List of fastest production motorcycles

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Top speed by year.

The fastest production motorcycle for a given year is the unmodified, street-legal motorcycle with the highest tested top speed that was manufactured in series and available for purchase by the general public. Modified or specially produced motorcycles are a different class, motorcycle land-speed record. Unlike those records, which are officially sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), production model tests were conducted under a variety of unequal or undefined conditions, and tested by numerous different sources, mainly motorcycling magazines. This has led to inconsistent and sometimes contradictory speed statistics from various sources.

Gentlemen's agreement to end competition[edit]

The competition to create the fastest production motorcycle ended in a truce, after just over a century of one-upmanship by motorcycle manufacturers that began with the 1894–1897 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller[1] and ended with the 1999–2000 Suzuki Hayabusa.[2][3] A gentlemen's agreement was reached among the major motorcycle manufacturers to limit the speed of their machines to 300 km/h (186 mph), starting with some 2000 models, and becoming widespread by the 2001 model year.[1][4]

After the 1999 Hayabusa sent shockwaves by exceeding the Honda CBR1100XX's record by more than 10 mph, and rumors and leaks from Kawasaki hinted that their upcoming 2000 Ninja ZX-12R would pass the 200 mph milestone, some regulators and politicians in Europe called for an import ban against high speed motorcycles.[1] There were fears that there would be, "an outbreak of illegal racing as riders try to break the 200 mph barrier."[5][6] To preempt regulation and avoid negative publicity, the manufacturers voluntarily ended the race to ever higher speeds.[1][4]

Sources vary as to whether this unofficial agreement is precise or only approximate, and whether it is defined as 300 km/h or as 186 mph, though the European and Japanese manufacturers normally use metric units. While Honda did announce that its motorcycles would not go faster than 300 km/h, Suzuki and Kawasaki would not speak on record about this issue.[7] The agreement between them and the other brands has never been officially acknowledged by the manufacturers, though media sources report it via unnamed informants, and by testing the top speed of motorcycles known to be capable of exceeding the arbitrary maximum.[7][8] So for 2001 models and later motorcycles, the question of which brand's bike was fastest could only be answered by tampering with the speed limiting system, meaning that it was no longer a contest between stock, production motorcycles, absolving the manufacture of blame and letting those not quite as fast avoid losing face.[8] But the speed war continued underground, out of the spotlight, with fierce competition among enthusiasts of the "200 mph club", albeit with the slight technical modification necessary to bypass the speed limiter, separating that war from the ostensibly at-peace world of stock motorcycles.[4][9]

Breakaways from the agreement[edit]

MV Agusta advertised their 2007 F4 R 312 as capable of 312 km/h (194 mph), hence the "312" in the name, "because MV sees no reason to abide by the manufacturers' agreement ... Politics be damned: MV is Italian and the Italians have a national imperative to make their bikes as fast as possible," in the opinion of motoring journalist Roland Brown.[10][11] Italian magazine Motociclismo achieved 193.24 mph (310.99 km/h) testing the F4 R 312, more or less confirming the claimed speed and tying, if not exceeding, the 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa's tested speeds of 188–194 mph (303–312 km/h).[12]

The 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R was delivered with an electronic speedometer that blanked when the motorcycle exceeded 186 mph, leading commentators to question if Ducati was signaling their withdrawal from the regime.[13][14]

Fastest production motorcycles[edit]

The Vincent Black Shadow broke 125 mph (201 km/h) in 1949 and was not surpassed for 24 years, until the 1973 Kawasaki Z1.

Several models went out of production before being surpassed by a contemporary with a higher top speed. Until a model was introduced that was faster than any previous motorcycle, the fastest bike on the market for a given year was actually slower than an earlier, out of production bike. Models which are actual top speed record holders have their make, model, and speed in bold font, while slower models which were only the fastest in their own time are in italic. For example, in 1956, the Vincent Black Shadow remained the fastest motorcycle to date, with a 125 mph (201 km/h) top speed, but it was no longer in production. The fastest model on the market in 1956 was the BSA Gold Star Clubman, which at 110 mph (180 km/h) was not a record holder, but is listed for the sake of illustrating a more complete timeline.

