In a recent Forbes interview, the CEO of Harley-Davidson was asked why his bikes are so loud. He replied that they are not, at least not when they leave the factory. He explained that all manufacturers have to comply with the same federal regulations restricting the noise level of their products, and that it is only after Harleys leave the factory that owners (and perhaps some dealers) modify and otherwise mess with the exhaust systems to produce the so-called Harley rumble.
Regardless of whether the rumble is built-in or added-on, most of the non-riding public would likely agree that ear-splitting bikes, and particularly Harleys, are a nuisance…or rather the people who ride them are. Oh sure, it’s a blast to watch several hundred of them in a parade. But other than that, sorry, there’s no excuse for, or reason to tolerate, the cacophony such bikes create, especially when there are more and more of them on the road each year.
It simply shouldn’t be this way, and the fix is simple enough: when such bikes are brought in for annual safety inspections, fail them. Cars with missing or malfunctioning mufflers are failed, so why shouldn’t the same apply to motorcycles? Devices to measure decibel levels are cheap, so cost is no excuse.
I used to ride a 1989 Honda CB650. It was a beautiful bike, with all the power anybody but a crazy man could want, and it was nearly as quiet as a Rolls Royce. The only reason I eventually sold it was because the roads were just getting too crowded and way too crazy for my interests in self-preservation.