The Bundesrat, the body that represents the governments of the German states adopted this demand, next to some other demands. Their goal was to make this part of the type approval demands, which means that it would have been a European matter. However, the German transport ministry has already written that this would not be realistic and that the European Commission is already working on new standards. This discussion within the European Commission and the advisory board Motorcycle Working Group (MCWG), of which we are a member, just as ACEM, that represents the European motorcycle industry, is going on for years now, with a new episode coming soon. Although the EC wants new and lower limits for sound emission, other parties (e.g. FEMA, ACEM, Germany (!) and the Netherlands) say that this has little use to fight noise annoyance. Nevertheless, I expect that the limits will be lowered, the question is just how much. At the same time the UN ECE WP1 has an informal working group (IWG) additional sound emission provisions (ASEP) that is working on new testing standards which (among others) will broaden the bandwidth of the RPM much more than is the case at present. I will spare you the full technical details, that I can hardly understand myself. This means that it will be much harder for manufacturers to “fool” the system and make motorcycles and exhaust systems that only comply to the limits in the present small test bandwidth. This new ASEP 2.0 is supported by the industry and us, which brings me to the next.
There is something that we must be aware of: noise annoyance is a serious problem that causes health issues and is an infringement of the right to rest and enjoyment of living of many people. A large part of it is caused by traffic and within this motorcycles play a large part in this. When authorities come with (further) limitations for motorcycles like road closures, more strict enforcement, lower sound limits etc. we may not like it and agree with it, they often have good and valid reasons for them. Like it or not, the motorcycle community is responsible for a large part of the problem and have denied this for too long. In our view it’s time we take our responsibility and we are now discussing with the industry – that supports our view – how we can continue riding, but with less noise annoyance.
This approach is also in our own interest: if we don’t act ourselves, others (read: angry citizens and the authorities) will do it for us, which will lead to further limitations. The measures we are thinking of are both technical: less sound emission from new motorcycles (a nice sound is not necessarily a loud sound!), get rid of exhausts that are tampered with or are illegal in another way, do something about the riding behaviour of “sportive” motorcyclists, avoiding riding in large groups, etc. We have to show that we take the complaints seriously and are willing to do something about it. As said, we are discussing this with the motorcycle industry and I received some feedback from ACEM, after in their turn consulting some of their members, one of them was Harley-Davidson Europe, which shows that our approach is supported by the industry. We do not support the demonstrations against real or assumed new limitations because this just pushes the problem forward plus, perhaps more important: it makes us look like victims, which we are not and should not want to be. To victimize yourself is making yourself weak.
To summarize: Our approach is solving the source of the problem and not just protesting the measures that are proposed by the authorities, because of we did just that we could start all over again next year and the year after, etc. We think this should not go at the expense of enjoying motorcycling.
BTW: when people complain about motorcycle noise they usually refer to sportive bikes, not to H-Ds or similar bikes, except when you ride in large groups. This was e.g. shown in the report that lead to the 95+ dB restrictions in Tyrol.
I hope this answers your questions, feel free to contact us if you need more information,