End of the road for loud pipes in California?

Dailies -



A bill is sitting on Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk that could make it illegal to run a non-stock exhaust on motorcycles in California. SB 435 passed the state’s senate yesterday and, if made law, would see all non-EPA-stamped exhausts on 2013 and newer bikes subject to fines of between $50 and $250.

The AMA is opposed to the legislation, arguing that EPA stamps are very had to find, meaning fines could be issued without cause, and that there’s a legitimate need for aftermarket exhausts (quiet ones) for use as an affordable repair. They also call it discriminatory.

SB 435 isn’t exactly the harshest law we’ve seen. Police would be unable to pull a motorcyclist over solely for an apparent exhaust violation, classifying non-EPA exhausts as a secondary infraction. Should a motorcyclist be able to provide an EPA certificate in court, the ticket will be dismissed. Fines start at $50 for the first one and go up to $250 for consecutive violations.

While we agree with the AMA that the law is discriminatory, it’s our own behavior as bikers that has brought laws like this upon us. We have nobody to blame but our fellow riders who choose to run offensively loud exhausts to thank for the legislation and, considering the level of irritation that’s often expressed by non-riding members of the public, we’re lucky SB 435 isn’t more severe.

Here’s the full text of the proposed legislation:


INTRODUCED BY Senator Pavley
(Coauthor: Senator Lowenthal)

FEBRUARY 26, 2009

An act to add Section 27202.1 to the Vehicle Code, relating to


SB 435, as amended, Pavley. Vehicles: pollution control devices.
(1) Existing federal regulations require a motorcycle manufactured
on and after January 1, 1983, and exhaust emission systems for those
motorcycles, to meet specified noise emissions standards and require
that a label be affixed onto the motorcycle or exhaust emission
system indicating that the motorcycle or exhaust emission system
meets the noise emissions standards.
This bill would make it a crime for a person to park, use, or
operate a motorcycle, registered in the state, that is manufactured
on and after January 1, 2011
2013, or a
motorcycle, registered in the state, with aftermarket exhaust system
equipment that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2011
2013 , that does not have the above label, and
would make a violation of this provision punishable by a specified
fine, thereby imposing a state mandated

state-mandated local program by creating a new crime. The bill
would require the person to whom a notice to appear is issued, or
against whom a complaint is filed, for the above violation, to
provide proof of correction. The bill would authorize a court to
dismiss the penalty imposed for a first violation if the person
produces proof of correction to the satisfaction of the court.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse
local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this
act for a specified reason.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: yes.


SECTION 1. Section 27202.1 is added to the Vehicle Code, to read:
27202.1. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, a person shall not
park, use, or operate a motorcycle, registered in the State of
California, that does not bear the required applicable federal
Environmental Protection Agency exhaust system label pursuant to
Subparts D (commencing with Section 205.150) and E (commencing with
Section 205.164) of Part 205 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal
Regulations. A violation of this section shall be considered a
mechanical violation and a peace officer shall not stop a motorcycle
solely on a suspicion of a violation of this section. A peace officer
shall cite a violation of this section as a secondary infraction.
(b) A violation of this section is punishable as follows:
(1) For a first conviction, by a fine of not less than fifty
dollars ($50), nor more than one hundred dollars ($100).
(2) For a second or subsequent conviction, by a fine of not less
than one hundred dollars ($100), nor more than two hundred fifty
dollars ($250).
(c) (1) The notice to appear issued or complaint filed for a
violation of this section shall require that the person to whom the
notice to appear is issued, or against whom the complaint is filed,
produce proof of correction pursuant to Section 40150.
(2) Upon producing proof of correction to the satisfaction of the
court, the court may dismiss the penalty imposed pursuant to
subdivision (b) for a first violation of this section.
(d) (1) This section is applicable to a person operating a
motorcycle that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2011
2013 , or a motorcycle with aftermarket exhaust
system equipment that is manufactured on or after January 1,
2013 .
(2) Penalties imposed pursuant to this section are in addition to
penalties imposed pursuant to any other applicable laws or
(3) This section does not supersede, negate, or otherwise alter
any other applicable laws or regulations.
SEC. 2. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the
Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the
meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California

  • GuessWho

    Next they will restrict HP and you have higher insurance rates. Blame this on NYC Fastest.

    • seanslides

      This is about harleys, not horsepower.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      That’s right Skank, it’s all your fault. When will you top menacing us innocent little bikers?

    • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

      I heard that’s actually how the Terminator is making his decision. On his right side is the bill. On his left, NYC Fastest YouTube videos. We’re all screwed.

  • seanslides

    Even if you get something like this dismissed, you’re still stuck paying the $25 dismissal fee.

  • Balzaak

    I’d like to give thanks to the Harley owners running straight pipes if this goes through.

  • g.r.b

    blame harleys!

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Sportsbike riders are hardly blameless.

      • James

        A pack of mopeds went through Griffith Park last weekend, most of them were louder than any of the Harleys that went by.

    • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

      Blame Canada!

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    Why ban loud pipes? Don’t they save lives? At the very least, they send a very strong message (re: overcompensation).

    Of course no one who reads this will ever get pulled over for the loudness of their pipes, as the law prohibits this. No, only if it just so happens that the officer pulls you over for some other infraction will the rider ever get a citation for the loudness of his/her pipes. And, of course, all hellforleathermagazine.com readers are law-abiding citizens who would never exceed the speed limit, exhibit excessive acceleration, drive recklessly, etc. So, no worries.

