Motorcycle riders can be just as obsessed with chasing speed records as car drivers. And just like cars, bike records don’t always rely on piston-engine power. Sometimes, something more exotic—and extreme—is called for. That’s why, to try and breach the 400-mph barrier, Guy Martin is going to use a turbine-powered motorcycle.
TT icon Guy Martin is no stranger to attempting and setting records
Few people in the motorcycle world haven’t heard of Guy Martin. Although now semi-retired from racing, Martin’s name is intimately tied with one race in particular: the Isle of Man TT. He’s raced around the legendary (and deadly) road circuit 14 times so far, been involved in some truly hairy crashes, and starred in the documentary Closer to the Edge, Devitt reports. Indeed, RevZilla calls Guy Martin “the fastest man to never win the [Isle of Man] TT.”
Besides being a motorcycle racing legend, Guy Martin is also a professional mechanic and a TV presenter. And when he’s not riding bikes, wrenching on vans, or presenting programs, he’s busy setting records. Not all of these records involve motorcycles, though.
In 2019 Guy Martin set a tractor speed record of 103.6 mph behind the wheel of a modified J.C. Bamford Fastrac, Autoblog reports. He also holds records for the fastest hovercraft, fastest gravity-powered snow sled, and fastest soapbox racer. And in 2016 he set the world record for the ‘Wall of Death’ riding at 78.15 mph, Cycle World reports.
Guy Martin is also no stranger to more ‘conventional’ motorcycle speed records. The same year he set the Wall of Death record, Martin tried to beat the motorcycle land speed record set by Rocky Robinson in 2010. Martin’s ride was the specially-designed Triumph Rocket Streamliner, powered by two turbocharged 2.3-liter Rocket III engines burning methanol to deliver 1000 hp.
Sadly, although the Rocket Streamliner set a Triumph speed record, Guy Martin didn’t break Robinson’s record. Martin went 274.2 mph, while the world record still stands at 376.363 mph, Cycle World reports. Or at least, it still stands for now.
The motorcycle Martin will ride has a helicopter turbine engine
Although cars with turbine engines haven’t really been successful, the technology is still kicking around in motorcycles. There’s at least one turbine motorcycle still in production, the MTT 420 RR. However, that’s not the bike Guy Martin is riding.
Instead, he’s using a custom-built motorcycle with the turbine engine from a helicopter, Autoblog reports. It’s a Rolls-Royce turbine engine sourced from a British military Westland Lynx, and it makes 1200 hp, RideApart reports. And it sits in a 30-foot-long streamliner chassis made of aluminum and “aircraft-grade steel tubing,” MCN reports.
The turbine motorcycle is the creation of Alex Macfadzean and Bernie Toleman, veterans in the world of motorsports and speed records. Macfadzean has worked in MotoGP, Formula One, and designed the bike that broke the 200-mph barrier, RideApart reports. And Toleman is both an endurance racer and a British Superbike team owner, MCN reports. Guy Martin, then, is in good hands.
When and where will this record attempt take place?
Of course, Guy Martin isn’t just working on shattering one world record. As of this writing, he’s trying to become the first person to reach 300 mph on a bike over a standing mile, MCN reports. Only instead of a turbine motorcycle, he’s using a turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa.
Regarding the 400-mph target, the bike itself still isn’t finished. But the team expects to complete construction and start testing by this summer, Autoblog reports. And the record attempt itself is scheduled for 2022 at the Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia, RideApart reports.
To which we say, good luck.
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