The age of the MegaBike is with us
Move aside, cars. Bikes are getting faster and fiercer, and taking over as the king of the roads. Automologist, MAC, takes us through the contenders that will lead us through this new era.
We are used to mind-bending performances from supercars such as Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari and even Chevrolet Corvettes and Nissan GT-R Nismo. Now there is an emerging crop of inconceivably fast motorcycles that we really need to create a new class for. Let’s call it the ‘Dawn of the MegaBikes’.
Street-legal two-wheeled hyper machines are not new. You could claim that there have been many already, such as the Ariel Square Four back in the day or more recently the Kawasaki Ninja, Suzuki GSXR1100 or the Ducati Monster, all of which swept prior street performance records away with such vim and vigor that the US Senate once attempted to ban them.
Two-wheeled performance has crept up and up with increased horsepower rising annually; that was until this year when there was a sudden and somewhat rude leap in power initiated by Kawasaki with their Ninja H2, a supercharged 998cc track bike delivering a claimed 300hp that is sure to find its way on to the roads at some stage.
The sudden awaking at Kawasaki came when it seems that engineers over there realised that their parent company owned all sorts of other subsidiaries, including a gas turbine company and an aerospace company, that has allowed them to produce a MegaBike developed in a wind tunnel to allow for the necessary high speed stability.
Kawasaki may claim to have drawn first blood in the Megabike War, but they are certainly not the only company pushing the outer limits. Yamaha has rolled out their very own naturally aspirated 998cc monster called the YZF-R1M. With only 200hp, this may not seem to be quite in the same class as the Ninja H2 but it does come with some nifty electronics to help ride those horses safely. The R1 has what is being called an electronic slide control that metes out engine power according to the lean angle and yaw relative to the direction of travel to help keep the rider seated on the saddle and not sliding along the black-top.
So as to not be left behind, Honda has dropped the pretense of street track divide with their latest RC213V-S displayed at the recent EICMA event in Milan. Typical of the Honda secrecy machine, they are not releasing any details of the wee-beastie but its mere existence drew plenty of attention at the show.
Of course any article of this nature could not go without the mention of that other mad motorcycle manufacturing nation, that is also known as Italy, where two of the daftest companies around happily bang out two-wheeled monsters galore (quite literally in one case). I am of course referring to Ducati and Aprilia.
The Ducati MegaBike is a re-worked version of their race replica 1299 Panigale that uses 100cc of engine displacement to boost the beast to 205hp. The specs sheet reads more like a metallurgist manual with references to titanium valves and lightened tungsten counterweighted crankshaft and low friction pistons using two rings instead of three to reduce internal engine resistance; we don’t care, though it’s sure to become an instant classic. They also released the best picture with the bike:
The somewhat topsy-turvey world that is Aprilia seems to be looking up with their latest version of two-wheeled mayhem claiming to be in the MegaBike contender category and they may well have a case. Their latest big-boy-toy, the RSV4 RR, is powered along by a 999.6cc V4 engine that puts out 201hp, all of which is kept in check by some clever electronics which can be turned off if the owner prefers sliding along the black-top to staying upright.