Chris Wilson's Top 3 best sounding bikes

We asked aircraft engineer, motorcycle collector and two-wheeled fanatic Chris Wilson which three bikes make him weak at the knees. No rules, no restrictions, any bike goes.

3. Triumph 750 Trident:

I’ve ridden the Triumph and I think they’re beautiful. So nice, they’re like your favourite uncle or aunt, nice and fun. They look very handsome, I come from Guernsey and at the time there were no pure race bikes. When I first came over to England to join the airforce, one guy in training invited me to the Transatlantic race at Brands Hatch. When I got to Brands the bikes were in qualifying and the engine’s exhaust noise sounded like a musical instrument, a proper wail. You saw how fast they were and thought holy shit these are proper bikes, like your first love, a beautiful bike and it goes like hell. They were racing against Norton twins which sounded nothing like the Triumph. I find the best sounding engines, even in cars, are when an engine has an odd number of cylinders, than uneven number just seems to make the best sound. I remember hearing the noise coming from a Triumph made me proud to be British. It has a similar sound to the MV in as much as its melodic purr, but still very aggressive. You still see them in Classic racing and they’re still fantastic.

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2. Honda RC 148/149:

Everyone gets all horny about the 6 cylinder RC166 sound. The problem is they’re too smooth, almost too nice and sweet. The 5 cylinder bike just sounds like everything is going wrong, but in a good way. My friend is a current formula 1 engineer and when describing what the bike was whilst standing beside it, he took a look at the engine. The Japanese engineers fired it up and started blipping the throttle, taking her to around 16,000rpm; he jumped back and said: “It’s gonna blow, it’s gonna blow!” The guy who spends his life designing engines couldn’t understand the mechanical noise that this bike made! When the Japanese engineers explained how the motor works, my friend said he couldn’t make an engine like that these days. The mechanical noise, so much tension and stress in the engine like a balloon about to burst, but then of course it runs fine! That engine is the epitome of a race engine, any racing machine must frighten you. If it doesn’t frighten you then it’s not a race bike.

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1. MV Agusta 500 3 cylinder:

A couple of years ago at Spa I went out on Kenny Roberts’ Yamaha OW48 YZR 500. Just as I trickled out the pit lane, Agostini pulled out in front of me and pointed at his back wheel. He was riding the MV and after 3 laps I nearly went off because I was listening to the bike in front of me, I couldn’t focus on anything else. It was like being serenaded onto the rocks by the mermaids. It utterly mesmerised me and that was whilst riding a world championship winning Yamaha GP bike! It sounds silly but I was listening to it whilst going down towards Eau Rouge and it just sounded absolutely fantastic, like cream laced with Vodka.

Click here to listen.