No matter where you stand on the issue of loud pipes (and we’ve certainly talked about the subject at length on CMG), there’s no question it’s a controversial subject in Canada. And it’s about to get even more controversial, thanks to a federal government oversight in its recent EV regulation update.
When drafting Bill C487 (updated regulations for EVs), legislators forgot to add anything about decibel limits for electric vehicles. This means manufacturers are now allowed to make battery-powered motorcycles as loud as they want, with no national standard to meet.
As a result, several manufacturers are already moving to capitalize on this opportunity. Harley-Davidson confirmed yesterday that the company is planning a new electric model that offers noise levels MoCo enthusiasts could only dream about before.
For years now, Harley-Davidson has been working on bringing an electric motorcycle to market, but naysayers have panned the idea, saying the faithful would never accept a machine that doesn’t make a lot of noise. But Brad Ladoust, Senior Manager of Aural Engineering at Harley-Davidson, says the company is about to release a cruiser that will be “the loudest bike the company has ever released yet, believe me.”
In an interview with a Milwaukee newspaper, Ladoust says the new electric bike’s sound output will make it Harley-Davidson’s most desirable cruiser in the company’s history. He even suggests the bike could revolutionize the company and its fortunes, as the traditional Baby Boomer customers are moving away from motorcycle purchases and younger buyers remain difficult to bring in the fold. The technology behind the new bike would appeal to the coveted millennial market, but boomers will still be attracted to the loud noise.
Speaking of those younger buyers, Indian Motorcycles is also supposed to be developing an extra-loud electric bike. It’ll be a sportbike, not a cruiser, based on the Empulse model previously sold by Victory, before parent company Polaris shut them down. Traditionally, sportbike riders have been less interested in running loud pipes, but several moto-mags claim they’ve been leaked audio clips of an updated Empulse with selectable noise outputs. Riders can choose between the sound of a V-4, a V-twin, or an inline four engine (crossplane or standard configuration).
Rumour has it that an aftermarket “noise map” (installed at dealers at extra cost) will allow them to add “Pro” modes, including an inline triple and even a single-cylinder thump for fans of supermono racing. Users can also pay for “Track” sound mode, which replicates the sound of classic two-stroke GP bikes.
Even the Japanese manufacturers are said to be taking advantage of the legal loophole. Honda is rumoured to be working on a motorcycle similar to the classic Shadow model, emulating not just the new look of the updated made-in-America cruiser, but also the new sounds. Early gossip suggested the new machine will be called the Echo, and patent applications filed last week in Europe support that theory.
In face of these developments, provincial governments are now drafting their own anti-noise legislation for electric vehicles. Quebec was first, with Transports Québec proposing a sweeping ban on electric motorcycles in urban areas, following up on the pilot project that saw motorcycles banned from areas of Montreal, St. Denis, Old Quebec City, and other cities.
Many cities aren’t waiting for provinces to tackle the problem, deciding to draw up their own regulations against loud electric vehicles. So, no matter where you live in Canada, you can be sure that starting today, April 1, we’re going to see a massive change in the battery bike scene going ahead.