Motorcycle noise in germany: where the rattling is annoying

In at least 170 places, residents feel disturbed by extra-loud motorcycles or cars. The most important noise tests are only voluntary.

Super cool – and super loud Photo: dpa

In at least 170 places in Germany, there are complaints about noise from motorcycles and unnecessarily loud cars. That’s according to an overview by the taz of reports from those affected to the citizens’ initiative "Vereinigte Arbeitsgemeinschaft gegen Motorradlarm" (United Working Group Against Motorcycle Noise), as well as press reports. It shows that the problem is not just isolated, but is widespread.

According to surveys, more than half of the population feels disturbed or annoyed by road traffic noise, i.e. that their quality of life is restricted. Chronic noise pollution can cause cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, warns the federal Robert Koch Institute.

Nevertheless, BMW and other corporations build motorcycles or cars so that they are louder than necessary for driving. The companies confirmed to the taz that they install flaps in the exhaust of several models. These reduce the noise at the engine speeds tested in the official approval test. At higher speeds in particular, however, the vehicles are noisier. This also applies to numerous accessory exhausts from specialized manufacturers such as Kesstech or Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde.

The trick with the flaps works because noise emissions are only measured at around 50 kilometers per hour during approval by the authorities. In addition, although manufacturers must declare that vehicle types comply with the limits at speeds of 20 to 80 kilometers per hour, the regulations for motorcycle registration do not even state that the models must pass this noise test.

Beautiful landscape, much protest

EU Regulation Number 540/2014 on car approval states that "There is no obligation to carry out the actual tests when applying for EU type approval. A written assurance that the models comply with the standard is sufficient."

Whether these assurances are true is hardly checked, for example, by the Kraftfahrtbundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority), which is responsible in Germany. It now told taz that it has approved 55 types of motorcycles since the regulations on additional noise tests came into force for this class of vehicle in January 2017. According to its own information, it has checked only 1 motorcycle and 3 replacement mufflers. It has not yet imposed sanctions for incorrect manufacturer specifications for either motorcycles or cars.

According to the taz overview, most protests against motorcycle noise occur in scenic areas such as the Black Forest, the Eifel or the Elbtalaue and in recreational areas of major cities. According to local residents, for example, 50 to 60 motorcycles often pass by the exit of Sulzbach an der Murr every hour during peak times in the evenings and on weekends on the winding federal highway 14 in the Swabian-Franconian Forest Nature Park. This is because the bikers either want to enjoy the nature or the curves.

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When accelerating, the engines howl, which disturbs many local residents and hikers. Numerous motorcyclists, on the other hand, attach importance to the most powerful "sound" possible, which is usually accompanied by a large volume.

Illegal racing

Complaints not only about motorcycles, but also especially about cars that are too loud are known mainly from cities, for example from Mannheim, Hamburg or Berlin. In some cases, the police here specifically check road users who drive up and down in Mercedes AMG vehicles or other models popular in the "car poser" scene.

Brrrrm Do you know of places where there are protests against unnecessary motorcycle and car noise that are missing from our map? If so, please send place name, zip code and source information (for example, link to a media article) to [email protected]://

This often involves illegal races that have already cost the lives of uninvolved people. Protests are mounting in Baden-Wurttemberg, partly because the Working Group Against Motorcycle Noise was formed there and has been addressing the problem for years.

The Federal Environment Agency is calling for the EU to set noise limits for speeds above 80 kilometers per hour and for all engine speeds. So far, however, the EU Commission has not presented a corresponding draft regulation.

At least the Commission supports a proposal to make noise testing at 20 to 80 kilometers per hour mandatory for motorcycles. In addition, it pointed out in response to a taz inquiry that national authorities are already allowed to conduct the noise tests themselves. "For this reason, we cannot comment on the number of checks carried out by the Federal Motor Transport Authority," a commission spokeswoman said.

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