Addicted to novelty since 2001

Who’s the Bigger Asshat, the Harley Rider or the Hummer Driver?

This is one of those bitchy, bloggy posts that I try not to write. But heck, I’ll make an exception.

I’ve started listening to a lot of audio books. Because Lord knows that I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts, I listen to my iPod whenever I leave my apartment on foot.

As it turns out, you have to listen a lot more carefully to the spoken word than you do to music. If you miss five or ten seconds of the bridge of, say, Madonna’s “Holiday”, it’s no great loss.

Miss ten seconds of Aristotle’s Poetics, on the other hand, and you’re hosed.

As such, I’ve become more sensitive to urban noise. Harley Davidson motorcycles are among the worst perpetrators. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize until a few years ago (I think somebody pointed it out on this site) that they don’t have to make that much noise. The Harley rider is intentionally making a spectacle (and thus an asshole) of himself.

It’s a little ironic that Harleys are associated with being tough and thuggish, when really they scream “please, everybody, look at me! I’m desperate to be the centre of attention!” When I see Harley Davidsons on the weekend, I always assume that the drivers are, in fact, accountants and lawyers playing their own peculiar and expensive game of dress-up. It’s really only another small step to full-on drag.

I was walking home tonight, and a Hummer drove passed, followed soon after by a Harley. It made me wonder, who’s worse? On the one hand, the Hummer is an eyesore, occupies an absurd amount of road, and consumes gasoline like an F-18. On the other hand, the Harley fractures eardrums for several city blocks.

Who do you think is the bigger asshat? And, incidentally, does “Holiday” actually have a bridge?

UPDATE: A commenter points to a couple of interesting articles on ‘the noise level saves lives’ issue: “Loud Pipes Save Lives” or The Madness Behind the Myth and Loud Pipes MAY Save Lives – Another View. Here’s a quote that makes my point better than I can, apparently from a motorcycling enthusiast:

I have to wonder how many others, like myself, really enjoy hearing those cars with the mega-bass audio systems turned up so loud that our stomachs churn or the sound of trash trucks emptying the dumpster at 6 in the morning? Noise pollution effects everyone. Saying “I’m just doing my thing” just doesn’t cut it, not when “doing your thing” violates others right to peace and quiet, there is no right to make excessive noise! And what about the image that excessively loud motorcycles project? When the actions of others have a negative impact on my rights to enjoy motorcycling, that gets my goat up and it should get yours up too.

And a quote from the second, which is a reply on the other side of the argument:

. A policeman’s widow says her motorcycle cop husband talked about how the use of lights and sirens did not stop people from “missing” him. How would he know if the sirens worked – what did he see (or not see)? Many riders with loud pipes can recall instances where drivers made “near misses”. But all this does not refute the idea that loud pipes may have averted accidents. What do you measure or see when a driver does NOT make a lane change, or NOT pull out from a driveway in traffic, or NOT open a door into a rider and his ride — because he/she heard loud pipes? We cannot measure in these cases what does NOT happen – but this does not change the reality that it did NOT happen.

147 Responses to “Who’s the Bigger Asshat, the Harley Rider or the Hummer Driver?”

  1. Longrider

    Anyone that thinks having a protective vest on has his head up his ass, I had a SUV pull out in front of me from a stop sign. There are 5 lights on the front of the bike, If they dont see that many lights whats a vest going to do? And yes Loud pipes do save lives. If they dont see you they will at least hear it.

  2. shrek

    Sean, I ride a japper and be fucked if it aint louder than your harley…. I hope you got 15 ear rings to fit the holes LOL

  3. H1 Freak

    Hey stupid…Were you complaining about the noise when the hummer was securing you freedom in this country?? You are such an IDIOT

  4. Sean

    # shrek Says:
    September 16th, 2006 at 11:06 pm

    Sean, I ride a japper and be fucked if it aint louder than your harley…. I hope you got 15 ear rings to fit the holes LOL

    Yea, thought it was you haha. Now im gonna leak like a Triumph.

  5. Nigga

    Dont be sending any of ya fuckwit mates over to Ozbiker.

    As for the thread topic, the biggest asshats are the blindarse cage drivers who are the cause of motorbike accidents.

