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KTM developing ‘Noise Control’

Until now, a motorcycle’s noise level has been determined by the factory, unless the owner fits an aftermarket (and maybe illegal) pipe. But KTM is working on a system which could allow riders to control the noise level – toning it down, for example, if entering a noise-restricted area.

At the moment, new bikes are type-approved for noise limits based on very specific test conditions – speed, gear, even the position of the microphones. KTM’s reasoning goes that in certain other conditions, an otherwise legal bike might be over the noise limit. Its idea (subject of a patent application) is to give the rider a warning (‘visual, acoustic or sensory’) if noise limits are exceeded. This could be done with sensors on the bike, or with a pre-programmed ‘noise map’ based a whole variety of criteria such as gear, revs and throttle position.

The system would warn the rider – the simplest method would be a warning light on the dash – who could then tone down the noise by backing off the throttle or changing to a higher gear. Or an automated system would shift the bike into ‘quiet mode’ when needed. There’s no sign as yet whether KTM’s patent will appear on a production bike.

Jim Freeman chair of the BMF said: “This would help to show that riders are concerned with noise, without surrendering control, in today’s environment. The only caveat has to be turning this into an automated system, which is only a step away from making this mandatory in ‘sensitive’, as defined by government, areas. We have stringent noise regs on new bikes already, but if this helps prevent the fitment of illegal aftermarket exhausts, that can’t be bad. ”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of KTM