Traffic police monitoring if bikes are modified to create loud noise

Chhimi Dema

For many bikers, the charm of biking is in its noise. That’s why there are some who modify the mufflers for maximum noise effect.  For others, it (the loud noise) is intrusive and unnecessary.

If a vehicle creates “undue noise,” a driver must not or be allowed to drive on the road, according to the Road Safety and Transport Regulations (1999). A driver shall also not install or attach any fitting or equipment to either the inside or outside of the vehicle without prior approval of the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA).

The noise of a motorbike is enhanced by removing the stock exhausts and wielding imported exhaust pipes to their bikes. Despite having to pay a fine of Nu 750, if caught by police, workshop owners in Thimphu see bikers still coming to modify their exhaust pipes.

A workshop owner in Olakha said that while young bikers came to adjust or modify the exhaust pipes, some bikes have loud noises even without modification.

A 25-year-old biker said that modifying the exhaust provides better “pick-up” power for his bike. He said, “The beauty of riding a bike is in the sound.”

But residents find it annoying and disturbing. “They are creating a nuisance,” said a Thimphu resident. Some are even sharing pictures of bikes that are disturbing the whole neighbourhood on social media.

Superintendent of traffic police, Lt. Colonel Namgay said that if a bike makes loud noise, they immediately stop the bike and check if they have modified it.

The Environment Standards 2020 states that two-wheeler vehicles with the displacement up to 80 cubic capacity (cc) can have a sound rating of 75 A-weighted decibels (dB[A]). dB(A) is the measurement of the loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear.

For cc above 175, noise limit, as per the standard is 80 dB(A).

SP Namgay said that apart from checking if owners have modified the bike to increase noise, there are no proper equipment to check the noise level. Concerned agencies should provide equipment for better enforcement of the rules, he said.

Police in the last two and a half years fined 18 bikers, nine bikes in the last six months for modifying their motorbikes.

SP Namgay said that the public could help police by reporting to police about vehicles or motorbikes making explosive noise.