Oakland Police Department Wants Louder Pipes On Its Harleys

Another very interesting article forwarded by Rogue.
Over in Oakland they like it loud – so loud that all 45 of the Police Department’s Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been equipped with shiny new tailpipes, at a cost of $500 apiece, to rev up their roar. It seems the cops just didn’t feel safe on toned-down bikes. “There’s an old motorcycle adage that you are heard before you are seen,” said Deputy Chief Dave Kozicki, explaining the department’s decision to toss the bikes’ muted factory-issued mufflers in favor of the more high-volume pipes. Kozicki cited an accident three months ago in which an Oakland officer riding a toned-down cycle was struck by a motorist who said he hadn’t heard the officer approaching.But some City Hall insiders, as well as motorcycle cops elsewhere, said the safety argument is a stretch. Even the folks at the national Motorcycle Industry Council, which represents all the big bike manufacturers, were unaware of any safety benefits from louder mufflers.
“We encourage all motorcycle riders to keep the original low sound levels that meet the … federal sound limit of 80 decibels,” said industry spokesman Mike Mount. “It would seem counterintuitive that a law enforcement agency would go against federal standards.”
Ironically, it was just a short time back that Oakland police were called upon to crack down on noisy motorists who had modified their auto mufflers to make a whistling screech. The “whistle tip” pipes were eventually outlawed under state law. Oakland’s cops had a long tradition of riding their Harley-Davidsons with the modified, louder tail pipes, earning them the nickname “Rolling Thunder.” But after an officer complained about a loss of hearing and others around town questioned whether the police force was violating the very noise standards it was supposed to enforce, the department brass ordered a switch to the quieter stock mufflers.
According to Kozicki, the decibel drop sparked a chorus of complaints from other officers, who said they felt less safe. So last year the department launched a $1,200 study in conjunction with the city’s risk management division to determine whether A) the louder motorcycles contributed to officers’ safety, B) were detrimental to their hearing, and C) complied with noise standards. Kozicki acknowledged that whatever safety-related findings the study produced were largely anecdotal. Still, after everything was taken into consideration, the department concluded “it was in the best interest of the officers to put more-audible pipes back on,” Kozicki said.
Hence, all 30 of the department’s Harleys were sent down to the central maintenance yard for a muffler makeover, at a cost of about $15,000, according to City Hall insiders. Another 15 newly purchased motorcycles were ordered with the louder pipes, though at no extra charge. Oakland officials acknowledge that the noisy pipes, when tested, averaged 93 decibels – well above the federal legal noise limit, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

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9 Responses to “Oakland Police Department Wants Louder Pipes On Its Harleys”


  1. 1 Greg Jun 12th, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Ha, ha.

  2. 2 burnout Jun 12th, 2008 at 10:02 am

    93 IS more quiet than 80, right? My quiet bike is the only one my neighbors hear when I come home at 3 am! peace

  3. 3 Dave B. Jun 12th, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Most cops don’t wear seat belts either, they are given the option to wear them or not at thier own discretion…

  4. 4 J Jun 13th, 2008 at 9:34 am

    $15 grand because the cops whined about louder pipes, eh?

    Always nice to see such wise utilization of community funds…….

    Hey- how bout spinners on the cop cars, too? That way, people can see them coming……

  5. 5 Brandon Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Mr. J is funny. Loud pipes save Cops.

  6. 6 muddy Jun 14th, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    So, yeah. Let ‘em spend … what was it? … 45 bikes x $500/ea … on pipes if it means you’ll be able to hear ‘em coming. No more stealth cops … sounds good!

  7. 7 tattooeddmike Jun 17th, 2008 at 9:26 am

    I agree with the old saying that “LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES”…..
    Just common sense to me, and I would of thought that anyone who rides at all would find this to be fact! I myself work the night shift and have to go through a small town where the cops there are always on the lookout for anyone desturbing the peace, especially late night, and I have not ever had a problem on my bike, (I run drag pipes!) with no baffles what so ever! I just respect the people who live there by lugging the bike through town and try to time the only traffic light in town so as not to catch a red light… If you feel the need to rack off the pipes late at night in a small town and get busted for it, it is probally your own fault for being brainless and inconsiderate, and you deserve a ticket.
    TATTOOEDDMIKE

  8. 8 Luke Jun 17th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Anyone who rides, including cops, and even politician know that the sound of your bike can make you more ‘visible’ to other motorists. I’m sick of seeing the arguments from agencies like the National Motorcycle Industry Council who claim there is no connection between sound levels and safety. There are far too many politics involved. Manufacturers are under pressure from state governments to keep sound levels down on stock bikes so of course they would say that. Should the cops be allowed to have louder pipes while they are trying to enforce noise ordanaces? Ummm, the fire departments have some loud a$$ sirens on thier rigs don’t they? Duh…
    So take your politics and your statistics and professional ‘opinions’ and blow them out your tail pipe! Go out and ride a quiet bike and see what could happen to you!

    I have Vance and Hines Ovals on my Road King… they are mild when I need them to be and loud enough when I twist it, a good middle ground I think. My Sporty on the other hand has Samson Big Guns and will rattle windows, but I can still get down any quiet street at low throttle and just a slight rumble while not waking the dead.

  1. 1 Even The PD Wants Loud Pipes - BIG DOG Motorcycle Forums Pingback on Jun 15th, 2008 at 8:20 pm
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