Car Vs. Bike
I always heard that although bikes will slaughter cars accelerating in a straight line, in the corners and on the brakes is a cars domain.
Your average 190 section superbike has a contact patch around the size of the palm of your hand to put close to 1000hp per tonne through. For a start you won’t get many cars these days with tyres less than 190 wide – and of course they have two or even four driver wheels to get their power onto the asphalt.
Plus when hard on the power the car won’t be trying to flip itself over backwards, so you’d think a decent car would be able to whupp a bike from a standstill.
Unfortunately bikes are a Hell of a lot lighter, us bikers are able to get our beer bellies weighted over the front end, and even a bad start will see 60mph in around 3 seconds. Most car drivers don’t understand this when they see us “Shooting off from the lights like a drag race!!” – the chances are we’re taking it easy but your car does 60 in more like TEN seconds. Think about it.
To quote myself whilst explaining how fast bikes accelerate: You know how you walk at, say, 4mph? And you sort of take that very first step and are already at maximum walking speed? That’s like how a sportsbike hits 30mph. I could pull out into traffic between two cars (leaving your obligatory 2 second gap, of course) and be up to speed without anyone having to brake to avoid me.
If you haven’t ridden a fast bike you can’t even comprehend it. It’s a blessing. It’s silly. It’s far too fast for the roads. And to even begin to think that a lot of cars don’t have a rev counter?! WTF? I have no idea what the Fiat revs to, but I can only guess that it’s less than my ZX9R’s 12,500rpm? And the Fiat certainly doesn’t do over 80mph in first gear…
Now, as any of my regular readers will know, after 10 years of riding sportsbikes I took and passed my car driving license a few months back.
OK, so I’ve only got some skinny-tyred Fiat Uno, but it’s weird. I still find myself driving sometimes and think “What the fuck?? What the Hell am I doing in a CAR??? How did this happen?”.
This is often followed by muttering about “Monkey drive car! Oo-ooh OOKA OHH!!!”.
I have to recalibrate my whole brain to deal with the road speed differences. The car is like being in one of those nightmares where you’re trying to run but can’t go fast. Everything happens in verrrrrrryy slowwwww motionnnnnn….
And I’ve done a skid control course, tried to push the car, and fully intend of getting a racecar on a track ASAP.
Other than pulling out on islands and at junctions which require about five times the space of a bike in laziest mode, the thing that’s getting me is the corner speed.
Four tyres and loads of grip, and I’ve always just assumed cars are faster in corners… but that just isn’t the case!
In the Uno I’ve tried the Redditch Cloverleaf a few times and the ‘safe’ speed is about HALF what it is on a bike I was horrified the first time as I drove into the first corner at a very conservative speed and still felt I had to brake. And what a weird viewpoint it is compared to having your head banked over all the way to the left about 18 inches from the tarmac!
I’m still to drive a high performance car, but I just can’t see it pushing my limits like the bike does? It’s too easy!
And riding a bike at 190mph is possible, and feels ‘OK’. To be doing 120+ ina huge metal box of a car, with all those forces involved if you do come a cropper??? Terrifying.
I think if I’d done this the other way around (i.e. had a car for 10 years and THEN a sportsbike), I’d just be absolutely terrified of the bike every time I threw my leg over it.
They’re an awesome vehicle to be privileged to ride – and I mean that ‘awesome’ in the truest and most lost meaning of that word.