22 October, 2005

Interesting article - A speeding Ticket of 205mph (328kph)

A 205mph Speeding Ticket Raises the Question:

Just how fast can a modern motorcycle go?

Posted in Trucking News and Information by Alex on the September 10th, 2005

Late last summer a motorcyclist was ticketed by the Minnesota State Patrol for speeding—at 205 mph. The incident set off a furor among speed aficionados over whether or not the bike was actually going that fast.

The Officer in Charge

Lt. Steve Strumbeck of the Minnesota State Patrol was one of the officers involved in the infamous speeding incident. Strumbeck said the incident was related to an annual charity motorcycle “run.”

“The majority of the thousand or more riders who participate in this motorcycle ride follow all the laws, but there is a tradition among a few to see how fast they can go,” said Strumbeck. “We’ve had fatalities related to the event, so we increase our patrols to deter high-speed riding.”
Strumbeck and another officer were working with a third officer in an airplane when the officer in the air radioed that he had observed a pair of motorcycles traveling in excess of 100 mph. When the aerial officer timed one of the riders, the result was 205 mph.
“The other officer stepped out and flagged them down,” said Strumbeck. “They were polite—what else could they say, they were so far over the speed limit there was nothing to argue about.”

The offender had to pay significant fines, court costs, and serve more than 200 hours of community service to atone for his sins. As news of the high-speed stop spread, so did controversy. Many motorcyclists were skeptical that the rider’s particular model of motorcycle was capable of 200 mph. Others questioned the accuracy of “stop watching” at high speeds.
Cycle World Magazine investigated the situation, and eventually reported that while the motorcycle was obviously far above the legal speed limit, it was probably traveling slower than 200 mph.

“The bike was an RC51 Honda,” said Brian Catterson, Cycle World’s Executive Editor. “They’re fast, but not that fast. It had an aftermarket pipe (exhaust system), but even with that, we’ve never been able to get similar bikes beyond 150 mph.”
Catterson’s conclusion? “We are pretty sure that the bike was traveling far slower than 200 mph,” he said. “Using a stopwatch to time traffic from an airplane is okay at 55 or 60 miles an hour, but as you get above 100 miles an hour, the reaction time to click the stopwatch on and off becomes a major factor that can skew the results.”
Lt. Strumbeck stands by the results of the officer in the air: “That’s what he does, day in and day out, and he’s good at it,” said Strumbeck. “But the bottom line is that the rider was way, way above the speed limit, and he paid the price.”

The World’s Fastest Production Motorcycle

So if Cycle World Magazine is convinced that the Minnesota motorcyclist’s bike isn’t the “world’s fastest production motorcycle,” what is?
Tony Tice is a former regional tech manager for Yamaha and an amateur motorcycle road racer with 40 years of experience on all breeds of motorcycles. He ticked off a list of possible contenders for “fastest bike” honors.

“Norton had a prototype motorcycle they wanted to produce back in the late 80s,” Tice recalled. “It was the Norton Nemesis, with around 260 horsepower and a calculated top speed in excess of 200 miles an hour. But they lost financing and it never went into production.”
“Boss Hoss”-type motorcycles have been around for decades, first as custom-built bikes, and lately as production-line machines. They are massive, 1,100-pound motorcycles powered by V-8 automobile engines. Boss Hoss-brand bikes are currently available with Chevy 350 small-block engines in the 250- to 350-hp range, or a 502 cu. in. big block V-8 who’s horsepower is limited only by the depth of the buyer’s wallet.

Tice says that horsepower isn’t the speed-limiting factor on Boss Hoss-type bikes.
“Aerodynamics are the big issue above 150 miles an hour,” he said. “On Boss Hoss bikes, you have to straddle the engine, and at high speeds, the wind tries to bend your legs backwards. The overall aerodynamics are terrible—too much frontal area, and the high-speed handling is scary.”
If aerodynamics are the key to 150+ mph on motorcycles, then the current generation of “crotch rocket” motorcycles would appear to be the logical candidates for fastest production bike honors. With up to 180 hp powering only 375 pounds of aerodynamically-sculpted motorcycles, shouldn’t they easily push radar guns beyond the 200 mph mark?

Nope. In an unprecedented move by performance vehicle manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers have voluntarily established a speed limit for production motorcycles. Since the early 2000s, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha and other manufacturers have limited their fastest bikes to a maximum of 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles an hour, American).
“They decided that top speeds were getting too crazy, and implemented the 186-limit before some government stepped in and made them do it,” said Tice.

Before Sanity Prevailed
If motorcycle manufacturers were concerned enough to self-impose a uniform top speed for motorcycles, it implies that there must have been some frighteningly fast bikes built in the late 1990s. There were, and one of those bikes has earned the title as “The World’s Fastest Production Motorcycle.”

The 1998 - 99 GSX1300R Suzuki Hayabusa, without engine modification, consistently produced top speeds in excess of 185 mph. Cycle World Magazine clocked one of their unmodified test bikes on a race track with a professional rider, at 194 mph.
“It wasn’t unusual for guys who put on a pipe and changed the mapping (on their engine controllers) to get them beyond 200 miles an hour,” said Cycle World’s Catterson. “The Hayabusa IS the world’s fastest production motorcycle, and with the manufacturers” self-imposed cap on top speeds, I don’t see anything coming down the road that will dethrone it.”
And if you DO see a motorcycle coming down the road fast enough to dethrone the Hayabusa—it will probably disappear over the horizon before you have a chance to read the nameplate. rpm

Blog Widget by LinkWithin