Before I begin, a warning…
Are you one of those riders who shudder at the thought of a quiet motorcycle being quiet? Perhaps you prefer those nightmarish screams from the exhaust?
Then this isn’t the right article for you.
(Unless you have a change of heart.)
This is for riders who love a quiet ride and don’t want to be distracted by a howling exhaust. And let’s not forget, while a full-face motorcycle helmet can protect your ears, it won’t shield other commuters from the noise.
So what are the quietest motorcycles in the current market?
Without further ado, let’s find out.
8 Quietest Motorcycles in the Market
Look, we aren’t going to talk about electric bikes here. We will look at some of the best gas-powered motorcycles that offer the least noise output.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. The motorcycle market is diverse and there can be other models that are equally quiet.
So, bear no malice if the quietest bike of YOUR choice isn’t on the list.
(Let me file your apology under “Pending Cases” for now.)
1. BMW K 1600 B
The K 1600 from BMW is a high-performance bagger (that’s what the “B” stands for) and comes with a rated output of 160 hp at 6,750 rpm.
Weighing 758.4 lbs when fully fuelled, this bike looks large. But owners will tell you that it’s as nimble as a magician’s finger and corners as good as a bike half its weight.
What’s more, both the exhaust system and engine are so quiet that riders may often forget that they are riding a bagger. Even when revved to its limit, the engine never puts much stress on your ears.
Overall, a state-of-the-art sport-tourer that’s a great choice for your next cross country ride.
2. Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie
The Gold Wing Valkyrie is a full-sized cruiser that comes with Honda’s F6 engine, which delivers above 110 hp. The exhaust is well-tuned and at low rpm, the engine delivers a soft growl. Even at higher rpm, the Valkyrie never sounds offending.
Let not the heavy curb weight of 751.8 lbs fool you. This bike remains quick and responsive. Even with the beefy design, you get excellent stability during sharp cornerings.
Whether you are a docile or an aggressive rider, the Valkyrie offers a muscular ride, without the noise factor.
3. BMW S 1000 XR
The S1000 XR is often described as a sports bike with touring capability that delivers an exciting performance. The liquid-cooled engine delivers close to 160 hp and the XR can accelerate like a beast if needed.
In the 2020 model, the engine has been refined to reduce vibrations and BMW has focused on comfort-oriented travel. That means you get reduced noise levels from the exhaust.
If you want an aggressive performance from a bike designed for touring couples, the 1000 XR is a solid option. The 2020 model offers a softer feel, but riders looking for a quiet and comfortable ride will enjoy it.
4. Honda Rebel 500
The best part about the 2020 Honda Rebel 500 is, it’s a great bike for beginners. The 471 cc twin-cylinder engines generate around 45 hp and deliver an easy ride for learners. And as you learn, there is enough power to let you experience the thrills.
Apart from the smooth performance, the engine is also on the quieter side. The vibrations are well controlled and the soundtrack has a gentle growl that never hurts your ears. Even the occasional pops don’t sound out of rhythm.
Admittedly, the Rebel 500 is a basic bike. But it’s one of the quietest motorcycles that offer excellent value for buyers on a budget.
5. Honda NC750X
What makes the NC750X special is the fact that it’s a great bike for riders of all skill levels. It stands out as a perfect ‘everyday bike’, without missing out on the fun factor. The parallel-twin engine makes the bike surprisingly agile even with a wet weight of 472 lbs.
The engine delivers quiet performance and even when you open the throttle, the 750X isn’t noisy by any means. And the excellent handling makes it a great choice for riding down freeways.
Now, some riders might call this bike “boring”. But, if you’re looking for an easygoing, fuel-efficient machine, this is an impressive and versatile motorcycle.
6. Kawasaki Concours 14 /ZG1400
Admittedly, the Concours 14 is a relatively old bike, but it has enough power to get the job done. And if you want a reliable sports tourer to travel long distances, this is a bike you’ll enjoy riding.
The handling is top-notch and the riding through tight twisties is effortless. While it looks like a massive beast, the engine and exhaust noise are well controlled.
That said, if you feel cruise control is a must while traveling down interstates, look elsewhere. The Concours lacks it. Still, with 100.5 lb-ft of maximum torque output, this bike is fun to ride.
