What is the fastest motorcycle? That’s a question I get asked from time to time, and certainly one that gets debated in motorcycling circles around the world. But, of course, finding a definitive answer isn’t really that easy.
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First off, there’s the issue of what we mean by “fast.” Fastest 0-60 acceleration? Fastest quarter mile? Fastest through corners? Highest top speed? Or just plain fastest feeling? You’ll get different answers for each, and, of course, the person behind the handlebars makes a hell of a lot of difference. I mean, imagine a scenario in which I’m sitting on, say, a Ducati V4 Panigale, and next to me is motorcycle drag racing legend Rickey Gadson astride a Suzuki SV650. Who do you put your money on?
(If you picked me, please send me your bank account details, as you clearly don’t care about losing money)
Nonetheless, the debate rages on and most people try to settle it by picking a nice long stretch of road and opening up. The great nation of Texas has a fair few such roads and in honor of Texas Independence Day (2 March), I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at “research” undertaken last year by some of its motorcyclists.
Not too long ago, the Houston Chronicle posted a list of the 20 fastest speeding tickets to have been issued by the Texas Highway Patrol Division in 2017. A whopping 13 of those tickets – including the very top spot – were issued to motorcyclists. Well done, y’all. I’m proud of you.
‘If a bike’s got a claimed top speed of 190 mph, you can’t just putt around going to Whataburger.’
I’m less proud of the good men and women of Texas law enforcement, however, because they clearly don’t know anything about motorcycles. Whereas citations for cars listed the exact make and model being driven by a given “researcher” (side note: research suggests Camaros are not all that fast, as not one made it to the Top 20 list), motorcycles more often than not were simply identified by color. So, we’ll have to do a little bit of guessing.
In other words, this whole story is pretty much a farce – written up solely because I wanted to figure out how to big up my home state on its national holiday. Feel free to join in on the guessing. Here are the top speeds, from lowest to highest.
139 mph on a Red 2007 Suzuki in Eastland County
There are any number of Suzukis capable of hitting 139 mph, but since 2007 was during the heyday of the Gixxer, let’s give this prize to the GSX-R600. The hooning 599cc inline four delivered 111 hp and was reportedly capable of hitting 175 mph, so, really, this researcher wasn’t trying very hard.
140 mph on a Blue 2008 Honda CBR in Bexar County
There are lots of CBRs, officer, but I think it’s safe to assume this wasn’t a CBR125. Again, I’m inclined to give the prize to a 600 – namely the CBR600RR. Churning out 118 hp and claiming a top speed of 165 mph, the bike would be more than capable of hurtling a rider to and from the great barbecue joints surrounding San Antonio.
140 mph on a Black 2008 Yamaha in Bexar County
Caught going the same speed as the above Honda, on the same interstate (I-10), in the same county, one wonders if this Yamaha-mounted researcher wasn’t clocked at the same time. And since we’re giving love to the 600 class, let’s assume the black Yamaha in question here was the 133hp R6. A favorite amongst speed freaks, the R6 claims a 165mph top speed, so, again, would be perfectly capable of hitting 140.
140 mph on a 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF in El Paso County
Well done to the officer here for fully identifying the vehicle he or she was chasing. And well done to the researcher for being the only person with a European motorcycle on the list. Hell, well done to him or her for actually being able to get a hold of an Aprilia – dealerships for which are notoriously sparse and even more notoriously difficult to work with. But one assumes it was all worth it for a 999cc V4 with 201 hp and a claimed top speed of 185 mph.
143 mph on a Black 2013 Kawasaki in Coryell County
Once again we’re into the land of guessing, but it seems a fair assumption that a Kawasaki moving at 143 mph is likely to be a Ninja of some sort. That’s 3 mph faster than the claimed top speed of a 2013 Ninja 600, so let’s award this one to the 1043cc Ninja 1000 (aka Z1000SX in Europe), which produced 140 hp and was reportedly capable of tapping 165 mph.
