By on December 2, 2013

On the days when my Honda CB550 can be bothered to wake up and run properly for my daily commute, I’m frequently passed by everything from HEMI-powered Grand Cherokees to Vulcan-powered Mercury Sables. That’s because the Honda CB550 is only slightly more powerful than a KitchenAid mixer.

This fellow, on the other hand, has a motorcycle capable of reaching 300 km/h on the rev limiter. That’s 186mph in American money. But as you’ll see, it isn’t quite enough.

To me, the most interesting thing about this video is the cognitive dissonance that I, as an American citizen, experience watching it. What these two are doing is perfectly legal. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s perfectly fine. Nevertheless, no laws were broken. I’ve done a few runs to the neighborhood of 160mph on a motorcycle, but there is simply no margin for error at that speed. As bad as a tire failure or road debris can be in a car at 180-plus miles per hour, when you’re on a bike it’s worse. Still, it’s a fun video to watch. There’s always a bigger fish, you know — and, of course, something like a Corvette ZR1 would have walked ’em both.

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57 Comments on “There’s Fast, And Then There’s Wagon Fast...”

  • avatar

    I think I once did about 160 as a passenger on a public road in a heavily modified Fox Mustang. At the time it felt mighty fast, but I didn’t appreciate the physics of the situation. Owner had a tire failure on the next one of his high speed runs and got to test the roll cage. Since then I don’t think I’ve probably gone much over 100. These speeds terrify me… even though my last triple-digit outing was (unadvisedly) on my Harley Sportster.


    • 0 avatar

      They terrify me too. I broke 100 in my Jeep, but I was really concerned that A/T tires just weren’t designed for that. And there’s a huge difference between going 100 and 160. I just don’t know how they do it. On the other hand, you can rent an airplane in which 90 m.p.h. is about the minimum safe speed and buzz the countryside (500 feet away from any person, vehicle, vessel, or structure, of course, per FAR 91.119). Basically it’s not the speed per se, it’s perception that the consequences are out of your hands.

  • avatar

    germans lost the war and yet have won at life

    here’s to you at 55mph

  • avatar

    Hum, I trying to figure how dangerous this actually was in the grand scheme of things.

    On the one hand you have what seems to be a skilled rider, on the autobahn, in good weather, in what one would imagine is full gear.

    On the other hand you had a guy… at Bike Week, in a t-shirt and flip-flops, leaving a bar, on a rainy night, with a 1.5 BAC.

    I’d say the second guy is in vasty more danger.

    And, not for nothing, but in looking up the stats, in some years 20 people die in crashes during Bike Week in Daytona?

    • 0 avatar

      Using firearms is inherently dangerous…but even then there are still degrees of danger in the handling of firearms. Standing beside the target is much riskier than staying behind the firing line.

      Going on the road with other motorists is inherently dangerous…but even then there are still degrees of danger involved.

      186 MPH in anything is dangerous. Even on a closed track, when wearing top shelf safety equipment in a car that has been set up with the latest in safety technology. People still die in those circumstances because physics be a harsh mistress and even the most talented, most experienced people in the world can get bit by an unexpected obstacle, mechanical failure, gust of wind, or just the nature of operating a powerful machine at the limits of performance.

      There are degrees of risk, and what is seen in that video is pretty heavy into risky territory. I’m glad it’s legal, and frankly I find US speed laws in lots of places to be absolute fertilizer. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t have been going those speeds on that road under those conditions…because if something unexpected happens at 186 I’m pretty certain I won’t be pulling a Mark Higgins and making a dramatic save.

      I’d like to be as talented and skilled as Mark, but I’m not. So I won’t be tempting fate.

    • 0 avatar

      Going fast in a straight line is pretty easy. This is hardly a display of rider skills.

    • 0 avatar

      “Hum, I trying to figure how dangerous this actually was in the grand scheme of things.

      On the one hand you have what seems to be a skilled rider, on the autobahn, in good weather, in what one would imagine is full gear.

      On the other hand you had a guy… at Bike Week, in a t-shirt and flip-flops, leaving a bar, on a rainy night, with a 1.5 BAC.

      I’d say the second guy is in vasty more danger.”

      neither are what I would call ‘safe.’ at 299 km/h you’re basically going most of the length of a football field in one second. If anything unexpected pops up in front of you, you have almost no time to react.

  • avatar

    Lane discipline, turn signals. I love it.

