The AMA has announced its AMA Motorcyclist of the Year, and  the organization that represents all American motorcyclists has chosens Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California for its yearly distinction. Using the award as a platform to denounce the outgoing Governor, the AMA in its announcement chastised Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signing of California Senate Bill 435, which brings EPA noise enforcement standards to the Golden State. We’ve already addressed here at A&R how California’s adoption of this law essentially is a moot point legally, but the AMA’s grandstanding on this issue smacks speaks to a larger issue that goes to the core of the organization.

Clearly unable to self-regulate and educate the very people it is supposed to represent, the AMA is instead more concerned with tar and feathering politicians and governmental agencies for addressing a growing issue that negatively affects the relationship between motorcyclists and the general population. The simple truth is that a small portion of our community feel the need to compensate for their short-comings by running straight-through exhaust pipes that not only annoy normal citizens, but other motorcyclists as well. How is this an issue that 99% of motorcyclists can’t get behind?

While the AMA has some good ideas on how to measure and enforce lower sound levels from motorcycles, the organization’s lack of anything resembling efficacy in getting those provisions adopted should not create an open license to lay the blame on others (well except maybe the MIC, which is just as culpable for this problem as the AMA). While it’s easy to chastise Gov. Schwarzenegger for signing a bill into law, we think the AMA should take a harder look in the mirror on how motorcyclists created this problem for themselves, because in the end we’re the ones that ruined a good thing.

AMA press release after the jump, but for the record we would have given the award to Erik Buell…but hey that’s just our opinion.

Press Statement from the American Motorcyclist Association:
The AMA announced today its AMA Motorcyclist of the Year. Awarded annually, the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year designation recognizes the person(s) who has had the most profound impact on the world of motorcycling, for better or worse, in the previous 12 months.

For 2010, that distinction belongs to outgoing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose signature on a controversial law will have far-reaching and potentially harmful effects on the motorcycling community nationwide.

With no fanfare, Schwarzenegger signed a poorly crafted bill on Sept. 28 that fundamentally changes how California will regulate motorcycle exhaust systems. The new law also maps a path for the rest of the country, as other state and local lawmakers look for their own answers to address excessive motorcycle sound. The full story is in the January 2011 issue of American Motorcyclist magazine, the journal of the AMA.

“Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a piece of legislation that has rocked the motorcycling world, and will impact motorcyclists in other states as well for years to come,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “This makes him the logical choice for the 2010 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year.”

The legislation, California Senate Bill 435, the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act, requires every new motorcycle or aftermarket exhaust system built starting in 2013 to carry a stamp on the exhaust certifying that it meets federal Environmental Protection Agency sound requirements. For most motorcycles, the law is a de-facto OEM (original equipment manufacturer) exhaust mandate because the federal standard was not designed for aftermarket manufacturers, and compliance for the scores of low-volume production models now on the market is extremely problematic.

The AMA has long advocated reasonable measures be adopted for the regulation of excessive motorcycle sound, and cites the Society of Automotive Engineers J2825 motorcycle sound testing procedure as the most fair, economical and practical solution to the problem vexing communities nationwide.

“The California law is a poorly crafted piece of legislation that’s discriminatory and does little to address the core problem of excessive sound from all sources, not just motorcycles,” Dingman said. “Rather than objectively regulate offensive noise, this law creates all sorts of problems for riders, law enforcement and aftermarket manufacturers.”

An EPA certification label is no guarantee of sound compliance, and the lack of a label is no guarantee that an exhaust is too loud. The only way to know if a motorcycle exhaust is compliant is to test its actual sound output, Dingman noted.

“As a motorcyclist, Gov. Schwarzenegger should have known better,” Dingman said. “Now California’s motorcyclists, as well as key segments of our industry, are going to be negatively impacted.”

Currently, only two aftermarket manufacturers offer EPA-sound-stamped exhaust systems for a handful of late-model Harley-Davidsons. The process of certification is complex and expensive. For the millions of owners whose motorcycle models were made in relatively small numbers, the requirement to replace an aging exhaust system with an expensive OEM system is onerous and discriminatory. Owners of automobiles and trucks don’t have to meet the same standard, and they can buy less expensive replacement exhaust systems at local muffler shops.

Schwarzenegger’s selection as AMA Motorcyclist of the Year was reinforced by California’s position as a role model for the rest of the country.

“In many cases, we’ve seen other states follow California’s legislative lead on a number of issues,” Dingman said. “There’s no reason to think that trend won’t continue with respect to S.B. 435. With the stroke of his pen, Gov. Schwarzenegger significantly altered the motorcycling landscape for motorcyclists everywhere, and this is the reason why his selection as AMA Motorcyclist of the Year is so impactful.”

