Click here for Home



by Genghis


I'M BAFFLED: Can a parked bike with the motor not running be tciketed for loudness?


"So is it true that there is now a $400.00 fine to run straight pipes in the city and that it can be issued by 'brownies' whether or not the bike is even running? I know this legislation was attempted and defeated a couple of years ago. Did it now slip through the cracks or was hidden inside some other new endless regulation under the guise of "quality of Life"? If it's true NYC, it's a far cry from when I started hangin' out in the East Village in 1979. Greatest city in the world? My ass. The old mare ain't what she used to be."


Picture this: You're strolling down Main Street minding your own business, and pass a Chase Bank. You're the typical tattooed greaser who rides a Harley. All of a sudden, the police swoop in around you and announce that you are under arrest for the potential robbery of the bank. You protest that you were going to do no such thing to no avail, and they read you your Miranda rights. They counter your protest by stating that you don't have the correct appearance to indicate that you fit into a category of citizens who would not commit this crime, that they inspected you according to the legal standards set forth in the city ordinance, and they have found you deficient in this department. This is analogous to the proposed NYC law that Tim was alluding to.

This New York City bill was defeated and it has not been resurrected, but Tim's query does give pause for thought. The legislation that Tim is referring to, was a New York City bill that was introduced by former City Councilman Alan Gerson in 2009. I say former because fortunately, this fanatically anti-motorcycle councilman was voted out of office, in large part due to his extremist views and well-publicized jihad against bikers. Believe it or not, Gerson even attempted to have motorcycles banned from Greenwich Village in NYC. This initiative also failed for an obvious reason: It's ridiculous. The motorcycle exhaust bill that Gerson wrote, was essentially aimed at preventing bikers from installing aftermarket exhaust pipes on their bikes. Gerson has a strong personal aversion to loud pipes, and this is what motivated his writing his initiative. If this bill had passed, penalties for violations would have ranged from heavy fines to confiscation of the "offending" motorcycles. Yup, you read that right---confiscation.

The amazing thing about the potential city law, was that a given motorcycle didn't have to be running for cops and meter maids to issue citations for too-loud pipes. Violations according to the bill, could be cited if an EPA approval sticker wasn't found on the exhaust pipes by police or meter maids. Back in 2009 when the bill was being considered, I spoke to Andrew Rosa, famed Harley motor builder and owner of Rosa's Cycles in Huntington, New York. Andrew built Mabel's (my 1971 Super Glide) stroker motor. Here's what he had to say then: "That's unconstitutional and not enforceable. You can forget about it, Scott. It'll never happen." Andrew was prescient. The bill was defeated, mainly because of action taken by bikers rights groups.

This defeated bill would have allowed law enforecment to ticket any bike, running or not running, if it didn't have the approved EPA label on it. It wouldn't even matter if the pipes in question were as quiet as stock pipes from The Firm. If the pipes were lacking the EPA's seal of approval, the bike could potentially be taken by the city as readily as a convicted drug dealer's pimp car. Can you picture what the process of enforcement would have entailed if this asinine law would've passed? Forget it, man.

Imagine this: Meter maids on their hands and knees (don't get excited, boys) with little dental mirrors, examining the undersides of bike's mufflers to see if a label resided there. It would also require heat-resistant gloves, in case the pipes were hot. And what about knee pads for the ladies (I said, don't get excited, boys)? I can envision a 46% rise in workers compensation cases among meter maids and cops, due to strained lower backs, shin splints, torn hamstrings and rotator cuff injuries. The city would go broke! Fuggedhaboudit, man.

In a fit of paranoia back in 2009, I envisioned riding Mabel out of her fenced-in parking lot, but never parking anywhere, before returning to the lot, just to avoid squads of mini-skirted meter maids bending over Mabel, peering at the bottoms of her straight pipes. On second thought, this might not be such a bad deal. Especially if they went commando. Freebird, baby! With my luck though, it would be some fat 300 pound male traffic officer in bermuda shorts. Yecchhhh. If the law had passed, no self-respecting biker worth his 60 weight would leave his bike unattended on the mean streets of NYC, subject to the whims of meter maids gone wild with their citation books and walkie-talkies.

"Hey Dispatch. This is traffic officer number 329, at the corner of Second Avenue and Third Street. Yeh. We got us a situation heah. I found a Harley with no EPA stickers on the mufflers. Send a tow truck to impound. I'm writin' the ticket now. Better hurry and send a cop with it, because there's a pissed-off lookin' tattooed guy runnin' toward me....what's the tow truck's ETA? HURRY...aaaaAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHhhhh...unnnhhh"

Cold, man. But, it was not to be, since the bill failed to be enacted as law. The bill was full of holes anyway, recognized by the city as unconstitutional and impractical. You cannot decide if a set of pipes is going to be loud, if the motorcycle's not running. That's just common sense. Without ignition and internal combustion occurring, there's nothing for a decibel meter to measure. Making such a baseless judgement would be like reading the mind of a potential murderer and arresting him for a potential crime that never happened.

As far as Mabel's concerned, she's not as loud as she used to be. When Andrew talked me into changing my points ignition to this great Vulvan electronic ignition, he installed baffles in Mabel's straight pipes without telling me. When I expressed skepticism---I'd used straight pipes forever---Andrew persuaded me to try 'em out. He said, "You'll be surprised at how the baffles have smoothed her motor out. She runs like a new bike. Try it, you'll like it. If ya don't you can always remove them." As usual, Andrew was right. The additional back pressure, caused Mabel's snortin' stroker motor to run smooth as glass, man---and I do like it. What's not to like? With the electronic ignition and baffled pipes, Mabel was like a new bike. She's still plenty loud enough though. Probably loud enough to fail a decibel meter measurement, but not loud enough to draw unwanted attention from half a mile away as her unbaffled pipes would've. Now, about those meter maids in the miniskirts. NYC is still the Greatest City in the World, and I love riding on its mean streets, Later.