Loud motorcycles in downtown St. John's draw ire, defenders

Many people would say the issue has been exhausted over the years, but the problem of loud motorcycle mufflers keeps generating debate.

Service N.L. says it's actively targeting bikers who modify exhaust pipes

The ongoing debate over loud motorcycles on St. John's streets continues. (Newfound Riders)

Many people would say the issue has been exhausted over the years, but the problem of loud motorcycle mufflers keeps generating debate.

Maggie Burton, a candidate for St. John's city council, says loud noises from bikes frequently wake up her two children at night in her downtown home.

She says the city should regulate noise levels for the vehicles.

"I ride bikes, I am a regular passenger on bikes, and I have never been on a bike louder than a vacuum cleaner," she said.

"It's obviously a matter of personal preference, but your personal preference can disturb and unnerve a lot of people in the city. And we need to see what of those two things are more important."

Maggie Burton, an avid motorcylist herself, wants to see something done about loud motorcycle noises in the downtown St. John's area. (Submitted)

But many avid motorcyclists don't fully agree with Burton's assessment or her focus on their vehicles.

Darrell Young of Avalon Motorsports has modified pipes but said he doesn't ride the throttle like some choose to. 

"Some people say loud pipes save lives. I just like the way they sound … I like a little bit of a rumble when I downshift but it hasn't got to be deafening," he said, 

"When they try to single out motorcycles as the only source of the noise problem that we have here, that's what I have more of an issue with. Crack down on everyone across the board."​

Motorcycle instructor Darrin Dunphy says it's common for bikers to modify their exhaust pipes. (CBC)

Craig Lockyer of Newfound Riders agrees. He said the loud pipes help him warn other vehicles that get too close to him, and says they also save money.

"I got after-market pipes on my bike, and the reason why I got them on there is that it's better for fuel consumption and better on the road," he said.

Not a new complaint

Safety Services N.L. motorcycle instructor Darrin Dunphy said the complaint isn't anything new, but it keeps coming up for a few reasons, particularly in the downtown area.

"We have really tall buildings on either side of the street and if I go down there on my motorcycle and I'm on a loud exhaust motorcycle, it echoes something terrible," said Dunphy.

Loud motorcycles are a constant topic of debate in downtown St. John's. (Zach Goudie/ CBC)

He said the noise is exacerbated by riders who modify their bikes and install after-market exhaust pipes.

"It's absolutely a trendy thing to do. It's always been a thing but now it's more and more every single day," said Dunphy.

"It seems like you've arrived if your bike goes down the street and it has a loud rumble."

Modded bikes not allowed

Modifying motorcycles is actually prohibited under the Highway Traffic Act, said former Service NL minister Perry Trimper.

The problem with enforcement is that the fine for having a modified vehicle is only $50, and even though plans are in motion to increase the offence to $100, it might not be a big enough drawback for many people who choose to modify their motorcycles.

Former Service NL minister Perry Trimper says the fee for driving with a modified muffler is currently $50. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

"It may not sound like a lot but nonetheless we are increasing that as a deterrent," said Trimper.

On July 17, Trimper said police pulled over a number of motorcycles.

"Of 22 that we checked on, we found three where the baffles had been removed from the muffler," he said.

Trimper said Service NL is working with police to be more vigilant and target these drivers.

Coun. Jonathan Galgay will hold a public meeting to discuss the issue of motorcycle noise Aug 14 at 7 p.m. at City Hall in the Foran Room.

With files from Gavin Simms