The full story of Schwarzenegger’s involvement with motorcycling goes beyond S.B. 435, and is detailed in the January issue of American Motorcyclist. Schwarzenegger has, during his tenure, been an ally of motorcycling with key appointments to decision-making committees that deal with off-highway riding issues, as an example. In addition, as a known motorcyclist himself, Schwarzenegger has drawn attention to motorcycling and, after a high-profile crash in 2006, the need for proper motorcycle licensing.

“We will continue to work with municipal governments and state legislatures to implement reasonable measures, such as the SAE J2825 standard, to address excessive motorcycle sound,” said Dingman. “But we now have the added burden of showing how California’s new measure is not an effective solution, and we have Gov. Schwarzenegger to thank for that.”

Source: AMA

  • Greg

    This will be a growing trend throughout the country. People are tired of bikes that cause hearing damage when they pass you, and I am as well. I don’t have a problem with a moderately loud bike, I ride one, just loud enough to get attention but not deafening. My neighbors still like me. It’s the straight pipe Harley riders that are destroying it for everyone. It crosses the line when your windows rattle from a block away. To most non bikers I know, HD=douchebag because of how often Harleys have outrageously loud pipes. Thanks to your lack of respect and common courtesy to your fellow human beings, now all aftermarket pipes will be illegal…………… you selfish, ignorant douchebag!

  • Wintermute

    Greg – Amen.

    I think it’s pretty amusing that when many HD riders (that actually ride their bike more than ‘just on weekends’) reach non-riding age, they’ll have bad hearing, bad backs, will they look back at their choice of motorcycle brand and think – should I have cared so much about my personal image ? Was it so important to look and sound ‘cool’ ?

  • Greg

    Just to clarify, I know aftermarket pipes are and have been illegal for years, this just sets the precedent to start enforcing the law and pulling over any cyclist without a stock, unmodified pipe.

  • Greg

    er…..uhhhmmm, without a stock or a modified pipe…

  • irksome

    When pirate outfits are outlawed, only outlaws will wear pirate outfits. One hopes it’s only a matter of time before the “bad-boys” will graduate to RVs and walkers.

  • Richard Gozinya

    Irksome, they’ll be on chromed out Rascals, with ape hangers.

  • Mark

    It seems to me that the AMA is more interested in protecting the interests of the aftermarket exhaust industry, rather than encouraging it’s members to be a little more conscientious of others.
    As usual, all common sense and courtesy gets thrown out the window when money and influence is involved.

  • Hayabrusa

    Yeah, the AMA seems to be even more of a has-been organization than H-D – that’s why I dumped my membership 5 years ago! Guess they are too political to get anything done?

  • Tom

    Dear AMA,

    California did what a lot of its citizens wanted and citizens of other states wished their states would do. Even motorcyclists support this ban. Motorcyclists have said for many many years that the day would come when states, like California, would pass a noise law because of the Harley douchebags. That day arrived and you acted surprised. Being surprised reflects a complete disconnect from the motorcycle market and the public in general. There is absolutely no compelling reason to be a paying member of your organization when you have chosen to be so inept and myopic about a public issue that you were warned about for years.

    When Captain Louis Renault expresses shock at gambling occurring at Rick’s Place, we all know its an act by that character as a pretense for action. For you, AMA, you are genuinely shocked though you were standing right next to the roulette table with your hands full of chips.

  • Steve

    The AMA has been a waste sense I can remember. I’ve been riding and racing for over 40 years and am VERY familliar with the motorcycle industry and the luckluster performance of the AMA. Sickening!

    As for as the loud pipe issue, I’m frankly suprised it took this long. I just retired from law enforcment and would write loud obnoxcious Harley’s every chance I got (after stoping them for a Vehicle Code violation of course). Oh… and let’s not forget to add the section for those cute little helmets while we’re at it……. “Sign here and press hard, there are three copies”.

  • I guess you guys can’t read. Checking for the EPA stamp is the DUMBEST way to enforce “excessive noise.” You can take a stock exhaust, yank out the core, and remount it. It’ll be louder than HELL, but it’ll still have the EPA stamp. The AMA/SAE method of actually measuring the sound of the running motorcycle makes a lot more sense. The Governator just signed into law the same IDIOTIC idea that was voted down here in the far SMARTER city of New York.

  • Jim

    The AMA is a lip service organization. They pay lip service on advocating riders wear helmets while opposing helmet laws and pay lip service on MC noise while opposing all but perfect solutions.

