Monday, March 9, 2015

Bikes that go to eleven

Like hair bands in the 80's, you've got to be faster and louder than the next guy. But just how fast is fast and what's the best way to measure fast?

Horsepower numbers can be all over the place and spark the never-ending debate about horsepower vs. torque. (horsepower is just a measure of how quickly torque is made) That aside, raw power numbers leave many important variables off the table. How much does this thing weigh? How much power does it make at the most common engine speeds, how much time is spent getting from idle to red line?

Time for an old standby, quarter mile times. How fast can any given vehicle travel a set distance. Speed around a track is perhaps a more interesting question, but it has many more variables and it falls short in two important areas. First, I couldn't find data, not that I looked too hard. Second, it doesn't do comparisons between 2 and 4 wheels very well, which is where the real fun is at.

To answer the $20K question, are you faster than a Mini Cooper S? Well, if you ride a motorcycle the answer is yes. To be fair, I can't guarantee that all these data are good. (see citations below) Also, rider, bike, track, temperature, tire combinations can account for whole seconds, plus or minus. That being said, it's clear that an 883 Sportster is faster than a Porsche Boxster.

But are you faster than a Mustang Cobra? Probably.

The Dodge Viper is a 13 second car but a 600cc Ninja will cover the quarter in 12.

 Can you spot the super car hiding in this sea of sport bikes?

- Ride North

We all know that if it's on the web it must be true. If you have a better source for quarter mile times please let me know. If something looks wildly inaccurate please let me know that too. In full disclosure: I grabbed these data to test drive a new data visualization tool and I can't claim that a ton of rigor was put into fact checking, although I did crosscheck a few bikes and cars.

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