Guy Martin and James Toseland going for speed records

The two Englishmen are preparing their vehicles that will propel them at more than 600 km/h


Maximum speed appears to attract a great deal of attention and interest and after the (actual?!) 400 km/h reached by Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu on his specially prepared Kawasaki H2R, putting on the show in the newly opened Gazi bridge, news arrives of Japems Toseland, who has been saying for a while that he would like to set a absurd speed record, of 400 mph which, translated into kilometres per hour, means 640 km/h, so double the speed that the double Superbike World Champion and current pop/rock singer ever reached with his Ducati 999 bikes and Honda CBR 1000

James might have reached 340 km/h with his Yamaha MotoGP but then track conditions are different, with battles to be had with your rivals, lines to respect, wheelieing in acceleration and insane breaking points coming right after said speeds... This gives some idea of how fast race bikes can go and how difficult it is to race.

Yes, because "motorcycle” speed records require a lengthy technical preparation of the two-wheeled vehicles, which have little in comment with traditional bikes, expect for the concept, motorcyle meaning a two-wheeled vehicle with an engine, but if we look closely at these missiles, we see some comparisons with turbo rockets worthy of NASA or the American dragster category.

The first hero of speed was New Zealander Burt Munro who, way back in 1920, launched his Indian Scout at a speed of 80 km/h, a speed that makes us smile now but that, at the time, was madness, considering the size of the wheels and the rigidity of the chassis. But Munro was a tough cookie and in 1940 he set a new record of 194.4 km/h, again on one of his own Indians, up to 1941 when the New Zealander had an accident, hitting his head and forcing him to give up on setting any more records. His wife was also fast, in that, tired of her husband's obsessions, she quickly asked for divorce.

No longer married and back in shape, in the 60s Burt Munro was able to race at Bonneville salt flats in Utah, USA, the home of insane speed and where, in 1967, riding an Indian “inflated” to 950 cc, he was able to reach a speed of 295.5 km/h, while in qualifying he easily reached 305. The career of the speed rider meant that Burt became the star of various films and interviews and, in 2005, Anthony Hopkins starred in the movie dedicated to him.

The absolute record that is still unbeaten today belongs to Rocky Robinson, a former MX and trials rider who, again in Utah at the Bonneville salt flats, reached a fastest speed of 605.698 km/h on 25 September 2010, riding a sort of aerodynamic suppository. We congratulate him on the record and his bravery but these prototypes mean that the rider is only required to simply accelerate and press the parachute button at the right time while actually riding a bike, as we've said, is more complicated and technical. Robinson took the record from American Chris Carr who with a similar vehicle had exceeded 591 km/h, again in Utah.

The record holder when it comes to a more “conventional” bike, or rather one that is not an aerospace rocket, is Richard Assen (he already had the right surname!) who reached, and exceeded, 420 km/h, a very respectable performance.

More recently, Englishman Guy Martin, not happy with the speed and thrills he'd experienced over so many Tourist Trophy event, was preparing to set a record with the Triumph Rocket, but had to postpone this when he was injured in a road race last year. He now plans to make his attempt this year, as does James Toseland: “As soon as my tour finishes, we'll carry out the first test to reach a speed of 400 mph!”…

A battle between the English, two men that on the race track never had the chance to fight with each other and two men who want their names in the record books. There is no trophy to win or classification to top, so is it about the visibility, the adrenalin rush or simply boredom?!

2010Rocky Robinson (USA)Top Oil-Ack Attack streamliner605.697
2009Chris Carr (USA)BUB Seven streamliner591.244
2013Bill Warner (USA)Suzuki Hayabusa500.506
2011Richard Assen (NZ)Suzuki Hayabusa420.663
2016Kenan Sofuoglu (TUR)Kawasaki H2R400
1967Burt Munro (NZ)Indian Scout305.9



Translated by Heather Watson

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