While I was perusing the new Yamaha models yesterday, I noticed something we haven’t seen for some time, … horsepower numbers. Right there among all of the other specs were clearly stated horsepower figures, FJR1300 at 145 hp, FZ1 at 150, R1 at 183, pretty interesting stuff. When Kawasaki released their new models, those numbers were missing but with the ZX-14, for instance, they state it is the most powerful production engine Kawasaki has ever made which, along with similar statements, lead us to believe we’re looking at very serious horsepower.
Auto manufacturers have been upfront with their numbers over the years, even in those years when the numbers were a little suspect. Now, the new SAE horsepower test procedure clearly defines the method for measuring engine output and if you state the numbers you must abide by the SAE rules. Which leads me to wonder, exactly what system are the motorcycle manufacturers using to substantiate their numbers? Does the SAE rating system apply? The numbers on the Yamaha website don’t specify SAE horsepower and there is nothing else to indicate what test procedure or regulating body is used or referenced. From a marketing perspective, some bikes will sell on that number alone, so how it’s measured is important. Being able to casually drop the horsepower number into a bench racing session, “My bike has 200 hp.” means dollars for the dealer.
In any case, it is more information for the potential buyer and gives a rough indication of what the motorcycle might be capable of, even though the number isn’t really good for much beyond bragging rights. Unless you’re in a horsepower shootout, of course, in which case, stock horsepower means even less. But for horsepower junkies like me, I like seeing and comparing one engine against another and those numbers are one more thing to compare. I want to see more.