Is the 300 KM/H Limit Going to Last Any Longer?

The horsepower wars seem to have been rekindled, as Kawasaki’s latest deliveries in early November 2014 have kind of changed the game a bit. However, Akashi was not the only house which did its best to squeeze some horsies out of their sport, yet road-going machines… and this is the reason which caused the natural question, where is the sport bike segment heading for?
Some say that a 200 horsepower bike on the road is already overkill, while others, who usually spend more than one weekend a year at a race track will say that they could definitely use some more power. Problem is, where will this “hp war” lead to?

For starters, KTM said that they were abandoning the RC8 model, because they saw no use in a 200+ hp bike on the roads. Still, they are using the potent 1290 Super Duke R to upgrade the Adventure line-up with the Super Adventure machine, but claim this is about it.

On the other side, KTM is known to be working hard on their all-new MotoGP prototype, so far referred to as the RC16, because 2016 is said to be the year when the bike goes on the track for the first tests. While some will be quick to reply that MotoGP has nothing to do with road going bikes, certain rumors which seem to come from people closer to Mattighofen have it that the new V4 MotoGP engine will be used as the starting point of what is believed to be the successor of RC8.

One thing is certain, that the RC16 engine will have to be able to race shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the machines on the grid and this means we’re in for some 270 hp from it. Of course this engine will not go in the rumored new RC, but we might just get to see a derivative from it. Still, given the fact that KTM will have to de-tune the power unit, it will be funny to see where they will decide to stop.
That is in case a road going sport bike will ever make it from Mattighofen, of course. KTM officials said that the Austrian manufacturer is no longer interested in road motorcycles in the sport segment. However, it’s been more than once when KTM said one thing and came up with the very opposite thing months later.

Back to the rest of the flock, we’ve seen Yamaha upgrading its YZF-R1, Ducati adding more grunt to the new Panigale models, and even BMW has revamped their S1000RR and added to the power figure. Sure, so far, with minor exceptions, the game is still played in the 200 horsepower zone, and we’re talking about stock trim. But the rest of the gang will definitely want to settle some scores with those whose machines brag on extra power.

The Ducati 1299 Panigale in all its three versions (1299, 1299 S and R) has crossed the 200 hp barrier. A shy move to the 205 hp figure can still be looked at as a very bold one. Even more, in Ducati’s case, things are even funnier. The displacement of the new engine went up, from 1,198cc to 1,285, with the mentioned power increase.

But the Panigale R, which serves as the basis for the WSBK homologation remained in the 1,198cc zone, while also enjoying the same power upgrade. Common sense tells us that if Ducati wants more from the 1,285cc power plant, it will not be that hard to muster some extra horsies with hotter cams, a revised ignition and so on. Will we get to see this in the future? I can almost say we just might, as a neat update for the new Panigale, why not?

Yamaha has also made a move up the power ladder with their flagship YZF-R1. The previous Iwata superbike delivered some 180 crankshaft horsepower, give or take, factoring the ram-air effect in or out. The tech specs card of the 2015 R1 reads 200 hp, so I believe there is no need for too many discussions around the new Yamaha (still) liter-class bike.

In a way it’s strange seeing Honda not coming out and play this game, while Aprilia and MV Agusta have happily tweaked their top-notch bikes for some extra grit. If you ask me, Kawasaki could have let the Ninja H2 go with more power… if they wanted. With the H2R being capable to get close to the 300 hp mark, it’s easy to understand that Akashi could have just set a 225 horsepower peak for the street model… but for reasons which are still unknown, they didn’t.

With all the sport machines for 2015 already being introduced, it’s clear that nothing will change at least not until the beginning of the summer, when those eyeing to make it to the front page in the autumn at Cologne or Milan will start testing their new two-wheelers, and hopefully spies will bring us news.

Still, the question remains unanswered. The road-legal Ninja H2 is said to break the 300 km/h (186 mph) gentlemen agreement, but until the first bike is out on the strip and we see it passing this speed without anyone tampering with its ECU, we’re still at square one. However, I cannot help asking myself what if the H2 does go beyond this point?

There will be a lot of riders who would love to go that fast aboard their stock bikes, and this will put a pressure on the manufacturers. Plus, the Ninja H2 is an exclusive and expensive machine you just can’t get anywhere around the world. So this will be a good opportunity for the manufacturer who decides to give up the gallantries and offer more power, more speed in a mass-production bike. Because someone will.

So is 300km/h limit going to last any longer? Have your say, please.
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