EPA Updating Motorcycle Exhaust Noise Emission Standards

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) has learned that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating the regulation that governs all motorcycle noise emissions.  The EPA has sent a letter to various private companies located in the USA, that import or build motorcycle exhausts intended for use in the USA, asking the companies to disclose sensitive financial and business plan information, as well as trade secrets.

The EPA claims that it must update the regulation because of “technical changes that have occurred since the last update of the rule”. Current law has decibels capped at 83 for motorcycles built since 1983. It is not clear from the letter which direction they will pursue, but in the past, any time the EPA “updated” anything it meant that the regulations got stricter. Reading between the lines shows that the EPA will likely lower the decibel limit for motorcycles, not increase it.

The 5 page questionnaire asks for some very sensitive information such as; overall value of the company, part numbers of items built and or sold, testing techniques, will the company pass on the costs of more testing to the customer and so on. The MRF is arranging a meeting with the EPA to clarify exactly what is going on here.

If you or anyone you know has received this letter, please put them in touch with the MRF (tel. 202-546-0983) so that they can join the coalition to ensure that this does not put in place any hardships for the American rider. Should you want to view the questionnaire by going to:  MRF EPA Questionaire.

Contents of the letter to manufacturers follows.

Office of Air and Radiation
June 1, 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering revisions to its motorcycle noise emissions regulations (Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 205, Subparts D and E, promulgated December 31, 1980) to address technological changes that have occurred since the current regulations were developed. As part of this process, we are collecting information on the types and models of motorcycles and mopeds manufactured in or imported for sale in the United States. We are also collecting information on motorcycle and moped exhaust systems that are manufactured or imported for sale in the United States; this includes companies that manufacturer (sic) OEM exhaust systems for their newly manufactured motorcycles and/or mopeds and/or for retail sale and those companies that manufacture motorcycle and moped exhaust systems for aftermarket sales only. Also, in order to estimate the impacts of any increases in manufacturing and/or product costs due to possible required changes in design and testing costs, we are collecting information on sales volumes, prices and the costs of manufacture.

This letter is to request completion of the enclosed questionnaire by the (name and address of manufacturing company) by June 23, 2010. The purpose of this questionnaire is to determine the products produced, approximate production volumes, production costs, testing processes and testing costs, and sales prices for your facility.) Sincerely, (EPA official)

37 Responses to “EPA Updating Motorcycle Exhaust Noise Emission Standards”

  1. 1 Freedomlaw Jul 1st, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Ayn Rand’s observations in Atlas Shrugged were prescient. Our government seeks information about private profit to impose new takings of that profit. (Imagine what is implied in the question — will you pass higher costs onto your customers?) The government engages in an economic system without a competitor, and without risk, and without any need to balance risk and reward. In short, vote out all incumbents in 2010.

  2. 2 morriscustom Jul 1st, 2010 at 7:22 am

    I would tell them nicely that any of that information can be obtained with their sister agency the IRS if they need to know that,with my Corporate Income Tax info.Just some other way to put some American small business out of business.this country is being regulated to DEATH.tHE good govrnment is a small government!!!!

  3. 3 Jim Jul 1st, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Keep in mind that the EPA operates with no oversight from the Congress or Senate. What they want becomes law. The American people have got to wake up and start taking on this ever growing machine called government. It has gotten out of hand and is only going to get worse if “we the people” let it. Every voting age adult needs to start educating themselves by looking past the local and national news.

    I am very scared of what this country is going to become!


    PS It saddens me to see only two posts on this issue, when I see nearly 30 on the OCC blog.

  4. 4 Bryan Rohrer Jul 1st, 2010 at 9:26 am


    RE: “It saddens me to see only two posts on this issue, when I see nearly 30 on the OCC blog.”

    I too feel your pain regarding the comments on the OCC announcement and yes, I made a comment regarding the Teutuls. I must confess I did read the American Chopper entry before this one which only strengthens my point about the Teutuls.

    Regarding the EPA, that non elected agency that has brought more pain to the United States than any other group in the federal government. The “Orwellian” grip they have on so many products we use in America is frightening. I have been greatly concerned what will become of our great nation should we continue down the path we are on.

    Not to make light of the grave situation this latest EPA request puts us in but, think of the attention this ridiculous request by the EPA would get if the Teutuls spoke of this latest freedom grab? They do have a large following that includes non-riders sympathetic to our cause.

