Archive for VH21931

Has you brain left the ride?

Posted in DIY, Harley-Davidson with tags , , on April 8, 2011 by bleiglass

It’s the regularity – even of a loud obnoxious or deep thumbing noise – that causes your brain to stop paying attention. In scientific language it’s called habituation. And when your brain enters the habituation zone, even a loud noise can fade into the background, but still can cause physical pain.

That’s it, my Vance and Hines Quiet Baffles (VH21931) are now installed. The exhaust sound changed, but did it change for the better?

I think so, but as with most changes, this is a compromise, although a very necessary one.

The raw, brute deep note is gone, officially the decibel noise level is reduced by 3-5 db. That does not sound like much on paper, but it is very noticable, specially in idle, but also on the monotonous highway. Your neighbours will love the quiet baffles, as will your head.

Without them, the Turn Down mufflers are clearly great fun for a short weekend ride, but my recent round trip to Wootton Bassett, over 200 miles, was over the limit. Back home, my head was uncomfortably humming even hours after my return, and the cause was clearly the wonderful raw low frequency bass you do not really hear, but clearly feel.

I think these 200 miles were the limit my ears, brain and head were willing to accept, and as I plan much longer daily rides this season, there is no way around the quiet baffles.

Actually “quiet” is the wrong word, I would call them comfort baffles, as they are not really quiet, but more comfortable for longer rides. And that is what at the end a touring bike like the Road King Classic is all about.

You loose a tiny bit of the show-off factor, the one even appreciated by bystanders when 30 or more Harley’s ride down the village roads, but then again, you just loose just a bit of it, and have the chance to remain sane.

I was considering removing the baffles on occasions, for certain “exhibition rides”, where the show factor is more important then the ride itself. But consider this: a muffler is the home address of all the culprits for aggressive metal corrosion. Heat, extreme temperature variations, aggressive chemicals in the air, dust of all sizes, humidity and evaporation, you find in the mufflers a toxic mix contributing to the most aggressive climate on earth. No metal can really remain undamaged for long, and specially delicate screws to hold the pieces together suffer most. So if you plan to unscrew and re-fix your quiet baffles in weekly intervals, prepare for disaster, as the screws will most likely not survive more then 10 cycles. If you really plan this change frequently, prepare for new high quality screws, like stainless steel A4 grade ones, which are used in the similarly hostile marine environment.

I got quickly used to the new, more comfortable sound, and I do not really miss the raw beast that was barking at me earlier, as it is still there, just not right next to my ear.