How to shoot pedestrians with your motorcycle

Dailies -



Just over a month ago, there was much fanfare about two bikers in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, who incited riots with their motorcycles’ exhausts and who were eventually charged with terrorism. It is worth mentioning that San Luis Potosi has been hit with drug violence, and that its residents were already on edge. Still, terrorism?

Juan Ramon Munguia and Enrique Trevino Rivera were leaving work on their motorcycles. Their popping exhausts spooked a nearby crowd of people celebrating a Holy Week event. Enough people in the crowd thought the bangs were gunshots to cause a stampede out of the square. The streets were crowded with vendors, and some people were trampled in the ensuing confusion. Every news report we’ve seen says Munguia and Rivera were just revving their engines at a standstill, though there has been some speculation that the “gunshots” were deliberate. Reports state that the police beat them senseless after their arrest, and the two could face up to 20 years if convicted of the terrorism charges.

It made us wonder—could anyone honestly mistake the sounds a motorcycle makes for gunfire? Yes, they certainly could, though maybe not when the bike is at a standstill. There is an old trick to do a perfect gunshot imitation with any carbureted bike that’s on the move.

1) Ride a warmed-up (hot) bike in gear with the engine above 3500 RPM. Turn off the red ignition safety switch on the handlebars and open the throttle all the way.
2) Wait 2-4 seconds
3) Close the throttle and turn the ignition switch back on.
4) BANG!

We used to do this all the time with our old Honda Interceptor (if it doesn’t create an back explosion—technically called an afterfire—administer more RPM). The open throttle fills the exhaust canisters with the unburned fuel charge, and when the ignition comes back the hot gases from the combustion stroke ignite the vapors. One satisfying explosion, at your service.

It’s tricky to get the timing right at first, but after a few minutes it feels natural and then you’ll be shooting pedestrians and riding buddies galore. Just make a gun with your black glove and make it recoil when you turn the ignition switch back on. To see how convincing this can be, check out this ancient video by Fast Bikes.

YouTube Preview Image

Even if there aren’t enough of them to cause a stampede, shooting pedestrians isn’t the nicest thing to do, and could possibly damage your bike’s exhaust or valves. However, it is terrifically amusing to shoot your riding buddies or make a big explosion when you ride up to an unsuspecting friend alone at a traffic light. KABOOM!

Note: The threat of exhaust / valve damage is real (though my old Interceptor held up to it hundreds and hundreds of times). I was speaking with my father about intentional backfires, and he had this to say:

I used to do this all the time in the old days – until I blew a hole in the exhaust coming down the long hill into Bath when backfiring right next to an old guy riding a pedal bike up the hill; the bang almost killed him, especially since the band was then followed by the unsilenced exhaust noise…. It was an expensive joke.

BluSTi on had this to say in my response to the “How bad is it to shoot pedestrians with my Carby SS” thread I started:

I used to make my mustang backfire, with no problems. My friend got his key stuck while backfiring his 67 el camino and blew both of the mufflers apart, completely split open.

I think if you do it for a moment, it wouldn’t be too bad, but since the exhaust is so short on the bike, too long would be a hell of a problem for your valves.

So make noises at risk of bent valves, blown-apart exhausts, and terrorism charges.

  • Edward

    Why doesn’t this work on fuel-injected bikes? Because with the ignition off, full throttle won’t fill the exhaust canisters with unburned fuel discharge?

    • Tony T.

      Bingo. The venturi effect in the carb will keep fuel flowing out of the bowls as long as there is negative pressure in the combustion chamber. I’m guessing that you’ll need to stay in a higher gear and keep your fingers off the clutch to make this happen, too.

      • nick2ny

        Yeah, no clutch. You need a lot of revs (watch the video for an idea on the required engine freneticity), but 3500 or so should do the trick.

  • KR Tong

    Considering San Luis Potosi’s looking like Afghanistan nowadays I wouldn’t say it’s the best timed joke in the world.

    • Edward

      ATGATT . . . for the vicious police beating afterward.

      • pinkyracer

        god seriously. I hate loud, sudden noises about as much as I love motorcycles. Especially fuel-injected or even better, electric ones.

        If I was that pedestrian or cyclists, you better believe shit would get scary. Hell hath no fury…

        • JTB

          Good to see you here Pinky:)

    • BigRooster

      You guys need to lighten up. Why so serious?

      • protomech

        It’s okay if (supposing intentionally) inciting mass panic results in folk being injured, but if a biker get hit by a car there’s hell to pay?

        Not sure I follow that logic.

        It’s a neat trick. I’d definitely give it a shot in a deserted area. But with unsuspecting participants? Very uncool.

        • nick2ny

          How exactly are folks being injured as a result of intentional backfiring (nee afterfiring) like this? There’s nothing to indicate that this is what the “terrorists” were doing. It seems as though the bikes were popping on the overrun, and it was a very special circumstance. In fact, it’s probably the first time in history that backfiring has caused mass panic, and think how many millions (billions) of backfires there have been.

          Rats running through crowds have certainly caused more injuries.

          • protomech

            From the article:
            “witnesses claim the men purposely continued to rev their engines even after the panic began.”

            Claim is not fact, of course, but you could draw a rough analogy to yelling “Bomb” in a crowded movie theater.