  5. 5 tattooeddmike Jul 1st, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I agree that government is getting way too big!!! and also agree we must get rid of the imcumbents!!! All of them, and get rid of this big brother attitude that you need government to take care of us because we are not smart enoungh to do so for ourselves!!!! B.S.! Enoungh is ENOUNGH!!! I don’t care what party they are from, tehy got to go! What is left for our kids, ????
    It’s a sad, sad world and it’s got to go back to the less pc bulls#*t that we are living with now!!!
    It seems that there is no stopping the big machine…… God Help Us if WE don’t do something next election to change this government!

  6. 6 Woody Jul 1st, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I guess the requests could be handled like some of the ones on the recent census form (like “is your house paid for) by simply leaving it blank. It’s none of their business and has no relevance to air quality beyond how many units per year are sold. Screw ’em.

  7. 7 day rider Jul 1st, 2010 at 10:27 am

    EPA has a lot of balls asking how much one makes and when you tell them you bet there is a increase to your wallet coming.

  8. 8 Brad Jul 1st, 2010 at 10:34 am

    And during this time EPA let BP pour in the gulf EPA illegal oil dispersant!

  9. 9 Paul Jul 1st, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. You might wake up the economy. In these troubled economic times where American motorcycle compaines are scaling back or going under altogether, it’s good to know that the EPA is worried about them making too much noise, instead of too little money. It’s no wonder we owe China so much!

  10. 10 burnout Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Just got off the phone with the census people wanting to confirm if my water/sewage bill was indeed what I stated it to be…..!! The EPA needs to be getting on top of this BP mess instead of worrying about motorcycle exhaust. The train wakes me up twice a night……. and that thing is 4 miles away!! peace

  11. 11 BenR Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Yeah! Screw the Government. We need to go back to before 1906 when an 11 year could get a real job in the meat packing industry and no one regulated what we ate or drank!


    And I’m all for having the beautiful smog clouds return .. after all Los Angles was so much prettier when the sun rays were refracted through the smog .. all nice reds and oranges. It was so very lovely.

    An while were at it .. can we go back to having to work for awesome companies like Shell Oil so we can abolish the U.S. dollar and use company script in company stores!

    w00h00! Sounds like a damn fine proposition to me!

  12. 12 burnout Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Today in Prattville AL it is illegal to text while driving. Too bad common sense didn’t work, now the police have MORE stress to deal with arguing with driving texters! peace

  13. 13 BD Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Oh my… It’s the “”I,M from the goverment and I’M here to help”” Anyone answering this letter may as well kiss their business goodbye

  14. 14 Jeff Nicklus Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    This Hope & Change crap isn’t working out so well IS IT? The EPA will do whatever the EPA so desires especially with the regime that is in the White House now and little if anything we, The People, say means anything …. just look at the Health Care Bill for example …. 72% of we The People did not want the law, see how much your voice counts now don’t you? In November we, The People, may have our last best hope of taking back our Government and saving it from the Socialist’s …… let’s see what happens then!

    BenR …. Go hug a tree or something!

    Over & Out,


  15. 15 rucnred Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    In my county, the communities are being urged by the Sheriff Dept. to clamp down on noisy motorcycles by using a length of 3/8 inch dowel rod inserted in the exhaust pipe and if it goes in too far, they’ll ticket you for pulling the baffles out since most of my local communities are too broke to afford reliable (hence defendable) sound measurment devices. (Another reason to love Medusa pipes!) One village police department recognizing the importance of bikers spending habits, simply stated in a newspaper article, “just lay off the throttle when in their village, and motorcyclists likely won’t be bothered by them.”

    As part of any legislative process, the potential economic impacts to stakeholders must be assessed first prior to passage into law in order to be defendable and upheld if challenged in court by say a business asserting undue hardship. Companies would be wise to have an attorney read the EPA’s “legalese” as to how best assert the business’s confidentiality claim to part or all informationthat is being ASKED FOR submittal, which sounds pretty voluntary at first blush. Otherwise, “if no such claim accompanies the information WHEN IT IS RECEIVED BY EPA, it may be made available in the publick docket with no further notice.” IT IS NEVER ADVISABLE TO LEAVE ANY PORTION OR LINES OF A PRE-PRINTED LEGAL DOCUMENT BLANK. RETAIN COPY FOR YOURSELF, PREFERABLY THE ORIGINAL IF POSSIBLE, IF IT HAS YOUR NAME & SIGNATURE.