7. BMW R1200 GS
The R 1200 GS is a big bike, but it’s a superbly engineered all-rounder. The four-stroke engine delivers a maximum power of 98 hp at 7000 rpm. And you get a mix of high-end technology and old-fashioned comfort to ensure excellent handling and ride comfort.
The R 1200 GS has enough roar power to rumble as you open the throttle. But the sound output will never unsettle you.
Without a doubt, this is one of the quietest cruiser motorcycles out there. While it comes with a hefty price tag, the performance and cult status are worth it.
8. Kawasaki Ninja 400
The Ninja 400 is a newbie-friendly bike that still offers plenty of power. The 399cc engine delivers a top power of 44 hp and the design offers enough aggression. On top of that, you get fast acceleration and superb fuel economy.
One thing is, the stock exhaust isn’t the best looking. But it keeps the exhaust noises in check. The rumble from the engine is exciting and builds up smoothly. At the top end, the motor delivers a sharp scream which is more fun than annoyance.
The superb handling and composure at high speeds, make this a great bike for beginners. Or perhaps, you want to downsize and need something that can be managed more easily.
Why Do Motorbikes Have to Be So Loud?
Here are the main reasons that make motorcycles so noisy.
- Motorcycles have smaller mufflers which aren’t the best for reducing exhaust noise.
- The shorter length of exhaust pipes in motorcycles reduces the residence time of the exhaust gases. So less energy and sound are absorbed by the exhaust.
- The engine compartment in motorcycles isn’t shielded. This allows the internal firing noises to travel out without any resistance.
Admittedly, the small size and the lighter weight of motorcycles make it difficult to reduce the noise factor. And the more powerful the engine, the louder it gets.
The muffler of a vehicle is 3 to 4 times larger than that of a motorcycle. And when it comes to exhaust pipe length, it can be between 8 to 16 feet in a vehicle. For motorcycles, it’s hardly more than 3 feet.
To be honest, designing the right exhaust system for a motorcycle isn’t an easy task. Think about the task of choosing the sweet spot between alternating negative and positive pressure waves to boost engine torque.
(Hmph. Just reading such stuff hurts my brain.)
Apart from that, motorcycle design and the related aerodynamics also affect the noise output. For example, touring motorcycles with a windscreen and slicker tires are much quieter than the non-touring ones.
And modifying the exhaust is all it takes to turn your motorcycle’s noise rhythm from symphony to cacophony.
3 Proven Ways to Quieten Your Motorcycle Exhaust
Making your motorcycle exhaust quieter isn’t a tough task. However, you may need to spend some extra dollars to get the job done.
So here are some of the easiest ways to do it.
Replace or Upgrade the Mufflers
If you have started off with a used bike, you can think of upgrading the mufflers to suppress the noise. It’s possible the previous owner removed the baffle plates that absorb the sound waves. In that case, you’ll need to reinstall them.
Other than that, you can also think of upgrading to dual-chamber mufflers or resonator mufflers. The second type of muffler has fiberglass elements in the interior that help to suppress the noise. In addition, you can add a silencer to the muffler to make it perform better.
Exhaust repacking and wrapping
The packing material inside the silencer plays an important role in cutting down the noise. These materials fill the space between the inner tube and the outer casing of the silencer. The material expands once heated and can absorb a large amount of sound.
Another inexpensive option is wrapping the exhaust with special materials. Wrapping can reduce exhaust vibrations and the sound output.
Keep the exhaust system clean
Keeping the muffler and the exhaust system clean will ensure the best performance from them. The dirt build-up will simply clog the exhaust chambers and increase noise.
Beyond that, check the exhaust pipe for any holes. Exhaust leakage caused by rust is a major cause of high noise output.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make my motorcycle quieter?
You can make a motorcycle quieter by upgrading the mufflers, introducing a baffle, and repacking the silencer. Wrapping the exhaust pipes is also a cheap option. Beyond that, maintaining the exhaust pipes in the right manner is also necessary.
What is too loud for a motorcycle?
Actually, the legal noise limit on motorcycles varies between states and provinces. While some states have no noise limits others limit the noise levels to around 80 decibels at specific speeds. In short, if you don’t modify the exhaust, chances are you won’t be troubled by the law.
Is a loud motorcycle safer?
While a loud motorcycle can attract more attention from other drivers, there’s no actual evidence to suggest that ‘loud pipes save lives’. Using lights and wearing brightly colored safety gear are way more efficient (and practical!) ways to get noticed.