  6. sh2m

    ok just my 2 cents but pipe are a lifesaver when you hace a hron that goes beep beep and the nut in the car has his or her cellphone or the radio so loud they could not hear a train .whats this little beep beep going to do? (nothing) and its not like you can hit the center of the wheel to sound the hore it is just a little button on the grip next to the blinker and light and a few more little buttons to grab the clutch and rap the pipes if safer and louder then the beep beep of the horn most folks don’t even see us till they hear us .

  7. mungo

    Interesting to read all the people who don’t know much about motorcycles and who are so ready to prejudice a whole community of riders because of a few “asshats”.

    Yes of course, I’m a motorcyclist. I own 4 Harley’s. With one exception, all have modified exhaust. But it’s not the straight drag pipes you guys are complaining about. Yes, it’a little louder than stock. Mine sound more like a well tuned big block Chevy than a Testors engine airplane.

    There are extremists in every activity. It’s not just Harley’s with loud exhaust, it’s Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, and even some of these cars with modified exhaust.

    Having said this, even drag pipes are not that loud unless the owner rips the throttle. And there are people out there like that. But not all of us.

    To the person who pointed out an apparent hypocrasy to bikers whining about safety but yet wearing non-approved beanie helmets. Well, if the “cagers” (car driving people) paid attention to what they were doing, there’d be no need to wear a helmet at all now would there?

    Which leads me to, what is absolutely worse, the Harley/Hummer, or the increasing safety measures in cars that cause drivers not to seem to care if they get in an accident or not? And the increasing dirver distractions, i.e. cell phones, stereos, GPS’s, etc that prevent rivers from looking at the road.

    It’s surprising though and very dissapointing to hear someone “intellectual” group a class of people and judge all of them based on the actions of a few “Asshats”. Sort of sounds like prejudice or stereotyping or just plain ignorance doesn’t it?

  8. darren

    Horizon: Thanks for answering my questions and links to those articles. I’ll check them out. Hopefully in the next 10 or 15 years cars will be equipped with detection systems that prevent most of the accidents you describe.

    The difference, I think, between the motorcycle and the ambulance/fire engine/police car is that they’re only on for a short time, and serve a specific purpose. A loud motorcycle is always loud, regardless of whether it’s in danger or not.

    For example–I’m totally speculating here–if a motorcycle was only loud when it was about to get hit (through, say, some kind of detection system), I wouldn’t have any complaint. Of course, that’s unlikely to magically appear in the near future.

    I should also clarify that my complaint is only about bikes in the city. I have no beef with their volume anywhere else, because it impacts very few people. And my noise concern isn’t just about Harleys–I feel the same way about cars with ridiculously loud and bass-driven stereos.

  9. Darren's Lover

    This is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. A guy named Barefoot, with a pic of himself wearing a hat that makes him look like an ass, complaining about Harley riders and calling them asshats. You must be a barrel laughs around the girls. I’ve got a Fatboy, modified the exhaust, intake, power commander etc… I ride it responsibly in neighborhoods, in traffic, around children. You shouldn’t lump all Harley riders into one asshat group Darren. I wouldn’t lump every guy who spends his life complaining on his own website into one group. Get a life and take off that stupid hat ass.

  10. darren

    I’ve deleted a few posts because they didn’t add anything to the conversation. That’s generally my comments policy (which I must dig up)–if a comment has nothing constructive to add to the debate (like, for example, Horizon and Mungo above), I may delete it.

  11. darren

    You know what? I seem to have upset some people with this post, and I apologize for that. I wrote it because I was frustrated by the noise pollution that I think Harley Davidson motorcycles cause (and the sundry other kinds of pollution that Hummers cause).

    It’s apparent that people feel passionate on both sides of this issue. Clearly I’ve offended people, and so I’m sorry.

    I am happy that, among the insults, there has been some genuine discussion about the topic, and some ideas exchanged.

    Speaking personally, nobody has changed my mind about the volume of Harleys, but the reading on the idea that ‘loud pipes save lives’ has been informative.

