South Park attacks Harley Davidson in Episode titled “The F Word”

“Loud pipes save lives” is a well-known phrase in America. It is also a growing problem in motorcycle rights. In fact, the American Motorcyclist Association says that few other factors lead more to misunderstanding and prejudice against the motorcycling community than excessively loud motorcycles. All motorcycles sold in the USA are manufactured to meet federally mandated sound control standards. The AMA says that efforts by regulators to rein in excessive motorcycle sound often miss the mark by singling out motorcyclists with ordinances and laws that are unfair, impractical and unenforceable.

The noise issue is very important to all of us that ride motorcycles. Loud aftermarket exhaust on any motorcycle will reduce the number of places that all of us are allowed to ride. You’re here at because you enjoy riding the best scenic routes. Loud exhaust could reduce the places that we enjoy visiting on our motorcycles.

The issue is hitting mainstream. The Comedy Central cartoon, South Park aired an episode titled “The F Word” on November 4, 2009 that attacked this very issue. In the episode the characters of South Park are determined not to let a biker rally held in their town ruin their weekend. Everyone agrees they’ve had enough of the loud and obnoxious bikers that have arrived in South Park. The boys are taking on the Harley riders. They start a trend of calling the obnoxiously loud motorcyclists “faggots.” They go as far as persuading the term to be changed in the dictionary. The word officially means a bundle of sticks, twigs or branches bound together, but is more commonly used as a derogatory word aimed at homosexuals. They succeed in having it changed to mean “a group of obnoxious Harley riders.”

It’s South Park, so using strong language and challenging the status quo is typical. They make you feel uneasy, but at the same time agreeing with them on the topic of obnoxiously loud motorcycles. The episode can be found online at

The townspeople are at first appalled and then supportive of the South Park boys. This holds a lot of truth. They point out Harley Davidson riders specifically, but really it could be any of us. The sound issue is growing in attention. We as motorcyclists need to realize that we are negatively impacting the activity we enjoy so much. Steps are being taken to better enforce sound laws with distribution of sound meters and improved (more enforceable) laws for legal sound limits on the local and national levels.

In short, loud motorcycles are going to reduce the places that we can enjoy riding. Do you enjoy riding to the local café, across the country, through the woods or around the world? If we don’t bring our bikes to legal noise levels then we’re going to be targeted for further regulation and our freedom to ride will be reduced.

Check your local laws for legal sound levels. Basically, your bike shouldn’t be any louder than it was when sitting on the dealership floor. There are exceptions, such as bikes used during officially sanctioned races, but that rule generally holds true. If you make your bike louder then you’re just going to turn us into the F-word.

Here in Washington State, our noise control laws can be found in the Revised Code of Washington in RCW 70.107 also known as the Noise Control Act of 1974. It summarizes that the legislature finds inadequately controlled noise adversely affects the health, safety and welfare of the people, the value of property, and the quality of the environment. As motorcyclists in Washington, RCW 46.37.537 says that No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motorcycle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the engine of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle, and it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorcycle not equipped as required by this section, or which has been amplified as prohibited by this section.

Does it sound extreme (pun intended)? That’s because we couldn’t self-regulate and government is stepping in to do it for us. Govern yourself and monitor how much noise is leaving your aftermarket pipes.

For more information visit the AMA’s Website at

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