Litre Bikes; An expert perspective.
April 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm #3913
I was speaking with Mike, a close friend and fellow track day instructor about a mutual friend who suffered a serious crash and is quiting motorcycling altogether. This was our friend’s second serious crash in a year, with his previous crash occuring at Barber Motorsports Park at a track day. He was out of work for nearly four months last time, and looks like he’s facing another four months off for his latest collision which occured on the street. His bike of choice was the new crossplane Yamaha R1.
Our conversation eventually turned to our local tracks and the bikes best suited for them. One of our tracks has a very long back stretch and 2.7 miles in length. It is very fast as you can imagine, and good riders with a nice drive onto that back stretch can hit over 150 miles per hour! Mike is a very accomplished track rider having attended every major track school in the country and a couple of them twice. His garage is packed with serious racing mounts; GSXR 1000, GSXR 600, Woods Rotax Racer, ex-AMA Supersport Ducati, ex-AMA Factory Honda Motard…I think I covered most of them.
What Mike said next was most interesting and I think it’s worthy of mention here in our on-going discussion of beginner motorcycles. “My brain can’t compute information as fast as a litre bike feeds it to me. Things happen so fast that I start to get a little behind and then a little more behind and then I’m in trouble.”
The reason I mention it here is that 1000cc sportbikes are monsters to experienced racers and track day junkies, let alone seasoned street riders. It’s not a stretch to consider that modern 600cc sportbikes are tough mounts for novice street riders. Consider for a moment that 600’s, in many instances, share brakes and chassis, and accelerate as quickly in the low and midranges, and brake and turn a little better than most litre bikes.
On occasion, I run across beginners in my weekend MSF classes who bought or want to ride 1000cc sport bikes. My advice? Stay far away…trust me!April 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm #26023JackTradeParticipant
to bikes as I did, I’m constantly amazed at how much closer the performance-to-dollar ratio is with motorcycles. In the automotive world, world-beater performance is realistically available to less than 1% of the car buying public; but with bikes, it’s available to about 75% (maybe more).
The high price of performance cars is a built-in limiter to the death and desctruction factor, one that’s missing w/motorcycles. A rider friend of mine once observed that if your average car had the performance of your average sportbike, at the same relative price point, they’d be illegal. You can imagine the carnage potential of a 3000 lb, sub-11 second missile in the hands of anyone with a license and a little bit of cash/access to credit.April 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm #26026
It is incrediable, isn’t it? Do you know that a Honda Goldwing, long considered the old, fat guys bike, does 0-60 in 4.1 seconds? It completes the quarter mile in 13 flat. A good comparison car? Corvette with 430 HP…almost identicle numbers, and it’s a world class sports car!
FWIW, almost ANY motorcycle can out accelerate and out brake almost ANY street legal automobile. Mix sportbikes in and it’s not even close.April 28, 2010 at 9:24 pm #26034Gary856Participant
Besides the high performance, the 600/750/1000 sportbikes’ ergonomics put your body in a very “unnatural” position – forwarding leaning, head down, arms low, feet backward and high – one that’s great for going fast on the track for a short time, but fatiguing for longer rides (stress on the neck/shoulders, lower back, knees), and makes low/medium control much more difficult for street riding. Also, the head down position (lower eye level) makes situational awareness more difficult on the street. The margin of error is low.
This is not to say that sportbikes cannot be ridden well on the street. A lot of people, including me, enjoy riding them – it’s thrilling and intoxcicating. You just need to know what you’re getting into, take the time, learn the basics on a smaller bike, learn the necessary additional techniques when you switch to a sprotbike, and, most importantly, keep the right head on your shoulders.April 29, 2010 at 9:35 am #26051eternal05Participant
…I don’t think that’s true: most cars CAN outbrake motorcycles, and usually carry more corner speed as well. If the track doesn’t have too many long straights, a Civic Type R can beat a CBR600RR for this reason. Just think: four large contact patches instead of two tiny ones.
But that’s tangential. I don’t mean to take away from your point about high-performance bikes, which I think is dead-on!April 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm #26054
Cars are quicker…they’ve got more rubber and theres no danger of a high side! Generally, depending on the track, cars are faster…
The king of stopping distances right now (could be different on any day with any bike in different conditions) is the Triumph speed tripple…104 feet.
Here are some comparisons from an old R&T:
Corvette does 60-0 in 113 feet.
Porsche 911 60-0 119 feet.
Toyota minivan 60-0 135 feet
Dodge minivan 60-0 131 feet.
Harley 883 sportser 60-0 133 feet.
Ford F-350 60-0 170 feet.
Mazda Miata 60-0 113 feet.
Any idiot can replicate these distances in a car…but only the most skilled can replicate the bike numbers. I’m not sure if I could or not. It’s pretty tough to brake RIGHT AT the threshold!
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