Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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The fastest motorcycles in the world all share one common feature; they are all constructed and designed with outer shells that allow them to reach speeds in excess of 200+ miles per hour. While many motorcycles can easily surpass the 150 MPH mark, only specially designed motorcycles have the ability to almost double these numbers.

Each of the fastest motorcycles in the world has set records based on three factors: unique design, ability of driver and engine capacity. Those who broke through previous barriers were only able to do so because of pioneering efforts and previous contributions to the industry.

History of Speed

Beginning with the 1956 NSU Delphin III, which reaches a speed above 200 mph; this German motorcycle was the first of its kind to accelerate and maintain such a high speed. The driver, Willhelm Hertz set the record for a motorcycle land speed of 211 mph. This historic event also helped to introduce the Wankel engine, a supercharged rotary instrument.

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– 1970

The Harley Davidson Sportster created in 1970, embraced aerodynamic designs, and pushed the limits of this motorcycle by achieving a top speed of 265 mph. The driver, Carl Rayborn relied on the nitro-methane engine to boost speed and the streamlined structure is equally impressive.

– 1975

In 1975, the Yamaha Silverbird became the first motorcycle to reach and exceed 300 mph; this vehicle, driven by Don Vesco reached a top speed of 302 mph. The 240 horsepower engine mixed with sleek exterior cut through air effortlessly with unmatched stability for these speeds.

– 1978

By 1978, the Lightning Bolt, designed by Kawasaki exceeded the previously recorded high speed of 302 mph. This motorcycle reached an unbelievable 318 mph; ironically, driven by the same driver, Don Vesco. This record remained intact for the next 12 years.

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– 1990

In 1990, the Harley Davidson Easy Rider set the record for top speed, reaching 322 mph. The two engines, powered with 1500cc allowed the driver, Dave Campos to reach this speed on July 14, 1990. Resembling more of a spacecraft and less than that of a motorcycle, the 1990 Harley Davidson Easy Rider remained the fastest motorcycle in the world until 2006.

– 2006

The 2006 BUB Seven motorcycle became the first of its kind to reach 350 mph, blowing the old record away by more than 25 mph. The designers created this motorcycle specifically to break the record and they succeedded on September 5. For two years, the BUB Seven held this record.

– 2008

On September 26, 2008, the new record was recorded when the Top 1 Oil Ack Attack reached a top speed of 360 mph. To date, this remains the fastest motorcycle in the world.

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Unique Features

The 1956 NSU Delphin III has a unique feature, the engine design. Those familiar with this motorcycle often compare the engine to that of a steam locomotive because of the position of the pushrods and the overall camshaft drive design. Luckily, these oddities are the reason for the successful acceleration and consistent speeds.

The 1970 Harley Davidson Sportster is very different in design, in fact, the driver needs to lie down, facing up and using the built-in windows to see and steer. By maximizing on the minimal wind drag, this motorcycle achieved incredible speeds.

The 1975 Yamaha Silverbird was designed with dual engines and a cigar-shaped body. The external wings also helped propel the vehicle forward, faster. The designers focused on acceleration aspects and this motorcycle reaches a more than 100 mph within the first few seconds.

The 1978 Kawasaki Lighting Bolt was quickly named two-wheel lightning because of the ability to reach speeds over 315 mph. The unique feature of this motorcycle is the salvaged parts from World War II airplanes. The clutch and gears allowed for speeds never recorded before.

The 1990 Harley Davidson Easy Rider gained fame because of the speeds reached with a motorcycle that weighs over 2,500 pounds. This was unheard of during the 1990s.

The 2006 BUB Seven uses a 3L, 500 horsepower V-4 engine to boost speeds. The super-charged liquid coolant keeps the heat to a minimum while maximizing the energy output. This motorcycle also uses methanol, as opposed to traditional gasoline and the body is a full foot longer than others are, reducing drag. The shell is carbon and aluminum with a computerized transmission.

The 2008 Top 1 Oil Ack Attack, being the fastest in the world, boasts a multitude of unique features, including tires capable of maintaining ultra-high speeds. Because the front tires measure seven inches and the back measure nine inches, they also provide excellent traction. Completing the design is the 900 horsepower, modified Suzuki dual engines.

Current Value – Purchasing Options

Each of the fastest motorcycles in the world is considered priceless because they are one-of-a-kind designs. You however, can purchase reproduction vehicles that contain some of the same features. Depending upon the model you select, you may be able to locate auction houses and vintage car aficionados who have the resources to assist you with your search.

The fastest motorcycles in the world have set and broken records are are built for one purpose, to achieve speeds that have never been reached before. Over the next few years, others will attempt to match or even exceed the current record. Technology will no doubt play the ultimate role in deciding the fastest motorcycle in the world once again sometime soon.