Several times in history we thought to have reached a barrier in technology or sport. In some case, we draw the line ourselves to stay in control, to be on the safe side. But can the man stand still in front of a barrier?
In the 80ies all motorcycle manufacturers were challenging themselves creating always more and more powerful engines. Until in some European country, they started to talk about limiting the horsepower to 100 HP. But fortunately, nothing happened.
Who threw the first stone?
At the end of the 90ies, a motorbike was about to change everything. In that time the fastest one was the Honda CBR1100XX but in 1999 Suzuki presented the Hayabusa, fitted with a 1300cc inline-four engine developing 173HP evolved from the old GSXR1100. The “Falcon” (which is what Hayabusa in Japanese means) was designed to crash records and it became the first production bike to break the wall of the 300 km/h. Honda abandoned that path but Kawasaki was working on a 1400cc version of their ZXR.
Japanese brands started to challenge themselves above the 300 km/h benchmark which caught the attention of many speed enthusiasts around the world. This was a crucial moment in history because this battle could have led to a restriction directly from the government. Just try to imagine this like a war between motorcycle producers pushing the speed limits further and further. They realized that they had to pull the break before the government would take action.
Someone had to call a meeting
No one knows if it’s a real agreement in written form but what they made affected every 1000cc motorcycle starting from the year 2000. From the new Hayabusa to the ZX-14 every bike came out with an electronic limit at 300 km/h. They called it the “Gentlemen’s Agreement”.
Meanwhile in Italy…
Italian companies were never interested in big bikes for top speed in the straight line. They made it clear that they build their superbikes to fit the rules of the World Championship. And their commandment is to make them as fast as possible. In 2007 MV Agusta revealed their weapon, the new F4 R 312. And that was a statement because the “312” stands for the top speed. The Gentlemen’s Agreement worked for a while until MV Agusta broke this armistice, followed by Ducati and their Panigale R (325 km/h). Last year Kawasaki launched the H2, a supercharged 1000cc limited to 200 HP and a racing version called H2R with 310HP. This year Super Sport Champion Kenan Sofuoglu hit the 400 km/h wall setting a new world record. I think it’s in our nature to challenge our limits and break barriers. A record is just information, not a limit.
So can the man stand still in front of a barrier? No, I think it’s in our nature to challenge our limits and break barriers because a record is just information, not a limit.
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Photo: Suzuki GSXR1300 Hayabusa