But do we really know performance? State of the art performance? Eyeball-wrenching performance? Neuron-reprogramming performance? Performance that equates to the fastest machines on the planet?
I’d say that, unless your hedge fund bet against the mortgage crisis, and you took the spare change from your payday to buy yourself a used Porsche Carrera GT, or a Ferrari FXX, and unlimited laptime at Weisach or Fiorano, you don’t really know.
Unless you ride a bike.
I’m sure I’m not the only one here who rides a fast bike. And, of course, I keep it Teutonic. I have a BMW K1200S. 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds, according to the magazines. When I bought it, it was the fastest thing BMW made and a huge leap forward from its predecessors. It doesn’t go around corners quite like a Jap crotch rocket, or a Ducati. But the difference is de minimus on the street. On the track, well, ok, they win, but not by much.
But not any more. I just demo’d Bavaria’s first-ever assault on land-based space flight, the new S1000RR.
0 to 60 is about the same as my bike. Then it’s like engaging warp-drive. 0 to 100 is 5.3 seconds away, according to the Brit magazine Bike.
Let’s put that into perspective. The Bugatti Veyron clocks 5.8 seconds, 0 to 100, according to the magazine Evo. And it’s got something north of 1,000 bhp, and four-wheel drive. A McLaren F1 does it in 6.3 seconds, a Caparo T1 in 6.2. That’s about as good as it gets on four wheels with a license plate.
Nothing with two wheels and a plate touches it, either. BMW claims the bike packs 193 bhp at the crank -- Bike dynoed it and found 183 at the rear wheel, the most ever, beating the fabled Suzuki Hayabusa by 5 -- and pushing just 403 lbs dry.
Then you have your four riding modes - Rain, Sport, Race and Slick. My ride was short, way too short. It felt like milliseconds and… there I was, transported to Pandora. Though I did sample the difference between Sport and Race. In case you’re curious, Rain drops power output to a measly 140-something, and correspondingly slows throttle response and lean angle before stability control kicks in.
The difference between Sport and Race is the difference between Right Now and not having the time to say the words. As for Slick, well, who knows? It’s supposed to be only for when you’re running slicks on a track, and setting the bike for it is kinda like what you have to do to get the Veyron prepared for a top speed assault. You can’t go to it on the fly.
But what blew me away is how friendly the machine really is. You can toodle around town like you‘re on a Vespa. But, if you’re stuck at a light, and you start blipping the throttle out of boredom, beware. The exhaust barks… and this is in stock German form, remember, with no aftermarket cans attached to the exhaust. Shatter a few windows? Trip a few car alarms? No problem.
Do you know the name Valentino Rossi? He’s won nine Grand Prix World Championships to date, and is the current reigning MotoGP champion. He’s sort of a combination of Schumacher, Senna, Stewart and Clark, all rolled into one. Perhaps the best ever. The point is that, on this bike, you may actually get a feel for what it’s like to ride like him.
Here’s how I know. Sending me off, the company rep said that, when I come to a corner, I should really put the power down, mid-corner, to see how the stability control works. If you ride, you know this move is insan… no, I swallowed deep and tried it. The thing just settled. Mid-corner. With no drama. No high-siding, no low-siding. No nothing. On anything else you can buy for the street, next stop is a hospital stay that will test your current health care plan. Or the Pearly Gates. But on this bike, you just hang on. Then you straighten it out, point it down the road, and the traction control keeps you just at the limit of adhesion - with no wheelie - as you catapult, once again, into hyperspace. Like Rossi!
In fact, the stability control is set to a specific maximum roll angle, based on what riding mode you’re in. Race mode allows for, well, let’s just say more lean than I’m comfortable with. I never said I was Rossi.
Then there’s a “Quick Shift” option. What happens is that the electronics allow you to shift up, without clutching, and without releasing the throttle. It, too, works as advertised.
And the brakes…. Sorry, I’m out of metaphors.
So what do you do with a machine like this? Ride it on the track. Ride it to the track. Ride it anywhere. The fact is, it’s really up to you, and your wrists, and your feet, and your adrenal glands… and your driver’s license.
I really want one. Getting back on my K1200S, I actually felt like I was stepping back into my wife’s SUV. Which is funny, because I always feel the same when I get off my bike and hop back into my Boxster S. Everything is slower, more bulky, less fun. It’s weird how your parameters change.
Such is the price of performance. A Veyron costs $1.6M. The bike’s MSRP is $13,900. BMW cars are called Bimmers. This is a Beemer. What would happen if Porsche made a bike? The mind crumbles.