List of fastest production motorcycles

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Kawasaki Ninja H2R, the current fastest production motorcycle

The fastest production motorcycle for a given year is the unmodified 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 that lasted about 8 years, after just over a century of one-upmanship by motorcycle manufacturers that began with the 1894–1897 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller and ended with the 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa.[1][2][3][4] 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 2000 models.[1][2][5]

After the 1999 Hayabusa sent shockwaves by exceeding the Honda CBR1100XX's record by more than 10 mph (16 km/h), and rumors and leaks from Kawasaki hinted that their upcoming 2000 Ninja ZX-12R would pass the 200 mph (322 km/h) 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."[6][7] To preempt regulation and avoid negative publicity, the manufacturers voluntarily ended the race to ever higher speeds.[1][5]

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.[8] 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.[8][9] So for 2000 [2] 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.[9] 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.[5][10]

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.[11][12] 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).[13] Though it should be mentioned that only this one Italian source state this top speed. Sport Rider did a in-depth review and were only able to achieve a 185.4 mph (298.4 km/h) top speed. They also go on to say that a major horsepower increase would be needed to achieve the manufactures referenced top speed.Motorcyclist did a review and only achieved 183 mph (295 km/h) and just reference Motociclismo and manufacture for the 193.24 mph (310.99 km/h) top speed.

Cycle World reported that "the same BMW who instigated the 'agreement' in the first place" had broken it with the 188-mile-per-hour (303 km/h) BMW S1000RR, whose top speed was reported in July, 2010.[2]

The 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R was delivered with an electronic speedometer that blanked when the motorcycle exceeded 186 mph (300 km/h), leading commentators to question if Ducati was signaling their withdrawal from the regime.[14][15]

In 2014, Kawasaki announced that the upcoming Ninja H2R will have a non-street legal "track-only" version making 296 hp (221 kW) that will not have a speed limiter, reaching 210 mph (340 km/h) in testing, but Kawasaki did not specify whether the street-legal version, which has about 200 hp (150 kW), will be speed limited to conform to the gentlemen's agreement.[16]

Fastest production motorcycles[edit]