    I am really curious to hear some Harley riders to respond to the questions I posed about. In particular, “Do you think many people are bothered by the noise your bikes make? If so, does it matter to you?” That, to me, is the fundamental issue, and what prompted my post in the first place.

  12. Sean

    Do you think many people are bothered by the noise your bikes make? If so, does it matter to you?

    Yes, Im aware that my bike is loud and that annoys people.
    Does it matter to me??
    Not for a minute, if pissing people off means I can get home to my family. Then I dont give a rats arse who It pisses off.

  13. jap rider

    All harley riders have loud pipes to compansate for the low IQ that they have…they dont call them ape hangers for nothing..

    simon Reply:

    I have 2 harleys (both with loud exhausts) 2 degrees and 2 Post graduate qualifications. I am a lecturer at a UK university. I would be VERY interested to find out what evidence you have to support your assertion.

  14. HummerGuy

    I respect the fact that everybody has their own opinions, but us H3 owners consistantly get between 18 to 20 MPG which is better then alot of sports cars and luxury sport sedans out there, but you don’t hear people complaining about the gas mileage coming from those. A H2 does not get as good of mileage and of course neither does the H1, but if you are going to complain about SUVs, don’t single out Hummer just because it’s Hummer, but you can stereotype and classify AL large SUVs out there. Some people actually use them for what they are meant to be used for. I am a motorcycle rider and own two, a sport bike and a cruiser. I know many Harley owners, and none of them could care what other’s think of their looks. They care about what the bike looks like to themselves. They are not trying to impress anybody. They love their bikes, the same way someone may love their car. Everybody has something they are proud of. Yes, there are some Harley owners out there, as well as Hummer owners, that use them as a status symbol, but you can’t go stereotyping and generalize all Harley owners or all Hummer owners as using their vehicles as status symbols. I bought my H3 so I can take it off-roading and go on road trips. I could care less who sees it or who thinks what about it. As far as it being an eyesore, that is your personal opinion which is fine, but it isn’t made to look pretty. It was made to go off-roading, take it OUT of the cramped city and actually see the rest of the country which is more then just city streets and Starbucks on every corner. There’s more to life then the city, and ironically enough, it’s always the City people critisizing the Hummers and Harleys, when it is the Hummer and Harley owners that truely appreciate this great country by taking the time to see it, instead of watching it on TV and bitching about it. But by saying that, I would be just as bad and stereotyping city people. Funny how I live in the city. Oh well, I guess I’m just a hypocrit, and can’t spell no less.

  15. Chineseguywithaharley

    Everyone that slams harley riders has never ridden one. I’ll bet most of you that hate them would shit your pants if faced with the challenge of getting on one and riding it on a busy street or highway. Conquering that fear is very liberating.

    Have you ever done something just for fun? Ever go sky diving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, 4 wheel off roading or anything else that is entirely unnecessary but fun? Your idea of fun is watching reruns of the golden girls while drinking your wine spritzer. Riding a Harley is just plain fun. Exhilarating and exciting.

    I challenge you to go take a rider safety course, then see what you think about motorcycles. They provide the bikes, helmets, everything else you need. Try not to shit your pants.

  16. Onikaze

    The thing about both Hummers and loud Harleys is they’re completely unnecessary. In the case of the Hummer, it’s basically a rolling tribute to decadence and image at the expense of global health. Just go all the way and club some baby seals. The Harleys, on the other hand, don’t have to be that loud. It’s an attention ploy and nothing more. Whereas the Hummer screams “my ego is more important than the welfare of my species,” the Harley screams.. almost literally.. “my ego is more important than my or your hearing.”

    It’s just pointless.

    On a side note, my dad who used to work as a BMW motorcycle mechanic always had an amusing ditty about newly-purchased HDs.

    “Harley, Harley, made of tin. Ride it out and push it in.”

  17. Rick

    You guys amaze me with your pros and cons. To each their own…We live in a rat race to nowhere. Some in Hummers others on HOGS. Now get this, Harley still meets EPA standards and sell only USA EPA bikes in Canada. If you choose to change your pipes then you risk the chance of a ticket. Mileage wise… a Harley is one of the best MPG bikes made (touring Models). To any biker who doesn’t like the look, you choose the ride you like or can afford. To SUV people they choose what they like or can afford. Get over the characteristics associated with each and live your lives the best you can. Smile and wave to the guy who burns more gas then you or to the loud biker who is wearing ear plugs.

