Track day noise limits and noise testing have been a subject of much discussion in more recent times. With the increased pressure that councils are putting on circuits to keep the noise level down, the circuits are not only having to be very strict with enforcing the rules and who they let on the track, but they are also having to lower the maximum decibel limits previously set and agreed upon.
This indicates two things; the first is that at some circuits it is becoming more difficult to actually pass the noise test (for those with systems on the louder side that is) but it also indicates something more significant than that.
Councils are cracking down on noise levels, and the more we break those rules the more pressure the circuits are going to be put under, to the point where circuits will have no choice but to set ultra low decibel limits, or worse stop track days all together.
You only have to read the Croft story about why there’s next to no track days there anymore to know this is a clear and present issue.
Here’s some advice to help you keep under the limits and prevent any wider troubles with noise.
If you warm your engine before you get noise tested, generally this will reduce the noise level of your bike to a degree, so if you’re worried it might be close to the limit, warm your engine before getting tested.
Some say this doesn’t have a massive benefit and I guess different bikes and exhaust systems will be different, but I know from one personal experience that by warming my bike before getting tested I went from being over the limit, to passing with flying colours.
If you have one, fit it. Circuits are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to baffles and some even say have your baffle fitted regardless of what your noise level reads without it.
If you don’t have a baffle and you’re concerned about being over, then buy one. They’re not expensive and they could well save you from packing your bags early and going home.
Different baffles will have a different effectiveness, but you can expect a baffle to change the noise level of your exhaust from anything from 2 to 8 decibels.
Don’t worry about any performance drop either. It could well drop the performance of a higher capacity bike by 5 or so bhp, but that more than likely equates to less than a second in terms of lap times anyway (obviously this is a guesstimate). It just isn’t worth it at the risk of getting sent home.
This is a biggy for me. I hear of people claiming they have a bigger bike than they do so they test at a lower rpm, or they get tested on a quieter bike and swap stickers over, or simply take their baffle out after they have been tested, all in an attempt to get through noise testing and get out on track.
What a lot of people fail to realise though is that not only will they more than likely get pulled up by the drive by meters later anyway, they are also contributing to the problems surrounding circuit noise and in turn only serving to hurt themselves in the long run.
Councils won’t stand for the circuits not adhering to the noise restrictions (of which they have solid ways to monitor) and as a result will put more and more pressure on them to lower the limit or stop it all together. By sticking to the rules we all stand the best chance of having track days here for years to come.
So please, don’t bluff your way though noise testing. If your bike is over, get it lowered and keep it there. By doing this you’re helping yourself and every other track day rider.
If the tester turns you away for being over the limit, they’re just doing their job. Don’t go throwing your toys out the pram as this won’t help anyone. Ask them what you can do to make it through the test and they or someone else in the vicinity will more than likely be able to help, but they aren’t likely to do that if you start throwing abuse or sly comments their way.
Hopefully the above has helped answer any questions about noise testing and the circuit limits. Use the advice here to not only help you best prepare for your next noise test, but also ensure that we as track day riders help keep the circuits out of trouble so they can continue to provide us with this fantastic service.
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