A few months ago there was a news story about a motorcycle rider ticketed for 205mph which later turned out to be a bit optimistic on the part of the police given that they were timing the rider with a stopwatch from the air. Production motorcycles are fast but not quite that fast.
I started thinking about this in the last few days because another car, a Bugatti, is now about to get the top speed crown at a bit over 248mph, taking it from the Koenigsegg CCR which just did 241 a short while ago which took it from the McLaren F1 the speed holder at 240 for several years. Remember the motorcycle speed wars? What happened?
My old ZX11 was the top speed king for quite a few years at 176mph, then the Honda Blackbird began to argue with that crown. A few years later the mighty Hayabusa came on the scene and raised the bar by another 10mph to 186. Everyone was talking because they knew Kawasaki had the ZX12R ready for the following year and everyone anticipated the first production bikes over 200mph. But, there was also talk about some European bureaucrats who were in a bit if a snit over motorcycle top speeds and whether there might be legislation coming in this area if the manufacturers didn’t put a lid on it.
The next year, the ZX12R comes out and faces off against the big Hayabusa and though both manufacturers denied any tinkering, both bikes managed to top out at, you guessed it, 186mph. Hmm…
It seems to be a given now that bikes aren’t going to go any faster. All of the big bikes run out of steam in the mid 180’s, the GSX-R1000, the ZX12R, the Hayabusa, c’mon guys, let ’em go. Are motorcyclists second class citizens?
Some might say that not many people can afford the Bugatti or McLaren or special supercars of that caliber but you don’t need one of those to break 200mph, there are quite a few high powered cars that will do it from Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes and the Ford GT. Of course cars are safer in a high speed crash but a crash at 186 or 216 isn’t going to be much different on a motorcycle so what’s the problem?
In the very least, manufacturers should explicitly state the bikes are electronically limited to a particular speed, many cars have a limit of 150 or 155 and they say so. Why can’t motorcycle companies admit it? What are they afraid of? They might want to require riders to have a certificate from a riding school of some sort before purchase, I think some of the Euro cars do that, they even have their own course that the buyers have to take. Some countries have requirements of a certain amount of experience before allowing you to buy and ride a bike above a particular displacement. With certain precautions and maybe a signed waiver to make everyone happy, we could get back to real top speeds without the bogus limits that everyone denies.