    A community near me finally got fed up with loud pipes and passed a town ordinance similar to the Cali law. Its been challenged in court by a group organized by the local HD dealer. Of interest is that in this town there are 3 MC dealers, Harley, Triumph/Ducati and BMW. The non-cruiser dealers are staying as far away from this issue as possible and treat it as not there problem.

    Is this law a perfect solution? No. Does it single out motorcyclists? Yes. Will it help reduce the number of loud bikes? Over time, yes.

  • jeff_williams

    I’m with Jaime… Checking for a stamp is stupid. I’ll bet money people will be able to buy the metal stamp on ebay and just weld it to their pipe. Actually testing the sound output is the best way to check, not making manufacturers get government approval for their exhaust system.

  • Mark

    Just because you can gut an EPA muffler, or attach an EPA label to it doesn’t mean you are complying with the law, That’s like saying robbing a bank is legal if you don’t get caught.

  • jeff_williams

    I’m all for quieter bikes but I just don’t think this is the right way to go about reducing the sound. How is automobile noise handled? Test or stamp? When my stock system rusted out on my pickup it was way cheaper to have a muffler shop weld one on instead of paying for OEM or a major aftermarket company.

  • “Motorcyclist of the Year”??? This is just a PR opportunity wasted by the AMA.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a straight pipe Harley or some moped kid with an open expansion chamber — both phenomena which, infuriatingly, produce a lot of sound for a long time because they make so much noise while traveling dog-slow — loud motorcycles are the #1 reason non-motorcyclists don’t give a $#!+ about us (or actively dislike us if they do think of us.)

    As a group, we deserve this. The argument that determined cretins will find a work-around for the California law is a canard. Most riders just swap pipes, and could never be bothered removing the core which, depending on the model, could be pretty hard. Hell, most riders don’t even have their own tools, and no dealership will perform that service. If it’s enforced, it will reduce the sound problem.

    That the AMA argues against this in a knee-jerk way should come as no surprise. They continue to pay lip service to wearing helmets, while supporting legal efforts to circumvent or gut helmet laws. That tells you all you need to know about their concerns for our long-term well-being.

    I had to read the press release about Arnold’s “award” a couple of times to believe they were being so childish. You couldn’t have used this to put a positive spin on something? Mike Kidd’s resurrection of dirt track? Why not give it, collectively, to the entrepreneurs pushing the electric envelope?

    If you are just going to use it to lash out, I say go after the Utah Highway Patrol’s insane “motorcycle-only” inspection lane leaving the Miller SBK event. That was, literally, black-and-white. The noise issue is a gray area.

  • aaron

    my favorite part of this bill is the low volume limit for the new exhausts (I’ve forgotten the figure, but I remember 80 or 90 decibels) and the future need to legislate audio warnings into electric vehicles (for the pedestrian’s safety). maybe in future a rallying cry will be “loud bikes save gas”…

    one thing I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is the source of most motorcycle noise: the motor. most volume tests place an emphasis on the higher frequencies (those most likely to cause hearing damage) so any mechanical noise is going to be a problem. I once helped prepare a Yamaha r6 to pass strict volume limits a few years ago at mission raceway, and even with a stock exhaust we needed to line the fairing with a sound absorber to keep the engine from drowning out the exhaust. air cooled bikes had an even tougher time, as the fins resonate and amplify mechanical noise… one guy with a vintage trident never passed sound check, despite bolting on every muffler he could beg, borrow, or steal.

  • Isis

    I’m with the AMA on this one. The only way to quiet down pipes is to test the volume, not add another layer of regulation and certification. That stuff is easy to fake. An actual measurement of the offending trait would be more direct and much more effective.

    Which is more accurate? CARB stickers or tailpipe tests? Think about it.

  • areukiddingme??

    Are you douchebags kidding me??? While I’m not a fan of loud bikes this is an assault on motorcyclists period. Did some of you even read this bill? This is another example of a piss poor government bill attacking personal rights.

    Can we expect special stamps for aftermarket stereos booming down the road? How about loud lawnmower or weed eaters? Where does it end?

    Reading some of these comments makes me very concerned about the future of this planet.

  • Greg

    Hey areukiddingme, it doesn’t matter, straight pipers brought it upon themselves and the backlash is a long time coming. If the law is unfair, poorly written, includes poor logistics, enforcement, is over-extensive, whatever! You can’t expect a vehicle that causes hearing damage to roam the streets freely. A little common courtesy and this wouldn’t be a problem, but there are a lot of inconsiderate, douchebag, dirtbag, $hit-for-brains riding around with str8 pipes that are the root cause of these new laws. People are fed up, period.

