Time doesn’t stand still and, when it comes to speed, it goes, well, fast. In short, since we last compiled this list in 2020 the world’s moved on. An all-new Suzuki Hayabusa has arrived, there’s a new, homologation-spec version of BMW’s S1000RR, the M1000RR, the Norton takeover has seen a new, completely re-engineered version of its V4, the V4SV and many more. It’s also probably time to consider electric superbikes, such as Energica’s Ego+ RS. All of which means that one of the most often asked, hotly contested and debated motorcycling questions of all – ‘What’s the fastest production bike in the world?’ rises its head yet again.
But, as before, it’s also the one that’s most politically sensitive and difficult to be conclusive about (after all, few manufacturers now claim top speed figures and fewer independent media outlets measure them).
Again, we must preface this with a proviso: Since 1999’s launch of the Suzuki Hayabusa, the Japanese ‘Big Four’ have adhered to an unwritten ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ to restrict their road bikes electronically to 300kph (186mph) while others, particularly MV Agusta, don’t. As a result, claimed top speed figures would be misleading and, for the most part, irrelevant.
Instead, we’re basing our ‘fastest Top 10’ on production road bikes with the highest power-to-weight ratios, which, in simple terms, is the best indicator available to acceleration and, all other things being equal, ultimate speed.
As before, it’s not perfect or completely conclusive, we know. Without comprehensive, independently tested power figures available we have to go with the manufacturers’ claimed figures, which should be taken with a pinch of salt. In addition, as before, we’ve also gone with manufacturers claimed dry weight figures (as uniform wet weight figures don’t exist), which, by their very nature, is somewhat academic, as bikes don’t run without fuel, oil and water. A further complication is the use of race kits, track pipes etc…
However, with all that said, and with a new crop of ‘hyperbikes’ no among us, we still reckon it makes fascinating reading, gives a reasonably true indication of the current ‘hierarchy of speed’ and throws up a few surprises, too…
We felt the time was right to include here the growing new breed of electric bikes – if only because, as anyone who has ridden one will attest – they simply accelerate like nothing else. The pick of the bunch is undoubtedly the top spec version of Italian specialists’ Energica’s Ego superbike and, having ridden it, can vouch that for 0-80 there’s an astonishing, single speed warp drive like nothing else. Energica themselves claim a 0-60mph time of just 2.6 seconds. Trouble is, that’s not the end of the story. On the basis of its power and weight figures, it’s actually nothing special (it’s its peak torque of 159lb-ft which is mostly responsible for the party), it’s ridiculously heavy, its top speed is restricted to just 150mph and it costs nearly £30K. Maybe electric bikes aren’t quite there yet…
After oodles of anticipation, Suzuki finally introduced an all-new version of its hyperbike ‘king of speed’, the monstrous GSX1300R Hayabusa, in 2021. It was more than worth the wait. Now Euro5 compliant, boasting a slick, comprehensive suite of rider electronics, fancy new TFT dash and a big dollop of extra build quality, the new ‘Busa was a worthy successor to the 1999 original which was so fast, it forced the end of the speed race. In truth, the new version is no faster, and, being relatively heavy, can’t quite match the latest superbikes. But the way it gathers speed and the rush you experience is just as impressive as ever.
The ‘old’, controversial, Donington regime Norton V4 RR is no more, replaced by the all-new, Solihull-based, TVS-owned Norton’s fully re-engineered V4 SV. In truth, the new bike’s basic figures aren’t as good – boasting now a mere 185bhp and a dry weight of 193kg against the old bike’s 200/179. But then the new bike also doesn’t have the widely reported 30+ faults of the original, it now goes, stops etc like a proper superbike should (although it’s a way behind the very best from Europe and Japan) and almost certainly is, as Norton claim of its £44,000 range-topper ‘the most luxurious British superbike ever created’. But it’s not the fastest overall.
