Excessive noise from the exhaust systems on certain motorcycles can be a source of distraction for road users and disturb the peace and tranquillity of residents. If a motorcycle is too noisy, its owner is liable to a fine.
What the law says
Under the Highway Safety Code
Sections 258, 484.1 and 484.2 of the Highway Safety Code include provisions for controlling the sound level of exhaust systems.
Under the Regulation respecting safety standards for road vehicles
Section 130 of the Regulation respecting safety standards for road vehicles states, among other things, that no component of the exhaust system of a motorcycle, moped or motorized scooter may be replaced, removed, added or modified in a way that makes the system noisier compared to the system installed by the manufacturer of the motorcycle, moped or motorized scooter.
Under the Regulation respecting the control of sound emissions produced by the exhaust system of motorcycles and mopeds
Using sound level meters to measure the noise generated by motorcycles
Police officers who have received training from the SAAQ or the École nationale de police du Québec can use a sound level meter to measure the sound levels (in decibels) emitted by a motorcycle exhaust system. This new regulation is based on findings from the pilot project run by the SAAQ from 2013 to 2018, which led to the amendment of the Highway Safety Code. Sound level meters are thus added to traditional sound measuring methods, which are based on the physical characteristics of the exhaust system and are already in use by police forces to determine whether an offence has been committed.
Decibel levels allowed by law
Where the engine rotates at a constant or variable speed, the level allowed is 100 decibels.
Where the engine is idling, the level allowed is 92 decibels.
It is important to note that under no circumstances may a motorcycle’s exhaust system be replaced, altered or modified in a way that makes it noisier than the original. Thus, a motorcycle exhaust system that has been modified so that it is louder than the original system will be considered non-compliant, even if it still respects the maximum sound levels.
How are decibels measured?
Decibels are measured using a sound level meter positioned 50 cm away from the muffler, at the same height and at a 45-degree angle.
The police officer asks the driver to hold the motorcycle and activate the throttle while the sound level meter records a measurement. In the case of a motorcycle equipped with a manual transmission, the motorcycle must be in neutral when measuring sound levels.
In the event of an offence
Owners of motorcycles whose exhaust systems are found to be non-compliant are liable to a $200 to $300 fine.
Refusal to submit a motorcycle to sound level testing
Drivers who refuse to have the sound level of their motorcycles measured are liable to a $300 to $600 fine.
By clicking on the video, you will change the context of this page.
La méthode de mesure du bruit par sonomètre (using sound level meters to measure sound) (in French only)
This video was made as part of the pilot project that led to amendments to the Highway Safety Code. Please note that the fine for a non-compliant exhaust system has since been increased.