“Loud pipes save lives” is one of the more contentious philosophies among motorcyclists. Advocates argue louder exhausts make drivers notice motorcyclists better while detractors say the noise pollution leads to stricter anti-motorcycle legislation.

This probably wasn’t what those critics had in mind.

Prosecutors in northern Mexico have charged two motorcyclists with terrorism after their exhaust pipes backfired, causing a crowd of people to panic thinking the sound was gunfire. In a country with serious drug violence issues, this was a valid fear for the crowd.

According to the Associated Press, the state has charged Juan Ramon Munguia and Enrique Trevino Rivera with the rather extreme accusations. The incident occurred April 7 as the two were leaving work in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. When the two started their bikes, their engines backfired, spooking a crowd who were there to celebrate an Easter festival. The noise sent hundreds of people stampeding in panic, with several people getting trampled with vendor stalls clogging up the street.

Accounts differ as to whether the loud engine noise was intentional.

“There are two versions: They (the motorcyclists) say that is just where they usually warm up their engines,” San Luis Potosi state spokesman Juan Antonio Hernandez told the Associated Press. “But there are witnesses who say they purposely continued to rev their engines , even after people had started to panic.”

The terrorism charges may seem extreme. Part of the problem, officials concede, is the state criminal code lacks lesser charges that would be more appropriate for such a situation. As it is, the two riders face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The Human Rights Commission has stepped up to defend the two motorcyclists.

“There is possible blame that can be attributed to city authorities who allowed vendors to set up stands in the square without the appropriate controls, which prevented a rapid evacuation,” the commission said in a statement.

“The arrests and charges of terrorism lack any legal basis,” continued the statement. “This commission has evidence that the two workers were leaving work and doing what they do every day, starting up a motorcycle they use as transport.”

The Human Rights Commission also claim the two riders were beaten by police after being taken into custody.

[Source: Associated Press]

  • Eric


    Due to doppler effect, try wearing bright clothing and install a headlight modulator instead of drag pipes to be noticed.

    More importantly, don’t be in Mexico.

  • “Loud Pipes Announce Small Dicks”

  • Personally, I must have my Harley louder than stock, but I don’t like it too loud. Plus, drag pipes decrease performance.

    I’ve never heard of using loud pipes to be heard by people, but instead to ward off animals like deer.

  • V4man, Loud pipes do not signify anything of the sort. I do have loud pipes on my Harley and more than once they have addressed attention of people not paying attention. So yes “Loud Pipes do Save Lives.

  • Joe Mahony

    90% of the noise genereated by loud pipes is transmitted behind the motorcycle. According to the Hurt report, over 80% of accidents involving motorcycles and another vehicle the motorcycle is struck from the front.

    Loud pipes don’t save lives. They just annoy the people who are behind you, and your neighbors.


  • Jay

    A backfire has nothing to do with the exhaust system. Its the gas lighting off in the exhaust pipe from a flooded/rich engine. Also afterfire, popping on deacel of a engine is a rich issue and not normal with or without loud pipes.

    I had a 95 GMC Astro Van come into work with it’s muffler blown apart from a flooded engine (then it finally got a spark). Customer said it sounded like a bomb. My 88 Katuna back fired after trying to start it one time (also flooding). Sounded like a gun shot. How can you control something like that? The only way I would say those two guys should be punished is if they sat there reving the engines and watching what was going on and laughing.

  • ThM

    I rode my HD Softail 96# with the original pipes, and many times I saw people on the sidewalks long ahead of me turned their heads to see what is coming. Later I tried a set of HD Sceamin Eagle and it was maybe louder, but noisyer and the people on the sidewalks didnt once turn their heads.
    The original sound – that deep baritone sound is not only heard, but some kind of felt – it roars into you.
    A high decibel sound is not always heard, it is more often the type of sound. ThM – Norway