  • avatar
    TTAC Staff


  • avatar

    Cool. The fastest I’ve ever gone is 260 kph or 163 mph on a ’96 YZF1000. Superbikes are amazingly stable at those kind of speeds. Yes, things can go wrong fast that is why one must really be aware and unlike the Autobahn where everyone else expects to see those kinds of speeds, I’d never go that fast in traffic anywhere in North America.

    • 0 avatar

      And roads in North America are no where as well built and maintained as in Germany.

      • 0 avatar

        The Autobahn is on average not even that good. Bavaria is good and the best I’ve seen in Germany.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a win-some lose-some. German highways are usually VERY smooth by US standards (though some are not), but they are also narrower, curvier, and hillier than the typical US Interstate. And a LOT more traffic on average, though of course the level of driving is a quantum leap above what you find in the US.

        On a Sunday, I had no problem averaging a relaxed 105mph between Stuttgart and Berlin, even though large stretches were construction zones, and I was limited by the 4500 rpm running in limit on my car. The trip was pretty much either 55mph in the construction zones or 130mph in the unlimited stretches, not much in-between. Nice!

  • avatar

    It appears to me that even at 299kph on the bike, the Audi could and did walk away at several points. I would wager the Audi was not stock as even an RS6 Avant would be hitting the rev limiter at 300kph. Given that possibility, I’m not so sure a ZR-1 would have have easily dominated the Audi. Personally, I’ve seen 135 mph in my Cayman S on a race track and once saw a speedo reading of 140 mph in my ’88 535 iS many moons ago (BMWs however have notoriously “fast” speedos). That was quite fast enough for me. These speeds regardless of venue are risky at best.

    • 0 avatar

      Not to be argumentative, but the RS 6 is nowhere near its rev limiter at 300 kph.

      With the SPEED limiter removed, they’ll run ~315 kph, or 195 mph.

      Tuned, 340 kph isn’t out of the question.

      RS 6s are SRS BZNS.

  • avatar

    Longer version of the clip, with more info on the car and the bike:

  • avatar

    WHEEEE ! .

    As mentioned that’s a fast ride , apparently on a limited access roadway where the other drivers know to keep right and use signals etc.

    Nevertheless , things happen *very* quickly at those speeds , that’s why I don’t drive fast when there’s other vehicles sharing my roadway .

    I’m pretty sure I drive my cars faster than my Motos but I’m not looking down at the speedo when I’m letting a Moto out a bit , that’d be foolish and unsafe .


  • avatar

    Sweet Wagon Love! There are a few times where the RS6 just takes off. As amazing as the top speed is, the acceleration to run away every time the bike rolls on is more impressive to me. No wonder they “all get stolen by gangsters”.

    • 0 avatar

      Reg; “run away every time the bike rolls on ” That would depend on the gear selection of the bike.

      I have breached the 200+ mark on a bike(Hayabusa), but never in a car. Close, but no cigar, no 200mph hat. That should be accomplished with a new build in the works, now. I went over 100 MPH(indicated) in a 1950 Triumph ‘Speed Twin’ when I was twelve years old, previous to that experience, I had gone a bit faster then that in a car. A new 59′ Ford ‘Country Sedan’ with a 360hp ‘Special’ 352″ FE engine. That speed run was done at night, and there is a strange other world feel to night speed runs, especially on high crowned two lane country roads or raised road beds like the access road to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

      A lot can happen at speed, so a careful pre-flight inspection is in order. In addition, X-raying tires and wheels is money well spent. Two dimension X-rays of wheels and tires are available at truck tire service stations and some tire suppliers. I always recommend an x-ray of a performance tire, if it has been curbed or impacted in some way.

  • avatar
    Johannes Dutch

    Very impressive !

    I never go beyond 95 mph in my car. Then again, it’s a 12 years old Land Cruiser diesel. Fast enough for an upscaled farm tractor.

    • 0 avatar

      As a former Cruiser owner I would like to see video of this. I had a gasser and 95 took a stiff breeze and a stretch of straight downhill road as well as very wide lanes to keep it between the lines.

      • 0 avatar
        Johannes Dutch

        Short wheelbase Land Cruiser J90 with the (163 hp) 3.0 D4D engine, 5 speed manual. Doing 95 mph with it on a flat and straight freeway (we don’t have mountains, nor hills) really isn’t that hard. Of course that isn’t daily practice, 80 to 85 mph is a more relaxing speed and it’s doing just fine, around 3,000 to 3,200 rpm.

