LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES mentality -vs- A.T.G.A.T.T. mentality

melensdad

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FIRST, I don't want to start a fight or argue with anyone
SECOND, its just an observation we have all experienced
THIRD, I do not believe there should be laws forcing you to wear helmets, gear, etc

SO, late last evening, well past sunset, I was out on a rural highway heading home from the fencing club where I coach and do armory work. I was approaching a rural intersection with a stoplight where a rural US highway crosses a state highway. Coming up fast behind me, in the darkness of the night, was another motorcycle with its headlamp on bright.

I stopped at the redlight, 1 car in front of me. 2 cars in the left lane. The motorcycle behind those 2 cars, so he was stopped and positioned over my left shoulder. I knew he was there ONLY because I saw him in my left mirror. Light turned green and the slow car in my lane held up traffic but the 2 in the left lane moved forward at faster than the turtle pace. And so went the motorcycle, which turned out to be some sort of Harley.

I had not heard it while it was behind me. But at my side I heard it. And as it sped forward I noticed 2 things. One, he had minimal lights and two, he had a very loud exhaust.

Honestly he was close to a mile away before I could no longer hear his exhaust. But when he was only 1 car length behind me I didn't hear him at the stoplight. I also noticed his lights did NOT include the mandatory license plate lamp, or any turn signals, at least no visible turn signals. Just a fairly dim running/brake light centered on the rear fender.

In contrast there is my bike, with aux LED conspicuity lights on the front. On the rear is a combination Stop/Running/Turn license plate frame with white lights that also light the license plate. Plus additional Running/Turn lights added to my side panniers. All in addition to the factory LED lights.

Basic summary:
  • His bike is stealth bike at night, mine is lit up like a Christmas Tree.
  • His bike is loud from behind but virtually silent if you are in front of it (Doppler Effect), mine is stock Honda quiet from any direction.
  • He had blue jeans and a t-shirt, no helmet. I was a fully encased 'bubble boy' in CE Level 2 gear + Snell certified full face helmet
That guy could have been any number of my friends, I'm the only ATGATT rider that I know among my friend group (other than my wife, and that is at my insistence). I ride my ride. They ride their rides. No judgement. Just pointing out that there is a stark contrast between the 2 types of riders.
 
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melensdad

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Ride your ride and who cares. He might think you are a scared little boy for dressing up like a Power Ranger.
Exactly

As I said of my group of 10 rider friends, 90% are HD riders who don’t wear any gear and shun helmets. A couple are Honda cruiser guys, both of them wear a helmet, one of them also wears a real moto jacket. One rides a Suzuki Boulevard with a Helmet.

I’m the only one who is ATGATT and the only one without some sort of cruiser. Clearly I’m odd man out.

Interestingly the 4 with Japanese bikes wear helmets, those with American bikes do not.
 
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TacomaJD

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Most guys on cruisers don't care about loud pipes saving their life, they care about how "good" it sounds to them and will also say loud pipes save lives just because it fits...but their primary concern is to have a bike that sounds good. Loud and obnoxious is the theme a lot of those guys like.

I ride both, when i'm on the cruiser I am wearing a half helmet because 1.) full helmet buffets way too badly from wind coming around the windshield and 2.) just a lot cooler wearing one in hot weather and I'm' generally not riding like a banshee on the cruiser.

On the NC, 90% of the time I'm wearing full face helmet, gloves, and either leather or textile jacket depending on weather along with blue jeans and sneakers. The other 10% of the time I might opt to not wear gloves or jacket if it's hot out, or neither.

I'm also not one for adding 47 lights and reflective striping all over my bike and gear too. You mentioned the Harley having minimal lighting, it probably had aftermarket lighting on it that he thought looked good (when it's not dark). I'm all about clean look, so I can relate to worrying more about cosmetic appeal rather than illumination functionality, although currently I care very little about either so long as I'm legal and the oem lighting works. I ride like I'm invisible and watch everyone on the road like a hawk so I never feel dependent on lighting for safety.

There's definitely more than 2 types of riders, as I feel I lie in between the extremes. That Harley guy doesn't represent the whole cruiser crowd either. Go to some bike nights, you'll see plenty Harleys and cruisers with much more than the standard lighting on it. I was on the way home from Montgomery this past Sunday night and passed a couple on a red goldwing that had a mixture of blue and red neon lights all over it. I saw it way up the road, couldn't tell what the glowing mass was until I got up on it. Not sure how he hasn't gotten hassled by the police either running blue and red lights, as those are generally reserved for police and emergency services.

Riding motorcycles is a form of self expression and freedom, I try not to judge others on how they ride or their choice of bike/gear/etc. I do find it interesting to see the differences in riders though, and how riders vary individually across all the scenes.
 
