Pam Amette, vice president of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), largely agrees. She said SB435 doesn’t make gutting a stock 2013 muffler a violation, doesn’t address the sound issue for older bikes and aftermarket systems, and will increase pollution. She added that on many motorcycles, particularly those with bodywork, it’s difficult to find the EPA label. And now that the EPA’s noise control office has been defunded, there’s no one enforcing the correct placement of the EPA label, she noted. As a consequence the label can be difficult to find, sometimes requiring lying on the ground to see it.
Better alternative? The SAE J2825 roadside stationary test is a better solution, according to many in the industry. It’s simple, economical, and effective, and has been tested enough so that it won’t falsely fail the EPA standard. SAE J2825 was developed by the MIC in collaboration with the SAE Motorcycle Technical Steering Committee, and backed by the AMA.
You conduct the SAE test by holding a sound meter 20 inches behind the exhaust outlet, at the same height and at 45 degrees from the motorcycle's line of travel. The test procedure includes an Idle Test and a Set RPM Test. The Idle Test is the easiest to administer and can be used to screen various mufflers. The Set RPM Test, however, is most effective for identifying excessively loud exhaust systems.
Along with the test are dBA recommendations by the SAE:
- 92 dBA at idle for all motorcycles
- 96 dBA for motorcycles with fewer than three cylinders or more than four cylinders at 2000 rpm
- 100 dBA for motorcycles with three or four cylinders at 5,000 rpm
In developing the standard, 25 motorcycles and more than 50 aftermarket exhaust systems were evaluated. According to the MIC President Tim Buche, “The winners are riders everywhere who no longer need to be subjected to arbitrary local jurisdiction.”
While SB435 is now in place, the MIC along with the rest of the industry is working to get the State of California, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and EPA to adopt J2825. According to Amette, there's a fair amount of support from various state and federal authorities, but so far not much action. Some provinces in Canada have adopted the regulation and Transport Canada is recommending that it be adopted in all provinces.
Many dealers in California quit installing aftermarket exhausts on bikes a few years ago. That being said, it’s obvious that even if dealers are no longer installing aftermarket systems, someone has been. Amette suggested that dealers who have sold aftermarket exhausts to their customers have the owners retain their receipts to prove that the system was manufactured and purchased prior to Jan. 1, 2013.