Quiet Kiwis

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The governing body for motorcycling in New Zealand putting a baffle on noise pollution.

Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) wants to set an example to its members and the general motorcycling community, the organization says, so starting with the New Zealand Motocross Championships, which kick off in South Canterbury Sept. 30, riders of motorcycles that emit more than 100 decibels at the exhaust pipe will be told to park their bikes back on the trailer. They will not be permitted to race.

Bikes that exceed the 98-decibel limit will be issued a warning notice and the machines will be rechecked at round two of the series, in Rotorua on Oct. 14. If the 98-decibel limit has not been maintained, those riders will also be excluded from racing.

"Noise is a worldwide issue," said MNZ CEO Paul Pavletich. "We have been talking with officials in Australia and they face the same challenge. In fact, the world governing body, the FIM, is working toward a 94-decibel upper limit before too much longer. We'll follow a similar path. MNZ's ceiling will be 96 decibels from January 1, 2008."

He said an easy solution for motocross riders was the application of a muffler insert.

"We don't want to be draconian in our enforcement and wish to see the sport continue to grow at the rate that it is currently. So, in the interest of that happening, we have arranged for mechanics to be on site at the national championships rounds, employed specifically to repack mufflers or fit noise-reducing inserts."

Pukekohe Motorcycle Club president and Pukekohe bike shop owner Scott Wilkins said, for less that $100, easy-to-insert noise plugs were available and might become compulsory at his club's events.

"Craig Brown (a top Auckland racer) used one on his 450cc four-stroke bike at a recent meeting and his bike was much quieter then anyone else's — and he was still winning races. The insert quiets the bike down without any discernable loss of power," says Wilkins.

MNZ motocross commissioner Mike McLeod, of Wellington, said tests had been carried out at recent major events and the response from riders was positive and supportive.

"I think the riders realize we're not doing the noise tests to annoy the riders. We're doing it to save our sport. We even had people coming up to us and asking to be noise tested. These bike riders are not running away. They're facing up to their responsibilities.

"When bikes come straight off the production line, they have perfectly acceptable mufflers," he says.

For more information, visit MNZ.co.nz.