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Why Do Motogp Bikes Sound So Weird?

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A good friend of mine wants me to come with her to go see a MotoGP race. In explaining why I'm not really a fan of MotoGP (gasp!) I had to define why. A big issue for me is the sound that the bikes make. They sound weird to me. If you compare that sound to that of a standard road bike or even an Isle of Man TT bike the sound is VERY different.

 

Being the curious type and always wanting to learn something I wonder "why" they make the less than wonderful sound that the do. Does anybody have any interesting references that they can point me towards? Who knows you might even make me a fan of those weird sounding engines just with a further understanding of the why behind the weirdness.

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Primarily due to the ignition sequence, they are more big bang than most road bikes with inline fours, which fire (other then the R1) each cylinder with identical intervals. Also, MotoGP bikes are LOUD, even compared to other racing series,

 

I must say, though, that if the sound is more important than watching the very best riders in the world riding the very best bikes in the world to the very limit of their capabilities, you are missing out ;)

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Robert,

I know what you mean about the sound but in my experience, the sound live is not the same as what you hear on TV. I was at the race last year in Qatar and was surprised at the difference. Don't let the sound hold you back from going my friend. It's a great experience. Make sure you catch the other races over the weekend too. Even the Air Asia Talent Cup race was good.

 

Benny

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I did some reading and found out as well that the GP bikes use pneumatic assisted valve's that use a high pressure nitrogen tank behind the front fairing. That probably explains part of the sound as well. Some unique technology that requires them to pressurize their nitrogen tank before each race. Some neat stuff for sure.

 

The sound is huge for me. If you haven't picked up on it by now I'm a huge gear head. Engine noise to me is like music. Every engine has a distinctive sound to it and I love that. Riders and drivers play a symphony as they make their way around a race track.

 

There are a number of factors beyond the engine sound that makes MotoGP lose a bit of appeal for me. The bikes themselves are so different than any "normal" bike with their exotic parts and prototype technology that it makes the racing itself difficult for me to quantify and really get into. They share little if nothing with bikes you and I can actually go and buy. The style of racing as well loses me a bit. It's a battle of rider against rider and machine against machine with a lot of politics and regulations in the mix to further make the competition somewhat vague and hard for me to get into. The technology also really clouds the racing for me. Is it the fastest rider that won or the rider with the more skilled laptop brigade tuning his settings in real time as he went through that critical corner? There's very little information on the technology of course due to the manufacturers wanting to protect their trade secrets.

 

I tend to love the purity of the TT where it's rider and machine against track. Each rider is riding their absolute best because they have no frame of reference of where they stand with their lap time in relation to the best time. At the end of the race the fastest time wins. Not the rider that loafed around in 6th position and made a last minute passing spree at the end of the race. The timer does not lie and it's difficult to play games with. The TT is of course more of a challenge to watch because of the large area but every bike you see go by you know that there's man and a machine stretched to the absolute limit of what's physically and mentally possible for the tenth of a second you see it scream by. The bikes at the TT are bikes you and I could go down to a showroom and buy. I'll admit they have a lot of technology we can't buy but that's racing in general.

 

But with everything I tend to over analyze. MotoGP does not interest me much on TV but perhaps I'll actually go and attend a race with my friend to see if it's any different in person. I hope I have not offended anybody by sharing my honest opinion. Just the simple fan base of MotoGP show's that a lot of people understand the passion around it. Perhaps I might understand that passion better in person. I'm also not saying any one style of racing is "better" or anything like that. We love what we love.

 

I'll end with the obligatory TT video. Even through youtube watching the TT makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

 

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Primarily due to the ignition sequence, they are more big bang than most road bikes with inline fours, which fire (other then the R1) each cylinder with identical intervals. Also, MotoGP bikes are LOUD, even compared to other racing series,

 

Good point. Some good reading on the crossplane crank technology.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossplane

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Unless you talk a brand specific class with bikes run in stock configuration, you will never know if the rider or the material makes the difference between 1st and 4th. And even if all bikes are the same it only tells you who's the best rider of that particular bike, let's say a Ninja 300. Replace them with Hayabusas, and chances are you'll have a different winner. Change to Harley Sportsters and it may well change again.