144 mph on a Blue 2015 Suzuki in Coryell County
A Suzuki that’s hauling ass in Coryell County (more on that below). I’m sure we’ve got a pretty good idea of what kind of bike that is, but let’s go left field and imagine the person was on a GSX-S1000F. Built around an old K7 Gixxer engine, the 999cc GSX-S1000F is a weird sort of not-sportbike not-sport-tourer thing, but it brags 145 hp and claims a top speed of 160 mph.
144 mph on a Green 2016 Yamaha in Coryell County
Here again we have a case of someone sharing the same speed in the same county on the same road as the person listed above them. Perhaps this researcher and the one above are, in fact, the same Bexar County boys from before. It would be nice to think there would be two guys with such dedication to science. In this case, let’s assume the Yamaha in question is… uhm… uh… I’m not sure, actually. Because to my knowledge the R1 doesn’t come in green. The only fast Yamaha that I can think of that might fit such a description would be the MT-10, which is equipped with dayglo wheels. The 998cc inline four is an absolute son of a bitch to ride – known for being wheelie happy and cursed by a snatchy throttle – but there’s no denying it can hustle. Delivering 158 hp, it claims a 160 mph top speed.
149 mph on a White 2017 Suzuki GSX in Fisher County
The letters “GSX” give us something to work with, at least. To my mind it’s one of two bikes. Since there’s yet another GSX on the list below, let’s say this one is the mighty GSX-R1000R. Updated for 2017, the 199hp monster has variable valve timing and claims to be capable of 180 mph.
150 mph on a Blue 2009 Suzuki GSF in Hays County
Wait. What? GSF? F??!! Son, were you killin’ it on a goddamned Bandit? You are an inspiration to us all. Most people see the 1255cc inline four as the sort of reliable lug that warms the cockles of an Iron Butt rider’s heart but you somehow managed to push the bike for all it’s worth. You must have been going downhill with a tailwind at the time, too, because the claimed top speed of a GSF1250 is 145 mph. Methinks you may want to challenge this one in court.
155 mph on a Black 2016 Kawasaki 800 in Wise County
Another hero, y’all. The only 800 that Kawasaki was offering in the United States in 2016 was the 111hp Z800. Hitting 155 mph on a naked bike is a feat in and of itself, but again the real magic comes in the fact the claimed top speed for the old Zed was 145 mph. I guess those aftermarket pipes really can boost performance.
156 mph on a Black 2006 Suzuki GSX in Williamson County
Busa. You can feel it in your bones. Yes, a 2006 GSX-R1000, with its 176 hp and 186mph claimed top speed would also have been capable of achieving such velocity, but considering Americans’ love for the HayabUSA, and Texans’ preference for large things, I feel it is more likely that the vehicle in question here was the fabled GSX1300R.
160 mph on a Red 2006 Suzuki in Nueces County
I want to believe this is the same Busa owner as above. After getting a ticket he decided to paint his bike a different color, so no one would know it was him. I imagine he was managing to keep his cool until he made the mistake of riding down to spend a weekend with his cousin in Corpus Christi. A few days at the beach got him revved up and he couldn’t contain his need to unleash the 1299cc monster. I mean, if a bike’s got a claimed top speed of 190 mph, you can’t just putt around going to Whataburger.
181 mph on a Red 2012 Honda CBR1000 in Coryell County
Do you believe in heroes? I do. I believe in this guy. I also believe it’s a fair assumption that the letters “RR” should be attached to the model name here. The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade was the first superbike to be equipped with ABS, which may have helped when this researcher was forced to scrub his speed to allow representatives of Texas’ law enforcement community to catch up.
Keen observers will note that quite a lot of the above research took place in Coryell County. In addition to having a whole hell of a lot of straight roads, it is also home to Fort Hood, a large US Army base located near Killeen. So it’s a good bet that a number of military personnel put their spare time into undertaking the above research. Truly, it’s the sort of thing that makes you proud to be an American. Thank you for your service, guys!