Noise Nut Wins One

March 12, 2012

All Posts, News

The Noise Nut of New Hampshire, a busybody named Bill Mitchell, was in the center of a puff journalism piece by Sarah Schweitzer in the Boston Globe last week. (Linked here.)

Schweitzer describes, “The inimitable engine roar of Harleys” as “increasingly despised. Critics say quality of life is under assault by motorcycles that blot out sidewalk cafe conversations and interrupt backyard reading.”

Schweitzer does accurately identify the cascading hysteria about motorcycle noise as a “cultural fight” and notices that this fight is going on in New Hampshire which may be the most interesting thing about it.

New Hampshire, as redneck Yankees know, is the most northern reach of Appalachia. It has one of the highest per capita rates of motorcycle registration in the country. And, the official state motto, as it has been since 1945, is “Live Free Or Die.”


Mitchell often calls himself NHCALM (linked here) which is an acronym for New Hampshire Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles. Mitchell has said he formed NHCALM because he was “annoyed by loud motorcycles roaring past his New Castle home.” He was sufficiently annoyed and prosperous to buy his local police department a decibel meter and to incorporate his “group.”

NHCALM appears to have eight members including the corporation’s attorney. According to the U.S. Census, last July New Hampshire had a population of 1,318,194.

Most of the public discussion over motorcycle noise is poisoned by statements like like this one in The Daily Decibel: “It is obvious why bikers make excessively loud noise: Because they can. And they do it all the time, scaring helpless children to death.” Mitchell describes motorcycle noise as a “serious breach of the peace.” And, he also has the leisure and disposable income to spend a significant amount of time lobbying state politicians.


His most recent victory was the passage of New Hampshire House Bill 1442 (linked here). The bill sets a maximum noise level for an idling two-cylinder motorcycle (which is probably what you ride) of 92 decibels at idle and 96 decibels at 2000 RPM. It is a bad and uninformed law. A properly tuned, fully warmed up Harley with an efficient exhaust usually produces between 93 and 96 decibels at idle. The limits of 92 and 96 decibels are not terrible, but they are numbers that another anti-motorcycle noise crusader Andy Ford of Maine Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles pulled out of a hat.

Mitchell’s goal was obviously to try to get the lowest possible number passed into law. He told a New Hampshire newspaper. “We have made some progress. We’ve dropped the decibels to 92 from 106. That’s significant. But it comes down to enforcement.”

That enforcement will be a windfall for an entrepreneur named Chris Real. Real is the author of a new standard for testing motorcycle noise called SAE J2825. The Aging Rebel discussed the new standard last January in “Motorcycle Noise And Money.”

Surprisingly, the New Hampshire Motorcyclists’ Rights Organization doesn’t object to the new law. Candi Alexander, President of the NHMRO, told the Globe “If we’re really trying to solve the problem we decided we have to look at it holistically. This is the best solution that we have.” She really said “holistically.” The Globe assumed that what Alexander meant by “the problem” was motorcycle noise. Not Bill Mitchell.

The Bill must pass the New Hampshire Senate and be signed by the Governor John Lynch before it becomes law.


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15 Responses to “Noise Nut Wins One”

  1. Grumbler Says:

    Nihilist wrote: Rebel, don’t know if you saw this yet or not:

    Snapshot: The original bill, filed by Michele Peckham, R-North Hampton, would have set the allowable motorcycle decibel level at 82 decibels. The Senate compromised with the affected parties, and passed a bill reducing the legal noise level to 92 decibels while motorcycles are idling and allows for roadside testing by police. That House Bill 1442 goes to Gov. John Lynch for his signature.

  2. Nihilist Says:

    Rebel, don’t know if you saw this yet or not:

  3. Magnet Says:


    By all means!


  4. Goldsboro Williams Says:


    That was beautiful. With your permission I will use that in the future.


  5. IrishDragon Says:

    Loud pipes save lives. Cagers make going on a ride very dangerous. I always can’t wait to get out of town, where there is less cages and more safe open road.


  6. observer Says:

    Magnet: Thanks for that clarification. You can’t learn this stuff just anywhere.

  7. Magnet Says:

    holistically: developing solutions capable of solving a given problem in its entirety

    assholistically: having someone else’s preferred solution shoved up one’s ass.

    I think madam president used the wrong word.

  8. 10Gauge Says:

    Now that these cages are hermedically sealed and the manufactureres pride themselves on the built in “technology” like phone, traffic, travel, sensors, cameras and every other doo dad to try and make you forget you are sealed in an air tight box cage drivers are more distracted than ever and that doesn’t even take into consideration texting, make-up, eating, or reading the paper… and now their boxes completely eliminate road noise using foam baffles and triple sealed doors to make sure they can concentrate…without the noise we don’t stand a chance…even the cops out here in Cali figured it out…and modify their issued Harleys to make sure they can be heard…LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES

  9. Rebel Says:

    Dear shovelny,

    I don’t know Mitchell, so I don’t know, but I think it is just a matter that the guy has found his cause. He found a way to push his weight around. I don’t know whatever happened to live and let live.


  10. Junior Says:

    So only motorcyclists can be cited for producing noise greater than 92 decibels??? Alright, whewwww, i think i’ll go buy those new woofers and 24,000 watt amplifier that I’ve always wanted and share my bassy music with all those folks around me at stoplights and in neighborhoods. I almost got worried there for a minute but am relieved to see that only motorcyclists will be cited for making big noise.

  11. Rebel Says:

    Dear Junior,

    Yeah, our socialist land amazes me too, some days.


  12. Junior Says:

    Die Sozialisten Land, das wir geworden sind erstaunt mich

  13. ruffrider Says:

    I wonder if this dickhead has an electric lawnmower.


  14. Helipilotguy Says:

    Guess thats what happens when an A sexual man has no hobbies.Way to save the world Billy.

  15. shovelNY Says:

    Odds are Mitchell,who solicits donations on his website, is funded at least in part by the people who have the most to gain,the testing equipment companies and trainers. They more than likely wrote the legislation also.

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