Make & model Model years Engine Displacement Power Top speed Notes
Hildebrand & Wolfmüller 1894–1897 Parallel twin 1,500 cc (92 cu in) 2.5 hp (1.9 kW) 25–28 mph (40–45 km/h) First production motorcycle.[15][16]
Werner Motocyclette 1898–1900 Single 216 cc (13.2 cu in) 15.5–22 mph (25–35 km/h) [17][18][19][20]
Werner New Werner 1901–1908 Single 230–333 cc (14.0–20.3 cu in) 2–3.25 bhp (1.49–2.42 kW) 30 mph (48 km/h) [16][17][18][19]
FN Four 1911–1931 Inline four 491 cc (30.0 cu in) 4 bhp (3.0 kW) 40 mph (64 km/h) [15][16]
Scott two speed 1912– Parallel twin 532 cc (32.5 cu in) 3 bhp (2.2 kW) 50 mph (80 km/h) [15]
Williamson Flat twin 1913–1920 Flat twin 964 cc (58.8 cu in) 55 mph (89 km/h) [15]
Pope Model L 1914–1920 V-twin 999 cc (61.0 cu in) 12 bhp (8.9 kW) 70 mph (110 km/h) [15][21]
Cyclone V-twin 1916–1917 V-twin 996 cc (60.8 cu in) 25 bhp (19 kW) 85 mph (137 km/h) [15]
Excelsior V-twin 1918–1931 V-twin 992 cc (60.5 cu in) 20 bhp (15 kW) 80 mph (130 km/h) [15]
Brough Superior SS100 1925–1940 V-twin 988 cc (60.3 cu in) 45 bhp (34 kW) 100 mph (160 km/h) [15][16]
Brough Superior SS100 Pendine 1927–1940 V-twin 981 cc (59.9 cu in) 45 bhp (34 kW) 110 mph (180 km/h) [22][page needed]
Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sports 1934–1940 V-twin 996 cc (60.8 cu in) 75 bhp (56 kW) 110 mph (180 km/h) [22][page needed]
Crocker V-twin 1936–ca. 1941 V-twin 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 50 bhp (37 kW) 110 mph (180 km/h) [15]
Harley-Davidson F Knucklehead 1941–1947 V-twin 989 cc (60.4 cu in) 40 bhp (30 kW) 100 mph (160 km/h) [15]
Vincent Black Shadow 1949–1954 V-twin 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 55 bhp (41 kW) 125 mph (201 km/h) [15][16]
BSA Gold Star Clubman 1956–1963 Single 499 cc (30.5 cu in) 42 bhp (31 kW) 110 mph (180 km/h) [15]
Norton 650SS 1962–1967 Parallel twin 646 cc (39.4 cu in) 49 bhp (37 kW) 110–115 mph (177–185 km/h) [15][23]
BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident 1968–1975 Inline three 740 cc (45 cu in) 58 bhp (43 kW) 125 mph (201 km/h)* [15]
Kawasaki Z1 1973–1975 Inline four 903 cc (55.1 cu in) 82 bhp (61 kW) 132 mph (212 km/h) [15][24]
Ducati 900SS 1975–1982 V-twin 864 cc (52.7 cu in) 79 bhp (59 kW) 135 mph (217 km/h) [15][25]
Laverda Jota 1976–1981 Inline three 981 cc (59.9 cu in) 90 bhp (67 kW) 140 mph (230 km/h) [15][21][26]
MV Agusta Monza 1977–1978 Inline four 837 cc (51.1 cu in) 85 bhp (63 kW) 145 mph (233 km/h) [15]
Honda VF1000R 1984–1988 V-four 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 122 bhp (91 kW) 150 mph (240 km/h) [15]
Kawasaki GPZ900R Ninja 1984–1996 Inline four 908 cc (55.4 cu in) 113–115 bhp (84–86 kW) 151–158 mph (243–254 km/h) [15][16][27]
Bimota YB6 EXUP 1989–1990 Inline four 1,002 cc (61.1 cu in) 147 bhp (110 kW) 170 mph (270 km/h) [15]
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11 1990–2001 Inline four 1,052 cc (64.2 cu in) 145 bhp (108 kW) 169–175 mph (272–282 km/h) [15][28]
Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird 1996–2007 Inline four 1,137 cc (69.4 cu in) 162 bhp (121 kW) 170–180 mph (270–290 km/h) [15][28]
Suzuki Hayabusa 1999–2000 Inline four 1,298 cc (79.2 cu in) 173 bhp (129 kW) 188–194 mph (303–312 km/h) Last model before gentlemen's agreement.[15][28][29]
Kawasaki ZX-12R 2000–05 Inline four 1,198 cc (73.1 cu in) 178 bhp (133 kW) 185.8 mph (299.0 km/h) Speed limited.[28]
Kawasaki ZX-14 2006– Inline four 1,352 cc (82.5 cu in) 163.3 hp (121.8 kW) 186 mph (299 km/h) Speed limited[28]
MV Agusta F4 R 312 2007– Inline four 1,078 cc (65.8 cu in) 190 bhp (140 kW) 193.24 mph (310.99 km/h) [10][11][12]
*^ Other models that tied the Trident at 125 mph (201 km/h) are the 1972 Laverda SFC and Moto Guzzi V7 Sport.[15]
^ Rear wheel horsepower. See Motorcycle testing and measurement.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Brown, Roland (2 October 1999), "200mph superbike has its makers scared; [1F Edition]", The Times (London, UK: News Corporation): 53, ISSN 0140-0460 
  2. ^ Trevitt, Andrew (June 2010), 0110 hayabusa zx 12r top speed/index.html "Big Dogs: Derestriction; Uncorking the top-speed potential of the Hayabusa and ZX-12R", Sport Rider, retrieved 2011-06-24 
  3. ^ "2000 Suzuki GRS1300R Hayabusa Program #1922", Motor Week, 5 February 2000, retrieved 2011-06-24 
