Matt Robinson profile picture Matt Robinson 7 years ago

5 Of The Best Motorbike Sounds You’ll Ever Hear

The world of motorbikes is full of weird and very wonderful sounds that I adore. Here are the ones most likely to make me weak at the knees...

Remind me later

1. Honda CBR 250RR

Although it’s the archetypal sound of motorcycling, I’ve never been much of a fan of the noise emitted by high-revving four-cylinder engines. There’s an exception, though, and that’s the Honda CBR 250RR. The dinky 249cc engine is good for just 40bhp, but because it revs so high - 19,000rpm - it sounds ridiculous in the best possible way.

2. Yamaha R1 crossplane crank

Yep, despite my dislike for inline-four bike noises, here’s another inline-four. It’s no ordinary four-banger, though. From 2009 onwards, Yamaha has been fitting its flagship superbike with an engine featuring a crossplane crankshaft, taking ideas from the company’s YZR-M1 MotoGP bike.

The result is an uneven firing order, and a much more distinctive, gnarlier sound which is, well, rather like the MotoGP bike it takes technical inspiration from. The idea - according to Yamaha - is to give the low-end clout of a twin engine with the performance of a four.

3. Ducati dry clutch

This one’s a little divisive, as many aren’t fans of the clatter associated with Ducati’s dry clutches. Some people say it sounds like the bike’s eating itself, but I rather like that brutal mechanical sound. Am I weird?

4. Any Ducati V-Twin

While we’re on the subject of Ducati, it would be remiss of me not to mention the Italian manufacturer’s famous use of 90-degree V-Twin engines. The version in this 1199 Superlegerra displaces 1198cc, outputs 200bhp and is of an ‘oversquare’ design, meaning the cylinder diameter is larger than the piston stroke. Oh, and it sounds the nuts.

5. Honda VFR 750 V4

Honda has fitted V4 engines to a large variety of exotic bikes, from the old RC30 right up to the new MotoGP-derived RC213V-S. But it’s the more humble VFR that I’m going to stick in this list.

As it’s nowhere near as exotic, you’re much likely to hear the gorgeous thrum of its V4 than something like an RC30 - in fact, one passes me on my way to work almost every day, making a jolly good din in the process.

They’re cheap, too, with prices for tattier examples starting as low as £1000. Not bad for something many still regard as one of the best road bikes ever made.