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Posts Tagged ‘Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger


Recently California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed SB 435 into law (without comment).

Sure, I’ve got an opinion.  I’ve got thoughts, but I decided not to write anything at the time because I just wasn’t in the correct mood.  Content is important, but feel is key.  How do the words flow together, I’m I overly biased, is the reader gripped?

All good questions, but back to the main point… SB 435 requires all street motorcycles built after 2012 to have EPA-labeled exhausts and includes rising penalties for noncompliance.  Interestingly is that ABATE took a neutral position on this bill.

Isn’t this how it always happens.  You’re having a grand old time, enjoying the moment and then someone announces their child peed in the shallow end of the pool as you watch everyone exit the water and wonder about the level of chlorination.

The fact is that laws which regulate the motorcycle aftermarket have been in place for many years and specifically on aftermarket exhausts, the Feds mandate (in the Code of Federal Regulations Part 86, Subparts E and F) that new on-road motorcycles are required to meet limits on specific chemical emissions and that all motorcycles built after 1985 meet a stationary noise limit of 80dB. Furthermore, under Section 203 of the Clean Air Act, it is illegal for any person to remove or bypass (“tamper” with) any piece of equipment that helps a vehicle meet the above standards. To eliminate confusion, manufacturers are required to use matching standardized labels on both the frame and exhaust of any motorcycle to meet these requirements.

It’s true that the aftermarket exhaust manufacturers are quite adept at including detailed disclaimers with their products as being “closed-course-only” use and clearly stating that installation would violate federal law. But, I’m not aware of any dealer in the northwest who has discontinued selling and/or installing aftermarket performance exhaust/parts.  It seems there is this entire segment of the motorcycle industry operating in a gray area of the law that now have their days numbered.

Harley-Davidson 2012 models will launch in 10 months (August 2011) and this new law does not bode well for riders across the country.  Why? Historically, California emissions laws developed by the California Air Resources Board tend to become federal law (for example: EPA New Emissions Standards).

Laughing photo courtesy of Mr. Schwazenegger.

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Over the weekend a riding buddy had a dealer remove the stock exhaust system and along with some engine work he upgraded the bike to a Vance & Hines Pro Pipe 2-into-1 performance exhaust.  The Pro Pipe includes tuned length stepped headers with a highly efficient merge collector that feeds into the stepped megaphone design.  The new Pro Pipe is not a mellow sounding exhaust and although I didn’t measure the DBA’s, it likely pushes the limits on noise-emissions when you roll on the throttle.  The exhaust has no catalytic converter and missing from the new chrome are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency labels/stamps.

Speaking of the EPA…  On Monday the California Senate passed SB 435 by a vote of 21-16 and it’s now on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

The bill makes it a crime to operate a motorcycle manufactured after Jan. 1, 2013, that fails to meet federal noise-emission control standards. Motorcyclists whose vehicles lack the proper U.S. Environmental Protection Agency label would be subject to a fine.

It’s not clear that this bill will do much to address excessive sound or reduce emissions, but it seems to unfairly target motorcycle owners.

For example, it’s not practical in a real world traffic stop situation to locate the federal label due to the inconsistent location of the lable and in turn may well result in unwarranted citations.  In addition, after-market exhaust systems (which are not always louder than stock systems) can be installed for a variety of legitimate reasons. A stock exhaust can wear out over time, be damaged, unavailable or prohibitively expensive.  Motorcyclists would be forced to purchase Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, while automobile drivers will continue to be allowed to install exhaust components from non-OEM sources.

And what happens if you don’t live in CA and are considering a ride to the State.  Or maybe you’ll be passing through a small part of the state on the way to Reno Street Vibrations 2013.  Will you be unable to ride your motorcycle there because of this law or worry about being unfairly ticketed?

It’s important to note that the state of California often sets the tone for the nation in passing legislation where the other 49 states end up drafting behind.  This bill looks to drive up the cost of ownership and might be punitive for every rider while doing little or nothing to actually address the issue of excessive motorcycle sound.  Governor Schwarzenegger owns multiple motorcycles, but most believe he will sign this bill into law.

Then it’s only a matter of time for other states to follow…

Photo courtesy of Vance & Hines.

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