    Studies show that loud, intermittent, speech-interrupting sound can increase workplace injuries in as little as 14 seconds on mudane tasks that normal can be completed with little attention to detail and have negative consequences for people in residential, workplace and educational settings at an additional cost to all of us. Intense, info-grabbing noise interrputs the thought process so the brain has to reward it by paying attention to it, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. This is why there are laws to protect workers hearing, so they don’t for example, loose an apendage. But studies also show that same level and quality of sound does increases the reaction time to hazards by drivers of motorized vehicles with loud exhaust. SEE… “Psychology of Work Behavior, 4th Edition by Frank J. Landy, Pennsylvania State University (1989) ISBN: 0-534-11091-6.

    This is about noise pollution not air quality, and as such EPA ought to also weigh the ever increasing number of motorcyclists on the road, of which an ever growing segment are aging Baby Boomers who have known decreased visual acuity and reflexes. Sound increases in volume as it moves away from an object absent mitigating factors such as topography, landscaping, crops and permanent structures to break the sound waves. Highway Traffic Operation engineers must use this information when establishing speed limits. while most motorcycle is transient and dwellings, schools, and factories are not, I believe LOUD PIPES DO SAVE LIVES. We just don’t have a plethora of peer-reviewed and accepted scientific-based evidence to effectively prove it to my knowledge. Maybe EPA ought to asess that “environmental human health factor”! I think we ought to demand it – in fact.

  16. 16 Shifter Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Jeff Nicklus, you are not objective. EPA actions in this direction started well before Obama was President. The big EPA offensive attacks against the automotive industry started under Bush. Don’t you remember?

  17. 17 martin Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Same crap different day

  18. 18 martin Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    And weither it’s the EPA trying to take our noise ability so we can stay alive away it’s jackass city’s like Myrtle Beach and so on!

  19. 19 Jeff Nicklus Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:17 pm


    Need to look at you history before spouting off here …. the first EPA Offensive against the auto industry was Lyndon B. Johnson, (D) TX. The Architect of the Great Society, … In his 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, … EPA Act of 1965.

    Trust me, I am not now nor will I ever be “objective” when dealing with a Socialist, a Marxist or a Communist, and we have all three in the White House currently.

    Over & Out,


  20. 20 Jeff Nicklus Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:18 pm


    Hell, I almost forgot: IT’S BUSH’S FAULT!

    Over & Out,


  21. 21 Bryan Rohrer Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Shifter, Jeff:

    You both should remember the EPA operates with no authority holding it accountable. The agency was started under Nixon back in 1970 and has continued to gain power ever since, doing whatever it damn well pleases under the banner of saving the planet. The overreaching regulations the EPA put into place during the last almost 20 years has more to do with the rise of the Environmental Movement than it does with any Presidential administration. It just so happens President Obama embraces the Environmental Ideology more than any previous President. Of course, some do claim his “Go Green”; “Global Warming” crap has to do with gaining money and power not with saving the planet. And I question whether or not the planet really needs saving!

  22. 22 cwglide Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    EPA reglitory measures set forth in the state of Calif is part of the reason why companies left this state. Now we have canidates that want to peel back some of the reglitory requirements (some of which are envirnmental) to inspire new companies to come here and keep companies from leaving. So EPA does has an impact to our state economy. Since the EPA has an adverse affect on our economy based on their own agenda to set for restrictions they must be regulated or at best have an oversight committtee to rule the long term affect (economically) on thier policies. This agency has cost Californian’s JOBS!!!!!!!!!!!
    Its funny how the cannidates want to reduce some of the reglitory policies, and at the same time EPA is now ADDING MORE!!!!!! I have written my Congressman about this, and continue to do so.
    Thanks so much Cyril for posting this.

  23. 23 cwglide Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Oh by the way, remember the SB435 i think it was that bill proposal to smog check motorcycles. That was squashed in most part of us fighting back.

  24. 24 Jeff Nicklus Jul 1st, 2010 at 3:03 pm


    CARB is the exact reason we have never marketed our motorcycles in California!

