The Fastest Production Motorcycles on the Planet
Here’s a list of top 10 fastest motorcycles in the worldby Harry Fisher, on
Speed: the one statistic that really gets peoples’ hearts racing, whether you can use it or not! Since the dawn of motorcycling, speed has been the only obsession worth talking about and the top speeds of production motorcycles have climbed steadily over the decades. At one point, the manufacturers were scared things were getting too fast and feared legislation would clip their wings, but that seems to have gone by the wayside since Kawasaki launched the H2. Here’s our list of the top ten fastest motorcycles, whether they are still in production or not.
Kawasaki H2/H2R - 221.82mph/248mph
A hugely impressive piece of engineering, the Kawasaki H2/H2R is the fastest motorcycle in the world. Drawing expertise from different divisions in Kawasaki Heavy Industries to supercharge the inline four-cylinder, 998cc engine, it produces over 220bhp in this machine(nearer 300bhp in the track-only H2R).
The H2 has spectacular looks, once again born in the wind tunnel, and an amazing mix of low-speed docility and arm-stretching acceleration, with accompanying throttle lift-off chirps from the supercharger blades passing the speed of sound!
Incredible in every way and makes everything else on this list look pedestrian. Track-only H2R has no lights and is sold with racing slick tires as standard. World Superbike rider Toprak Razgatlioglu took one to nearly 250mph in Turkey.
|Top Speed||221.8mph/248mph (H2/H2R)|
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R - 208.15mph
Built between 2006 and 2020, not so much to take the top speed record back from Suzuki, which was largely irrelevant by then as the Japanese manufacturers had agreed to limit their bikes to 186mph, but to further refine the sports tourer. The fact that it would, in unrestricted form, comfortably top 200 mph was a bonus that Kawasaki couldn’t shout about!
As with the Super Blackbird and Hayabusa, the Ninja ZX-14R is a peerless high-speed, long-distance sports tourer, powered by a huge inline four-cylinder engine providing huge amounts of smooth power. Much prettier than the Hayabusa, it was nevertheless designed in the wind tunnel to be as wind-cheating and stable at speed as possible.
|Top Speed (unrestricted)||208 mph|
Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa - 193.86mph
The GSX1300R is Suzuki’s successful attempt to wrest the title of fastest production bike from Kawasaki and Honda. The name was a sly dig at Honda as ‘Hayabusa’ is Japanese for Peregrine Falcon which hunts and kills….blackbirds!
Introduced in 1999, it took motorcycle aerodynamics to new heights (or depths, depending on your aesthetic tastes) and it looked like nothing else. Designed to cut through the air and be completely stable at speed, two things it managed to do perfectly.
The GSX1300R remained virtually unchanged for the first twenty years of its life, before a full re-design in 2021, which sharpened up the bulbous lines and improved mid-range power. The Hayabusa was the perfect embodiment of the ‘no substitute for cubic inches’ school of thought, the 1340 cc engine putting out a peak of 204bhp.
In terms of electronics, it’s relatively simple compared to liter sports bikes but then, this was never a bike designed to be fast around a race track: it had but one job, to go fast in a straight line although, despite its size, it remains agile in the twisty bits.
Ducati Panigale V4S - 191mph
For many, Ducati is as synonymous with Italian engineering as Ferrari or Lamborghini and there is certainly something about the bright red motorcycles from Bologna.
After years of relying on the iconic 90° V-twin (or L-twin for pedants), ever-increasing cylinder bore dimensions were reaching their limit in the 1299 Panigale V-twin and, in order to keep up with the opposition, Ducati made the decision to go to a V4, which had the added benefit of providing a link to MotoGP machines.
The new V4S engine is a masterpiece of packaging, as well as being structurally extremely strong, enabling the reduction of the actual chassis to a headstock that bolts to the top of the engine and a swing arm that bolts to the rear of the engine, saving weight.
The Panigale V4 was a huge step forward from the V-twin Panigale 1299, being light and nimble and with a power delivery that resembles a rocket taking off. State-of-the-art braking and suspension components and electronics, naturally, for this top-of-the-range Ducati.
Honda CBR 1100XX Super Blackbird - 190.14mph
The CBR 1100XX Super Blackbird is one of the most iconic sports bikes of all time, even if its party trick is straight-line speed, rather than out-and-out track performance. First built in the mid-1990s at a time when the top speed was the headline-grabbing statistic and Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki went head-to-head, leading to fears that governments would ban such machines for being too fast and leading to the gentleman’s agreement between manufacturers to limit top speed to 186mph (300km/h).
