You Have The Power

by Bill Uhl, classes@OHVtraining.org

After Charlie Williams and I wrote “Quiet, Please,” an article published in the February Trail Rider Magazine, I received responses such as the following by Dean Walker of Orofino, Idaho.

Excess noise hurts all types of motorsports. The real reason people slap on the loud pipes isn’t that they produce more power. It’s that somebody in high school had a set of straight pipes on a car or pickup,
and MAN, that sounded cool!

While opening the exhaust hole up might increase top horsepower, it does little or nothing to improve the low-end torque response of most motors. In fact, most run better with a little back pressure.

Unlike, Dean Walker, part of the motorcycle riding population does not believe that sound is a problem. Is sound a friend or a foe?

We become so accustomed to some sounds that we pay little attention to them, yet others are like fingernails on a chalkboard. If we want to ensure our rights to travel on public lands, it is the sounds that we have become unconscious of, and how they travel through the forest, that we must become more aware of. If we want our children and grandchildren to have the right to enjoy our favorite sport, we have no choice but to pay attention to how sound — and how it varies according to conditions in the woods.

If you are riding along a fast-moving stream, the sound of your bike can only be heard for 10 – 15 seconds, but if you place that same bike on a ridge trail, the sound will last as long as 15 minutes. Additionally, as the ridge goes up and down, the noise will come and go. The bottom line is to always keep our objective in mind. The more we decrease the noise level we produce, the more places we get to play. LESS SOUND = MORE GROUND = MORE FUN.

If we as motorized recreationists choose to bury our heads in the sand like ostriches, not noticing the effects of the noise we make, the day we finally raise our heads, we may be horrified. Our right to ride on public lands may have been stolen from us.

As I’ve discussed with those who have emailed me after the last article, we need a strategy to create a grassroots movement to prevent future problems and resolve the challenges we already face.

THE FIRST STEP IS TO RECOGNIZE THAT WE HAVE FAR MORE POWER THAN WE HAVE BEEN ACKNOWLEDGING.

Here are just a few examples:

  • What we do not buy will no longer be manufactured, so: 1.) don’t replace your quiet pipe with a loud one, and 2.) don’t buy a bike manufactured with a loud exhausts.
  • If we refuse to ride with those who insist on using a loud exhaust system, they will get the point. Educate those who are unconsciously preventing you, your kids, and grandkids from your rights to ride on public land.
  • When you meet riders on the trail who have a loud pipe, educate them in terms they can understand, such as, “I know you want to ride as much ground as possible. Do you realize that loud bikes are causing all riders to suffer, and that it will hurt you in the long-run? Do you understand that . . . “
  • Don’t be shy about sharing the wisdom of Dean Walker. While opening the exhaust hole up might increase top horsepower, it will do little or nothing to improve the low-end torque response of most motors. Most motors actually run better with the proper back pressure. Today’s bikes have more horsepower than 97% of the riders can use, so the real issue is our wellbeing.
  • Share your awareness with your local motorcycle club. When they understand your passion is so that we can all ride for years to come, they will adopt and enforce a sound limit of 92 Db or less.
  • Also contact rider organizations such as AMA, FIM, etc., and explain why they really must adopt and enforce a 92 Db or less sound limit for all competitions (closed course or not). Again, recognize your power, because such an action will stop the aftermarket folk (the real culprits) from making loud pipes for closed course competitions. (We all know that a large percentage of these pipes end up in the hands of the general public. Then, they use them on public lands, causing the rest of us grief, including current and future shut-outs.
  • Remember, this is a capitalist society. Companies do not produce products for which there is no market. There are so many ways that we can all win. With new technologies available today, it is possible to build quiet exhaust systems that produce the horsepower that we need, so spread the word.
  • To influence people, address their self-interests. Make sure everyone you speak to understands that the side effect of loud noise is fatigue. Since we all want to have fun and ride as far and as long as possible, why would we want to unnecessarily fatigue ourselves? Just keep talking to everyone involved, including individual riders, clubs, and the national organizations.
  • Talk to the manufacturers of all dirt and road bikes. Own your power as a consumer, and educate them about the long-term effects on their income if we don’t have quiet exhaust systems. Make sure they hear your message: “Quiet, please!” Common sense doesn’t have to be uncommon, and it is the critical difference between whether we win or lose.
  • Email or write Trail Rider Magazine, and let them know of other ways that we can use our muscle to address this issue so that we can ride — not just tomorrow, but next year, and the next.

The above actions will go a long way toward creating the grassroots movement that we absolutely must have if we are to save our sport from extinction. We have the numbers. We have the know-how, and we have the vocal power. We have the bargaining chip of the cash we spend. You get the message? We have the power to pull this off.

For too long, we have been reacting to an onslaught of governmental and societal pressures. Now, we have a huge opportunity to turn the tide. We are not “victims,” unless we program ourselves to be, so let’s be proactive. Let’s take back our sport. I challenge you to enter this race — the one race that each of you must enter and win — if we are to preserve our right to ride.

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Senior Instructor & Expert Witness – Bill Uhl

Mr. Uhl has successfully served as an Expert Witness and consultant for attorneys since 2004. In over 28 years of U.S. and International off-road professional competition, Bill Uhl has won truckloads of trophies in all types of long distance racing in some of the most rugged terrain around the world, including five gold medals for the U.S. during the International Six-Days Trials/Enduro (the Olympics of motorcycle racing).

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