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670cc

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I’ve made those observations many times. I’m sometimes awestruck by the contrasts in rider safety approach, but it is what it is. Honestly, if you think about it, if even ATGATT type riders were totally concerned about transportation safety, they would be in a car instead of on a motorcycle.
 

New Commuter700

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I’ve made those observations many times. I’m sometimes awestruck by the contrasts in rider safety approach, but it is what it is. Honestly, if you think about it, if even ATGATT type riders were totally concerned about transportation safety, they would be in a car instead of on a motorcycle.
I used to say that I felt safer on a bike because of the increased performance in braking, accelerating and maneuvering and I ride, not like I'm invisible but like the other driver is actively trying to kill me. But now, I can't say that for two reasons. The first is I have had advanced driver training and much more expirience in cars. Added to the fact that cars are much safer now than 30 years ago, that alone makes the car an unarguably safer option. The second reason is the other drivers. While people tend to give me a wider berth on the bike than they do in my car, and oddly even less in a semi, there is no doubt to me that drivers are worse now than 30 years ago. My speculation is that cars are safer so people take more chances. Add to that here in AZ an operators license could be good for 49 years, then you just need an eye test, and the highway patrol to driver ratio is so low that a ticket is unlikely and you have a population that no longer seems to care.
 

drdubb

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I live in a 55 plus community that has a motorcycle group and I ride with them occasionally. All but one of the riders are on cruisers, mostly Harleys. They generally are loud, but not straight pipe loud. The helmets (we have a helmet law) run the gamut. Some of the guys wear jackets, gloves, boots. The only riding pants I've seen were on a guy with a big GS. I'm always full ATGATT. When its 90 + hot, I use a mesh jacket.
 

itsmenc700

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What you point out is very true.
AND I think every non-biker thinks we are all of the Harley kind. And they don't care for that style and its loudness.
Harley needs to remove itself from that image if they want to survive, yet then they will alienate their older riders so.....
I really love it when one of those HD riders and its loud exhaust is near me at a stop light and of course has to hit the throttle to make sure its still loud.
I will hit my throttle as well, but I dont think he can hear mine!!!!!!
 

dduelin

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I’ve made those observations many times. I’m sometimes awestruck by the contrasts in rider safety approach, but it is what it is. Honestly, if you think about it, if even ATGATT type riders were totally concerned about transportation safety, they would be in a car instead of on a motorcycle.
Exactly.

Loud pipe guy and loud clothes guy are sitting side by side at the traffic light and the driver strapped in and wrapped up in a 5800 lb seven passenger SUV in the next lane looks at both riders as reckless fools.
 

Bcsmith

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Well now lots of views on this topic. When I bought my NC this spring I am returning after over 30 years of not being on a motorcycle and you bet things have changed as far as lack of respect from other drivers. I always try to ride the roads less travelled but when riding with my group I do not always get to pick the route. I am continually watching for cars and keep a constant view of my escape route in case of driver error. However there are circumstances when you have to commit and there is no alternative. That is when it is important that you are visible. As far as AGATT well let’s just say when #### hits the fan you will want to have everything possible on your side. Back in the day when I gave up riding I hit the pavement at around 80mph while colliding with another motorcycle. I walked it off with a few pavement burns due to being well protected by my gear. Full face helmet saved me as I slid on my face for an extended period of time. The driver of the other bike did not fare nearly as well. Now that I have returned to riding I have so much more respect for safety. Some will tell you that their riding abilities can avoid such crashes but I am here to tell you when things go south so fast you only have time to blink and it’s over. Driver ability is devoting every second to safety safety safety. Just my opinion ;)
 

Bcsmith

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Exactly

As I said of my group of 10 rider friends, 90% are HD riders who don’t wear any gear and shun helmets. A couple are Honda cruiser guys, both of them wear a helmet, one of them also wears a real moto jacket. One rides a Suzuki Boulevard with a Helmet.

I’m the only one who is ATGATT and the only one without some sort of cruiser. Clearly I’m odd man out.

Interestingly the 4 with Japanese bikes wear helmets, those with American bikes do not.
No helmet I can’t even imagine that.
 

mtnbiker1185

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Eh, I have seen it both ways. In heavy traffic I have definitely been in situations where I have heard a motorcycle before I have seen it due to the sound bouncing off the surrounding cars and I have almost hit a motorcycle because I couldn't hear it or see it. I have seen guys on crotch rockets with shorts, flip-flops and no shirt on and HD guys in full leather. I have actually seen guys on sport bikes in minimum protective clothing (like shorts, flip-flops, no shirts) more than I have seen cruiser guys in minimum protective clothing.

I am a firm believer that most people don't see motorcycle's anymore not because they blend into their surroundings (since headlights are on all the time on modern bikes) but because drivers just don't look and no amount of lights or high-viz gear is going to change that. That goes for anything....I get pulled out in front of more in my 3/4 ton truck than I do on my motorcycle.

