Manufacturers speak out as calls to ban noisy motorcycles spread

Manufacturers have their view on the growing campaigns to limit the noise of motorcycles or ban them altogether from certain popular routes

Noisy Motorcycles

Manufacturers have intimated they will need to factor in new solutions for upcoming models amid a wave of bans, fines and restrictions being imposed on perceived noisy motorcycles across Central and Northern Europe.

While the debate over the ‘nuisance’ caused by certain motorcyclists has raged for years, the argument is increasingly taking on a more volatile tone in Europe as councils wage war with legislation and bans being imposed on certain routes.

With noise-measuring devices already being trialled in some countries, the German Federal Council launched the ‘Initiative Against Motorcycle Noise’ in May calling for bans for those who flout the rules. 

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Then in June, the Austrian state of Tyrol imposed bans on motorcycles emitting 95dB of stationary noise – encapsulating a number of high-selling models – on popular routes. Resulting in a demo by motorcyclists the day after the ban came into force, it is nonetheless reported locals have noticed a reduction in noise to the extent the ban could well now be extended further into Austria.

Moreover, there are increasing calls for action in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France too as a result of these precedents.

The impact of such measures if they threaten to become the norm across Europe could have big ramifications for the motorcycle industry with manufacturers needing to factor in legislation when developing brand-new models, leading to toned down engine approaches.

In response, German motorcycle publication have done some impressive legwork to approach each manufacturer for its view on the current issues and answer a handful of questions directly. Though most replied with single statements erring to a commitment to comply with regulations as they are presented to them, BMW and KTM went into more detail.

In it there is a suggestion that manufacturers will club together to argue on the side of the motorcyclist, including a more formalised way of testing the sound of a motorcycle which appears to give varying results depending on where you go, while urging individuals to not go beyond what is acceptable to put the community at risk of losing its freedoms.

You can read the full responses at this link here – and we implore you do – but here are some key excerpts.

Stefan Pierer, ACEM (Association des Constructeurs Européens de Motocycles) President and Head of KTM and Husqvarna said: “As an association of the major global motorcycle manufacturers, ACEM has drawn up specific plans for sustainable and timely measures to combat the volume problem. The association and its members work closely with European legislators to solve the problems that can arise from exceeding the permitted noise limits. 

“While some of the actions taken by the motorcycle industry will have an impact, today's immediate problems also need to be addressed. The measures taken by motorcycle manufacturers alone are therefore not enough. 

“Appropriate behaviour is also required in the field of manufacturers of retrofit silencers as well as on the national level on the part of the executive and in particular on the part of motorcyclists themselves.”

“The subject of "motorcycle sound and volume" is too complex for a simple answer,” added Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad. “The fact that motorcycles are perceived as "loud" in certain areas can be due to manipulated or non-type-approved silencing systems, the unsocial driving style or simply a high number of motorcyclists per route at the weekend. 

“Is it justified to punish all motorcyclists for the misconduct of individuals? The debate is emotionally charged; facts take a back seat. Of course, as manufacturers we also take our share of the responsibility seriously.”

“We don't define the sound of motorcycles by volume, but by the character of the sound. We take the reductions in noise emissions discussed by the legislator very seriously.”