  • avatar

    Granted I have never owned a super car, or anything that wasn’t limited to 122 MPH due to electronics and the tires I assume, but I can’t recall a single vehicle I have ever driven that at some point in time I did not check it’s top speed. My 1981 Ford Escort was confirmed by Ohio’s finest Highway Patrol that it’s top speed was 85 MPH when I was 17.I have gone faster in a car, but I was not the driver.
    I also travel all around the mid west with very long stretches of empty interstate to do such high speed test runs on.
    One of these years I hope to get a proper high performance car and check it’s high speed ability just for kicks.

    In the middle of Iowa or Kansas on a properly maintained Interstate Highway, it is more than possible to do very high speeds with no issue.

  • avatar

    I am currently living in Germany. Most of what Americans think they know about the Autobahn is wrong. It is a terrible system. The roads are narrow, bumpy and most of it is 2 lanes.(with miles of fields on either side, not sure why they couldn’t squueze another lane in) Even in unlimited areas the German Govt recommended speed is 130 kph, anything happens and you are going faster that that you are at fault.

    As you can see in the video there are all kinds of slow trucks and cars in the right lane(s) Problem with doing 186MPH is that these trucks and cars are constantly moving into the left lane to pass each other, usually at speeds of no more than 100kph. They won’t notice you and by them time you notice them and try to hit your brakes it is usally too late. The other issue is that you can’t cruise along at a “normal speed” of say 130kph. Trucks in the right lane doing 90kph and folks in the left lane doing 220kph, you spend most of your time speeding up, slowing down, speeding up, slowing down, etc….

    The roads are not any better than American roads, the traffic is just as bad as any major American city, they are constantly under construction and drivers are just as inconsiderate. They never post videos of the idiot doing 94kph in the left lane……..

    • 0 avatar

      Have to agree with markf. Doing 300km/h on an empty German Autobahn is neither difficult nor very dangerous – even though they can be quite bumpy, indeed.

      Doing this with considerable right lane traffic as in the video is just plain stupid.

      Putting your own life at risk is your business only. Putting other’s life at unnecessary risk is attempted murder.

    • 0 avatar

      “I am currently living in Germany. Most of what Americans think they know about the Autobahn is wrong. It is a terrible system.”

      Self-loathing American snobs love to assume that any given thing in or from another country is automatically superior.

    • 0 avatar

      “The roads are narrow, bumpy and most of it is 2 lanes” The regular lane width in Germany is 11.5 feet, 12 feet in the US. Hardly a significant difference.

      “anything happens and you are going faster that that you are at fault. ”
      Wrong. The concept you are talking about is ‘Gefährdungshaftung’, if you are over 130 you get a PART of the responsibility if the accident would not have happened at or below 130.

      “The roads are not any better than American roads” You are probably somewhere in the Ruhr area, where the average Autobahn is over 40 years old. While you’re right about the lanes (only 24% of the Autobahn network has 3 lanes or more) they are significantly better than the average US road (excluding maybe Arizona). I’ve spent thousands of miles on interstates in the NW and midwest, the quality of the surface and the signage in Germany is significantly better.

      Trucks are not allowed to go faster than 80kph, which contributes to significant speed differences. On the other hand, I don’t want to think about what happens when a US truck going 85mph meets the tail end to a traffic jam…

      • 0 avatar

        I never got out measured lanes so I will concede your specific measurments. I did move here from Arizona and the road here are terrible, espcially in Baden-Württemburg where I live. And building highways with only two lanes in whch the majority of traffic (trucks) can only go 80kph is idiotic; espcially on portions that have no speed limits. YOu have to deal with folks like the bike and wagon in the video.

        Speaking of sinage, well you mustb e a German georgraphy expert because the fist thing you need to do here is memorize where every city is in relation to every other city as none of the autobahn signs indicate direction. Of course the German answer to that is “well, doesn’t everyone know where Heilbron is in raltion to Ansbach and Nurnburg” For the rest of us it would be easier to jsut tell what direction the highway goes in. Of course with GPS it’s not too much of an issue but it must have been tough for newcomers before the age of GPS.

        And no, I live in BW not any near the Ruhr area.

  • avatar

    As a German living in Munich and in the “Free State of Bavaria”, I concur with many assertions about the quality of Autobahn. The older ones tend to be bumpy and “coarse”, especially in most of western part of Germany like perpetually cash-strapped North Rhine Westphalia.

