It goes without saying that most of us replace the stock exhaust systems of our motorcycles in order to enhance the engine sound our bikes produce. Of course, along with this improved sound comes marginal power gains, especially if the engine is tuned to accommodate the exhaust, as well as quite a lot of weight reduction.
As with most things related to modifying motorcycles, there are two routes to take when it comes to "upgrading" your exhaust. On the one hand, you can do a hack job by cutting off the muffler and cat, as well as any emissions regulations conformity in the process. The same goes for purchasing a knock-off exhaust system online. On the other hand, you can go for the legal approach and purchase a certified exhaust system from a reputable manufacturer – something that's pretty much your only choice if you live in Europe, as rules surrounding aftermarket exhausts are much stricter over there.
That said, things look like they're only going to get stricter, as the Association des Constructeurs Européens de Motocycles, or the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) has developed a set of new guidelines surrounding aftermarket motorcycle exhausts. Created in partnership with major players in the exhaust game, the guidelines, as expected, target the noise aspect, and require pipes to be quieter than they already are.
At present, most aftermarket exhaust systems come equipped with removable dB-killers and baffles, or silencers that are simply spot-welded in place, and can be easily removed with a hand grinder. As is usually the case, the fine print of these exhaust system states that compliance with emissions and noise regulations is voided once the dB-killer is removed. The new guidelines stipulate that the dB-killer must be fixed onto the exhaust system, and can no longer be removable. Furthermore, the dB-killer has to be reinforced to an extent that the muffler itself will have to be destroyed in order for it to be removed.
In the ACEM's official press release, Antonio Perlot, the organization's Secretary General stated, "This initiative, bringing together the expertise of recognized players in the motorcycle industry, tackles one of the main causes of motorcycle noise in the street. Homologated silencers with baffles that are too easily removable are still present on the market today, which can lead to unacceptable noise levels on the road."
It's worth noting that some of the biggest players in the exhaust industry are in agreement when it comes to the new guidelines. Brands like Akrapovic, Arrow, Giannelli, Lafranconi, LeoVince, MIVV, and SC Project are all working to raise awareness to all stakeholders involved, and are working towards securing approval from numerous certification authorities in Europe.
For us outside of Europe, this will certainly have effects on the options available to us in the market. Europe has long been the standard when it comes to various technical aspects of motorcycling. From the safety of our gear, to the roadworthiness of our motorcycles, European standards are almost always used as a point of reference in many countries all over the world.