            Billing it as terrorism is patently ridiculous, but there’s a fine distinction between an accidental misfire and intentionally causing the bike to misfire and playing it up as a weapons discharge in public as the bikers in the (unrelated) video are doing.

            According to the article, however, no major injuries were caused.. except by the police officers.

            • nick2ny

              There is no possible way to play a “misfire” up as a weapons discharge. The only person a misfire will scare is the owner of that vehicle.

  • Core

    Wow.. The government at the federal level has gone freaking crazy with labeling everything as “Terrorism”….

    A guy recently got arrested in my town, and it was just a domestic violence thing, which is bad, but they threw terrorism in for good measure on it. *sighs*

    In regards to the backfiring thing…Nothing cute about it, just annoying. And hell it might get you shot if you do it to the wrong person.

    • Mark D [EX500]

      Town cops are inventing a terrorism problem to get Federal money for military-spec hardware. After all, what bored cop with an ego problem wouldn’t want a tank? The ‘Burbs are a warzone!

    • protomech

      Yeah, crazy how the federal government labels activities in Mexico as terrorism.

      Snark aside, I agree. Wonder when we’ll see all the unused MRAPs from Iraq get re-purposed for suburban assault.

  • Tom Fiegener
    • nick2ny

      “How to fingerbang pedestrains (if you have carburetors)”

  • the_doctor

    Shooting pedestrians saves lives, guys.

  • smoke4ndmears

    I used to love doing this. My most asshole example would be puttering away from the July 4th celebrations at the mall in D.C. on my SV650 -throngs of people did an impromptu duck and cover wave. This was pre 9/11 of course. Caught a chasing dog right in the face with a well timed back fire too. Cars are fun, but as mentioned they love to split mufflers open like baked potatoes, or so I learned with my 67 mustang.

  • JTB

    The best time it was for me was in the Caldecott tunnel when commuting on my 75 900ss. Taligater in traffic to fast to lane split, car on my ass, flip the switch off, two pumps of the Del’ortos and then flip back on. BAM! Complete with flames out back of Contis. They usually backed off after that.

    • smoke4ndmears

      the flames are the best part!

  • andy bates

    Is that H.S.T in the pic?

    • Archer

      The one and only Dr. Gonzo. That appears to be a .44 magnum S&W.

      And why is it that anyone else dressed like that on a bike would be called a squid, but HST somehow made it work?

      • Jesse

        See aforementioned .44 S&W.

  • Eric

    And if one of your ignition coils go out you can do a pretty good Gatling gun. (straw that broke the camel’s back)

    You get plenty of elbow room with two foot flames out the back.

  • Mike

    I used to unwillingly do this on my 75 Guzzi, when the ignition switch was solidly mounted to the frame & the power leads would vibrate on and off at random intervals due to healthy vibrations. Riding buddies got more than a few face-fulls of soot shot at them from a v-twin powered muffler-cannon.

    • Gene

      A friend had the same problem on his HD. We were in downtown Orlando and there was a lot of horse-mounted cops. He was just sitting there, and the bike went *BANG* and the horse Did Not Like It. The cops were on him like white on rice. The only thing that saved his butt is it did it again while he was talking to the cops and obviously not doing it on purpose.

      Terrorism charges are absolute bullshit, though. This country really sucks, but unfortunately everywhere else sucks more.

      • cramer

        This happened in Mexico.

        • BigRooster

          I think the point still stands.

          • DavidMG

            Hahahaha. I was born in Mexico City. I never thought Mexicans could be this serious about anything.

            Seriously Mexico, stop trying to be the USA. The Mexico I knew would have laughed his ass off at the mere suggestion of pressing charges.

  • mugget

    Ahhh yeahhh… I never tried this because I heard of the risk of blowing exhausts off, but I really should try it out on my motard. Just a little won’t hurt, surely…?

    Mind, alot of people wouldn’t find the finger pointing amusing these days. Good on the Fast Bikes boys for showing how to do it proper.

    • nick2ny

      It won’t hurt it, promise.

  • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    Adult juvenile delinquents, rejoice!
    I do it sometimes when the bike won’t start with the choke on. It’s a fairly funny way to wake yourself up in the morning.

    • Ben

      I had that happen to my SR500 one morning. I got cought up talking to my girlfriend while the thing warmed up after that. A few minuets later some guy that just moved in down the block came and told me my bike was a piece of shit and if I ever wake him up again he’ll kill me, me girl, our cat and then torch the bike.

      • DavidMG

        Did you try it the next morning?

        • Ben

          I did in fact. Turns out that he also collects vintage benz’s. When I commented on his hoby the next time the red faced dick head started up, I think he realized I would do a lot more than a $1500 motorcycles worth of damage to his toys if it came to that.

  • DavidMG

    I probably should never have read this or watched that video. XD

    I’m so going to try this next time I ride my 250. I’m going to be supremely pissed off if I kill it by doing this though.

    • nick2ny

      Did a little more research. I think the valve danger issue is way, way overblown. Go nuts (if a 250 flows enough gas to make an explosion).

  • Varun

    I’m having Yamaha RX100 1989, let out lots of smoke, 2 stroke, but I’m not able to make that gun shot sound.