    Over & Out,


  25. 25 Delski Jul 1st, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Everthing that isn’t a race bike should have a baffle

  26. 26 cwglide Jul 1st, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Exactly Jeff,,,,as well as Enfield, and a host of other mfg that wont sell in this state. This results in potiental loss in future sales tax revenue and thus impacts Calif economy as a whole. .

  27. 27 just my opinion Jul 1st, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    You guys that are argueing over democrats and republicans are doing just what both parties want. while you all are bickering about your party being right or not being wrong, both the Democrats and Republicans are robbing all of us blind. Both parties SUCK The only comment I agree with is Freedom Law.
    VOTE ALL THOSE CHEATING, STEALING BASTURDS OUT. That is the best message we can send.

  28. 28 Jeff Nicklus Jul 1st, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    This is one of the very, very rare occasions I will agree with JMO. Just goes to prove that even a blind dog finds a bone occasionally.

    Had all the fun and excitement I can handle today so I am going home now and mixing my nightly adult beverage!

    Over & Out,


    PS: Delski, Stick It !

  29. 29 Greybeard Jul 1st, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    How do they propose to balance this against the new fear that up and coming electric motorcycles don’t make ENOUGH noise?

    See, this is the view government has when they have their head up their ass.

  30. 30 morriscustom Jul 1st, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I’m just sayin, guy riding his motorcycle a few hours a weekend to get away from it all aint hurtin nothing LEAVE US ALONE!!!!

  31. 31 fuji Jul 1st, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Delski .
    fyi—- most racing venues have a dba standard and exhaust are resticted with baffles or silencers

    A couple that may not be included are drag racing an the salt flats but I don’t know.

    AMA racing has had restrictions on noise for many years.

  32. 32 Delski Jul 2nd, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Jeff I don’t think anybody in CA would buy one of your cookie cutter choppers anyways

    I see this whole EPA thing as a chance to make money selling exhuast baffles and if they pass a emmision laws it is a chance to buy a Dyno and inspect bikes there are ways that custom shops could make money out of this

    Keep it up Jeff you’ll be just another custom shop in the wind

  33. 33 Jeff Nicklus Jul 2nd, 2010 at 9:41 am


    Blah, Blah, Blah! We just celebrated our 15th Anniversary and will be here 15 more if that is what I choose to do.

    Over & Out,


  34. 34 rucnred Jul 2nd, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Congress & the EPA have slaughtered the English Language by using their use of the word, “emission”.

    According to the thumb-indexed of the Third Edition of Webster’s New World College Dictionary by MACMILLAN, USA (1997), the definition of SOUND: 1 a) “vibrations in air, water,etc. that stimulate the auditory nerves and produce the sensation of hearing b) the auditory sensation produced by such vibrations. 2 a) any auditory effect that is distinctive or characteristic of its source; identifiable noise, tone, vocal utterance, etc. [the sound of a violin, a speech sound-(italicized)] …..
    and it keeps on going from there.

    What EPA is regulating as one type of “Exhaust Emission”. It is a highly-subjective public perception of “Sound Effects” that are considered by a subset of the U.S. Population to be, “Noise- the general word for any loud, unmusical, or disagreeable sound; din refers to a loud, prolonged, deafening sound painful to the ears.” In this context then, if EPA is a truly a “legitimate authority figure” they are then HIGHLY discriminatory. THINK ABOUT THAT… Commercial Airliners are far noisier yet deemed highly-socioeconomically beneficial.

    The National Safety Council’s estimates the Cost of Unintentional Injuries.
    Under “Motor Vehicle Injuries” the Average Economic Cost per Death, Injury, or Crash, 2008 is:
    Death $1,300,000
    Nonfatal Disabling Injury $63,500
    Property Damage Crash (including nondisabling injuries) $8,300.

    Yet NO LICENSED PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION (e.g. ASCE) has conducted ANY science-based evidenciary high-quality study, survey, or evaluation OF DEATHS, INJURIES, AND PROPERTY DAMAGE PREVENTED FROM LOUD PIPES, HENCE “NOISE”? Hmmmm, now why is that so? How many times have you encounter a distracted motorist upon any intersection or mid-highway segment (driveway), signalized, signed, or not, who’se attention rapidly turned toward our loud pipes and averted CHOOSING a manuver that would have incapacitated, maimed, or killed them, their occupants, or any of us on our motorcycle? This is not merely antidotal, it is a common and frequent everyday occurence witnessed by the public, hence commonplace. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    EPA does human and ecological “risk/benefit analysis” of environmental cleanups, which ARE in actuality cost/benefit or overall-gain assessments of justifiable loss of life from contamination. So they OUGHT to ammend their noise law using an “ordered set of real numbers” the very definition of a mathematical vector, and they know damn well what that is. We need to fight this smarter, not harder!