In your specific example, you seem to think you were more safe than him based off of the fact you have more lights and were wearing more protective clothing. However, you admitted to seeing him a ways away because of his front light when he was behind you and hearing him for a ways away when he was in front of you. You didn't mention if your gear was high-viz or not so that will only provide protection once you are hit, not prevent you from getting hit which I think was the point of your post. I am also of the believe that having an outrageous number of lights on a motorcycle can actually do more harm than good simply because it confuses drivers. When drivers get confused, they panic. When they panic, they do stupid sh*t like slam on their brakes, swerve into other lanes, etc.

The way you ride matters more in how safe you are going to be than what you wear or how loud your bike is in my opinion. Position yourself in traffic so the cars around you are more likely to see you, control your speed in traffic, etc. Outside of that, wear what you want and make your bike look how you want.

As far as those "loud, obnoxious" bikes "giving the rest of us a bad name," the same thing can be said for sport bike riders. And while the NC isn't a sport bike by any stretch, to a non-motorcycle person it looks sporty. Which means people are going to assume you will be weaving in and out of traffic 20+ mph over the speed limit and acting like you are trying to win the Isle of Man, a.k.a "giving the rest of us a bad name."
 

EastTenn

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I agree with many of the points mtnbiker makes. My daughters thought my NC was a sportbike ! I have had loud bikes and quiet bikes. Neither mattered to the cage drivers that were not looking or paying attention. Probably extra lighting helps some, but again, drivers are not always in alert mode for bikes.
I try never to surprise another vehicle traveling in the lane beside me. I won't stay in what may be their blind spot for any length of time. Just like TJD said..I have always rode like I was invisible. Knock on wood....
 

anglachel

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I agree with many of the points mtnbiker makes. My daughters thought my NC was a sportbike ! I have had loud bikes and quiet bikes. Neither mattered to the cage drivers that were not looking or paying attention. Probably extra lighting helps some, but again, drivers are not always in alert mode for bikes.
I try never to surprise another vehicle traveling in the lane beside me. I won't stay in what may be their blind spot for any length of time. Just like TJD said..I have always rode like I was invisible. Knock on wood....

Cagers, like most humans, draw upon their memories to determine what might happen in the future... There are 2 types of riders that they tend to remember, the idiots (be it loud and obnoxious, or triple digit wheels down the highway) and the ones that they nearly kill.

The riders that present no danger (real or perceived) to them aren't memorable, and they don't consider their existence as a possiblity most of the time because of it.

Ride to be seen, and some times that means riding like enough of an idiot that they bother to notice you, other times it just means not hanging out in a blind spot...

And as for the NC, my nephew covered his ears before he heard my NC start for the first time, and despite it being quieter than my dad's truck, that he rides in often, he still screamed about how loud it was... Cause he only remembers the one kind of motorcycle, the loud ones (despite being around my dad's Hondas)...
 

mtnbiker1185

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Ride to be seen, and some times that means riding like enough of an idiot that they bother to notice you, other times it just means not hanging out in a blind spot...

I like that. Sometimes I ride like an idiot to try and distance myself from a dangerous situation/group of drivers. Other times it is better to just get in the slow lane and cruise. Either way, riding in traffic should be anything but relaxing as you are having to constantly pay attention to your surroundings and adjust your riding to the ever changing situation.

I find myself assuming that drivers are going to do the dumbest thing they can possibly do in a given situation. Unfortunately, I find that by doing that I am able to predict their next move 95% of the time....
 

davidc83

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Drivers just dont look or care...This past weekend I went on a benefit ride (dont do it often) and we were led by a sheriffs car with flashing lights...Numerous times cars on side roads pulled out in front of the sheriffs car (even with the flashing lights); I could see the cars do rolling stops and never really looked our way.....as soon as they were in front, then the noticed the flashing lights in their rear-view mirrors and pulled over to allow us to go around...no amount of sound or lights will protect us from some idiots in cars....every day in the news, someone runs into a schoolbus or goes around a schoolbus with flashing lights....2-3 years ago, 3 kids in Indiana were killed by a car (pickup) going around a stopped schoolbus...the driver is now in prison (found guilty) and she stated in her trial she didnt realize the bus was stopped (even with all the flashing lights and the stop arm out)...
 

LeeInMpls

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Actually, I drive as though I am invisible because a lot of times, we are. I saw a great video presentation about how difficult it is to see a motorcycle from a car and almost impossible to judge its distance and speed.
It is why I wear a white helmet, reflective clothes and a visibility vest.
I remember my first motorcycle class to get my endorsement. All 18 students wore black helmets. Both the instructors wore white helmets.
 
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