Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Well, I just found out through LinkedIn that the other day was my 24th anniversary with Thunder Press. It all started with a cartoon, then moved into bike features, run coverage, install and evaluate articles and more. It’s been a lot of fun, and the years have gone by fast, an’ like my ol’ grandpappy used ta say, “Life’s like a roll of toilet paper; the closer ya get to the end, the faster it goes.” When I first got my column, about 15 years ago, I was told that I could rant, rave, snivel, whine, and cause all the hate an’ discontent I wanted, on any subject I chose, but one subject I’ve always stayed away from was politics. After 15 years of Bullin’ Through Life, I’m going to break my own rule just this once. I hope anyone who disagrees with me will forgive my trespass into uncharted waters, because over the years, we’ve all become friends, and friends sometimes do disagree.
The reason for this unprecedented rant is the change to the “modified exhaust” law that our new “governor” has shoved down our throats here in California, and as California goes, so goes the nation, eventually. There has been a modified exhaust law for decades, and when you were cited, you stuffed your stock mufflers back on, had a cop sign it off, and then it was back to business as usual the next day. Now, as of January 1, there is a fine of $1,000 along with associated costs and insurance rate hikes that can total another $1,000 every time you’re cited! (Yeah, that’s a total of around $2,000!) It affects motorcycles and cars and includes electric exhaust cutouts. In California, “pre-smog,” meaning vehicles older than 1974, are exempt from having a smog check every two years, and motorcycles, before cat converters were factory installed, can run headers and modified pipes, but they have to be below 95 decibels, which is like a mouse fart.
Another bad part of this money grab by our new “governor” is that the citation cannot be appealed in court, which is unconstitutional according to the Seventh Amendment, but they use the Constitution like Charmin anyway. The California Highway Patrol doesn’t carry decibel meters, so the citations are written on their opinion alone! There are very few Harley-Davidsons with stock pipes in most every state in the union. Most of us have seen firsthand the kind of danger not being heard puts us in. I was nearly killed twice in less than a week by cage drivers with their heads up their ass before I changed the pipes on my ol’ Softail. They tell us that helmet laws are to protect us, and then they force us into a far more dangerous situation! I realize that there are riders who love to wake up the neighborhood at two in the morning, but all of us who ride deserve that extra margin of safety that being heard provides! Will they enforce this moronic money grab? The answer is, “Yes!” In the San Diego area, at one automobile event, officers wrote 56 citations in one day!
Most of us are getting up there in years, and the young folks aren’t buying motorcycles like they did, so many of the riders I see are around my age, and many are like me, retired and on a fixed income. A grand is a lot of cash to us, and most hot rodders I know are in the same boat. We deserve to be able to enjoy what few years we have left on this ol’ earth, but now, we’re all sitting ducks out there! Even the 2005 Silverado SS that I tow my camp trailer with has a Flowmaster on it.
Riding into Cambria, on the California coast, last Sunday with friends, I saw a woman walking down the street with her fingers stuffed in her ears as we passed. I’m not sure if that was to keep the noise out, or what’s left of her brain in, but that attitude is prevalent, especially near the coast. Most of the small towns, like Pismo Beach, have passed an ordinance requiring each motorcycle to use a separate parking space, knowing that the lack of parking would drive us out. Monterey closed the world-famous Seventeen Mile Drive to all motorcycles, and others, have made life difficult for riders in the past, and now have another excuse to discriminate, harass, and cite anyone on two wheels.
In addition to four Harleys, Reggie and I also own a 1969 Dodge Charger and a Super Stock 1967 Dodge Dart. Both have modified exhaust. I’ve attended car shows all over, and enjoy the ones on the coast a lot, but how long will it be before they become too dangerous to attend because of selective enforcement like that show I mentioned earlier?
I remember when my California was once part of America, Land of the Free, but no longer. If we want to keep doing what we love, we will have to stand together to defeat the ones who feel they are more important, and wiser than our Constitution. I just went online to www.change.org and made a contribution to fight this travesty, and I hope you will too. (On change.org, search for “nullify fines for loud mufflers” or “AB 1824.”) Okay, rant over! See ya on the road!