I think I have figured it out - it's all down to physics. I was working on the Triumph TT600 again today, I now have it running really sweet but I got curious about power to weight ratios and all that sort of thing. I found a test report on line that showed the standard bike would hit 60 from a standstill in just 3.39 seconds. That's from about 108 bhp - let's not forget that's a normally aspirated engine pumping out 108 bhp / litre. ok my 4.5 litre v8 porsche puts that out too but it requires 2 sodding great turbo chargers to achieve it. Top speed on the bike is about 149, so the Porsche piddles all over that at about 175, good luck when you hit a pothole. You can buy a decent sports bike for between 1 and 2 grand and get something that doesn't look like a dog's dinner - you want that performance in a car then you need a much fatter wallet. Obviously the big issue here is power to weight ratio - the tt weighs in at a lithe 180kg, the Porsche is a wee bit more than that. Well, actually it's about 2300 kilos more than that. The porker puts out 420Nm of torque, the bike a meagre 68Nm. the thing I still can not get my head around is that the typical 4 cylinder 4 stroke bike engine just won't break. They get ridden hard, have a red line of 13 or 14 thousand rpm, yet it's not unusual to see ones with over 50k miles under their belt that still ride like new.
Ignoring all the science though, the truth of the matter is that nothing feels like a decent bike - the sense of freedom and the sensation of speed combine to create a feeling that nothing else can quite match and science can not explain. I think being exposed to the elements heightens the sensations far more than any car can. Add in the styling factors and the pure ball aching beauty of some of them and it's not hard to see why so many people find them so addictive.
By the way, did you know that if you dropped a Yamaha R1 off a cliff it still would not accelerate as fast as it would if you gave it the beans on a drag strip.
If, however that's still not enough for you then the current fastest bike in the world is Kawasaki's rather remarkable H2R supercharged 1 litre monster. that particular mechanical marvel can put out anything up to 310 horse power, which will propel anybody brave enough to 249 mph. Sadly , you can't buy one for the road but you can have the standard H2 version if your budget allows. Bit woosy though, it's only got about 206 mph top speed, which is still fine for nipping to Tesco but not for racing the latest offerings from the likes of McLaren.
It's not all about big , super fast sports bikes though, there are bikes for every purpose, every budget and every ability, many people have as much fun on a second hand moped as others do on a Ducati Panigale costing 50 times as much. Lots of folk round here like their off road bikes and the beach races on throughout the winter at Mablethorpe beach always attract good crowds. It's a shame that recent governments seem to be so anti motorcycles as they can be a great solution to inner city congestion. Most cities in Europe have much better bike parking facilities than we do, for example.
I still have a major soft spot for 1980's two strokes - simple, loud, fast, fun and great looking bikes that really stir the sole. I guess it's because I had a Kawasaki KH250 3 cylinder 2 stroke when I was 17, I loved that bike and always regretted the day I sold it for a princely 350 quid. Good ones are fetching 6 or 7 grand now while their 750cc big brothers are doing 15 or more. The 80's was one hell of a decade for bikes, the development was astonishing. In 1980, for example, the fastests bike was the kawasaki z1 with a top speed of 150mph. in 1989 the fastest 250 was also a Kawasaki - the KR1S. The top speed was exactly the same as the Z1 of 1980. the manufacturers had discovered the power valve and life would never be the same again. I will be doing an article about 2 stroke technology later, in the mean time, here's a project I did about 3 years back. I had always wanted one. Definitely one of the bikes that set the standard in the 80's, the Yamaha rd350lc.