How important is the sound a motorcycle makes?

20 April 2012

How important is the sound a motorcycle makes?


Power, braking, riding position, looks, and handling. These things are discussed nearly every time a motorcycle is mentioned. But what about sound? After watching yesterday’s Dominos video, we saw this new T-Mobile video—it featured a Ducati superbike to spice up their image. The sound at the end alternated between a V-Twin and an inline four. We found it distracting and it ruined the commercial for us. Then again, we’ve made purchase decisions before based on how a bike sounds. Both our 900SS and old Honda Interceptor came into our stable thanks to their great sounds.



Here are some of our favorites (videos chosen for sound quality, please excuse the video quality).


Honda CR500 – Honda doesn’t even make a 2-stroke dirtbike of any size anymore. Used to be that thousands of woodland animals would be deafened every time a man kicked his CR500 over. They came stock with nearly 60 bhp and Robbie Knievel used his to jump five billion dollars cash at an ING bank event. Legend.



Harley Knucklehead – Harley’s pushrod twin of the 30’s and 40’s employed overhead valves, always looks like a pain to start, and emits a great noise.



Honda CBX – In our opinion, the CBX produces the best sound of any street motorcycle in history. Inline sixes always sound good, but the CBX’s shriek is unforgettable.



Ducati 916 – The tambourine dry-clutch sounds morphs into a volcanic growl as these bikes roar away. There’s something very soulful about these motors, and they are more fun to ride leisurely than their inline-four competitors.



Yamaha R6 – The R6 engine was a sensation when it debut. 15.5k rpm and nigh on 200 bhp per liter at the crank. It offers an F1-like wail as its spinning to infinity.



Aprilia RSV4 Factory – This V-four makes a great roar, even with stock pipes.

The answer for us is that a motorcycle’s sound and engine character is incredibly, unassailably important.

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