 

For me, racing is about the fight - the more riders swapping for the lead, the more interesting. It is also about skill, watching how these super-humans master the bikes at the absolute limit. And also how their riding styles differ. Watching Lorenzo on his own, inch perfect, or Marquez, ragged violence, is also very rewarding to me. IoM is a different thing - amazing to watch on board, but not much from the side of the road most of the time.

 

However, the good thing is that there are so many forms of racing that everybody should be able to find something to their liking B)

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Indeed. Racing is an imperfect science for sure. There so many factors to compare that the comparison becomes completely worthless in the process. It's at least nice to have the illusion at least. :)

 

Back to the sound. I did some more listening and noticed some interesting things. Many of the bikes change their sound especially when they are using their launch control or their pit limiters. Instead of bouncing off of a rev limiter the engine seems to change the way it's tuned in real time.

 

Here's a good video with lots of different bikes doing testing. Kind of cool to watch.

 

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I did some reading and found out as well that the GP bikes use pneumatic assisted valve's that use a high pressure nitrogen tank behind the front fairing. That probably explains part of the sound as well. Some unique technology that requires them to pressurize their nitrogen tank before each race. Some neat stuff for sure.

 

The sound is huge for me. If you haven't picked up on it by now I'm a huge gear head. Engine noise to me is like music. Every engine has a distinctive sound to it and I love that. Riders and drivers play a symphony as they make their way around a race track.

 

There are a number of factors beyond the engine sound that makes MotoGP lose a bit of appeal for me. The bikes themselves are so different than any "normal" bike with their exotic parts and prototype technology that it makes the racing itself difficult for me to quantify and really get into. They share little if nothing with bikes you and I can actually go and buy. The style of racing as well loses me a bit. It's a battle of rider against rider and machine against machine with a lot of politics and regulations in the mix to further make the competition somewhat vague and hard for me to get into. The technology also really clouds the racing for me. Is it the fastest rider that won or the rider with the more skilled laptop brigade tuning his settings in real time as he went through that critical corner? There's very little information on the technology of course due to the manufacturers wanting to protect their trade secrets.

 

I tend to love the purity of the TT where it's rider and machine against track. Each rider is riding their absolute best because they have no frame of reference of where they stand with their lap time in relation to the best time. At the end of the race the fastest time wins. Not the rider that loafed around in 6th position and made a last minute passing spree at the end of the race. The timer does not lie and it's difficult to play games with. The TT is of course more of a challenge to watch because of the large area but every bike you see go by you know that there's man and a machine stretched to the absolute limit of what's physically and mentally possible for the tenth of a second you see it scream by. The bikes at the TT are bikes you and I could go down to a showroom and buy. I'll admit they have a lot of technology we can't buy but that's racing in general.

 

But with everything I tend to over analyze. MotoGP does not interest me much on TV but perhaps I'll actually go and attend a race with my friend to see if it's any different in person. I hope I have not offended anybody by sharing my honest opinion. Just the simple fan base of MotoGP show's that a lot of people understand the passion around it. Perhaps I might understand that passion better in person. I'm also not saying any one style of racing is "better" or anything like that. We love what we love.

 

I'll end with the obligatory TT video. Even through youtube watching the TT makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

 

I watch the motoGP as I enjoy the skill of the riders, as I do with the TT. The politics of motoGP and probably most pro-level motorsport leaves me cold and I think the results are skewed towards the riders with the best platforms, so I think 2016 (control ECU etc.) will provide a slightly more level playing field will produce tighter racing. The moto2 and 3 classes produces a much better racing spectacle. I agree with the OP that sometimes the recorded sound of the GP machines is buzzy and grating. Never heard them live though..

 

Those TT racers - that does take the right stuff..

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Well. If it's any consolation MotoGP is not the only motorsport suffering from sound issues. The new F1 cars sound quite disappointing as well.

 

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The new F1 cars sound quite disappointing as well.

 

 

 

Understatement of the century.

 

 

 

I still enjoy the racing, though.

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Yeah. The new cars don't sound the greatest. I'm sure at ear drum shattering volume it's a different story much like with the MotoGP machinery.

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There are "elements" of the Motogp sound that I really like. The sound off idle when most are blipping is absolutely ferocious. The idle is also interesting.

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