  18. mike

    The End of the “Loud Pipes Save Lives” Argument.

    Harley Rider: “If my bike wasn’t loud, it would be more dangerous for me. I could get hit by a car that didn’t see me”

    Response: No one is forcing you to ride a motorcycle- That is a risk that you decided to take.

    THOUSANDS of people are annoyed every day and have their quality of life deteriorated just for your added safety. They have no choice.

    Yes, this is America and the freedom of thousands of people to live their lives in peace comes before the freedom of one Harley Rider who doesn’t care about other people.

    – mike (a quiet motorcycle rider)

  19. Rhinebank

    “Loud pipes save lives”

    People have already pointed out this is horseshit, the noise is projected backward while many or most accidents are caused from striking things head on.

    But besides that, there is an obvious point that needs mentioning.

    It’s a motorcycle. If you decide to ride one, you should know what you are getting yourself into.

    When a sack of rippable flesh and breakable bone rides largely unprotected at traffic and highway speed among cars and trucks, nasty accidents are going to happen. Afraid of being in one? Then you are a fake ass pussy wannabe who should’t be riding a bike in the first place. It’s obviously a dangerous thing to do; the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for your inability to understand that.

  20. Mike N.

    Just remember:

    Opinions are like Asshats. Everybody has one.

  21. Bill W

    # Rhinebank Says:
    November 4th, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    “Loud pipes save lives”

    People have already pointed out this is horseshit, the noise is projected backward while many or most accidents are caused from striking things head on.

    But besides that, there is an obvious point that needs mentioning.

    It’s a motorcycle. If you decide to ride one, you should know what you are getting yourself into.

    When a sack of rippable flesh and breakable bone rides largely unprotected at traffic and highway speed among cars and trucks, nasty accidents are going to happen. Afraid of being in one? Then you are a fake ass pussy wannabe who should’t be riding a bike in the first place. It’s obviously a dangerous thing to do; the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for your inability to understand that.

    You want to be heard use you OEM factory installed HORN it is loud and you will notice it has a higher tone than most cars .hell get a bigger horn, Put your damn lights on as well.Dont tail gate or lane split WTF’s with that.
    Oh and them there black leathers really make you more noticable.
    No I don’t ride . I used too but the risks are there …moreso than my cage.I look at it this way you make a mistake/they make a misstake your toast.
    The noise that some NOT ALL of the bikes/cars..(thier both guilty) make are ridiculous. Most of the time the noise is created by the hard acceleration of the engine . If they did not carank the darn thing wide open it would almost be acceptable.
    And yes we all have 2 things in this life we are intitled to …An opinion and an asshole …..Merry Christmas to all!!!!!!

  22. Dick Blakely

    Very interesting, all the bitching and moaning, my best guess is that the people so indignant can neither afford a Harley or Hummer and are just ole farts or typical mama’s boys. Get a life, from a harley rider with wind in your hair and sun on your face and a rumble between your legs is not a bad thing.

  23. Erwin Blonk

    It is interesting that pro-noise commenters respond to almost every argument except that of young children being (understandably) scared of the noise. But it´s just not that cool to tell those kids can go f*** themselves, is it?

    I´m lucky my kids can take just about any noise. When my boy was 1yo he was asleep on a terrace next to 2 touringcars, 5 feet from their engines, they both started and let them run stationary for 10 minutes…. and he slept like a rose.

  24. Ron

    It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’ you are going to crash. Use your horn or you will end up looking like the people on that page.

    Frankly I think anyone who rides a bike is an idiot.

  25. Bubba

    Bloop, bloop, BLOOP BLOOP BLOOOOMMMM! I’m so cool. I love irritating people, been doing it since the 4th grade. I dropped out in the 5th grade, so I could smoke weed 24/7. Kids love my bike! They lick the plug wires sometimes. I’m so cool. I gotta go, my mom’s calling from upstairs.

