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Canadian Motorcycle Exhaust Laws

There are laws that govern how loud and emissive Canadian motorcycles can be. These limitations are easily enforced on motorcycle manufacturers, since bikes need to meet the regulations to be eligible for sale. That’s why stock exhausts are heavy and rarely optimized for peak performance.

Aftermarket exhaust manufacturers, on the other hand, live inside a loop hole. Because an exhaust system is neither loud nor emissive by itself, there are no manufacturing regulations to be met. Thus, the onus is on you to ensure that no laws are broken once the system is actually installed.

Exhaust Noise Restrictions

Noise regulations are hard to pin down. They are frequently governed by municipal by-law, so the lawfulness of your motorcycle will depend on which township it happens to be in. For some Canadian cities, the ridiculously low limit of 92dBs is already in place. People can also be charged under provincial laws, although the wording is much vaguer. According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act 75(4), for example, it is unlawful for “the driver [to] at any time cause the motor vehicle to make unnecessary noise.” Whatever that means, it probably depends on how much you've pissed off the police officer.

Exhaust Spark Arrestor and Fire Restrictions

Basically everywhere, it’s illegal to have an exhaust system that spits flames. And that just makes sense, so don’t fight it.

For off-road riders, a spark arrestor is required on crown land. Private property and some closed-course MX parks can be ridden without one.

Exhaust Emission Restrictions

For ease of cross-border sales (or out of sheer laziness) the Canadian government chooses to conform to the American emission regulations. In case you’re curious, the actual numerical limits for certain pollutants can be found here. These regulations vary slightly depending on the age of the motorcycle.

Since most of us don’t have an air quality analyzer handy, some qualitative guidelines will be more convenient. If your motorcycle came with a catalytic converter – and you lopped it off to install an aftermarket exhaust – you can safely bet that the motorcycle no longer meets emission requirements. In a similar vein, many bikers will block or remove the PAIR valve while fiddling with their exhaust system. Again, this could put your motorcycle on the wrong side of emission laws.

Real Life Application

Of course, Canada’s Motorcycle would never condone breaking the law. All the same, let’s talk about the hypothetical situation in which you do. Just for fun, of course...

So, *what if* you decide to buck the system with some blaringly loud pipes? Well, it probably depends how you use them. I've never seen an RCMP officer walking around with a Decibel meter, so you aren't likely to get caught by a routine inspection.

More commonly, people are slapped with noise violations after drawing attention to themselves - revving engines, blasting main street at 8000 RPM, etc. If you keep a light throttle hand in populated areas, your loud pipes might fly under the radar.

When it comes to riding with a spark- or flame-throwing muffler, you should really obey the law. Law enforcement takes this issue pretty seriously. And with the new registration requirements for dirt bikes and ATVs, you probably wouldn't pass inspection to begin with.

On the emissions front, most people will never get busted. Canada has flirted with the idea of mandatory emissions tests in metropolitan areas, but many of the programs have already been scrapped. Where the tests are still required – as in some parts of Ontario – motorcycles are normally exempt.

Your main issue is importing and exporting. If a motorcycle permanently crosses the border, it will often be subjected to an emissions test.

Shop all motorcycle exhausts here. 

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