The Need for Speed

The Need for Speed

Posted by Ben Baker on Apr 6th 2017

Few things beat cruising down a stretch of highway on two wheels. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Sooner or later, everyone is going to open the throttle to see just how fast that iron steed will move.
Top speed in commercial production motorcycles varies widely. Motor size and motorcycle weight are two major factors in setting the upper limit. Other factors in hitting top end are accessories, like a windshield, fairing and cowling and the weight of the rider.
How fast can a motorcycle go? Part of that depends on your definition of a motorcycle. The fastest thing on two wheels looks more like a rocket than a motorcycle. Guy Martin hit 274.2 MPH on the Bonneville Salt Flats in August of last year. The base vehicle was a Triumph. Interestingly enough, Martin also holds the world record for speed on human-powered two-wheelers. He hit 110 MPH on a bicycle on a flat track. He holds several other speed records as well. Here's a vid of his Wall of Death speed trial.
Martin's Triumph scooter is not something you can just walk into a dealership and buy. So if you are after speed on a production bike, here's a look at the top rides and how fast you can expect to go.

No. 1

Topping the list is Dodge Tomahawk. Some were made, but it never reached mass production. The V-10 SRT 10 Dodge Viper engine sat between two closely mounted wheels front and back. Depending on who you talk to, top end is between 350 and 420 MPH. Only a few were made. If you can find one, expect to drop $500K plus

No. 2

Suzuki Hayabusa. Again, depending on whom you talk to, this Japanese bike top ends between 250-and 300 mph. The 300 MPG version comes with a neural full body shell to reduce drag. The slower street version looks more like a regular bike with faring and seats and exposed pipes. 1340 CC in a 4-stroke 16 valve engine.

No. 3

MTT Turbine Superbike Y2K

MTT Turbine says this is the most powerful production bike in the world. It puts out 425 ft/lbs of torque. The company also calls the speed "record breaking" which it is not. Top end around 230 MPH. It has a cowling around the engine and drive, but back and front wheels are fully exposed. It's pushed by a Rolls-Royce Allison 250 gas turbine engine.

No. 4

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R

At least one review pegs this ride at 208 MPH. Another says top end is under 200 MPH. Riders in various forums say it maxes out at the 208-or-so mark. Regardless the 4-stroke 4-cylinder is 1,441 cc which will get most any rider near the 200 MPH mark. The fairing on this stretched back to the start of the drive train.

No. 5

Suzuki Hayabusa

If you take this bike as strictly stock, it belongs in 5th place. If you're willing to tinker, it goes up. Why? "Since the rev limiter is designed to cut out at 186 mph with stock gearing, that number must stand as the top speed of the bike," says TJ Hinton at Top Speed. Willing to get some wrenches out? Get more speed. Hayabusa is Japanese for Peregrine Falcon, the fastest bird in the world with a clocked speed in a dive of 242 MPH. 1,299cc in a 4-stroke engine with 16 valves.
Now we drop below the 200MPH mark.

No. 6

Honda Super Blackbird

The Blackbird had a top end 190 MPH or so. It's no longer in production.

No. 7 (tie)

Yamaha YZF R1

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R

Which ride is faster? Toss a coin. Both come with a rated top end of 186 MPH. Wind conditions, track (or road) conditions and the weight of the rider are enough to affect the speed by a mile an hour or two on any given day.

No. 8

MV Agusta F4 1000R

At 184 MPH top end, this Italian ride from the Agusta company could easily tie for with the No. 9 ride below. Reviews and specs give this an edge of a few miles an hour over the:

No. 9

BMW K 1200 S

This Beamer hits max speed around 175 MPH, depending on the circumstances mentioned above.

No. 10

Aprilia RSV 1000R Mille

Another bike that's no longer in production. The Aprilla maxed out around 172 MPH.
Make your adjustments as needed, staying stock, and the Ducati 1098s could swap spots with the Agusta or the Aprilla.