In the world of street racing it's run what you brung and hope you've got enough. Unlike official racing with regulations to level the field, life on the street is a high stakes gamble full of tall tales, big upsets and total uncertainty.
In a time-honored tradition, competitors on two and four wheels meet under the veil of darkness in secluded areas to battle for the title of "King of the Street." Some races are for respect and some are for money, but all are serious business.
Modern sportbikes are marvels of technology that can cover the quarter mile in the 9s at 150 mph and almost touch 190 mph right off the showroom floor. As such, when a streetcar is fast enough to be deemed "nasty," the natural question is, "Will it beat a bike?"
Some might consider this an odd sense of flattery as bikes are often considered the ones to beat. In actuality, it only fuels the age-old car versus bike conflict.
A simple online search results in car guys posting clips of their rides "smoking 'Busas" and the bike guys retorting with vids of them destroying any car imaginable. In most cases the bike submissions are believable, but when you see various 12-second cars walking liter bikes it starts to raise doubts.
Having suffered through dozens of laughable vids of flip-flop clad riders losing to slower cars, we noticed one common flaw-rider error. Although any vehicle requires a certain level of operator aptitude, motorcycles require far more skill than cars. Under wide open throttle you're holding on for dear life, trying to keep the front wheel down while making sure you stay off the rev limiter and in front of the competition. Also, consider that motorcycle engines are smaller, thus needing more RPM to make power and you can see why getting caught in the wrong gear can turn a 10-second bike into a 14-second snail.
And then it hit us; Let's take the user-error out of the equation with a competent rider, grab one of the fastest stock bikes available and finally end the debate.
So, after a few calls we gathered nearly 3000 HP worth of the sickest streetcars in the country and decided to put up or shut up with only a Kawasaki ZX-14 on our side.
Street racing is illegal, stupid, and dangerous. In no way, shape or form does SSB condone it. No laws were broken during the making of this article and all acts were completed on a closed course.
2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS 530 HP
David Ferranti's Camaro SS uses bolt-ons, a cam and a huge shot of nitrous to ring in 530 HP at the wheels.
Owner: David Ferranti
Engine: 346 C.I. LS1
530 HP/451 LB-FT on 150 shot
Best Quarter-Mile: 11.22 @ 127
Money Invested Including Car: $30,000
Engine Mods: TSP Cam Kooks headers and Y-pipe, SLP cat-back and lid, Nitrous Depot 150 HP kit, ported TB, Fast Toys Ram Air
prediction: I'll up the nitrous and see what happens!
2003 Ford Mustang Cobra 615 HP
Sekani Smith's '03 Cobra is no slouch with a built motor, cams and a huge Whipple blower that's good for 615 HP at the wheels.
Owner: Sekani Smith
Engine: 4.6L 32 Valve Supercharged V8
615 HP/567 LB-FT on pump gas
Best Quarter-Mile: 11.01 @ 130
Money Invested Including Car: $35,000
Engine Mods: Whipple 2.3 Supercharger, Iron block, forged rotating assembly, ARP hardware, ported heads, Ford GT cams
prediction: I walk 600s all day, so we'll find out.
2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 675 HP
John Foster's '01 Corvette Z06 rings in nearly 700 HP at the wheels thanks to a 402 C.I. stroker motor fed by a huge blower.
Owner: Jon Foster
Engine: 402 C.I. LSX based engine
675 HP/611 LB-FT
Best Quarter Mile: 10.5 @ 137 (traction limited)
Money Invested Including Car: $40-45,000
Engine Mods: Dragonslayer crank, Compstar rods, Mahle pistons, custom blower cam. Has a Procharger D1SC supercharger @ 9lbs of boost. Stock heads and intake manifold, tuned by Nick at NewtechPerformance.com
prediction: I've beat several bikes already. Bring it!
2009 Kawasaki ZX-14 169 HP
A stock ZX-14 is good for 9.73 @ 147.1 in the quarter-mile on its way to a limited top speed of 186 mph. While it's truly a toss-up between the big 14, a 'Busa or any of the new liter bikes in terms of performance, you just can't fault the 14's ultra-stable chassis or the big pull of its 1352cc motor.
Rider: Justin Fivella
Engine: 1352cc inline four
Horsepower/Torque: : 168.9 HP/ 104 LB-FT
Best Quarter Mile: 9.73 @ 147.1
Money Invested Including the Bike: $12,099
Engine Mods: Stock
prediction: The Viper is the only car with a prayer.
1998 Dodge Viper 950 HP
Darius Khashabi's '96 Dodge Viper pounds out almost 1000 HP with the help of a built motor and two giant turbos.
Owner: Darius Khashabi
Engine: 488" twin turbo V10,
Horsepower/Torque: 950 HP/895 LB-FT at 15psi on C16
Best Quarter Mile: 10.7 @ 141 mph
Money Invested Including Car: Outrageous (over $100K)
Engine Mods: Heffner Performance Twin Turbo Kit, Borla exhaust
prediction: On my race gas tune I'll walk any bike out there.
2000 Acura Integra 536 HP
Representing the lone import and the only front-wheel drive car in the test was Danny Marroquin's '00 Acura Integra. This sucker is all sleeper with black wheels and minimal body mods. But under the hood sits a built K24/K20 motor with a huge turbo good for over 500 HP at the wheels.
Name: Danny Marroquin
Horsepower/Torque: 536 HP/387LB-FT at 22psi on E85
Best Quarter Mile: 10.8 @ 127 mph
Money Invested Including Car: $16,000
Engine Mods: Full race GT3582r turbo kit,1000cc injectors, dual walbro 255 fuel pumps, 750 HP precision intercooler, 3" downpipe
prediction: I think I'm gonna get walked.
