Effort To Limit Motorcycle Noise Draws Opposition In NH

By Lauren Leamanczyk, WBZ-TV's New Hampshire Bureau Chief

NORTH HAMPTON, NH (CBS) – A new effort to reign in the roar of motorcycles is drawing opposition from New Hampshire bikers.

Rep. Michele Peckham is sponsoring the bill. It would cap the noise level on motorcycle exhaust systems at 84 decibels, the level recommended by the EPA. The current legal level is 106.

The proposal is being pushed by NH CALM, a group dedicated to quieting loud bikes. Bill Mitchell says they’re not opposed to motorcycles, just the excessively noisy ones.

“The temperature goes above 50 degrees here and the suns out, you can’t hear yourself think.”

WBZ-TV’s Lauren Leamanczyk reports

He founded the group New Hampshire Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles.

“It’s only one percent of the population, but they really stand out.”

To give you a sense of what these noise levels mean, according to the National Institutes of Health, a chain saw or a rock concert checks in at 110 decibels.

New Hampshire’s current motorcycle law allows up to 106 db. That’s louder than the 95 decibels of an average motorcycle.

The new bill would cap the sound at 84 decibels, just below the sound of normal heavy traffic.

The motorcycles would receive a sticker of compliance at their annual exhaust inspection. Motorcycles bought before January 1, 2013 would be grandfathered in unless the owner replaces the exhaust system.

Still, it makes some bikers upset. “Especially on Harley Davidsons the rumble is part of the fun,” said a motorcyclist named Rob in Hampton Beach.

They also argue, a loud bike keeps them safe from drivers who can’t see them.

Dell Paone says his chopper is probably way louder than even the current limit, so loud even his girlfriend won’t ride next to him.

“So if your girlfriend won’t ride next to you, can you blame people for not wanting to hear you when you ride by your house?,” WBZ Reporter Lauren Leamanczyk asked. “I don’t care what they think to be honest with you. It’s safer to ride a bike that motor vehicles can hear.”

More from Lauren Leamanczyk
  • Paul Conti

    Let’s not leave out those of us in Massachusetts. Join MACALM (Massachusetts Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles) on facebook


    and combat illegally loud motorcycle noise.

  • BroadwayJoe

    NHCALM and MACALM are anti biker.

    The law is fine as it is. If a bike is too loud, issue a ticket!

  • td

    Do loud pipes save lives? No.

    Whatever the reason, the research shows that bikes with modified exhaust systems crash more frequently than those with stock pipes. If you really want to save lives, turn to a loud jacket or a bright helmet color, which have been proven to do the job. Or install a louder horn.
    If you believe that loud pipes safe lives, you probably believe riding in groups is safer as well. It doesn’t.

    Long exposure to high db sound is both fatiguing and potentially dangerous. How can someone on a loud motorcycle hear what’s going on around THEM (sirens, horns, etc.) Study after study shows that you can’t.

    I’ve been riding for 30 years on a very quiet bike and will soon be the proud owner and rider an electric motorcycle (completely silent). So, maybe Broadway Joe can come up with some facts as opposed to CALM is anti biker and “the law is fine as it is. If a bike is too loud, issue a ticket”. Frankly, you sound like a 7 year old in the school yard saying- I know you are but what am i?

    • Anon

      You don’t think “the law is fine as it is. If a bike is too loud, issue a ticket” is a valid point? I mean, granted, 106db is still pretty loud, but the problem isn’t the bikes on the cusp, it’s the ones like Dell Paone’s here in this article that are WAY louder. It seems pointless to change the law if the current one isn’t enforced.

  • Mark

    The loud pipes are a macho thing. The bikes don’t come that way from the factory. They are totally unnecessary. The law isn’t enforced because a large number of police own them too.

  • Jason

    You guys got snookered. NHCALM is a small group that makes a loud noise. I guess if they had 1 member that lived at the other end of the state, they could be called statewide? They often spew information that has no basis in fact. They wine like little children. (Look at their post.) They say they want the EPA standard but, they don’t know what the EPA test is. The grandfathering clause is a farce. A motorcycle is grandfathered until it’s first service. (State inspection counts as a service.) Rep. Peckham is a carpet bagger that moved to this state and now, like the rest of them, knows what is best for us. I wish you had interviewed Seacoast Harley Davidson about the efforts they, along with the Seacoast Police Chief’s to work with the Motorcycle community to help curb the unwanted behavior. BTW, at the latest voluntary noise testing the only bike that did not pass the test was from Mass., where the level is lower. Changing our laws would not have changed him.

  • Anon2

    Jason is correct. And td above is citing specious research proven to have no scientific validity. Loud pipes DO save lives. Just more attempts at government intervention into our lives. NHCALM is not representative of anyone but their own few nanny members. To require motorcycles to be less loud than city traffic is blatantly ridiculous.

  • robert gibbons

    loud pipes saved my life several times, people don’t see you but hear you they tend to take a second look at the sound of a motorcycle near and where they are before pulling out .

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