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The fastest motorcycles in the world

Suzuki GS1000S with fairing.
Suzuki GS1000S with fairing.wikimedia.org

Those on the quest for speed often turn to motorcycles as they have higher power-to-weight ratio than nearly all production cars, at a fraction of the price of super and hyper cars. Production motorcycles first cracked the 125mph mark during the 1960s, which meant they had a little more top speed than most muscle cars and without a doubt quicker acceleration.

Honda’s CB750 was the king of 1960s motorcycles with a top speed of 125mph. The Honda had a 67bhp 736cc engine and weighed a lightweight 481lbs. Most 1969 CB750s were not equipped with fairings or windshields, which meant the rider was in the elements and felt full brunt of the wind at speed.

During the 1970s manufactures began to experiment with racing technology, i.e. fairings, on production motorcycles. The Suzuki GS1000 that was able to reach 154mph could be classified as a non-stock motorcycle, but with the Dunstall fairing installed it was still under warranty so technically it was a production motorcycle. Either way it was still a fast bike, with 74bhp from a 997cc four cylinder engine. The GS1000 was a weighed a bit more than the CB750 from the 1960s at 550lbs. Without the fairing it could reach 135mph.

As the 1980s rolled around, fairings became essential parts to all fast production motorcycles, which lead to a dramatic increase in top speed across manufactures. Three motorcycles from Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki could achieve over 165mph. The Yamaha FZR1000 EXUP led the way reaching 169mph. Its 1003cc four cylinder engine produced 135bhp for 1987-88 and 145bhp for 1989 and beyond.

The Guinness Book of World Records erred in granting the Honda V65 Magna as the fastest motorcycle for the 1980s, claiming that it had a “designed” top speed of 173mph. The V65 likely would not reach speeds that high, but it had the gearing to attempt it.

Today modern superbikes can reach speed approaching 200mph and even more with modifications, but how much speed is necessary? With an older motorcycle fast-enough speeds can be reached on a track and the owner can experience the thrills of riding a classic. Most former fastest motorcycles can be found around or below $5,000.