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Loud Pipes Save Lives – The Law as of 2019

General September 20, 2021

Many of my clients and fellow motorcycle riders often times modify or upgrade their stock (OEM) exhaust systems with new full exhaust or “slip ons” to get a strong, aggressive sound. Mods also lessons the airflow from the engine, increases power and it’s lighter all giving better performance and it also improves the bike’s appearance. (My favorite slip-ons are Yoshimura R-77D. Twin Bros. M2 Black and any Vance Hines. I also like Rinehart Duals and Xtremes for Harley-Davidsons.)

But before you switch to a slip-on muffler or an entirely new set of pipes it’s important to know the law and the 2019 changes. The California Vehicle Code §27202 has the table of exhaust noise:

Pre 1970               93dBA

1970 – 1972           88dBA

1973 – 1974          86dBA

1975 – 1985          83dba

1986 – Current   80dBA        (Credit Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger)

First, all manufacturers and aftermarket providers comply with these rules. Straight off the showroom floor, Harley exhaust systems emit noise as high as 80 decibels (dBs). For reference, a typical car idling emits noise at 35-45dBA and a lawn mower is 95dBA.

California Vehicle Code §21750- Adequate Muffler states every motor vehicle must have an adequate muffler to prevent “any excessive or unusual noise” and “no muffler hall be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device”.

California Vehicle Code §21751- Modification of Exhaust System states “No person shall modify the exhaust system” which will “amplify or increase the noise emitted.”

The New Muffler Law (effective January 1, 2019) – Previously a motorcyclist was simply cited with a “Fix-it Ticket” for a modified or excessively loud exhaust which could be corrected. The old law allowed you to “fix” your exhaust symptom within thirty (30) days and provide proof to avoid a fine. 

However, on January 1, 2019, the NEW LAW mandates a traffic ticket for a “modified or loud exhaust or muffler system” with a mandatory fine of up to $1,000.00 with the first offenses is a mandatory $100.00, second offense a mandatory $250.00. So cut outs, bypasses, straight pipes or exhausts with holes are now illegal. No more fix-it tickets.

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