The Main Event
With the players gathered it was finally time to get on it. While you might assume we'd test 0-60 sprints, quarter-mile times or maybe even top speed-you'd be wrong. Instead, we decided we'd keep it more akin to modern-day street
racing and go from a roll. That's right, many non-sanctioned "races" take place from a rolling start, thus eliminating the skill needed to launch from a dig.
It's true, some might call roll racing weak-sauce, but no matter how you cut the cake, it's the most common form of racing these days.
We decided a 60-120 pull would be an ideal compromise. Starting from anything slower would hinder the traction-limited high-powered cars and ending any faster would hurt the less powerful vehicles.
The addition of timing equipment added a scientific element to the races, which normally isn't a part of the underground race scene but was important to our results page...
ZX-14 vs. Integra
The Acura's 60-120 mph pull was anything but calm as it suffered severe wheel spin. With a powerband like a light switch and small street tires it didn't hook until nearly 100, but from 100-120 (when traction wasn't an issue) the Integra began to stretch its legs. Still, the ZX-14 beat the traction-limited Integra by over 15 car lengths.
ZX-14 vs. Camaro
Next up was the '00 SS Camaro, which hit hard with a big nitrous shot and 5.7L engine. The SS was fast but still not enough for the Kawi, losing by a similar length as the Acura.
ZX-14 vs. Mustang
With a lumpy idle from the big cams and a serious howl from the blower, the '03 Cobra was no joke from a roll. Despite the wide rear meats it still had some traction issues from the hit. But even so, the Kawi still beat the Mustang by 10 cars.
ZX-14 vs. Corvette
Despite the massive drag radials on the Z06, traction was still hit or miss depending on the road surface. However, without too much wheel spin the 'Vette rolled into boost and flexed its muscles. In-gear acceleration wasn't far behind the Kawi's, but with each shift the 'Vette fell back. In the end it was close, but the ZX-14 still nailed 120 about 5 cars in front of the 'Vette...A little too close for comfort.
ZX-14 vs. Viper
Last up was the twin-turbo Viper, which all were unsure if the stock ZX-14 would beat. With 1000 horses under the right foot even the 335-series tires out back didn't stand a chance until nearly 90, which cost the Viper some serious time.
Its pull from a Benjamin upward was simply scary. The faster the speeds the harder the Viper pulled, but in the sprint to 120 the Kawi still nipped the Viper for the win. Judging by the Viper's power though, had we raced to higher speeds the tables likely would've turned.
How The Speeds Differ
Going fast is a simple equation of power, weight, aerodynamics and traction. By nature, motorcycles are much lighter than cars and thus need less power to go fast. However, bikes are also less aerodynamic and produce less power from their smaller engines. In other words, a bike's strongest asset is its lack of weight.
On the other hand big, heavy cars use their bigger, more powerful engine, better traction and superior aerodynamics to their advantage.
A good analogy would be two balls at the top of an incline, one heavy and one light. The lighter ball will obviously get going much faster than the heavier one, but once the heavy ball is rolling it has the power to catch the smaller one. Lightweight motorcycles tend to be better sprinters, where heavier, more powerful cars tend to be the best high-speed haulers.
How Would You Fare?
In essence, you can tell a lot about the speed of a vehicle by its quarter-mile performance. Generally, the elapsed time (ET) is a reflection of traction and weight, while the trap speed is more of an indication of power.
If Bike A runs the quarter-mile in 9.0 @ 130 mph and Bike B does it in 10.0 @ 160 mph, which is faster? Well, Bike A had a better ET since it got there in nine seconds, which means it won the sprint likely because it was lighter and had better traction.
Even though Bike B got beat by one second to the finish line, when it got there it was traveling at 160 mph-30 mph faster. This means that it got a slower start but once it got the ball rolling it had more power (or force behind it) and it was catching up, fast.
Given more time, Bike B (the more powerful ball, remember the analogy) will catch and pass Bike A, the smaller, lighter bike.
To see how your bike stacks up against these cars, compare your ETs and traps and see if you've got enough. You may have a better ET but at a lesser speed, which means in the long run (above 120 mph) they'll catch you.
Time To Speed: 60-120 MPH Roll Race
2000 Acura Integra: 536 HP:...
2000 Acura Integra: 536 HP: 9.3 sec
ZX-14: 4.4 sec
2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS 530...
2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS 530 HP: 8.2s sec
ZX-14: 4.4 sec
2003 Ford Mustang Cobra 615...
2003 Ford Mustang Cobra 615 HP: 7.1 sec
ZX-14: 4.4 sec
2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06...
2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 675 HP: 5.3 sec
ZX-14: 4.4 sec
1998 Dodge Viper: 950 HP:...
1998 Dodge Viper: 950 HP: 5.1 sec
To ensure accuracy we used...
To ensure accuracy we used a Racelogic Driftbox. The GPS Datalogging device was easy to use and dead accurate.
Unfortunately after just one pull the Viper went home on a flatbed. Things break when you've got nearly 1000 HP and the transmission took the hit that day.
The bike prevailed, just as we'd thought. Despite an opposition of nearly 3000 HP, the almighty ZX-14 showed the four-wheelers nothing but taillight. Under different circumstances perhaps the Viper or 'Vette might have bettered the big Kawi, but then again, this was "run what you brung, no excuses."
While it's possible to build a car that can beat a bike, it certainly takes more than a buck. Our stock ZX-14 cost a tick over $12,000, while the Viper has nearly $50,000 in addition to the cost of the car, yet still didn't beat the Kawi. In the battle for supremacy you can't beat a bike's bang for the buck.