RAMBLIN' MAN: Some love, some hate roar of bikes

By: Garrison Wells The Gazette
May 7, 2013 Updated: May 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

It's spring. It's easy to tell. Not so much by the weather, but the allergens. People are weeping and sniffling all over Colorado Springs.

The other reliable sign that spring is here is the unbaffled roar of motorcyclists who have waited all winter to rev up and to hit the open road for those long leisurely rides through nature - the wind glancing off the pate, leather vest flapping in the wind, the ride interrupted only by the blasphemous thunder leaping out of the tailpipe.

It's an old argument, right up there with helmets: How loud do motorcycles need to be?

As loud as necessary, says Pat Kavanaugh, member of the Pikes Peak Harley Owners Group.

'The concept of 'Loud Pipes Save Lives' is a controversial subject for both bikers and nonbikers alike, ' he said.

'The truth is that most car, truck, SUV drivers who cause motorcycle crashes claim they never saw the vehicle, ' he said. 'Loud pipes help bikers overcome this huge visibility obstacle by letting the other vehicles on the road know they exist. '

To Mike Stokes, general manager at Apex Sports Inc., quiet is a good thing.

'Some people like that loud noise, ' he said. 'I don't care for it myself. '

'There are a lot of Harley guys who like to put on the loud pipes and then run it two gears too low so it echoes, ' he said. 'You have to literally stop talking. '

Stokes finds loud motorcycles especially vexing during tourist season when they 'roar up and down in Old Colorado City. It's offensive. '

That's not to say that only Harley riders love it loud. There are plenty of Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki riders who go aftermarket for the roar. Even dirt bike riders aren't averse to a noisy experience.

'There you are, out in nature, and here comes some guy on a motorcycle with loud pipes, ' Stokes said.

To be fair, it's not like there aren't plenty of other aggravating sounds. The raucous caw, caw of the crow and bothersome tweet, tweet of the sparrow. And who among us isn't put off by the mewing of the neighborhood cat, stamping its feet in the grass? Is there no end to this cacophony? It's a matter of taste. Some people like rock 'n' roll; others like country. What is noise to some is music to others.

'My bottom line is, my bike sounds awesome with loud pipes, ' Kavanaugh said.

Reader comment:

P. J. Bourgeois

I enjoyed your excellent column in today's Gazette very much. However, I think that you made one small misstatement when you said that if you 'text ' on a horse, you fall off. When I was a boy in Louisiana, I had a horse on which I would sometimes go to sleep. I would wake up when she arrived at the gate to our yard, and stopped.

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