harley davidson motorcycle
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Looking at the Evolution of Harley Engine Sounds From the Past 100+ Years

Harley-Davidson motorcycles have always had a very distinctive sound coming from their V-twin engines. We've all heard that roaring engine sound of a Harley blazing down the road. Harley engines produce an exhaust note that is unlike any other. Whether you're talking about Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, or any other motorcycle makers, none have been able to produce a similar sound of the Harley motorbikes.

In the below video, you can hear all the different Harley-Davidson sounds from the variety of different engines produced by the Wisconsin motorcycle manufacturer over the years. Check it out!

WATCH: Harley-Davidson Engine Sounds (1903-2020)

The unique sound comes from their two-cylinder engine design. In a normal horizontally opposed two-cylinder, the pistons are timed so that one cylinder fires on the first revolution of the crankshaft, and the other cylinder will fire on the second revolution. On these traditional engines, the crankshaft has two separate pins for the connecting rods, which are set 180 degrees apart.

It ends up giving the engine a nice balanced feel to it. Harleys, however, use the V-twin design and only have one pin that both pistons connect to. This means that the pistons do not fire evenly like a traditional two-cylinder engine. The result is a sound like no other that bikers have been drawn to for decades.

Read More: Will Indian Motorcycles Overtake Harley-Davidson in the United States?

Even when these things are idling, they just sound mean. Harley offers tons of different exhaust systems, so you can always get the perfect sound you're looking for. Aftermarket systems are also available, or if you're feeling real crazy, you could remove the muffler all together. I wouldn't recommend it unless you're ready to blow your eardrums out, though.

Harley sure has had some great-sounding engines over the years. They are currently still using the Milwaukee eight engines in their bikes, but my personal favorites out of the bunch have got to be both the Shovelhead and the twin cam that was used before the Milwaukee-Eight. The Shovelhead sounded like a trotting horse stomping its hooves on the ground. The Twin cam, on the other hand, changed up the sound of these bikes drastically.

Which one of these engines best suits your style?

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This post was originally published on April 28, 2020.

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