Italian exotica experts MV Agusta still have available its 300 limited edition, carbon-bedecked Rush, the concept bike-styled roadster based on the Brutale 1000, while now start being delivered in June and it’s so wacky and potent it had to be included here. MV now claim 208bhp from its 998cc four (rising to 212 with race kit), a dry weight of 186kg, a top speed ‘over 300kph’ (if you can hang on) to go with its oddball looks, twin pipes and more.
Honda’s flagship superbike continues essentially unchanged from 2020 (although you can now get it in 30th Anniversary colours) so it continues here. Again, it’s tricky to be sure about this one, as no official dry weight figures have been released so we’ve had to use a guesstimate. Based on a claimed kerb weight of 201.3kg and a 16litre-tank of fuel weighing around 12kg, the dry SP will be at most 180kg. That, coupled with its 215bhp output, puts it in M1000RR territory, which is probably about right seeing as this is the most powerful, extreme and track-orientated Fireblade ever and one that’s been built specifically to win WSB. But it may be better still.
BMW introduced the famous ‘M’ performance moniker into its Motorrad division in 2021, bestowing it on this special, tuned, lightened, aero-equipped, limited edition, homologation-special (for BSB and WSB etc) version of its already stupendous S1000RR superbike. In truth, certainly for mere mortals, as a ’base’ race bike from which a true superbike machine can be built, apart from the aero, it’s not really any faster or better than the already phenomenal S1000RR – but it is the best that the Bavarian marque currently has to offer – with the £30K+ price to match.
Another newbie from MV Agusta – in fact so new no-one’s actually ridden it yet. That said, when they do, it should be a blast. The ‘Nürburgring’ special edition is claimed by MV to be ‘the most extreme, mind-boggling Brutale’, and with its standard 208bhp and 183kg – but with both boosted to 215bhp and just 177kg care of a special race kit, to go along with its carbon and titanium everything, and at a price of €35,660 (equivalent to around £30,500) who are we to doubt them? We’ll completely believe it when we see it though…
Another bike carried over from our previous run-down. It’s been a while since Aprilia’s original, revolutionary, power-packed, compact and electronics-laden first RSV4 1000 was competitive at world superbikes level (it did originally come out in 2010 after all) which is why, in 2019, they uprated it into 1100cc form using the enlarged engine from the 1100 Tuono. It was also updated again in 2021 with new semi-active electronic suspension, although its outright performance was unchanged. The result, although not WSB-compliant, is phenomenal. The engine is powerful and grunty; its tiny chassis sweet-handling and its sophisticated electronics and classy cycle parts up with the very best. Those proportions mean it won’t suit larger riders, but if it fits, there are few finer road sportsters.
The WSB-homologation special (but road legal) version of Ducati’s astonishing V4 superbike arrived in 2019 year and has been continually updated since, enough to finally win the world superbike championship in the hands of Alvaro Bautista this year. In short, it has it all: monster power (up from the S’s 214 and, in race trim, now a full 237bhp) from the MotoGP-inspired V4, an ultra-lightweight monocoque chassis, the very best of cycle parts, world pioneering ‘aero’ aids, lashings of exotic Italian styling and poster appeal and now the £38K+ price to match.
The king is dead… long live the king. Last time out the astonishing, now £50,000 supercharged H2/R came out top and, although the competition is closing in, it remains there today – just. Kawasaki set out to produce the world’s most powerful production machine and it achieved just that. In full bore, track only ‘R’ trim, the Kawasaki is claimed to produce a whopping 306bhp, rising to 322bhp with ram air effect. That, combined with a lightweight, tubular steel trellis chassis (although that 193kg dry figure is a guesstimate based on its published 216kg wet figure) is what keeps it on top. If you’re going to quibble about its legality, you have a point: the road legal H2 Carbon version which produced 240bhp is no longer available (although the 200bhp Ninja H2 SX SE and Z H2 super naked is), but it IS, still, the fastest production motorcycle in the world…
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