Simon Hargreaves' Top 3 best sounding bikes

We asked veteran motorcycle journalist Simon Hargreaves which three bikes make him go ooh la la. No rules, no restrictions, any bike goes. Over to you Simon...

I can’t put any race machines in my list of best-sounding bikes because it's too easy. All of them, basically. The terrifying bark of a Desmosedici warming up in the pits at Jerez at 9.00am, like a fucked-off T-Rex into a megaphone.

Or the catastrophic roar of Aprilia’s RS Cube GP bike, which was the same but louder and with added flames.

Or the sharp-edged, spine-shilling purity of any 500 GP two-stroke.

Or, best of all, at the 1992 Bol d’Or, standing at the top of the Mistral Straight at Paul Ricard in the south of France at 2.00am and listening as a Ducati 888, Honda RC30 and Kawasaki ZXR750 power away simultaneously into the distance, V-twin, V4 and inline four revs falling in and out of tune with each other in the still night air. That was probably the finest mechanically informed aural experience of my life.

3. Hinckley Triumph parallel-twin

Say, a Thruxton, modified by a company called Mototwin, running on open pipes at Bruntingthorpe on still, misty morning, ridden from a standing start by bike mag photographer Chippy Wood. Conveniently, I have such a thing as a slightly ropey .wav file. In fact you can also hear Visordown's Ben Cope in the background doing a standing start on, I think, a GSX1400. The run is remarkable for the bike’s sheer volume as much as anything – Chip hits top gear after a mile, and you can hear him shutting off after approx 1.8 miles. But by Christ it sounds good too. I had it as a ringtone for ages until the neighbours complained.

Click here to listen.

2. Honda VFR750

Although an RC30 and RC45 are acceptable alternatives (a VFR800 isn’t quite as nice; has a kind of metallic aural aftertaste; and the 400s are too small). There’s something about the gear-driven cam-ness of the V4; a mechanical perfection to it. When it revs, you can almost hear Soichiro whispering a spell. It doesn’t sound powerful or potent, but it sounds fast; Isle Of Man fast, real road fast, Joey and Hizzy and Foggy fast. And it sounds reliable. Shit, it even manages to sound compact. You hear a V4 and you think, 'Oh, good, this'll handle then...'

Click here to listen.

1. Yamaha RD350LC

As the expansion chambers crackle into life and settle into an easy burble, they stimulate a part of the brain no other sound can reach. It triggers an ancient instinct, quickening the pulse and making your palms itch. You’ll have an uncontrollable urge to slip into a pair of Frank Thomas paddock boots, chuck on a red and white paddock jacket and go pull some wheelies in front of a schoolgirl’s house in the hope she’ll drag you inside (it’s okay, this was pre-Saville. And it never happened anyway).

Click here to listen.

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