    What law firm represented the airline industry against residents who fought the expansion of O’Hare International Airport, in Chicago, IL? We need someone with that knowledge-base and expertise to take EPA down on this.

  35. 35 rucnred Jul 2nd, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Please forgive my OCD tendancies, but I do pro-bono datamining for a lawyer who finds this trait of mine useful. Other regulatory government entities require loud noise emissions by law because
    studies like athropometry, a branch of anthropology dealing with measurement of the human body, show loud noise to be beneficial and justifiably to the greater public good in the least restrictive manner possible.

    OSHA requirements, relate to back-up alarms in construction, promulgated in 1971 and were derived from Army Corps of Engineers standards. The alternatives to this noise that is so annoying to nearby residents is the provisions permitting the use of an observer/signal person instead, or when the standard may be met through the use of more technically advanced devices than the common single (high-pitch) tone alarm. …. However, OSHA has neither the data nor the resources to evaluate whether this particular device (a UK white noise alarm) would be “audible above the surrounding noise level” as required by the standard. If it does meet this test—that is, provides adequate warning to workers in the path of the vehicle, and to workers walking towards the path of the vehicle in time to avoid contact—it would comply with §1926.601(b)(4). [Emphasis added.]

    OSHA paraphrased a Ms. Nunn’s concerns that electronic high-pitched alarm sounds can irritate the nervous system, which she asserted can affect construction workers physically and emotionally. She also noted that the noise can affect others who are near construction sites, and asked that the Agency (OSHA) ensure that there is a balance between the safety merits of back-up alarms with the detrimental effects from the sounds they make. She explain that over the past 15 years, mechanical bell alarms have been replaced by high-pitched electronic sound-producing devices and requested that OSHA study the effects of the noise made by this type alarm.” [Corrected 6/12/07]. SEE… http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=24943

    ADA Accessibility Guidelines recommends audible alarms at Roundabout Intersection Crosswalks because service guide dogs will not enter the path of a non-stop linear flow of traffic which is why the Federal Highway Administration incorporated ADA reccomendations into their newly adopted and revised Manual on Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). SEE page 7/44 at…. http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/millennium/pr2/4e_lr2.pdf.

    New York mandates swimming pool alarms. Fire/smoke/particulate alarms, carbon monoxide and chemical spill/leak detectors, all are required to emit a certain & measurable loud persistent audible warning noise of a pervasive imminent hazard.

    In conclusion, I would argue LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES because motorcycle noise emission during necessary traffic manuvers into the flow of more massive motorized projectiles traveling the 85th percentile (the legal speed limit) or less can and do prevent a known cause of unintentional incapacitating injuries and deaths due to distracted driving by functioning as an additional warning of intent.

    Thank you for your time and interest, I look forward to everyone’s responses on this matter.

  36. 36 Kenny Price Jul 9th, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Samson has cooperated with the EPA with the idea to help educate them, not to fight them. we feel it is better to help them understand our way of life and the enjoyment we get from riding our bikes with the great sound we get from our engines. if fighting the EPA is what anyone thinks is best you are wrong. education to help them to understand is best for us all. we did not disclose every bit of information requested. many questions on the document were not related to the issue so we left some blank. some of the information like income was just not related. what we did do was to help the EPA know what a negative impact would be placed on our businesses and how many of us would have to close our doors because of the inability to make our exhaust affordable or even to make a small profit. the price of mufflers would double as would the exhaust systems as well. we are waiting to get approval of a 96db acceptable rating. that is a far cry from the 83db now on the books. this would be a win win for all of us. this does not mean you will not be able to loud and proud its just a number so to keep you from getting tickets or even worse having your bike hauled away. yes i have heard some horror stories. i encourage all exhaust manufacturers to cooperate with the EPA showing what a hardship it would cause our companies. we have been working with the motorcycle industry council and we all feel to work with the EPA is best. if we dont they will just do whatever they want and we would all be screwed.
    Kenny Price
    Samson Exhaust

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