What’s it like to ride at 300kmh?

BMW S 1000 RR

You probably won’t have reached 300kmh (186mph), unless you’ve been to a track with a long straight, or ridden on the autobahn or the unrestricted part of the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory.

Anthony Hopkins (playing Burt Munro) says in the 2005 film The World’s Fastest Indian: “You live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat out than some people live in a lifetime.”

Let me tell you, it is scintillating, dangerous, life-affirming and stupid.

GETTING THERE

Even on high-powered bikes such as the BMW S 1000 RR and Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird which I did it on, the speed comes up slowly.

These bikes will reach 200kmh fairly swiftly, but it seems to take forever to reach the “magic” 300kmh and there will be many times when you chicken out before you get there.

At these speeds you also need to be looking a lot further into the distance so you are prepared for any changes in the situation ahead as these loom up quickly.

BLUR

One of the problems of knowing when you have hit 300km/h is seeing your speedo. There is so much vibration from the bike and the helmet buffeting – even when tucked tight behind the fairing – that you can’t clearly see the numbers on the speedo.

I checked where the 300km/h mark was on the Blackbird speedo (300km/h is NOT the top speed indicated!) so I just had to wait for the needle to reach that point.

Honda Blackbird 300kmh
Honda Blackbird (Pic from need4speed)

The BMW has a digital speedo, but even it was difficult to see because of the blurring.

Be aware that the blurring will also affect your vision of the road ahead.

NOISE

The noise is deafening, even with earplugs in.

It’s not the engine screaming or the exhaust. In fact, you can no longer hear them above the roar of the wind.

It sounds like you’re standing too close to a fighter jet.

You should try Alpine MotoSafe Race earplugs that have maximum hearing protection.

You can buy them in on ourline shop by clicking here.

Alpine MotoSafe earplugs make riders safer
Alpine MotoSafe Race earplugs

VIBRATION

I mentioned vibration before, but it’s worth noting again.

Unless your helmet is super-tight, any movement will be amplified and it will buzz on your head, adding to the blurring of your vision and trying to strangle you with the chin strap.

I wished I’d also worn tighter leathers because the flapping of loose clothing becomes so vicious it stings.

STEERING

At very slow speeds, you steer in the direction you want to go, but then counter steering takes over where you counter-steer.

At higher speeds, counter-steering becomes heavier and there is a theory that it is negated at very high speeds.

However, I didn’t feel anything of the sort. Steering input at that speed is so slight as to be imperceptible and I certainly wasn’t turning any corners!

NIRVANA

When I finally reached 300km/h I had an overwhelming desire to sit up and punch the air with victory.

However, the wind pressure at that speed nearly blew me off the bike as soon as I lifted my head from behind the screen.

I literally pulled my head in and kept a firm grip of the bars, pegs and the tank with my thighs.

World's Fastest indian 300kmh
Photo from The World’s Fastest Indian

STOPPING

The first time I reached 300km/h, I immediately tried to slow the bike down with the brakes.

However, even moving my right foot from the footpeg to the brake pedal was difficult because of the wind pressure.

I eased the brakes on gently because the tyres only have light contact with the road at that speed as every ripple on the surface lifts them slightly off the ground.

Touch the brakes too hard and you may get instant lock-up! I also made sure to match engine speed when gearing down to avoid a rear-wheel lock-up.

SPOILER ALERT

Having reached 300kmh on the speedo does not mean I actually reached 300kmh.

Most speedos are inaccurate by a few percent on the conservative side of the actual speed.

Even if it’s just 3%, that means I only reached 291km/h!

Unless you have done some modifications to your bike you certainly won’t go over 300km/h because all motorcycle companies have had a “gentlemen’s agreement” to restrict their bikes to 300km/h since the early 2000s.

DISCLAIMER

Yes, it’s exciting, but it’s all over in seconds and the potential for tragedy is enormous.

A bird strike (even a big insect such as a grasshopper), a tyre blowout, or a road surface irregularity (let alone a pothole), could spell instant disaster.

If you do feel the need for ultra-high speeds, go to a race track or drag strip, learn some skills and satiate your speed addiction there, not on public roads.

Kawasaki Team Green Australia's first track-day event is on April 8 300kmh
Try a track day instead!

7 Comments

  1. Yep, I have been an idiot previously on zx14, knew that I had hit the max because the mandatory speed limiter kicked in and as eluded to in the article; at that top end number whatever it may be approaching 300; it felt like something had broken as the rev limiter retarded the engine!
    Held at that, it is like hold the hell on & keep your head down. Looking out for wild life is not even in your mind, you have committed to winding out to top end, if something gets in your road; you will not steer round it. As for the Big road in NT, the novelty of holding the work twin cab at an indicated 180kmh (173kmh GPS corrected) is soon seen through as being a pain, modern cars are geared for economy at 100 to 110kmh so even at the 130 mark you tend to burn 25% more fuel, at 160+kmh the BT50Mazda was using about 30l/ 100km.

  2. As you cross from South Australia in to the Northern Territory, nothing visual changes except the sign.

    But mentally its like a truck has been lifted off you. You still maintain the same speed, but can now look around, enjoy the scenery and ambience of the Outback. Life is suddenly very good.

  3. Oh, please leave the northern territory out of it! Only for the reason that including it in any speed articles is fodder for the dull citizens who think they will live forever at 95kmh. Keep the secret.

    For anyone who has not been there and is thinking of trying it, – forget it! You can still be charged with ‘speed dangerous’, but the MAIN reason is that the highway is alive with errant very solid and very big wildlife! Like camels and feral pigs. No way.

      1. The Stuart Highway is a shade over 2700 km from start to finish, with just under 1800 km in the Northern Territory, so the mix of terrain, flora and fauna varies *a lot* – in the NT particularly, the verge is often enormous with excellent visibility, sometimes of course its flat and barren on the side of the road seemingly to the horizon, so plenty of scope for a fang.

        The prevalence of different species is very dependent on location (“not many” feral pigs at the SA/NT border for example 🙂 ) and culling programmes … in recent years in the Central areas the most common target still seems to be the kangaroo … of course there are all sorts – emu, dingo, camel, cattle, donkey – but you could easily ride hundreds of kilometres and not see any of them.

        The two main issues for me were fuel consumption and the ‘so what then’ factor. The more recent de-restricted speed zone went from about 22 km north of Alice Springs for a few hundred kilometres – Aileron Roadhouse is about 110 km into that zone and fair to say achievable in around 30 minutes especially with numerous spirited bursts – but it’s nerve wracking, tiring, and very heavy on fuel – as near as empty a big sport tourer tank over that distance. And when you’ve done it a couple of times, so what then …

        Of course 130 is the limit now … only just out of first gear 😉

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