From the URL currently showing in your browser, I think it’s a safe bet that you understand and appreciate the wondrous benefits of traveling on two wheels. Cars are merely dynamically inferior conveyances.
Moto-heads can acknowledge that four-wheeled vehicles offer some advantages over motorbikes, even beyond the utility of transporting a motorcycle. For instance, any January ride would be significantly warmer in a car, and, depending where you live, a winter ride might be impossible on a bike. Eating french fries is easier in a car. And I can verify that automobiles are vastly superior to a motorcycle in accommodating make-out sessions, whether mild or wild.
However, the creature comforts offered by automobiles comes with steep prices. First, of course, is the actual price, now averaging more than $30k. A car’s other stiff price, especially in performance terms, is mass – a term used by scientists and engineers to describe weight. A report in Slate says the average new vehicle in 1987 weighed 3,221 lbs. But by 2010, that number had ballooned to a leviathan-like 4,009 lbs!
One of the most heavily publicized performance cars of recent months is the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, boasting a jaw-dropping 707 horsepower from its supercharged Hemi. That’s a monumental number, and I’m sure I’d be thrilled to drive it. But consider Hellcat’s curb weight, somewhere north of 4,400 lbs. So, despite the colossal corral of ponies, it’ll gallop down the quarter-mile at a pace slower than, say, a 1987 Honda Hurricane 600. Now, a 12.5-second quarter in a street car on stock tires is no mean feat, but it pales next to a modern performance motorcycle.
But now comes a batch of hyper/super/uber cars from exotic manufacturers like McLaren and Porsche. From the former comes the stupendous P1, featuring a turbo-ICE/electric powertrain that combines for a ridiculous 903 hp. Porsche’s supercar hybrid, the 918, has a combined 887 hp able to be routed to all four wheels. Would I like to drive either? Hellz yeah! Will they be able to out-accelerate a top-tier sportbike? Well, no. And yes.
Porsche’s 918 has logged a startlingly quick 9.8-second quarter-mile (weather-corrected) when tested by Car and Driver magazine. While the $848,000 Porsche’s ET is mind blowing for a car, its mass, relative to a motorcycle, holds it back. Containing an extra motor and its batteries – not to mention air conditioning, a heater and a (removable) roof – the 918 scales in around 3,800 lbs. The Porsche is actually a few ticks slower than the stock Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX-14R we tested in 2012.
But perhaps the wicked, $1.1M McLaren P1 would be able to out-sprint a motorcycle. To find out, Autocar magazine recently put the 3,300-lb P1 and 918 to an epic acceleration test. Instead of a ZX-14R, the car magazine chose Ducati’s ultra-exotic 1199 Panigale Superleggera.
There is a fascinating battle of acceleration you can see in the video below. It’s the all-wheel-drive Porsche that sprints to the early lead, getting to 60 mph in 2.95 seconds, versus the Ducati’s 3.14 and the rear-drive McLaren’s 3.24 secs. The Superleggera is quickest to 100 mph, but by less than a tenth of a second to the Porsche and by 0.17 second compared to the P1.
The Superleggera compares most favorably in the 0-150-mph sprint, clocking in a lead of more than one second over the cars. But then the inferior aerodynamics of motorcycles starts to deal its frustrating hand, followed shortly by gearing that bumps the Duc’s rev limiter at 192 mph. At the one-mile mark, the Superleggera was traveling at 191.5 mph, while the 918 was churning out 194.6 mph. Meanwhile, the P1 had vaulted ahead, speeding to 204.7 mph at the same distance. Note the Ducati’s top speed, higher than that allowed by by the 186-mph gentlemen’s agreement abided by Japanese OEMs.
So, the Superleggera accelerates to 150 mph quicker than even the superest supercar, but it can’t top the magical 200-mph mark. It’s both a win and a loss for motorcycle enthusiasts. Unless you believe comparing motorcycles to cars that cost $1 million an unfair fight, even against a $70k Ducati. Consider, too, that a ZX-14R can be had for less than $15k, and it would surely achieve 186 mph more hastily than any Ducati.
Anyway, no matter the acceleration times, automobiles are simply unable to deliver the joy of bending a motorcycle into corners – they lean the wrong way. It’s a feeling that only requires an investment of a few thousand dollars, and a feeling that can’t be matched by any car. Another drawback of cars: they’re very reluctant to wheelie!
And what, you might be wondering, about the 950-hp, $1.4M LaFerrari? I’d like to straddle Kawi’s H2R to determine the result of that duel! Hey, Ferrari North America, you wanna give it shot?