Sunday, February 03, 2008

Face-off: The World’s Fastest Bike vs The World’s Fastest Man!

This man, Asafa Powell, can run 100m in an amazing 9.74 seconds. The Hayabusa, on the other hand, will do 400m in 9.95 seconds...

Named after the Japanese Peregrine Falcon, and introduced back in 1999, the Suzuki Hayabusa is an iconic motorcycle. Its styling may not be to everyone’s tastes, but when it’s time to really leave, the mighty Hayabusa runs at the front.

For 2008, Suzuki decided to give the bike a comprehensive makeover, so the Hayabusa’s inline-four had its capacity upped to 1340cc, compression ratio went up to 12.5:1, lighter, aluminum-alloy pistons were used in the engine, the fuel injection system got a brand-new ECU and power went up to a measured, real-world 167bhp at the rear wheel! (Suzuki claim 194bhp@9500rpm, at the crank.)

Row through the Hayabusa’s six-speed gearbox in anger, and the 245-kilo bike will accelerate from zero to 100km/h in less than three seconds – and then go on to hit a top speed of about 290-300km/h.

Riding a stock 2008 Hayabusa, Aaron Yates of Jordan Motorsports did the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 9.95 seconds. And you probably don’t have to be drag racing god to do this – journalists from a dozen motorcycle magazines have done the 400m sprint in anything between 10.10 to 10.75 seconds, on stock Hayabusas.

From left: Aaron Yates on his way to doing the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 9.95 seconds, and Asafa Powell after he's done the 100m in an astounding 9.74 seconds!

Which brings us to the world’s fastest man. Traditionally, the man who’s the quickest in the 100-metre sprint – the reigning 100m Olympic champion – is considered to be the world’s fastest. And right now, that’s 26-year-old Asafa Powell, from Jamaica, who holds the 100m world record at 9.74 seconds.

Like motorcycles, human beings have also been getting quicker consistently. Three decades ago, in 1968, American Jim Hines was the fastest man in the world, having done the 100m in 9.95 seconds. Carl Lewis did it in 9.92 seconds, in 1988. Maurice Greene did the 100m in 9.79 seconds in 1999. And now we have Asafa, who holds the record at 9.74 seconds, which he did in the opening heats of the 2007 IAAF Rieti Grand Prix, in Italy. (Surprisingly enough, women don’t seem to be getting any faster. The current women's 100m world record of 10.49 seconds was set way back in 1988, by Florence Griffith-Joyner. Come on ladies, try harder…!)

So how did Asafa Powell, who stands 6ft.3in tall and weighs 88 kilos, become The Human Hayabusa? ‘I've worked hard and people can see that work. No drugs. Actually, sometimes, if I break the meet record and they don't have me recorded to be tested, I still go and ask them to test me, so nobody can question anything,’ said Powell in one interview.

‘I just eat. A lot of people ask what kind of food I eat, what amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and what not, but I just eat. Regular Jamaican food – chicken, dumplings, curry goat – dem kind of food,’ says Powell, when asked about the fuel that makes him go faster than anyone else on the planet. And no excuses, ever. ‘If I miss practice, he wants a reason. I give a reason, he wants a better one. When it comes to practice, he doesn't want any small excuses,’ says Powell about his coach, who obviously makes sure Asafa delivers peak performance during competition.

But is there a limit to how fast normally-aspirated (drug-free…) human beings can run? Most experts seem to think the 100m record will go down to about 9.6 seconds, but that’s it, no more improvements after that. Asafa does not agree with that, though. ‘We can never say that would be the end. Men and record-breaking is such that if there's a target, that's what we go for,’ he says.

Now, regardless of how much 'regular Jamaican food' we eat, most of us will never be able to run 100m in less than 10 seconds. But those who do crave speed can still rest assured in the knowledge that the mighty Hayabusa will always be happy to take us across 400m in less than 10 seconds. Just find a drag strip, put on your helmet and go for broke. Bikes rule!

Also see:
Down memory lane: No.34, Kevin Schwantz!
Who are your motorcycling heroes...?
Are electronics ruining MotoGP? Riders speak out!
Are Canada and Puerto Rico the worst places in the world for sportsbike riders?
DVD Review: Riding solo to the top of the world
HUGE collection of exclusive, hi-res MotoGP wallpaper!
Face-off: MotoGP bike vs 600-kilo bull!


Anonymous said...

Are you sure the Hayabusa is the world's fastest bike?

Sportbike magazine this year here in USA proved the bikes in 1/4 mile and Hayabusa: 9.79 sec ZX-14: 9.72 sec.They proved with 3 pilots from dragraces and never the Hayabusa won (OK by mil of secs), but the Hayabusa come from factory with exhaust systems of fiber carbon and ZX14 not, that's and advantage for Hayabusa and with that the ZX14 weight 563.5 lbs and Hayabusa 579.5 lbs with tank full, if you put a exhaust system of fiber carbon in ZX-14 you reduce the weight like 25 lbs (yoshimura exhaust's) and what will be happen in the next drag race? You tell me, please

loki said...

Hey... What happpened to Usain Bolt ?

Anonymous said...

Usain Bolt

Anonymous said...

This story was done back in February 2008, when Asafa Powell was the fastest man around...

-Team F&F

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