In the last few days there have been a number of stories about the fastest production sedan (Brabus Mercedes, 225.19mph), the fastest production pickup (Holden HSV Maloo R8 Ute, 168.66mph, no, I never heard of it either) and not long ago, the fastest production car (Bugatti Veyron, 253mph). Nothing wrong with touting the abilities of cars and trucks but it seems so politically incorrect to talk about motorcycles the same way. How come?
Whenever one of these vehicles sets a new record, everyone gathers around for a photo with big smiles, writeups appear in the automotive press and these become the object of lust and envy for the four wheel crowd. Motorcycles are treated differently, ... a lot differently. Talk about motorcycle top speed and very quickly, someone gets his nose out of joint, talking of how dangerous motorcycles already are and how irresponsible it is to make motorcycles able to reach such velocities. Isn't it time for this paternalistic nonsense to go away?
No one is suggesting the owners of these cars or trucks should go out and wind the speedometer all the way around but some of them try and a few dip into the performance a bit and promptly crash their high dollar exotics. Ferrari Enzos seem to be particularly afflicted. Perhaps there is concern motorcyclists will do the same and someone will get hurt, hmm ..., fancy that, but drivers are routinely killed in cars as well and yet a car's top speed is still used as an achievement worthy of note, as I think it should be. No one is suggesting someone should get on his derestricted Hayabusa or ZX14 and run down the road flat out, though a few certainly will try, but "restricting" a motorcycle to 186mph (300km/h) makes no sense. Crashing at 150mph or 200mph will probably make little difference in most cases except for the fact that the number makes some bureaucrat feel like he's done something to keep those awful motorcyclists in line, for their own good, of course.
I'm definitely not suggesting that this should be some new design parameter for normal streetbikes, the manufacturers could make a limited production special version of something like the ZX14 with no restrictors but still street legal and produced for sale at a high price. That way there's no flood of 200mph street bikes around but a company could get the top speed halo from the machine.
A lot of writers seem to tiptoe around the subject of this top speed issue, the manufacturers always talk about things like "the most powerful motorcycle we've ever made" without being too specific. Everyone seems concerned some government busybody will make it his new crusade to rid the world of this menace. Enough already!
Riding motorcycles, skydiving, SCUBA diving and lots of other activities can be dangerous, there's a news flash for you, but choosing to take part is a personal decision. Restrictions placed on these activities or the manufacturers of related products by non-participating bureaucrats is tiresome. If you choose to participate, you take the risk and no artificial top speed limit will make any difference. If you buy hot coffee, don't spill it in your lap. If you buy a circular saw, watch your fingers. If you buy a motorcycle, dress appropriately and stay rightside up. If you crash, don't whine.
So how fast is the new ZX14, anyway?