    By the way, you’ll never have to worry about this law affecting you if you ride an electric motorcycle – unless you also suffer from the heartbreak of explosive flatulence.

  • robevans916

    I think being a secondary offense is a little ridiculous. If its a law, make it a law. This way every harley rider will have straight pipes and never hear flak for it; and every GSXR owner with open low mount exhausts will get pulled over for doing 72mph on the interstate and ticketed for their exhausts at the same time.

  • rustycb450

    Last I heard, Arnie rides too… Maybe there’s a chance he also sees the stupidity of it and it won’t get further then his desk.

    • chili sv

      Not only does he ride, but he also crashes. What he doesn’t do is get a license.

  • shinkiro

    If they pass this, they’d better pass Prop 19 too. That way it’ll still suck, but I won’t care.

    Wait, what were we talking about?

  • HammSammich

    Well, if this is made law, any suspicion of aftermarket pipes will still likely lead officers to pull you over, regardless of the “secondary offense” restriction. It’s amazing what “legitimate” reasons a cop can come up with to justify pulling you over – at least according to my late father, who was a cop.

  • voxveho

    It isn’t completely about sound quality. CARB has made it really difficult to put aftermarket parts like intakes and exhaust on cars. California cops pull over Integra’s/Civics in inordinate quantities because of their “noise violating” exhausts. Then they do an inspection of the engine bay and find out the intake components don’t have the proper CARB badges. impound!

    This was the next logical step. The Democratic People’s Republic of California is becoming less gearhead friendly by the minute. Which is a shame, considering it has some of the coolest towns and best riding this country has to offer.

    • voxveho

      Like the new site BTW. Preview and edit buttons for the new threaded comments would complete the trifecta of win.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Thanks. No edit buttons for the time being (there’s legal issues there as well as technical) but we realize their appeal and they’ll hopefully become possible at some point in the future.

  • nicktp

    I don’t really buy into the “loud pipes save lives” line, as it is mostly used by rednecks who think that a loud pipe is an excellent replacement for sensible, intelligent riding and some decent safety gear.
    Perhaps California will be a slightly better place, one where you can carry on a conversation in a public place without having to shut up and wait for a group of dirtbags to ride by.

    • T Diver

      I ride a 06 636 with stock exhaust that even I can’t hear when doing 75 on the freeway. I am not sure if they save lives but they make cars move over when splitting lanes. The problem (which we brought upon ourselves) is the excessive “revving” when we ride around. That and wheelies. We get pulled over for “no reason” but that comes with the territory. Deal with it. I thought aftermarket exhaust was already illegal. What ever. People don’t like douch bags. Especially douch bags on bikes. If one limits their douch bagosity, you are less likely to get pulled over.

  • 6mt

    California just got lamer, but still i appreciate the fact that California is the only state in the union for allowing lane splitting.

  • 6mt

    plus it’s 2013 or newer, so what do you guys care?

  • Bald Shaun

    Also worth considering that Leo Vince, Yoshimura, Vance & Hines, and probably the vast majority of aftermarket pipe manufacturers and distributors, are located in California. Signing that bill is likely to do a considerable amount of economic harm to many of the state’s business, and cost more than a few jobs. Tough call given California’s economy.

    • richard gozinya

      Those companies will likely adapt to the changes. They won’t like it, but they’ll adapt, or be replaced by someone who will.

    • parkwood60

      Vance and Hines already has EPA certified pipes in their catalog, so I imagine it wasn’t very hard to pass the test. Someone should talk to the people at V&H and find out what was involved

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    “Loud Pipes Save Lives” is almost as ridiculous as the Anti Helmet Law belief. Harley riders seem to be near the front of the Loud Line. I’ve heard too many straight pipes, most of them backfiring because the owner is too naive to rejet, or even know what a carburetor is.

    Don’t sportbike riders realize loud pipes draw attention, especially if they are announcing to the world how fast they are going? Keep it quiet, goddamnit!

    • robotribe

      Isn’t that the point?:


  • Gildasd

    When I was I wee nipper, I went with a friend to a garage in Nice where they were preparing a RC30 or RC45 for the Bol d’Or… I swear that that thing at iddle made less noise than my then (quiet) Piaggo Ciao moped. And at doodling around speeds about the same, less than most mopeds or street legal motorbikes… But fuck me sideways was that thing loud when really opened up. Painfull with fingers in your ears… Crazy. You could feel the soundwave hitting you.

    I just don’t understand bike making more noise, going slower, less reliably, outside a race track (and then there was that guy with a souped up turbo Honda – silent death).

  • http://bigassmessage.com/39b51 vic

    over here they can stop you and if you don’t have the original muffler or some other street aproved system they confiscate your moto registration

    then you have to go get tested in a sound chamber[at your expense] and come back.if the CO2 and sound levels are ok you are free to go

    it’s a good law too bad it;s not enforced over here except at times of moral panic

  • T Diver

    From the LA Times Article.
    The author of the bill is from my home city Santa Monica. How lame is that.

  • circuitsports

    The world will end on dec 21 2012 – what do I can what happens jan 1 2013 for ?

    Other than that you always have custom build options


  • parkwood60

    Vance and Hines already has at least 1 EPA certified pipe in their catalog. So the world is not ending. I’m sure every aftermarket pipe maker will get new parts stamped by the EPA, or only sell parts for older bikes, or with a Off-road use only disclaimer.