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 Image 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) Hildebrand-Wolfmüller 1894.jpg First production motorcycle.[17][18]
Werner Motocyclette 1898–1900 Single 216 cc (13.2 cu in) 15.5–22 mph (25–35 km/h) Werner Motocyclette advert 1900.jpg [19][20][21][22]
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) Werner 230 cc 1904.jpg [18][19][20][21]
FN Four 1911–1931 Inline four 491 cc (30.0 cu in) 4 bhp (3.0 kW) 40 mph (64 km/h) FN 363 cc viercilinder 1905.jpg [17][18]
Scott two speed 1912– Parallel twin 532 cc (32.5 cu in) 3 bhp (2.2 kW) 50 mph (80 km/h) Scott 550 1913.jpg [17]
Williamson Flat Twin 1913–1920 Flat twin 964 cc (58.8 cu in) 55 mph (89 km/h) 1913 Williamson Flat Twin motorcycle.JPG [17]
Pope Model L 1914–1920 V-twin 999 cc (61.0 cu in) 12 bhp (8.9 kW) 70 mph (110 km/h) Pope L14 1000 cc 1914.jpg [17][23]
Cyclone V-twin 1916–1917 V-twin 996 cc (60.8 cu in) 25 bhp (19 kW) 85 mph (137 km/h) 1914 Cyclone (2) - The Art of the Motorcycle - Memphis.jpg [17]
Excelsior V-twin 1918–1931 V-twin 992 cc (60.5 cu in) 20 bhp (15 kW) 80 mph (130 km/h) [17]
Brough Superior SS100 1925–1940 V-twin 988 cc (60.3 cu in) 45 bhp (34 kW) 100 mph (160 km/h) Brough Superior of T.E. Lawrence.jpg [17][18]
Brough Superior SS100 Pendine 1927–1940 V-twin 981 cc (59.9 cu in) 45 bhp (34 kW) 110 mph (180 km/h) [24][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) Brough Superior SS 100 Alpine Grand Sports.jpg [24][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) Crocker-right.jpg [17]
Harley-Davidson F Knucklehead 1941–1947 V-twin 989 cc (60.4 cu in) 40 bhp (30 kW) 100 mph (160 km/h) Paris - Salon de la moto 2011 - Harley-Davidson - FL Knucklehead - 001.jpg [17]
Vincent Black Lightning 1949–1952 V-twin 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 70 bhp (52 kW) 150 mph (240 km/h) VINCENT Black Lightning.jpg [17][18]
BSA Gold Star Clubman 1956–1963 Single 499 cc (30.5 cu in) 42 bhp (31 kW) 110 mph (180 km/h) BSA Gold Star Clubmans three quarter rear.jpg [17]
Norton 650SS 1962–1967 Parallel twin 646 cc (39.4 cu in) 49 bhp (37 kW) 110–115 mph (177–185 km/h) Norton 650SS.JPG [17][25]
BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident 1968–1975 Inline three 740 cc (45 cu in) 58 bhp (43 kW) 125 mph (201 km/h)* T160 Triumph Trident 750cc motorcycle.jpg [17]
Kawasaki Z1 1973–1975 Inline four 903 cc (55.1 cu in) 82 bhp (61 kW) 132 mph (212 km/h) KAWASAKI Z1.jpg [17][26]
Ducati 900SS 1975–1982 V-twin 864 cc (52.7 cu in) 79 bhp (59 kW) 135 mph (217 km/h) Ducati 900SuperSport.JPG [17][27]
Laverda Jota 1976–1981 Inline three 981 cc (59.9 cu in) 90 bhp (67 kW) 140 mph (230 km/h) LAVERDA JOTA 1000cc. ITALY 1976-1982.jpg [17][23][28]
MV Agusta Monza 1977–1978 Inline four 837 cc (51.1 cu in) 85 bhp (63 kW) 145 mph (233 km/h) [17]
Honda VF1000R 1984–1988 V-four 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 122 bhp (91 kW) 150 mph (240 km/h) V Retro Auto&Moto Galicia, Honda VF 1000 RF, 1984.JPG [17]
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) Kawasaki GPZ900R Ninja 01.jpg [17][18][29]
Kawasaki Tomcat ZX-10 1988–1990 Inline four 997 cc (60.8 cu in) 135 hp (101 kW) 165 mph (266 km/h) Kawasaki ZX-10.jpg [2][30]
Bimota YB6 EXUP 1989–1990 Inline four 1,002 cc (61.1 cu in) 147 bhp (110 kW) 170 mph (270 km/h) Yamaha Bimota YB6 1000.jpg [17]
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11 1990–2001 Inline four 1,052 cc (64.2 cu in) 145 bhp (108 kW) 169–176 mph (272–283 km/h) Kawasaki ZZR1100 01.jpg [17][31][2][32]
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) Honda CBR 1100 XX silver vr.jpg [17][31]
Suzuki Hayabusa 1999– Inline four 1,299 cc (79.3 cu in) 173 bhp (129 kW) 188–194 mph (303–312 km/h) 1999modelzwart.JPG Last model before gentlemen's agreement.[17][31][33][34]
Kawasaki ZX-12R 2000–05 Inline four 1,199 cc (73.2 cu in) 178 bhp (133 kW) 185–187 mph (298–301 km/h) Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R.jpg Speed limited.[2][17][31]
Kawasaki ZX-14 2006– Inline four 1,352 cc (82.5 cu in) 163.3 hp (121.8 kW) 186 mph (299 km/h) Kawasaki-ZZR1400 2007TMCS.jpg Speed limited[31]
MV Agusta F4 R 312 2007-08 Inline four 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 183 bhp (136 kW) 185.4–193.24 mph (298.37–310.99 km/h) MV Agusta F4 1000 R 312.jpg [11][12][13][35][36]
Ducati Panigale R 2013- V-twin 1,198 cc (73.1 cu in) 202 bhp (151 kW) 202 mph (325 km/h) Ducati 1199 Panigale R (8226624471).jpg Top speed achieved with OEM track only exhaust system [37][38][39]
Kawasaki Ninja H2R 2015- inline-4 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 310 bhp (230 kW) 206–250 mph (332–402 km/h) Kawasaki Ninja H2R Seattle motorcycle show.jpg Track only motorcycle [40] [41][42][43][44] [45][46] [47][48]
*^ Other models that tied the Trident at 125 mph (201 km/h) are the 1972 Laverda SFC and Moto Guzzi V7 Sport.[17]
^ Rear wheel horsepower. See Motorcycle testing and measurement.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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  12. ^ 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 
  13. ^ 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) 
  14. ^ 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 km/h, or 186 mph. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Kawasaki Ninja H2R will go 'quite a bit faster than 210mph': No 186mph 'gentleman's agreement' for track-only R version, Visordown, October 6, 2014 
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  39. ^ http://www.wired.com/2013/10/ducati-panigale-899/
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