Produced between 1996 and 2007, it was conceived and built with the sole aim of beating the Kawasaki ZZ-R1100’s top speed, which it did, becoming the world’s fastest production bike in the process.
Despite this insane top speed, the Super Blackbird could also be completely docile and sensible if that’s what the rider wanted. It’s the classic Honda: refined, comfortable, beautifully engineered, and built to a no-compromise specification. Not that much more powerful than the ZZ-R1100 but improved on its top speed due to better aerodynamics. Uncannily stable at very high speeds and has never properly been replaced by any manufacturer.
BMW S1000RR - 188.27mph
BMW gave the sports bike world a big kick up the backside when it launched the S1000RR back in 2009. Not only was this a huge departure for the once-staid motorcycle manufacturer, but it was absolutely brilliant right out of the gate, taking on and beating the established stars of the category, making more horsepower at the rear wheel than any of its rivals.
Never has German efficiency been better demonstrated than in the S1000RR, nor, it has to be said, has quirky design: the first generation S1000RR had asymmetric headlights that made it look as if it was winking at you.
Astonishingly fast and dynamically brilliant, it was also the best-equipped sports bike on its release, with three different riding modes and an up-and-down quick-shifter, the first production bike to be so fitted.
Updated in 2019, with a four-liter lighter engine producing more power and a broader spread of torque thanks to its ‘Shiftcam’ variable valve timing technology.
The S1000RR is still one of the fastest means of getting from A to B on two wheels.
MV Agusta F4RC - 187.65mph
MV Agusta is still one of the most desirable motorcycle brands, even if it has lost some of the exotic exclusivity that was a hallmark in the 1970s. Checkered history that has seen it nearly disappear several times. Now, under new ownership, a new stability seems to be in the offing.
The first F4 of 1998 was possibly the most beautiful sports motorcycle ever built and the F4RC lost none of that. Limited to just 250 examples, the inline four-cylinder engine produced 202.5bhp but that could be boosted to 212bhp when you opened the accompanying wooden casket to reveal SC-Project full titanium single exit exhaust and matching ECU, quick-release fuel cap, carbon fiber heat shields, F4 RC single seat tail cover, and lightweight fixings.
As rare and super-desirable as the Ducati Superleggera, examples of the F4RC will, in all likelihood, have covered very little mileage and, equally as likely, will never have seen a race track, let alone reached its top speed of 187.65mph.
|Horsepower||202.5bhp (212bhp with race kit)|
Yamaha YZF-R1 - 185.78mph
The YZF-R1 is the second of the Japanese liter superbikes that so transformed the performance motorcycling scene back in the 1990s and the first on our list. The Yamaha R1 followed the Honda CBR900RR Fireblade in concentrating on lightweight and excellent handling and has been refined ever since.
Like many of the Japanese sports bikes, it’s lagging behind European makes in terms of outright technological and electronic spec but makes up for it with an insane-sounding flat-plane crank engine which sounds like no other four-cylinder out there.
Still an incredibly fast and accomplished sports bike with the added advantage of being a relative bargain!
|Top Speed||186 mph|
Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 180.19mph
With its howling V4 engine, the Aprilia RSV4 Factory is Italian engineering and brio at its finest. Epic handling and an astonishing chassis, suspension (electronic semi-active courtesy of Öhlins) and top-line Brembo brakes endow the RSV4 Factory with more go, stop and turn than most mere mortals could ever hope to cope with.
The chassis frame can be traced back to 2009 but it’s still one of the best out there, incorporating adjustable steering head angle, swing arm pivot position, and rear ride height. Massively complex electronics package keeps things in check.
A displacement increase to 1099cc (from 1077cc) in 2021 was necessary to offset the Euro5 emissions penalty but that still gives you 214bhp and a top speed of 186mph. Next to more modern superbikes, such as the Ducati Panigale V4S, starting to show its age a little but still an astonishingly fast and agile motorcycle.
BMW K1300S - 174.5mph
Even though it’s not a current production motorcycle, having been produced between 2008 and 2016, the BMW K1300S is still one of the fastest production motorcycles out there. It wasn’t the first inline four-cylinder engine BMW produced - that accolade goes to the longitudinally mounted lay-down four as fitted to the K100 of 1983, but it was BMW’s first transversely-mounted inline-four.
With a capacity of 1293cc, the power output was 174.5bhp and the torque figure was 95.14 lb/ft which, with the wind-tunnel-designed bodywork, gave a top speed of 174mph and BMWs own ABS braking system helped keep the speed in check. Typical BMW build quality means that second-hand examples will still have a lot of life left in them and constitute the cheapest way of getting into the top speed club.