Motorcycles that are quiet

Most motorcycles made for the European market are fairly quiet, even if they are gas-powered. Some brands of motorcycles, like BMW, are known to be very quiet, although certain models of these brands can also be very loud.


In this article, we discuss which motorcycles are quiet and how you can make your current motorcycle quiet. The common stereotype is that all motorcycles are loud, but that’s only because people notice all the loud ones. There are, in fact, a lot of motorcycles that are very quiet.

We will discuss the following:

  • What makes a motorcycle quiet
  • Gas-powered motorcycles that are quiet
  • Electric-powered motorcycles that are quiet

What makes a motorcycle quiet

There are many components on a motorcycle that could cause it to be noisy. To make a motorcycle quiet you will have to alter these components or do away with those components.

But removing some components doesn’t always make it less noisy. For instance, the exhaust might make a lot of noise but removing it would cause the motorcycle to make even more noise.

So some things just have to be replaced and sometimes that means your whole motorcycle if the sound is really a problem. But before you start advertising your piece of treasure, let’s take a look at the factors of a motorcycle that can actually cause noise:

  • The engine configuration
  • Large cylinder size
  • Late & early valve timing
  • The stator
  • Wide tread tires
  • Flat tires
  • A chain drive
  • Squeaky suspension
  • Straight pipe exhaust
  • Sharp-edged plastics in the wind
  • Damaged manifold
  • Damaged or worn gasket
  • Wrong type of oil (knocking cams)

Most of these are pretty obvious as to how they could contribute to the amount of noise a motorcycle makes. On a new motorcycle, you might not have to deal with all of these but if you do notice something, you should have the dealer take a look at it.

Now, let’s take a look at the factors that can help reduce noise or make it quiet:

  • The engine configuration
  • Small cylinder size
  • Good valve timing
  • Narrow tread tires
  • Good tire pressure
  • Belt or shaft drive
  • Good suspension
  • Good silencer
  • Engine and oil in good working order

Most of the things on this list is the opposite of the things in the previous list. But some of them aren’t possible to fix or remove, like a stator. You need one on a gas-powered motorcycle and it will always make some noise.

By defenition, quiet generally means no noise but on a motorcycle, that’s mot possible. You will always have some noise. When we say quiet, we actually mean less noisy.

But maybe you don’t know what the difference is. It makes sense that a none-motorcyclist might want to read this and learn something about motorcycles. So I’ll give an example so we’re all on the same page.

This is considered as a noisy motorcycle (or beautiful for some):

This is considered as a quiet motorcycle:

This is where we start looking at electric motorcycles as many of the things on these lists aren’t typical components on them. Yet, some of them are and that could make some electric motorcycles noisier than others.

As you may already know (if you live in the 21st century), electric motorcycles don’t have engines but here are some things on them that contribute to noise:

  • Electric motor
  • A chain drive instead of a belt drive
  • Wide tread tires instead of narrow tread tires
  • Sharp-edged plastics in the wind
  • Flat tires
  • Screaming pillion

Many people have asked electric motorcycle brands like Damon and Lightning why they don’t use belt drives like other electric motorcycle brands. The fact is that both of the premium models from these companies have a massive amount of power that requires a chain to handle. Also, these type of motorcycles need to be able to change their final drive ratio without too much hassle.

The chain drive doesn’t really make their motorcycles all that much louder but you will be able to hear the difference between chain and belt in a quiet setting. They will still be much quieter than any gas-powered motorcycle.

I’m afraid there isn’t anything quieter than a sleek electric motorcycle with a belt drive and narrow tread tires.

Gas-powered motorcycles that are quiet

This list is a bit difficult to make because there are a ton of motorcycles out there and I haven’t tried all of them. So forgive me if I happen to miss a few. These are the motorcycles that are relativley quiet:

  • BMW K 1600 B
  • BMW S 1000 XR
  • Honda Gold Wing
  • Honda CTX700 DCT
  • Honda NC750X
  • Honda Rebel 500
  • Honda Shadow
  • Indian Scout Bobber Sixty
  • Kawasaki Ninja 400
  • Kawasaki Ninja 650

Electric-powered motorcycles that are quiet

Before you get lost in confusion, yes, most if not all electric motorcycles are quiet. But some may be quieter than others if they have a belt drive and narrow tread tires. Narrow tread tires are tires typically made for the road instead of off-road use. The wide tread tires typically create more noise at higher speeds and you are more likely to notice the difference on an electric motorcycle.

Below are examples of narrow and wide tread tires:

Narrow tread tires

Wide tread tires

Final words

If peace and quiet is what you want, you can always optimise your ride to be as quiet as possible, but if that isn’t enough, you may need to look for a different bike or possibly a different helmet with some earplugs.

Featured image by roadrubber_ on Instagram.

I always try to keep my articles interesting and informative. And I’m always thankful when they are shared on social media platforms or Pinterest.

Two Motion

I don’t see myself as an expert in every topic of motorcycling but my articles usually relate to new experiences that are relevant at the time of writing.

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