Admit it, one of the things we love the most about our motorcycles are the sounds they make. It really isn’t surprising then that many motorcycle enthusiasts have an aftermarket exhaust as their very first modification. Naturally, we want our motorbikes to sound better, regardless of the type of bike we ride. It really isn’t surprising, especially among big bike owners, that we buy a certain motorcycle specifically because of the way it sounds.
If you’re like us, and you very much appreciate a beautiful exhaust note, then you’re probably well-versed when it comes to the numerous engine configurations available in the market. Today, let’s breakdown four of the best-sounding motorcycle engines, as well as some examples of bikes with these types of engines.
The first engine on our list is an iconic power plant—the V-twin. V-twin motors come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found in all sorts of motorcycles ranging from cruisers, naked bikes, and even sportbikes. V-twin engines make the classic motorcycle sound characterized by a low-pitched rumble that’s exceptionally bassy, especially when fitted with a nice aftermarket exhaust. As the revs rise, the low pitched rumble transforms into an exhilarating growl that turns heads as you pass.
Some popular bikes equipped with V-twin motors include Harley-Davidson’s entire lineup of motorbikes. Ducati’s street bikes such as the Monster and Scrambler range also make use of a 90-degree V-twin, which diehard Ducatisti refer to as an L-twin. Suzuki’s highly popular SV650 naked bike, as well as the V-Strom 650XT also make use of a 90-degree V-twin engine.
The good old three cylinder engine offers a unique and exhilarating exhaust note that sits somewhere in between a 180-degree parallel-twin’s sewing machine exhaust note, and the banshee howl of a flatplane inline-four engine. In fact, the triple’s exhaust note is so distinct that it’s instantly recognizable, especially to the trained ear. It starts out with a low pitched hum at idle, and makes its way to an exhilarating howl at the upper reaches of the rev range.
Some popular inline-three equipped motorbikes include the Yamaha 900cc range consisting of the MT-09 and Tracer 9 GT. MV Agusta’s 800cc lineup consisting of the Dragster, Brutale, and F3 get an ultra-high-performance triple, too. Of course, we can’t talk about three-cylinder motors without mentioning the Triumph Street Triple RS, Speed Triple, and the Trident 660, as well.
The next engine on our list is a very specific type of parallel-twin. Now, when you think of parallel-twin engines, the first bike that might come to mind is probably Kawasaki’s 650 range of machines, or perhaps bikes like the Honda Rebel 500. While these bikes are definitely very capable machines, their exhaust note by way of their 180-degree crankshaft leaves a lot to be desired. You see, a 270-degree parallel-twin mimics the sound and performance of a 90-degree V-twin, but retains the compact packaging of a parallel-twin engine. As such, it produces quite the burly exhaust note that’s full of pops, crackles, and gurgles—features that give bikes a very aggressive aura.
You may be familiar with the 270-degree parallel-twin from Triumph’s range of Bonneville machines. The Royal Enfield Interceptor and Continental GT 650 are also equipped with 270-degree parallel twins. Of course, Yamaha’s CP2, or crossplane parallel-twin engine is also extremely popular, and is found in the likes of the MT-07, XSR700, and Ténéré 700.
If you want a street bike that sounds and performs like a race-bred machine, then chances are a good number of the bikes in your list are equipped with a V4 engine. V4 engines produce insane amounts of power and torque, and deliver a sound that’s reminiscent of MotoGP racing machines. It isn’t uncommon for V4-equipped motorcycles to boast power figures close to, or in excess of 200 horsepower. This means that the V4 engine isn’t just one of the best-sounding motors out there, but also one of the most powerful.
Some popular V4-equipped machines include the Ducati Panigale V4, Multistrada V4, and Streetfighter V4. Aprilia also makes use of the V4 power plant in its Tuono and RSV4 range of performance machines. The Yamaha VMAX is also a popular muscle cruiser that employs a torquey V4 engine. That being said, most motorcycles equipped with this type of engine tend to be very expensive, with bikes like the Ducati Panigale V4 S fetching in excess of P1,600,000 fully loaded.