loud, they created too much smog. Under the original version SB435, motorcycles would have to be smog tested every two years just like cars. Can you just imagine what a nightmare that would be not only for we motorcyclists but for the smog check stations as well. Think of all the new equipment they would have to buy, the added insurance and the headaches….it’s a good thing the bill didn’t pass.
The bill not passing was only a minor setback to Ms. Pavely’s agenda, she has brought it, SB435, back again…you just can’t keep a good piece of legislation down now can you. This time around it is a bit watered down. It still goes after loud motorcycles yes, but, the smog testing of motorcycles is gone. Does that mean that he possibility of smog testing motorcycles is forgotten? Oh no. The new version of SB435 has passed both the State Assembly and the Senate and is heading for Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk for signing.
There are some things I need to mention here in fairness. Nearly thirty years ago, twenty-seven I believe, the Anti Tampering Act was passed aimed at motorcyclists modifying their exhaust systems to be louder. Well, as we can all attest to, it has never really been enforced, SB435 basically brings it back to life and puts some teeth in it…teeth that will sink right into your wallet. If you are cited by an officer for your motorcycle being too loud…and by the way, what is too loud??? The bill targets a sound level of 80dbs. I wonder if my old BMW with stock pipes is that quiet? Back to being ticketed, the first offense could bring a fine of $50-$100 and future offenses $100-$250. The citation would be a fix it ticket, which means you will have to put your stock exhaust back on, get it tested and then if you wanted to risk another ticket, put your ‘other’ exhaust on. This new law will affect motorcycles built from 1985 but won’t take effect until 2013…at least that’s how I read it.
The bill has been heavily opposed by the Motorcycle Industry Council ( www.mic.org ) needless to say, because it will affect the motorcycle industry in a big way, and that will affect you and your choices too.
You’re reading this thinking to yourself, hey, too bad for bikers in California but that will never happen here in Texas. You’re wrong. Once this snowball starts rolling it’s going to pick up enough speed to roll right through states. Think about this for a moment, if law enforcement agencies start enforcing the noise ordinances and handing out tickets, that’s good revenue for the state and nowadays…money talks and your rights walk. What can you do now, if you’re here in California contact Arnie today http://gov.ca.gov/interact#contact even if you don’t live here in the Golden State, contact Arnie. Join the AMA www.ama-cycle.org and write to them for help with this issue. It’s bigger than it looks. I don’t mean to be ‘chicken little ‘ here but right now the government is working on taking away land from off-roaders, a federal agency is giving grants to five states to set up checkpoints to target motorcyclists, what’s next?
For more information about california SB435 there is a good article in the LA Times,http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/08/motorcycle-noise.htmlgive it a read and get involved in protecting your rights.
I am not a fan of the ‘loud pipes save lives’ credo, I think, more often than not, loud pipes just piss people off and apparently one pissed off lawmaker has made it her mission to quiet things down.