  4. ^ a b c Boule, Joe (21 July 2000), "Putting the brakes on big bikes: Kawasaki backs off 300 km/h barrier amid rumours of a speed cap; [Final Edition]", Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario: James Orban): C.1.FRO, ISSN 0839-3222 
  5. ^ Cole, Bernard (14 March 1999), "High-speed fears over superbikes. [Early Edition]", Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, UK: Trinity Mirror): 6, ISSN 0039-5242 
  6. ^ Richardson, Mark (3 July 1999), "Adrenalin rush should not be a prelude to death; Young novices and fast bikes don't mix; [1 Edition]", Toronto Star (Toronto, Ontario: B.H. Honderich): 1, ISSN 0319-0781 
  7. ^ a b Cook, Marc (June 2000), "Conspiracy theory; Are Kawasaki and Suzuki secretly trying to slow you down?", Motorcyclist (Source Interlink Media), ISSN 0027-2205 
  8. ^ a b "End of the arms race?; Why the '99 Hayabusa might be the last king of speed", Motorcyclist (Source Interlink Media), June 2000: 31, ISSN 0027-2205 
  9. ^ Ridley, Harriet (2006-09-09), "I'm in the club.", The Daily Telegraph (London, UK: Telegraph Media Group), OCLC 49632006, retrieved 2010-05-24 
  10. ^ a b Brown, Roland (June 2007), "High-rollin' rocketship: from Italy with love, the world's fastest production motorcycle.", Motorcyclist: 54+, retrieved 2012-04-28 
  11. ^ a b F4 1078 RR 312 - RR 1+1 312 Model Year 2010. F4 RR 312:Art and Power In 190 HP (press release), MV Agusta, retrieved 2012-04-28 
  12. ^ a b Corbetta, Luigi (2010), Legendary motorcycles, Translated by Marco Visenti, VMB Publishers, pp. 280–283, ISBN 978-88-540-1538-8 As reported in Motociclismo magazine (Italy) 
  13. ^ Aaron Frank (July 2013), "2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R — First Ride", Motorcyclist, retrieved 2013-04-20, "Nicky Hayden, who also attended the launch and who presumably gets an even better drive out of T11, tells us the Panigale R continues to accelerate even after the screen goes blank, suggesting that Ducati has opted out of the gentleman's agreement that electronically limits top-speed to 300 kph, or 186 mph." 
  14. ^ Blake Conner (March 22, 2013), Ducati 1199 Panigale R First Ride, Cycle World, retrieved 2013-04-20, "[T]he R doesn’t have an electronic governor to prevent it from exceeding the 186-mph limit agreed upon by the motorcycle manufacturers for more than a decade... This may well be the fastest stock, production model currently made." 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Brown, Roland (2006), The Ultimate History of Fast Motorcycles, Bath, UK: Parragon, pp. 214–215, ISBN 1-4054-7303-7 
  16. ^ a b c d e f Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Field Museum of Natural History, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (2001), Krens, Thomas, ed., The Art of the Motorcycle, Guggenheim Museum, ISBN 978-0-8109-6912-4 
  17. ^ a b Brown, Roland (2004), History of the Motorcycle, Parragon, ISBN 1-4054-3952-1 
  18. ^ a b Tragatsch, Erwin, ed. (1977), The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Motorcycles (1985 ed.), Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, ISBN 0-89009-868-9 
  19. ^ a b Setright, L. J. K. (1976). Motorcycles. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-77234-7. 
  20. ^ Werner Motors, Grace's Guide to British Industrial History, March 31, 2013, retrieved 2013-04-20 
  21. ^ a b Carroll, John (1997), The Motorcycle a Definitive History: A Comprehensive Chronicle of Motorcycles Throughout the World, Smithmark, ISBN 0-8317-6292-6 
  22. ^ a b Miller, Peter (2009). Brough Superior: The Complete Story. Crowood Press. ISBN 1847971121. 
  23. ^ Reynolds, Jim (1990). Best of British Bikes. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-033-0. 
  24. ^ Siegal, Margie (May–June 2006), "1973 Kawasaki Z1: King of the Road; The Kawasaki Z1 was 900cc of pure power and precision", Motorcycle Classics, retrieved 2011-06-23 
  25. ^ Falloon, Ian (2004), Standard Catalog of Ducati Motorcycles 1946–2005, Iola, WI: KP Books, pp. 102–106, ISBN 0-87349-714-7 
  26. ^ Smith, Robert (July–August 2009), "The Laverda Jota 1000", Motorcycle Classics, retrieved 2011-06-23 
  27. ^ Walker, Mick (2006), Motorcycle: Evolution, Design, Passion, JHU Press, pp. 172, 174–5, ISBN 978-0-8018-8530-3 
  28. ^ a b c d e "Performance Index '10", Motorcycle Consumer News (Bowtie Magazines), 2010, retrieved 2011-02-14 
  29. ^ Catterson, Brian (June 1999), "Birds of pray", Cycle World: 36–46