“The guy is definitely a basket-case” erupts the elderly driver – father of two – as the crotch rocket whizzes by as if his vehicle was standing still, despite the fact that he is doing well over 100 miles himself on the freeway. “Youngsters today….” adds the wife and shakes her head in disapproval.
The kids in the back seat remain quiet but they look on, as if mesmerized, as the bike and rider disappear in traffic ahead. They dare not utter a single word, but it is quite obvious, from the look on their faces, that given the ghost of a chance they’d exchange places with the rider without the trace of a second thought. Yes indeed, the rider that’s just vanished in front of the 18 wheeler ahead is definitely something out of the ordinary. He’s somehow above the rest of the mortals who roll on in their day-by-day existence on four or more wheels. He’s like some kind of a superior being descended upon commoners to dazzle them with his speed, acceleration and flashy looks. He’s everything a youngster could ever dream to be.
Sport bikes – often dubbed crotch rockets, because of the speeds they’re capable of, and the position the rider takes up on them – are indeed quite wonderful pieces of engineering. They’re replicas of actual racing bikes, built for speed and acceleration, but with performances tuned to the environment provided by the nations’ highways and byways.
With their foot-pegs located further back and their streamlined aerodynamic hull-shape, the bike and rider form a rocket shaped moving object powered by an extreme engine built to work at high RPMs and designed to thrust bike and rider forth at incredible speeds and explosive accelerations. A typical sport bike is capable of reaching 62 mph (100km/h) in or under 3 seconds, with top speeds in access of 160 mph (260 km/h). There’s no faster moving object on a public street, with the possible exception of another breed of sport bike, the thorough-bred of the bike world, the Super Bike. Super bikes are officially well capable of going beyond 200 mph, though their speeds are factory-limited to 185 mph (300 km/h). The rev limiter built in by the factory, though, hardly represents a challenge for hardcore bikers so the only limit for these daredevils is probably the one set by the engine itself.
Under normal circumstances no police vehicle can catch up with the “riders on the storm” not only because of their speed but also the high maneuverability and high speed cornering that they’re also capable of, a fact that places them above the law itself to a certain extent – an idea all the more enticing for rebellious youngsters.
The 1999 built Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa is an example of a bike able to reach 80 mph in first gear with a top speed around 220 mph. The Kawasaki ZX-10R’s 1000 cc engine allows it to hit 100 mph in first gear with a top speed above 186 mph. (because of the factory rev limiter specified by a gentlemens’ agreement among the leading bike manufacturers). The 2006 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 rice rocket features a 1,352 cm³ Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four, 12:1 compression ratio, DOHC engine with digital ignition and fuel injection. This awesome powerplant lends the bike 187 HP, with a 154 Nm torque at 7500 rpm. It makes the Ninja capable of reaching 100 km/h in 2,5 seconds and complete the quarter-mile in 9.8 seconds. Other rice-rockets like the Honda CBR1100XX and the Suzuki GSX1300R don’t lag far behind, but are a bit overshadowed by the almighty Ninja.
Getting back to our family – driving home on the freeway – it needs to be pointed out that the parents are also quite right in their assumption of the quantity of risk involved in riding such a machine. These vehicles are also known as “ donor cycles “ to hospital crews, as that is what they often turn their riders into. Organ donors. They’re generally ridden by young men in good health whose organs are in excellent condition for transplants in case they die in an accident.
Despite the fact that sport bikes are considered the most dangerous kind of bike on the roads, statistics show that it’s not the case. It’s excellent accelerating, braking and cornering abilities turn them into survivors rather then “donor cycles”, and with an experienced rider using these features to the advantage of staying safe, the sportbike can deliver its rider safely to his destination under most circumstances.