The main reason why motorcycles can appear louder than cars is that their engines are not encased with soundproof insulation to dampen the sound. But rather, a motorcycle’s engine is exposed.
Before we get into the numerous different factors that play into what makes a motorcycle seems to sound louder than a car. Let’s just run through exactly what is happening in a car & a motorcycle to make such loud sounds.
Explosions are loud! Whether its in a car or a motorcycle.
Ultimately a motorcycle or a car are both powered by the same thing, a combustion engine. And combustion is the rapid oxidization process of fuel, which generates heat and light.
So every time you put your foot on the accelerator or turn that throttle, you are causing a number of explosions within your combustion engine ultimately power you forward. And guess what? Explosions are loud. So both cars and motorcycles have the potential to be loud vehicles.
So why are most cars so much queiter than motorcycles?
The main reason that a car is typically quieter than a motorcycle is that cars tend to deal with the sound far better. They do necessarily produce less sound, but rather use design and technology to minimize the final audible output. Let’s break down the different ways that cars do this: A car engine is encased with soundproof insulation whilst a motorcycle’s engine is far more exposed and not subject to the same dampening.
Engine Encasing: Motorcycle vs. Car
When comparing a motorcycle’s engine to a car, the motorcycle’s engine is extremely exposed comparatively. Whilst the car’s engine is able is covered by sheet-metal, usually fitted with soundproof insulation to assist with the dampening of the engine.
Mufflers: Motorcycle vs. Car
When comparing a motorcycle’s muffler to a car’s there are some key differences that affect the sound being produced by either vehicle. A car’s muffler is piped underneath the car, assisting with sound dampening, whilst a lot of motorcyclists remove their quieter stock muffler and replace it with ‘loud pipe’ alternatives.
Catalytic Converter: Motorcycle vs. Car
Without getting too sciency, a Catalytic converter a device that sits between your engine and your exhaust to reduce the harmful emissions created by combustion (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
So how does your catalytic converter affect the sound made by your motorcycle? Good question!
Having a catalytic converter will heavily dampen the sounds of combustions and whilst all modern motorcycles these days come stock with a catalytic converter the same as a car; a lot of riders remove them to increase horsepower or to have a louder sounding bike.
How to ride quietly with any bike
This is a very simple trick but it seems to work well with any bike. When you find yourself in a quiet neighborhood or that last couple 100 meters from home, try staying in a higher gear than you would usually ride in. For example, if you normally are cruising into your complex at 20 mph in 2nd gear, try doing this in 3rd. Most motorcycles will handle this without any issues, however, what you have done is lowered your RPMs which directly corresponds to the noise that your bike is outputting.
Do this with caution though!
Because you are in a higher gear than normal your ability to take off and pull out of a bad situation will be that much harder.