Motorcycle: Sports Two Wheels - Record Breaking
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 17:44:43 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
The fastest motorcycles of all are the record-breakers: long, low and highly specialized machines built purely to reach phenomenal top speeds in wide open spaces. Aerodynamics are as vital as horsepower at very high speed, and the fastest machines run at places such as the Bonneville salt flats in Utah are streamliners, cigar-shaped projectiles in which the rider reclines with feet forward.
Bikes were much more simple when William Cook took his Peugeot-engined NLG to a recorded 75.9mph (122.14kph) at Brooklands in 1909, setting what is generally accepted as the first speed record. Indian's Jake de Rosier raised the figure to 88.9mph (143.06kph) at the same track two years later, only to be beaten by Matchless founder Charles Collier, who was recorded at 91.3mph (146.92kph) shortly afterwards. In 1920 Indian regained the crown when Ernie Walker was timed at 104mph (167.36kph) at Daytona Beach. This is regarded as the first official world record, as by now contestants had to make two-way runs within a set time limit.
The 1930s were a great time for record-breaking in Europe, where Germany's Ernst Henne set several new marks on BMWs, culminating in 173.5mph (279.21kph) in 1937. Henne's great rival was Britain's Eric Fernihough, who earlier the same year had set a 169.7mph (273.09kph) record on his supercharged, JAP-engined Brough Superior. A year later Fernihough was killed when his bike got into a wobble at 180mph (290kph).
The 200mph (321kph) barrier was finally breached in 1956, when Wilhelm Herz recorded 211.4mph (340.2kph) on a supercharged 500cc NSU. A year earlier Johnny Alien had taken a 650cc Triumph twin to 193.3mph (311kph) at Bonneville. The run was not recognized by the FIM, because no official observers were present, but Alien's exploits led to Triumph's most famous roadster being named the Bonneville.
In recent years the fight on the salt has been between Japan and Harley. American Don Vesco recorded 251.6mph (404.8kph) on a twin-engined, 700cc Yamaha two-stroke streamliner in 1970; a month later fellow road racer Cal Rayborn was timed at 265.5mph (427.26kph) on a 1480cc Harley. In 1978 Vesco set a record of318.5mph (512.5kph) on his Lightning Bolt streamliner, powered by two turbocharged, four-cylinder Kawasaki Z1000 engines. Harley reclaimed the record in 1990 when Dave Campos, riding a twin-engined, 2400cc streamliner - sponsored by readers of the American magazine Easyriders - raised the record to 322mph (518.19kph).
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