The top 10 best-sounding new motorbikes

With local and national governments in Europe taking a dim view of noisy motorcycles, we thought we’d share the best sounding new bikes you can go out and buy today!


With vehicular noise coming under the spotlight in recent years, manufacturers are having to come up with ever more innovative ways to make their new bikes sound aurally pleasing, without breaking noise level thresholds.

For the most part, the OEMs are doing a decent job, and despite tightening restrictions, there are still some great-sounding motorcycles to choose from.

In this list, we’ll be taking a look at some of the bikes we’ve ridden over the past few years, that you can still go out and buy, which tick all of the boxes for those looking for a sweet-sounding new bike.

10. Triumph Street Triple 765 RS

With an updated engine for 2023, featuring new pistons, con-rods, a revised combustion chamber and a new valvetrain, the Street Triple 765 RS (and Moto2 edition) are some of the best-sounding sub-1,000cc bikes money can buy. 

Its baritone exhaust note is made all the better when you can tune in to the MotoGP coverage on a Sunday afternoon and listen to a full grid of Triumph triples pounding around the world’s best racing circuits.

9. Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory

Aprilia pulled a sweet trick with the Tuono 660 Factory, by making it conform to noise regulations while still sounding brilliant to the rider sat on the bike. 

The Italian brand did this by focusing not on the exhaust system of the bike and instead looked to the inlet of the machine. With tuned inlet trumpets and a vented and fairly open airbox, the induction noise of the Tuono 660 is intoxicating, but when you aren’t sat on the bike you can barely hear it, and on the stock exhaust the bike easily passed muster with the noise testers at a 105 dB track day at Cadwell Park.

9. Yamaha R1M

The Yamaha CP4 engine is standing up to the test of time well and still sounds just as good today in the Yamaha R1M as it did when introduced in 2009. To make this bike sound like a winner, Yamaha leans on a crossplane crank design, that not only makes the bike have super-smooth torque and power curves but also one of the most delicious exhaust notes of any inline four-cylinder engine. 

8. Kawasaki Ninja H2

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. Honda CRF1100 Africa Twin

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

It’s gruff, feisty, and sounds every inch the mean mud plugger it 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 in the rev range where you cruise in top gear on the motorway, above there and it’s a totally different story, and the Africa Twin snarls, growls and rumbles like no other parallel twin on the market.

6. Aprilia RSV 4

Another bike that echoes its MotoGP sibling on the exhaust note front is the Aprilia RSV 4. Its V4 engine configuration and on-the-limit exhaust design mean this bike is about as loud as you can go, without bursting your eardrums, shattering windows, or getting arrested for crimes against humanity.

5. Norton Commando 961

Revived and relaunched in 2023, the Norton Commando 961 offers a best-of-British soundtrack that is very hard to beat. It’s probably one of the only retro bikes on the market that sounds pretty much identical to the original Commando 750 models of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

The secret to the sound is that parallel twin-cylinder engine and its pushrod valve actuation, firing up the Commando and riding it around feels like a genuine event, and not just a journey.

4. Yamaha XSR900 

Another Yamaha now, and another bike that leans on the inlet to make an exciting sound and not the exhaust system. Like the Tuono we mentioned above, the updated 2023 Yamaha XSR900 features inlet trumpets that point up from beneath the airbox cover and therefore fire the induction noise up and into the rider's helmet. 

The result is a bike that to the rider sounds fabulous, but to any nearby NIMBY types, there’s little more than a whisper from the sweet-looking underslung exhaust system.

3. Honda CBR1000RR-R SP

The launch of the new CBR1000RR-R SP 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 - 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 from the now 214bhp engine, but also because Honda employed Akrapovič from the beginning of the project 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. The only downside is that the man from Akrapovič, who was present at the launch, advised me that the bike is probably too loud for almost all UK track day circuits unless they are running a specific noisy event on that day.

2. KTM 1290 Super Duke R

It might sound a bit tappety at tick-over but get it up in the rev range and the 1290 Super Duke R sounds like a proper big-bore V-twin bruiser of a bike. Its guttural bellow as it thumps its way to the redline is not the result of trick inlet trumpets of vented airbox covers though, it's simply the result of petrol being turned into propulsion, in a gloriously boisterous manner.

1. Ducati Panigale V4R

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.

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