    I absolutely HATE to drive in Baden-Württemburg because of the killjoys in the state government, thinking it’s so damn fantastic idea to impose 120km/h speed limit on perfect stretch of six-lane Autobahn but eliminate the speed limit on crappy four-lane Autobahn.

    Bavaria has most of well-maintained Autobahn system that is absolutely dream for high-speed driving and that has fewer stretches with speed limit. There are some stretches in southern Bavaria that are pretty much empty on Sunday morning, which is most excellent for driving ridiculously fast.

    I drove a 2011 Bentley Continental GT with W12 motor on A9 stretch north of Munich and couldn’t believe how blissful it felt when I drove to 175 mph. It felt like flying very low to the ground…

    Of course, we have driving laws that makes the American equivalent looks like Sunday school. Germans have pretty much eliminated the incentives for the left-lane bandits. If the vehicle is hit by the approaching vehicle on the left-lane, the vehicle in front is automatically at fault. Why? Left lanes are for overtaking the slower vehicles, not for cruising aimlessly all day long as some Americans do on the Interstate highways.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Germans have pretty much eliminated the incentives for the left-lane bandits. If the vehicle is hit by the approaching vehicle on the left-lane, the vehicle in front is automatically at fault.”

      Wow. Just wow. Awesome.

    • 0 avatar

      Good points.
      Although it’s been a decade+ since I visited, the Autobahn’s longer sight lines are striking (compared to US Interstates). It’s much easier to drive fast when you can see 4+km down the road. (Although an Army friend opined that the real purpose was to fully exploit the Leopard-2’s max gun range (in case of unwanted visitors)).

      Whatever the motives, they’re a excellent feature.

  • avatar

    To the author- isn’t that old CB a tad small for you?

    My first bike was a 77 Suzuki GS550.. Thing was scary on the highway.
    VW bugs would create enough of a disturbance in the air to shake me.
    I had to upgrade fast. Life was much better on a 78 XS1100. While it wouldn’t do 300km, it held its own nicely.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Is it, but it’s absolutely necessary that I not have anything faster than this, because whatever motorcycle I have spends a lot of its life with the throttle pinned. :)

    • 0 avatar

      When I started riding in ’73, the CB500/550 was considered a larger bike, not quite as big as a Harley or a CB750, but a pretty substantial bike. I routinely rode two-up on my CL175 and I’m 6’2″.

      Our perceptions have changed, as I find my current 650 Ninja to feel somewhat small, but I’m coming off a Triumph Trophy 900 which was something of an elephant.

      • 0 avatar

        Bunkie- It wasn’t perception for me, I too am 6 foot plus 200 lbs and the GS550 was comfy enough but very light and constantly being sweeped all over the highway. I didn’t like that part at all. The little 550 was adequate but left a bit to be desired in passing situations- you really had to wind the snot out of it to get anything out of it. When I moved to the XS1100, it was rock steady on the highway and a twist of the throttle was money.

  • avatar

    Don’t sell the CB550 short Jack, they did about 14.5 in the quarter mile (when new)! That should hold off those pesky Vulcan powered Taurii.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Man that Audi is FAST. Unbelievable how it just WALKS away from the motorcycle.

    Any idea of how many HP is packing?. That thing can’t be stock.

  • avatar

    I once did 140MPH on an ’83 Honda Interceptor on a stretch of the Queen’s Highway between Hamilton and Toronto; I was trying to shake a pesky Dodge Daytona 2.2 Turbo, who was dogging me at around 110MPH for a few miles. I was passing people that were doing 80 like they were parked, and bridge overpasses flashed by in the blink of an eye.
    I was scrunched as low as I could go behind the tiny windshield, and my nether orifice could have cut a piece of rebar, but I lost my pursuer.

    Terrifying, yet exhilarating, especially thinking back that the smallest piece of road debris or a nail could have ended my existence.

    I wouldn’t recommend or endorse that anyone ever try that, though.

    • 0 avatar

      I gave up high-speed on public roads decades back. It was bloody exciting and a hell of a lot of fun riding my FJ1100 and Fj1200 at 120-plus on the interstates of Massachusetts. It ended the day in ’87 when a State Trooper wrote me a plain speeding ticket for 75-85 observed (as opposed to what he could have hit me with). I realized that he was doing me a favor and I haven’t driven or ridden like that since.

