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Hanging in the balance

By Terry Roorda

Oh, why does it always have to come down to this? Why must discussions of one’s choice of conveyance devolve into snide playground cracks about people’s genital displacement? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know I’m faced with it again, this time in an article published in Good Times, a local advertiser hereabouts, entitled, “Big Toys, Small Boys; The Louder the Noise, the Smaller the Equipment.” On the face of it, it would appear to be more of the same and not worthy of notice, but this article presents a new theory I hadn’t heard before. In the past, opinions of this sort generally held that loud pipes—as well as Hummers, dually crew cab pickups, cigarette boats and Porsches—were but desperate means of compensating for preexisting inadequacies downstairs, even though, clinically, that’s never been shown conclusively to be the case except with the Porsches. But in the article in question, author Bruce Willey takes a whole new tack, positing that the loud aftermarket pipes favored by Harley riders actually cause shrinkage of the schwanz.

And Willey has some research to back up his claim. See, Willey had a motorcycle, and the motorcycle needed a new exhaust, so Willey put on an aftermarket set that proved substantially louder than the stockers, and discovered to his chagrin shortly thereafter that Willey’s Willy had withered. That’s scientific enough for me, but I hasten to point out here that the bike in question was a wimpy Honda 550, so I reckon Willy didn’t have a whole lot to lose in the first place. (Two can play at this game.)

Still, it got me thinking about my own experience as it relates to Willey’s theory, and I can tell you that the results are inconclusive. I put loud pipes on my Electra Glide shortly after I bought it, and rode it that way for about 15 years, and then replaced them with the stock pipes when I decided to restore the bike to original condition; and then I went loud again when I got weary of being cut off in traffic. At no time did I notice any difference in the bulk of my babymaker. On the other hand, though, My Personal Nurse swapped out the stock pipes on her Fat Boy for a pair of fat, barely baffled Hook­ers that set off car alarms two streets over (claiming that she likes her bikes the way she likes her men: loud and slow) and her boobs got bigger. I swear. So there could be something going on here.

The real point Willey was trying to make, of course, is that he finds loud Harleys to be a nuisance, and he’s not alone in that assessment. There’s a shrill chorus of whiners in full agreement with him including my neighbor who actually had the nerve to lecture me that it’s in my own best interests to keep the bikes quiet because loud pipes pose a threat to the social acceptability—and even the continued legality—of motorcycling. At least I think that’s what he was saying. It was hard to hear him over his leaf blower.

What gives? We’ve got leaf blowers, lawn mowers, chainsaws, sirens, Jake brakes, car alarms, babies on a plane, and the list goes on of environmental aural irritants, but nobody’s talking about outlawing babies. And how many lives do babies save? I’ll tell you how many: zip. That’s how many, while loud pipes have saved thousands, perhaps millions, of hardworking, taxpaying Americans—the very lifeblood of our nation—and I can back that statement up with research every bit as thorough and subjective as Willey’s, i.e., I’m still alive and paying taxes.

We all know that the most vul­nerable position in traffic for a motorcyclist is the blind spot of adjacent vehicles, and staying out of it is among the fundamental tenets of safe riding. That’s easy to say, harder to do if the motorist next to you isn’t paying attention or for some other reason doesn’t know you’re there. Maybe they don’t know because they’re too absorbed in texting, or maybe they don’t know because their sideview mirror isn’t properly adjusted, and you can’t very well adjust it for them (actually, you can, but they hate it when you do) so you need some other means of alerting them to your presence, and nothing’s more effective than a good rap on a set of window rattlers. Maybe that’s a nuisance, but I say it’s better to wake the dead than be among them.

It’s all right here in the diaries.

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