There’s been a lot of discussion about motorcycle noise around the world.  Parts of Europe seem to be most engaged on the topic with several federal, state, and local governments proposing and enacting new regulations on how loud a motorcycle can be.  And if things remain unchanged for long, motorcycles may face a grim reality particularly in Europe, as well as many other parts of the world.

We’ve run several stories about new regulations and noise tests by Governments.  Here’s a smattering of some of the stories we’ve already written:

It’s clear that the motorcycle noise issue is not going to go away anytime soon.  And, that means both motorcyclists and the industry have to do something about it before motorcycle noise becomes highly regulated.

Kudos to Motorrad for asking motorcycle noise questions

One publication is doing just that.  The German publication Motorrad sees the increasing motorcycle noise regulation in Germany and Austria and is concerned.  In an attempt to see what the motorcycle industry is thinking, they sent a questionnaire to motorcycle manufacturers asking the following questions:

  • Does manufacturer X plan to react to the issue of combustion motorcycles and volume and if so, how should that be done in practice?
  • Are there any short-term solutions from manufacturer X, e.g. with post-homologated exhaust systems?
  • Can manufacturer X imagine doing without the controversial flap exhaust systems in the future?
  • Does manufacturer X advocate a redefinition of the noise measurement range in the course of the upcoming Euro 5-B regulation, eg over a significantly expanded range of driving conditions? And if so, what should this measuring range look like in the future? – Questions to motorcycle manufacturers by Motorrad

And, the magazine has published the answers they received from the manufacturers.  Some manufacturers respond directly to the questions while others take a more circular approach to answer Motorrad’s questions.  Or they really don’t answer the question at all and use a lawyerly non-response.

BMW and KTM (as the representative of the ACEM (European Association Of Motorcycle Manufacturers) answer the questions more completely than the others.  Perhaps it’s the fact that they are currently in the epicenter of significant motorcycle noise regulation.

BMW’s noise response

BMW says that the subject of “motorcycle sound and volume” is too complex for a simple answer.  They point to aftermarket exhausts, unsocial driving behavior, or simply a high volume of motorcycles on a particular road.  But they do go on to say that they are taking “…the reduction in noise emissions discussed by the legislature very seriously.”

With regard to short term solutions, BMW came right out and said that they need as much time as possible to react to legislation.  They also suggest that the means of measuring motorcycle noise is also critical.

Noise BMW CEO Marcus Schramm

BMW Motorrad CEO Dr. Marcus Schramm provided the answers on behalf of BMW. Photo credit: BMW

When asked about the “controversial flap exhaust systems” for the future, BMW thinks that the use of exhaust flaps is too “one-sided”.  They say they already use flaps.  But not just for noise.  They use them to manage drivability, engine gas exchange behavior, and acoustics.  To them, the flap is part of a system necessary for the bike, not just for noise.  BMW also thinks its too early to talk about detailed technical solutions for a very quiet urban motorcycle mode.

Finally, BMW says that the manufacturers and the legislators are working on proposals to improve regulations for “Real Driving Sound Emissions”.  This means BMW thinks that regulations should address different speed ranges as well as higher speeds and testing in all gears.  BMW thinks that only tests that properly simulate the real use of a vehicle will provide noticeable improvements for the environment.

ACEM’s noise response

KTM’s CEO Stefan Pierer provided the response for the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM).  And ACEM provided some detailed responses to Motorrad’s questions.

When asked if ACEM is planning to respond to the internal combustion motorcycle noise issue, ACEM said they have:

“…drawn up some concrete plans to sustainable and timely measures to combat the volume problem.”

Further, they say that they are working closely with European legislators on issues that arise when motorcycles exceed legal noise limits.

That said, ACEM adds that some actions they are taking will have an impact but, “…today’s immediate problems need to be addressed as well.”  ACEM then points their finger at aftermarket exhaust manufacturers and motorcyclists themselves to help solve the motorcycle noise problem.

Noise KTM CEO Stefan Pierer

KTM CEO Stefan Pierer provided the answers on behalf of ACEM. Photo credit: KTM / Emanuel Tschann

Ultimately, ACEM says it will present its proposal for the ASEP 2.0 test procedure to the United Nations Economic Commission.  Their proposal will address test standards that are more real-world oriented.  Particularly, standards that are more representative of the driving conditions in real traffic.

In closing, ACEM says that it will be up to the legislative institutions to incorporate the new test procedures into European regulations.  They particularly cite the upcoming Euro 5b regulations.

No other manufacturers provide significantly detailed responses to Motorrad’s questions.  But most did say that that they are in line with ACEM’s position.  And they acknowledge that motorcycle noise is a perceived problem that must be addressed.

Here’s to hoping that motorcycle manufacturers, aftermarket manufacturers, motorcyclists, and governments can work together to develop an acceptable solution for all involved.  We can’t just change test standards to suit our whims.  We need to tackle the issue head-on.

Read manufacturer responses

If you’d like to read all of the manufacturer’s responses, head on over and read the Motorrad article.  Again, kudos to Motorrad for tackling the issue head-on and asking for the manufacturer’s intentions.






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