  26. Hummer lover

    What’s all the fuss about Hummers? There are plenty of other large SUV’s on the road that are just as big or just as bad for MPG. As a matter of fact, look at the MPG between an H3 and a Jeep liberty, barely a noticeable difference. Since when did people have the right to start judging a vehicles size all of a sudden. I don’t have a Hummer but I do own an FJ Cruiser, which is just as big and sucks premium fuel. Sometimes I use it to get wine at the market, other times I have two 15 ft kayaks on there; sometimes a few bikes or my boat. We all share the road with vehicles of all sizes. I don’t like semi trucks or Harleys, but they are part of life- or in your case, something to bitch about. And what’s the difference between a Hummer owner who drives 10 miles to work ever day compared the Prius driver who goes 80? Who’s really sucking down the gas? Big SUV’s, arguably safer, better in the snow, better for people with kayaks, bikes, boats, lots of kids and so on.
    If your going to bitch about vehicles, stop centering on Hummer and please add my FJ as well as a few dozen other big SUV’s. And after that go after big boats and then big houses too. Might as well add jet liner vacation trips.

  27. jakerlx

    At least a Harley rider does not have time to talk on their cell phone, drink their Starbuck’s, play with their stereo (or favourite electronic device), smoke their cigarettes, and possibly yell at their kids before they drop them off at school.

    BOTTOM LINE: If you drive a four wheel vehicle, you have more distractions. If you ride a Harley, you are more concerned about getting home to see your wife and family.

    If you drive a hummer, stop whining and keep your eyes (and ears) on the road!

  28. Dave

    Thanks for voicing opinions that I was beginning to think only I had.

    I lived in Milwaukee (home of the toy for the fifty-year old infant) for ten years and, every time I complained about the outrageous noise assaults, I’d routinely get looks of disdain and withering comments about being a pansy.

    I’m not an idiot and it’s insulting to have someone screaming at you (to be heard above the Harley din) that the decibel levels must be OK because you never see a Harley rider getting a noise violation ticket.

    I’ve worked in very loud, industrial environments my entire career and very few processes (necessarily noisy) even come close to producing the ear-splitting cacophony of a full-throttled Harley Davidson engine.

    I’m fed up with having to avoid places I used to enjoy (river-fronts, public parks, etc.) because packs of megalomaniacal, attention-starved pseudo-adults on inferior machinery refuse to behave like adults.

    What ever became of common courtesy?


    Dave desRochers

  29. Dave B.

    Amen Dave! Common courtesy died long ago. It got run over by a gang of Harley riders.

    The world would be better without those obnoxious beasts. I’m not sure if I’m talking about the bike or the people who ride them. ;) For me, Harley drivers fall into the same category as skate boarders. I’m sure there are some nice ones, but there are so many more idiots, I just throw the baby out with the bathwater. The bathwater is so stinking dirty, it killed the baby.

    I had a Honda bike drive by me the other day, thing was as quiet as any car I ever heard. I wanted to pull over at the next intersection and hug the guy for driving a quiet and considerate bike.

  30. Chich

    I ride a Honda. I like it because it is quiet, quieter than most cars like someone said.
    My bud, had to get a harley. And had to get the loud (and $$$) pipes. I can’t even ride with him now unless I am way behind or ahead. A few miniutes is about all I can handle of that racket.

    Yeah it is all about the “look at me I have a harley” thing. In traffic you don’t hear them anyway until they are past you so whats the point? As bad a ‘professional’ truck drivers with their jake brakes.

  31. My ears hurt

    A lot of you “loud-pipe” riders think you’re doing the world a favour by “toning it down” in the cities. There are hudreds of us living on rural highways (30/30 curves) that listen to at least 1 very loud motorcycle every 30 seconds go by in the summer. I used to love summer. I can’t wait till it snows. I wish the roads had snow and ice 12 months of the year!!!


    What is the best touring bike?…

    There’s a pretty amusing post over at:
    Who’s the Bigger Asshat, the Harley Rider or the Hummer Driver?

    I laughed out loud at this:


  33. cat d.

