Internal Combustion Engines As A Musical Instrument? You’re Kidding, Right?

“Most motorcycles I’ve owned have been chosen, in large part, for the way they sounded.” I am, you might know, an audio guy. I’ve been a wannabe musician since I was 11 and an audio engineer in a wide collection of areas in the industry. But I have never picked a motorcycle because of the way it sounded. Mostly, for me, my motorcycle choices were made in spite of the sound. That opening quote comes from a mostly thoughtful ADVRider.com article about the politics and hysteria that was generated in an article about electric motorcycles and the Kawasaki plan to fully switch over to electrics by 2035. If you do think there is something musical about motorcycle exhaust noise, you have to also be a lover of rap and hip hop or what my wife calls “washing machine noise.”

All spring-summer-fall we’ve suffered the noise and associate pollution of piddly twins blubbering their way past our home and if nothing else makes me look forward to winter (and not much else does) it is the hope that the noise level dies down because bikers are fluffballs who can’t deal with rain let alone cold. I’d be riding an electric motorcycle if they were cost effective. When our local Zero dealer gave up the ghost and blew out the end of the 2017 inventory, I almost went for it. If I were 10-20 years younger, it would be a no-brainer even with the technology where it is today. The 2022 offerings from Zero really make the point that ICE technology is so far behind the current state-of-the-art that nothing could possibly happen to reverse that.

Both the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) fanatics and the current state-of-the-art is about to prove on of my oldest and most accurate “Rat’s Rules”: #2 When You Know It’s Over. Here’s the gist of the rule, “My theory is that as a technology approaches terminal, it gets really good.  Then it dies.  When a new technology is just finding its legs, the technology being replaced makes a wonderful collection of giant leaps; which will fail to stave off obsolescence, even for a moment.“ ICE engines are long past their use-by date, are destroying a livable atmosphere on this planet (for humans, life will survive us), and the fuel is a vanishing resource. We may not grow up fast enough to save the species from long term effects of global warming, but we’re going to leave ICE behind and technology is changing faster than the biker crowd can keep up. Leaving old people, uneducated and unskilled people, and stubborn people behind is how progress has always worked.

Buying a motorcycle because of the noise pollution it creates is . . . sick. And not sick in a good way. There is NOTHING musical or pleasant about the sound of exploding gasoline and a whole lot that is unpleasant about the sound of an illegally modified exhaust. Noise pollution is a real thing, regardless of your grade school politics. Look it up. I gave you one link there, but there is a long history of negative effects of noise and ignoring science won’t change it.

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