California's Governator Signs Anti- Noise Bill

SB 435 Aims to Muffle Motorcycle Sound Emissions

If you're a motorcyclist, the only news you cared about in Tuesday's L.A. Times was the story about The Governator signing SB 435 - the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act. The law gives officials new ammunition to cite noise pollution violations under the California Vehicle Code, which means that if you're sporting loud (and dirty), non-compliant aftermarket exhaust pipes - or even stock ones, for that matter - your chances of getting ticketed just got better. California joins the state of Oregon, and at least six cities, including Denver and Boston, in regulating noise emissions on motorcycles. The bill effectively forces the state's 826,000 registered motorcycles to meet air pollution requirements by meeting noise standards.

Over the last year - as the bill has made its rounds through the state Senate - there has been much speculation over whether Schwarzenegger - a longtime motorcyclist whose most famous cinematic role was as a Fatboy-riding, gun-toting cyborg - would sign the bill. It's already illegal to make your bike louder than it comes in stock form, but enforcement has traditionally been lax. The federal Noise Control Act was passed in 1972, but the EPA didn't write the rules affecting all new motorcycles sold in the U.S. until 1983. Those regulations - still valid today - required that all street-legal motorcycles be limited to 83 decibels, with a stricter, 80 decibel limit phased in beginning in 1986.

The newer law, however, now makes it a state crime to operate any motorcycle that was built from the 2013 model year on, that doesn't carry a federal Environmental Protection Agency exhaust system label (this includes aftermarket pipes). The violation is considered a secondary offense, meaning a police officer can't stop a motorcyclist solely because the cop believes the motorcyclist is breaking the sound law, but riders pulled over for other violations could also be cited for noisy pipes. First-time offenders would be slapped with a fine of $50 to $100, but that would likely mean a fix-it ticket that could be dismissed once corrected. After that though, fines would go up progressively, to $100 - $250.

SB 435 is called the Anti-Tampering Act because it mandates that motorcycles maintain federally-required emissions equipment on both original and aftermarket exhaust systems, including the EPA stamp that certifies compliance (that the exhaust is clean burning and doesn't exceed 80 decibels). The bill was opposed by the Motorcycle Industry Council and the American Motorcyclist Association: both groups support the J-2825 standard instead. J-2825 is a stationary sound test developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers, and it specifies the type of sound meter to be used, though there is controversy on that front, too: along with cost and bulk, the equipment requires intensive and specific training, as well as constant calibration, to be properly used.

Is the next move up to the manufacturers and aftermarket companies, or to consumers?

To view the new legislation in its entirety, see:

To see more about the J-2825 standard option, visit:

California Signs Anti- Noise Bill