    I am a harley owner and never thaught that the noise would annoy all you assholes so much. Now I am going to get louder pipes for my bike to really piss you cock suckers off. Don’t get mad at us because your bitch mother wouldn’t let you have a motorcycle. Go hop in your volkswagon bug and rush to your ballet class you pussy no fun having bastards.

    whogivesashit Reply:

    CAT D

    RIGHT ON! Well said, These shitheads live a fantasy life, They want a fucking utopia. I served my country and now disabled, I RIDE A HARLEY FXSTC with Straight pipes it has saved my ass several times

    If they dont like it ,they can go live in Afghanistan or Iraq, you Fucking granola munchin oxygen thieves


  34. Dylan

    Hi, I am 17 years old, got my motorcycles liscence, and bought a 1973 HARLEY DAVIDSON with drag pipes (the loudest i could get.) I bought this bike to piss you bare foot, tree hugging, mango suckin, skids off. You guys are so tough sitting in your armchair right now, step inside the nearest biker bar and say that…I might not be all educated like you…but i know a true asshole when i see one…a guy who is dissing the best culture on two wheels.These bikes helped provided you ballet slipper wearin skids with athing called FREEDOM. Comesay Harleys are loud to my face…I WILL MESS YOU UP

  35. Dylan

    oh, reading what you said, makes me want to go tear down the street rate now, set off some car alarms, and wake you ganja smokin hippies up! WAKEY WAKEY HERE COMES TO BOOGIE MAN O HIS BIG BAD HARLEY…HAHAHA..sleep with one eye open

    zarita Reply:

    You are an incredibly ignorant and unhappy dude.

  36. Freedom and Shifting Gears

    Go Dylan. I find it hard to believe how you pompus suburban assholes believe you have the right to tell people how much noise they are allowed to make. Enjoy the Suburban/HGTV standard of life you’ve chosen, with your granola, yoga and Dr. Phil. But dont believe you have any understanding of what its like to live. I’ve got my Harley, and thats all I need.

  37. cadillac

    I think the genuine question is, Who’s the bigger asshat?; a.(The Harley Rider), b.(The Hummer Driver), or c.(Darren Barefoot). If you answered (c),(Darren Barefoot), congradulations!, you were correct. What a “stupid son of a bitch” that guy is. Get a life Darren!

  38. darren

    Cadillac: You know, I don’t normally respond to trolls like yourself, but I’ll make an exception because I was so amused by your comment:

    You spelled ‘congratulations’ wrong.

    You might want to be more cautious in dishing out adjectives like ‘stupid’. You might also want to review some basic rules of punctuation.

  39. cadillac

    Darren, I apologize about my stupid comments. I was drunk and mad that evening and I guess I was just looking for a release or something stupid like that. But I’m sorry man. It was uncalled for.

  40. Autobahn

    Dylan with his threats and arrogance is exactly what this post is about. “Comesay Harleys are loud to my face…I WILL MESS YOU UP”. Thanks Dylan, you have provided a perfect example. Go have another bud light and beat up your wife, or your dog, or your boyfriend, or whatever.

  41. Autobahn

    P.S. Darren, thanks for the post.

    Shawn Reply:

    Seriously…with this comment how are you any different than Dylan?? You act like anyone riding a Harley is uneducated? I ride a Harley, drive a Jag, have a Master’s degree, paid for by you (full academic scholarship) and I am American, land of the free…FREE to ride a Harley with loud pipes, and not conform to the “norm” to be accepted. I’m educated, free spirited and love life….I’m thinking you must not love your life to beat down others. If you loved life, seeing other people doing what they love, should make you happy! Try again….

  42. Jaber

    Halreys are loud? Thats is your complaint, give me a break. how about most drivers try to multi-task, read books, put make up on, talk on the phone, feed their kids, brush their hair, shave, listen to audio books, etc etc etc. so much so that they engrossed in their own lives and the only people they care about are themselves. Harley riders only care about themselves give me a break. i have seen more harley riders at charity events in my community than any other group. they have built 6 playgrounds for kids in my community and have raised hundreds of thousand of dollars for charities annually, by the way the money for the playgrounds was raised by the people that ride harleys. I am pretty sure these folk do more for the community than you will ever dream of. as far as the loud pipes are concerned if it keeps em from being nailed by some driver listenign to an audiobook then thank god. find something to really complain about next time.

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