Sunday, 9 May 2010

Bang Bang - You're Not Dead

Amy mentions in the excerpt from her book, about roaring off on a Harley Davidson, and it reminded me about a thought I had about them the other day which, dear readers, I am now going to share with you.

The internal combustion engine is basically a series of explosions, and it's the harnessed power from these explosions which makes the vehicle move.

As far as I can tell, the Harley is the only machine running which actually sounds like explosions. They even market it's distinctive spluttery bangs as a safety feature, along the lines of "You can always hear one coming!" (Of course there have been other marketing ploys too - see above). All other cars and bikes - no matter how loud - sound like other things - a whine, a shriek, a growl, a howl, a sewing machine, etc. etc. The Harley deliberately sounds like a machine shot-gun.

Cars have been designed to get more and more quiet - even the clock in a Rolls Royce is quartz quiet - EXCEPT for the central locking systems. We need to hear a heavy ker-chunk as our car locks itself up with a remote, and designers have deliberately kept it nice and loud, or replaced it with annoying bleeps and flashing indicators, like some sort of servile salute as you walk away.

A friend of mine has just bought a big, electric motorcycle. It's very quiet. Too quiet. He crept up on me the other day in the countryside, and he had to sound the horn before I knew he was there.

I don't think he has ridden it through a busy, pedestrian town yet, but it's only a matter of time....

2 comments:

  1. See last week's Sunday Times. Some over-priced flash electric/petrol sports buggy, even has to add CAR NOISE, so that people will hear it coming! Progress at last. Sorry, can't find the paper for details.

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  2. I'm actually scared to death of motorcycles--funny that I should write about one in the book! If I had one, though, I'd want it to be loud and very rumbly.

    Having a quiet motorcycle does seem like an accident waiting to happen.

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