I live in the crook of I-84, and on summer nights we sometimes hear the scream of multiple motorcycles hurtling down the freeway at tremendous speeds. Isn't it the responsibility of police to silence these guys?

—Awake in Frazier Park

I daresay some readers will be surprised to learn that I come from a motorcycling family. My stepfather* was a semi-pro road racer who favored insane Japanese crotch rockets that did zero to 150 in 1.8 seconds, while his dad was an old-school Harley rider who thought any real motorcycle should weigh at least 2,000 pounds and have enough low-end torque to tow a boat.

One point of contention in their long-running disagreement was whether Harleys' loud pipes were created solely to make it sound like you're achieving "tremendous speeds" when you're actually doing 50 in a 65-mph zone. (Not taking sides; just, you know, throwing it out there.)

Anyway, there are limits to how loud a motorcycle can legally be. Unfortunately for you, Awake, those limits are pretty high.

Bikes made before 1976 can put out a full 94 decibels, which is comparable to standing next to a running lawn mower or being directly under the flight path of a departing jet.

Even hogs modified to be as loud as possible (it happens) only get a bit over 100 decibels. On the logarithmic decibel scale, that's a fair a bit louder—but not so much that an officer can judge whether a given bike is over the limit just by listening.

Decibel meters could solve the problem, but they're not a standard part of a patrol officer's kit. Officers will also respond to bike-revving noise complaints at a specific address, but that's no help to you. For now, you'll just have to keep getting woken up—which, after all, serves you right for going to bed sober.

*Not a blood relation, which is how I could "come from a motorcycling family" while still growing up to be "too much of a wuss to even think about riding a motorcycle."

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