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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Why does a Harley V-twin sound like that? | Hagerty Media

There are many great mysteries in the world, and to some people the how and why of the Harley Davidson V-twin's endurance is one of them. Over one hundred years have passed, and yet, the design has barely changed. Why would Harley choose that path? Why would buyers keep shelling out for it?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorcycles/why-does-a-harley-v-twin-sound-like-that/
7 REPLIES 7
GoFast
Detailer

Harley-Davidson also clings to rustic air cooling, long strokes, pushrods and 2-valve combustion chambers. The collaboration with Porsche to offer the contemporary V-Rod bike was not especially successful. Ultimately, H-D's mission tis o keep the fight brewing with both modern technology and Indian.
Tim
Instructor

The Revolution engine has propagated beyond the V-Rod. The reason it was not initially successful was that it was paired with a bike that was quite a departure from the norm for a typical Harley at the time. Emissions restrictions for bikes are steadily increasing, necessitating a move to liquid-cooled motors. The H-D ship is large and steers slowly, but eventually it will get there (updated motors, electric bikes, etc.) If corporate keeps supplying bikes for the aging boomers and early Gen-Xers while bringing new bikes for Millenials and beyond, it can remain relevant.
hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

A successful business does evolve with the times. However, a successful business also understands their market and customers, and will deliver to those needs. Harley has done that. When Harley strayed outside the "norm" , those strays had a following, but not the mainstream Harley customer. If all motorcycle brands built the same cookie cutter type of engine and motorcycle, it would be a boring world. Motorcyclists are individuals and we like our choices.
when my 43 WLC is restored, it will have that same uneven pulse idle as my 94 Evo decker, and i am going to love it.
JRJones
Intermediate Driver

If you (Kyle) and FortNine get it, you have obfuscated with self esteem. It was not that long ago when all Harleys had solid mounted engines and no counterbalance shafts. (and two valves/cylinder) Your handling analysis is not entirely correct, but you would not believe me anyway. The sound issue is more objective.

Despite the numbers expressed, Harley riders are still a vocal minority. I would be OK with that if they kept it to themselves. Unfortunately the demographic demands everyone must hear the noise; "hear me, see me, aren't I grand". That is not welcome in my rustic rural environment, or when I visit other rustic environments. I endure the noise at home when it is 1-2 miles distant. Objectively that means 50-300 other pairs of ears "per mile" also experience "disturbing the peace".

You misrepresent the means of producing that noise:
It's 2-1, front cylinder fires, 315 degrees later rear cylinder fires, 405 degrees later front cylinder fires. The rear cylinder is cylinder #1. That's what HD puts in their training manuals.
There were flat trackers made to fire 45° apart (called 'twingles') but all production bikes fire as above. Why a twingle? It makes the rear tire hook up better on one mile clay tracks where the sound is appreciated.
Tim
Instructor

You are conflating any big cruiser rider with Harley riders. There are as many, if not more "loud pipe" riders of other brands and custom cruisers. A lot of bikes that the casual non-biker thinks are Harleys are, in fact, not. Any biker that runs straight pipes is an obnoxious------- regardless of brand. For those that enjoy the rumble of a gasoline-powered engine, there are many ways to achieve that without being obnoxious.
eighthtry
Intermediate Driver

Every time a ride a Harley and dismount, my hands do not know it. I would much rather have one of the smoother running bikes. I like long trips.
thetossedtool
Intermediate Driver

I remember many years ago attending a BMW Motorcycle Owners of America event outside of Burlington, VT. Lots of fun, thousands of Beemers. I was filling up my bike when I heard a very loud motorcycle roaring by. Of course I was surprised to hear a loud bike amongst all of these quiet ones. When I looked up to see the "offender," I discovered it was an Audi. Still makes me chuckle!