      Funny to come home and find this thread. I was playing and singing Junior Brown’s “Highway Patrol” at band practice this evening:

      “If you wanna race, get on a race track
      cause if you try to run away I’m going to bring you back”

      We haven’t played that song for quite a while…

      • 0 avatar

        Not exactly related, but MA state cops (in my experience) are some of the most reasonable LE I have ever run into. Never busted my chops once. I don’t know if I got lucky or what but I have never been written a ticket for the 5 plus incidents where they easily could have. And I don’t even live in MA.

  • avatar

    Even with the best laws, attentive fellow drivers, smooth roads, etc, these closure rates are terrifying. You have to worry about your own tire blowouts, FOD on the road, and also the possibility of someone else doing something stupid (or simply failing to move to the right quickly enough). I don’t think it matters much at 190mph whether you’re in a car or on a bike, it’s going to be bad news. But it’s much safer on 3 lanes than on 2, that’s for sure.

    I can also understand the elation of driving an Audi fast, even though I’ve only done 125 or so. You feel the need to celebrate whenever the car is actually working properly. :P

  • avatar

    And if that isn’t enough, there is always the Brabus 850:

    The joy of driving in Germany isn’t the roads. It’s the fact that the average driver is lightyears better than the average elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Burger Boy

      True. I ‘ve found the drivers on the Autobahn and the Autostrade to be MUCH more aware of the surrounding traffic and a lot more considerate.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      “The joy of driving in Germany isn’t the roads. It’s the fact that the average driver is lightyears better than the average elsewhere”

      This. I got to drive in Germany this past summer (Frankfurt/Stuttgart area) and the physical infrastructure of the Autobahns is significantly inferior to your basic interstate highway in the US. Sorry but it’s true. I was surprised. The interchanges are the most inferior,with too-short ramps that curve too quickly and sharply and inadequate or nonexistent acceleration and deceleration lanes. Road surface is not smoother, signage is inferior, and 80 kmph work zones are everywhere. And when speed limits drop for those zones the drops are sudden and without warning. There appears to be no German equivalent to “reduce speed ahead”. So you’re unlimited then suddenly it’s 120k then less than a 1/4 mile later it’s suddenly 80k.

      All that said, what makes autobahn driving great is the other drivers. Lane discipline is not perfect but it’s way ahead of anywhere else. Because of the massive speed differentials everyone is alert because they have to be. I came away convinced that the conventional wisdom that speed differentials are less safe than everyone going similar speed is just wrong. When everyone is going similar speed you get a lot of camping in blind spots, tailgating, and rolling roadblocks. You don’t see those two things in Germany or at least not nearly on the scale you see here.

      • 0 avatar

        Reg; “I came away convinced that the conventional wisdom that speed differentials are less safe than everyone going similar speed is just wrong”

        “Even with the best of intentions… We are too often wrong.” _aikiv

        It would be a monumental task of some duration to change the culture of American driving and institute a new discipline, and a lot of people would die in the process. The American West and Mid-West and some other interstates, particularly in Texas, would be the best place to institute high speed lanes or Federal Express ways.

  • avatar

    It’s all relative. On my road (pedal) bike, every so often I hit 80km/h (50mph), and man that is fast.

    A 737 takeoff can reach 300km/h (180mph), and can get there in 30 seconds or less. It feels fast but not unsafe.

    Good video, staying behind the audi is halfway smart to give him another second of reaction time or braking time. But there is a bit too much traffic on the road so I’d give him a thumbs down.

  • avatar

    As the Youtube comments mention it is a ZX10, not the faster ZX14. Bikes don’t have much torque and the aerodynamics of the bike at those speeds are crazy poor. Staying in the draft helps the bike big time. but can be unsettling at those speeds.

    A 600cc and larger sport bike will run mid-10’s in the 1/4 mile at 130+ mph. A ZR1 will not from the factory, nor will an RS6. That AWD sucks allot of energy.

  • avatar

    To all commenters (except our German friend): it’s km/h, not kph

  • avatar

    Rechts fahren indeed! The Audi even spends some time in the right lane.

  • avatar

    Even on an Autobahn – that I’ve never driven, but have riden my ’04 ZX10 up to 186MPH in a track setting – things close in exponentially fast when they are not moving in the neighborhood of the same speed you are. Also bikes aerodynamics suck at those speeds especially vs a slipery car. See how well the bike fares in a 0-150 contest against anything this side of a dragster…just can’t be beat.

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