Friday, April 5, 2024

Riders: NO, we don't enjoy your music

 I have always referred to this blog as offering "cheerful news about Royal Enfield motorcycles."

But, sometimes, I just have to get something uncheerful off my chest.

I am about to dump on motorcyclists (never on Royal Enfields) who blast loud music through handlebar speakers as they rumble through cities.

It's often just the edge of bearable that these bikes also feature loud exhausts. Nonriders are at least used to loud pipes. Some like them, some don't. Some accept the argument that they're a safety feature and put up with their sound.

Exhaust noise is an element of internal combustion motorcycling. It has to be controlled to some extent, and that extent is partly a matter of taste, partly a matter of law.

If you're in a situation where you feel you need loud music to warn pedestrians that you are coming, well, then, go ahead, dial it up. Use it as you would a siren: if it's called for.

To carelessly and needlessly foist one's own personal taste in music, at high volume, on pedestrians, is just unkind. Inconsiderate. And unnecessary.

Is that the way your mother raised you?

The chances that anyone wants to enjoy a snippet of your favorite tune at the noise level of a leaf blower are zero.

Frankly, and even I hesitate to say this: blasting unwelcome "music" at others is something the driver of an automobile would do. Yes, it's that despicable.

Let me ask you this question: Honestly. Is there ANY OTHER WAY than this to effectively make motorcycles less welcome in the city? I can't think of one. (Maybe riding on the sidewalks?)

To be reasonable, yes, it's only music.

Music is not a jack hammer, an urban sound we accept with a shrug. It is not the back-up beeper of a garbage truck, a noise that is intentionally irritating.

So what's the big deal? Motorcycling is not, to say the least, intrinsically about being polite. It is a legal activity that is pleasing to the rider on many levels and, hopefully, only mildly intolerable to everyone else.

Motorcycling includes being seen and being heard. Even the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is fundamentally a chance to show off, albeit for a good cause.

On the other hand, listeners know that your sound system comes with a handy volume control. 

Jackhammers do not.

You could easily be considerate, with a poke of your finger. It's the fact that you instead choose to impose that irritates.

You not only impose on our patience, you revel in doing so. If our situation was reversed, and I was instead subjecting you without cause to, say, my childish attempt to learn to play the French horn, you'd be annoyed, I guarantee it.

That's all it is: an uncalled for annoyance.

So why would you do it?

Partly for the pleasure of hearing your favorite music. Rolling along, it sounds to you like your theme song. There are great driving songs.

I realize that earphones are not the answer, and are not even legal in many states (here is a great state-by-state guide by the Motorcycle Legal Foundation).

The only answer is to be considerate. In the city turn off the music, or moderate it if you can still enjoy it at reduced volume.

Know that I do not hate you. I don't even dislike YOU. It's the experience I dislike.

I am not going to suggest that riders who blare music in the city be ticketed for noise pollution. The choice is up to you.

But be reasonable. You have a nice bike, an expensive bike. You're wearing good gear, and  you look like you know how to ride.

Don't turn yourself into a cheap boombox.


  1. It's all about LOOK AT ME. There is no other reason to play music that loud. And it's always Skynrd, Led Zeppelin or The Eagles.

  2. I think ear buds ARE the answer. There is no way loudspeaker music on a bike does justice to the artist - like listening to a gramophone in a wind tunnel.

    I, personally, hate listening to music while riding. I want to hear the engine, exhaust, birds, road sounds, traffic.


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