  • Steve

    I agree Greg, but you forgot “fat”

  • Other Sean

    In the words of the Governator himself in the smash hit Kindergarten Cop…”Stap it, Stap whining!”

  • areukiddingme??

    Good God Greg, there are already noise ordinances in place for these “dirt bag $hit -for-brain douche bags.

    I hope your the first dip$shit pulled over arbitrarily by the PO PO to check your little itty bitty stamp and maybe your itty bitty brain will comprehend that fact that bills like this is a waste of tax payers time and money.

  • Greg

    areukiddingme?? You still don’t “get it”, oh well, I tried.

  • RobG

    This law will do nothing other than give cops another reason to harass motorcyclists. It will do NOTHING with regards to quieting bikes. There are already anti-noise regs on the books that cops could use IF they chose to do so. But thing is, most cops ride Harleys, and probably have loud pipes too, so they let it slide.

  • amicus curiae

    I agree excessive motorcycle noise has become a legitimate public concern. I also agree that the AMA’s decision to use the Motorcyclist of the Year Award as a soapbox to decry the problems with SB435 is questionable.

    Nonetheless, there is a point to the AMA’s fervor in addressing the absurdity of SB 435, and that is that SB 435 has nothing to do with fixing the problem of excessive motorcycle noise. It is a bill that from start to finish has been about textbook political maneuvering. Let’s review.

    Back in 2009, the bill was originally sponsored by the American Lung Association and authored by state senator Fran Pavley with the intent to put motorcycles into California’s biennial smog check program. As the bill made its way through committee, it became clear that it wasn’t going to have enough support to pass a Senate floor vote. So what’s a legislator with a strong environmental rep to do? Why pledge before the floor to rewrite the bill to not be about putting bikes into smog check, of course. And … it passes. Just as a quick aside, how insane is that? I mean who votes for something based on what it’s NOT going to be about? What does that tell you about all the backroom bartering that goes on? Say, help me get through this stage, and I’ll take care of you on that other thing.

    Fast forward to 2010, and SB435 resurfaces in the Assembly, rewritten to call for the inspection of Federal EPA noise compliance labeling. But wait, oh no, we don’t have enough votes. OK, well instead of making it applicable to all bikes built 2001 and later, we’ll go with 2011 and later. What? Still not good enough? OK, fine how about bikes manufactured January 1, 2013 and later? And let’s just make it a secondary infraction, so you can’t just pop someone for being loud, you’ve got to pull them over for some other reason first, like speeding. OK, done.

    So, get out there and put a set straight pipes on before its too late. Oh wait, no rush, you’ve got another two years to get a bike, put straight pipes on it and be totally exempt from this law. Sound like an effective plan to address excessive motorcycle noise?

    But let’s be serious for a moment. Do you really think any rational CHP officer is going to enforce this law? Where do OEMs put these compliance statements? Usually somewhere it doesn’t detract from the aesthetics of the bike. Is an officer really going to get down on his knees to look for this statement on the underside of a dirt-caked muffler? I don’t think so, but it’s not because he doesn’t want to get dirty. It’s because he can’t put himself in a physically compromised position without handcuffing the rider first. Think about how many highways have been dedicated to slain CHP officers murdered during traffic stops. An officer is just not going to go through all this trouble to write a ticket. And why should he? VC 27150 has been on the books for, I don’t know, thirty years. If an exhaust sounds excessively loud (nice subjective standard) it’s citable. Law enforcement has been using it for years. And they still do today.

    So let’s wrap this up. After lobbying efforts by the MIC, AMA and other motorcycle groups to petition consideration of SAE J2825 as an alternative (a similar standard for cars, SAE J1169 was adopted by California and since 2003 all BAR ref stations have been trained and equipped to do the testing which could easily be adapted for motorcycles) fell on deaf ears, the Governator, a would-be motorcycle enthusiast, Republican, in the lame duck period of his administration, furious with a legislature too inept to pass a budget, with nobody left to impress and the ability to tell the Congress to stuff it with the last remains of his executive veto power, does what? Signs the bill. Guess maybe the Green Governor’s not done with his political career just yet.

  • Oscar

    Geez, some of these comments. If I didn’t know better, I would swear that some of them were written by a bunch of wet behind the ears crotch rocket jockeys.

  • Shaitan

    I left the AMA years ago. I appreciate they represent some motorcyclists, but they don’t seem to represent me.

  • Tom

    That’s cool Oscar. Its clear that you have no reasoning nor perception skills so your comments have no merit whatsoever. At least, you’re thinking….I guess.