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Loud Pipes Save Lives

Updated on February 24, 2011
Hey!  Not a deer in sight.
Hey! Not a deer in sight. | Source

The Life I Save Might Be My Own

The controversy over whether loud motorcycles save lives by making people aware of their presence is probably not going to be resolved any time soon.  My Ducati with its D&D cans is not neighbor-friendly and I certainly can't sneak in and out of the driveway on this machine.  In contrast, my Beemer could ride through your living room and you wouldn't notice it.  So my normal rides are on either a very loud sport-touring bike or a very quiet touring machine.

In Italy I learned that loud motorcycles are effective warnings for all pedestrians except tourists.  Rev the engine and it's like the parting of the Red Sea.  Here it takes the squeal of locked brakes to grab anyone's attention.  However, much of my riding is rural, not urban, and here loud pipes just might save lives -- or at least my own.

Deer are becoming more ubiquitous than ticks on a hound dog.  The countryside, as well as many suburban landscapes, has become overpopulated by white-tail deer.  Some mornings the roadkill count can be astounding, but these are from encounters with cars, pickups, and heavy trucks.  Nighttime travel has become a much more dangerous affair for motorcycle riders.

I see lots of wildlife when riding the Beemer.  On several occasions I have quietly swerved into the other lane without eliciting more than twitching ears from a doe. On the Ducati I rarely see a deer (and I put thousands of miles on the Duc annually) and when I do it's in the distance and they are moving in the opposite direction.  I think this is a good thing.

So do loud pipes save lives?  I'm sure they do in regards to avoiding collisions with deer and most creatures that move faster than a snapping turtle.  I say "most" because there is one creature that won't move even when the blaring airhorn of a heavily loaded 18-wheel logging truck is bearing down on it: moose.  Brain like turkey, body like a Clydesdale; bad news for bikers.  So I'll keep my loud pipes and will try to stay off north-country roads after dusk.  The life I save will probably be my own.

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