Top ten best sounding motorcycles

With local and national governments in Europe taking a dim view of noisy motorcycles, we thought we’d share the best sounding motorcycles ever

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THE modern world it seems does not have the same passion for a motorcycle banging into the rev limiter that we do it seems. In fact, the best sounding motorcycles on the planet would, in today’s world, be banned from riding on some of the best roads Europe has to offer.

Sadly pen-pushers and general naysayers think that motorcycle noise is a nuisance, and they take a dim view of motorcycles in particular, even when those who drive noisy cars are let off scot-free.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best sounding motorcycles ever built, to help you stick it to the noise police – although cannot be held responsible for the consequences!

10. Triumph Street Triple RS (2020)

Few bikes sound as good on a stock exhaust system than the new Triumph Street Triple RS. On the launch of the bike late last year, we rode around the roads near Cartagena in Spain, then spent the day hammering around the tight and twisty BSB test track that’s located just outside the city.

I distinctly remember at the time thinking that there would be little an aftermarket end-can could do to improve the aural delight that the new Street Triple dishes up. Its rasping exhaust is clean and discreet at low revs, raising to demonic howl as the bike reaches the redline. If Carlsberg did stock exhausts, it’d sound a lot like this!

9. Yamaha R1 M (2020)

If you’re looking for a genuine MotoGP soundtrack, there are just a few stock bikes that need no modifications that can match the latest generation of Yamaha R1M for

The cross-plane crank is the key to the sound and creates an off-beat and almost flat note to the exhaust sound of the thing. Hammering down the main straight at Jerez on the launch of the bike last year, The machine I was riding felt and sounded every inch a thoroughbred MotoGP race bike.

8. Kawasaki H2 Ninja

The Kawasaki doesn’t rely on a trick configuration to create an aurally pleasing soundtrack. Instead, the H2 Ninja has a two-speed supercharger, bolted to the top of the gearbox.

While the exhaust note of the H2 is slightly muted, turbos and superchargers mute the exhaust note a little, it’s the chirping, whirling sound you get as the turbine blades hit supersonic speeds that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

7. Norton Manx 500

If you can afford one, you can probably afford the local council fines for breaking noise levels! You can also probably afford for a specialist to make you up a conical exhaust, just like the TT bikes used to use all those years ago.

If you’ve not had the please of hearing a Manx Norton up close, check out the videos from the Goodwood Revival meeting and check out the Barry Sheene Memorial race – it’s a spine-tingling treat for the ears!

6. Honda CRF1100 Africa Twin

Now, put the pitchforks down and hear me out. I’ve ridden all the generations of Africa Twin and think that there is something about the 270° crankpins that make the big Honda sound stunning as it rips up a muddy lane.

It’s rough, feisty, and sounds every inch the mean mud plugger is actually is. Honda pulled a neat trick with the Africa Twin by making the exhaust quiet and easy-going at 4,500 to 5,000rpm, the area where you cruise in top on the motorway, above there and it’s a totally different story!

5. Aprilia RSV 4

Another bike that matches its MotoGP sibling on the exhaust note front is the Aprilia RSV 4. It’s V4 engine configuration and on-the-limit exhaust design means this bike is about as loud as you can go. Without bursting your eardrums, shattering windows, or getting arrested for crimes against millennials.

4. MV Agusta F4

The soon to be revamped and revised MV Agusta is not just stunning to look at, it’s stunning to listen to as well. It’s four undersea exhausts as pleasing to the ear as they are to the eye.

Pushing out over 200bhp and revving to nearly 15,000rpm, there are few inline fours that can match the big MV – aside from the next bike on this list that is!

3. Honda CBR1000RR-R SP

The launch for the new Fireblade at the start of this year took place in Qatar and that was a good thing. Because, the Losail MotoGP circuit is a stunning track to ride, but also because it’s in the middle of the desert, and camels and nomadic tribesmen don’t own mobile phones and therefore can’t complain about the noise.

The secret to the new ‘Blade’s sound is in part down to the fire breathing performance form the now 214bhp engine, but also because Honda employed Akrapovič from the beginning of the project for them to design the exhaust around the rest of the bike.

The result is a screaming, ethereal sound that is genuinely like nothing else I’ve ever heard. And the only downside is that the man from Akrapovič who was present on the launch advised me it’ll almost certainly be too loud for almost all UK track day circuits.

2. Ducati Panigale V4 R

Having been lucky enough to ride a V4 R on road and track, I can confirm that it is a terrifying thing to listen to. If  MV Agusta makes motorcycle art, Ducati makes motorcycle theatre. The Desmosedici Stradale engine at tick-over sounds like Johnny 5 is gargling nuts and bolts, as the cam-chains and Desmodronic cams clatter and bang in frustration at only going 1,200rpm.

Once you get the V4 out of its discomfort zone though, it’s a totally different story, with engine and exhaust wailing all the way to the redline like a demonic choirboy that’s trying to take down the Vatican.

1. Honda RC166 250 – aka the Honda Six

If you’ve been lucky enough to hear a Honda Six warming up at a classic bike meeting or show, congratulations, you have experienced the best noise a motorcycle can produce. Sadly though, it’s all downhill from here!

The Six is like something from space compared to today’s motorcycles, 250cc, pistons the size of cotton reels, and an 18,000rpm redline that saw the diminutive machine capable of around 160mph.