Racing at the drag strip is one of the most popular motorsports in America and quarter-mile times are a popular measure of a motorcycle's performance.
Quarter-mile times are a popular performance benchmark for cars and motorcycles. The popularity of quarter-mile performance numbers comes from drag racing
, one of the most popular spectator motorsports in the United States.
Measuring Quarter-Mile Times
The basics of calculating a motorcycle’s quarter-mile performance are simple. The motorcycle begins from a standing start. Upon signal the clock starts and the motorcycle races in a straight line for a quarter-mile sprint (1320 feet). Crossing the finish stops the clock. Top speed is also measured during the quarter-mile run.
A number of factors contribute to the overall quarter-mile time of a motorcycle. Not the least of which are the skills of the rider, who must anticipate the start and effectively run through the gears for optimal performance.
At a drag strip, a device called a Christmas tree controls the rider’s start via a sequence of lights. Starting at the top, a series of three yellow lights illuminate sequentially, followed by the green – the rider timing their launch with the green light. If a rider jumps the green, they red-light, which results in disqualification.
At the drag strip there are multiple times gathered in the quarter-mile. The delay in a rider’s response to the green light is dubbed the reaction time. (There always is a built-in fractionally small delay or else the rider is given a red-light.) A 60-foot time is also registered which lets riders know how good of a launch they got. The time from the motorcycle crossing start to finish is the elapsed time and is a purer measure of true performance. It also is possible to gather quarter-mile times from GPS systems.
Quarter-Mile Times for Popular Motorcycle Models
Motorcycle USA routinely gathers quarter-mile times in comparison reviews of high-performance motorcycles. Here are some of the latest quarter-mile times we have recorded for popular motorcycle models:
2009 Superbike Comparsion
10.09 @ 139.9 mph
9.68 @ 138.8 mph
10.05 @ 141.5 mph
10.01 @ 141.9 mph
10.53 seconds @ 137.5 mph
2009 Supersport Comparison
11.09 @ 134.37 mph
11.10 @ 128.99 mph
11.11 @ 133.74mph
11.11 @ 132.33 mph
Triumph Daytona 675
11.30 @ 133.25 mph
11.25 @ 134.11 mph
2008 Hayabusa vs ZX-14
10.378 @ 139.36 mph
10.398 @ 139.08 mph
2009 V-Max vs B-King
10.42 @ 143.99 mph
10.85 @ 137.5 mph
Professional Motorcycle Drag Racing.
Professional NHRA racers like Ed Krawiec can lay down quarter-mile runs under seven seconds.
The format for most professional motorcycle drag racing series is a simple elimination. Riders face off in pairs (determined by qualifying runs), with the winner advancing to the next elimination round – which culminates in a dramatic winner-take-all finale.
There are numerous motorcycle drag racing
associations including: AMA Dragbike, AHRMA and the most popular drag racing series – the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association). The NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycles class features modified stock motorcycles like the Inline-Four Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX-14, as well as Twin-powered bikes from Harley-Davidson
. The top Pro Stock racers can register quarter-mile times under 8 seconds and read top speeds approaching 200 mph.
Quarter-Mile Bracket Racing
A popular form of amateur drag racing is bracket racing, which allows vehicles of various performance capabilities to race each other through the quarter-mile with timed handicaps. Each rider chooses a dial-in time, which is a driver’s approximation of their elapsed time. By controlling the launches at the Christmas Tree, two completely different vehicles can race by adjusting the green light to give slower vehicles a head start.
Factoring in two riders dial-in claims, the duo should hit the finish line neck and neck. Therefore, good reaction times and skill at winding out as close as possible to the dial-in determines the winner – not outright performance of the machine itself. Riders can’t sandbag by claiming a high dial-in and then beating it, as crossing your dial-in results in disqualification.