Road legal turbine motorcycle breaks three world records
Imagine aRolls Royce helicopter turbine that produces a scorching 542 hp and over 450 lb-ft of torque strapped to a bare naked motorcycle, a streetfighter. This is whatMadmax Race Team brought to Elvington, UK for the Straightliners SpeedRecord event, leaving with three new official world records. And the best partis that it’s completely road legal – headlights, horn, indicators and all.
Rememberthe Y2K turbine motorcycle that Marine Turbine Technologies (MTT) had builtback in 1998? In its heyday this motorcycle created a lot of buzz due to itsunique character and insane performance, ending up on every motorcycle magazine’scover and, of course, in Jay Leno’s garage. The last one was built in 2005, beforeMTT turned its focus to designing turbine-powered fracking pumps for the newbooming branch of the oil industry and losing actual interest for the motorcyclethat generated so much publicity for its creators.
It wasaround that time that Maxicorp founder, Zef Eisenberg, visited MTT’s headquartersin Louisiana to discuss the continuation of the turbine motorcycle project.After an agreement was met, Maxicorp’s Autosport Division would take over thedevelopment of the next turbine bike generation. The last Y2K motorcycle wasshipped to the UK, where it was taken apart to begin the development process.
During thefollowing years, the project evolved into building a completely new prototype asthe original design was deemed too outdated. Starting with the power source, the discontinued RollsRoyce 250-C18 turbine from the original Y2K had to be replaced with the C18’s successor, the 250-C20B. This meant a giant leap from 240 hp (179 kW) to more than 400hp (298 kW) in standard form, which was a lot more than the Y2K’s gear could handle.
The framehad to be redesigned and strengthened. As the motorcycle is not thrust poweredbut wheel driven, the gearbox is apparently a vital part and the Toyota two-speed gearbox used in the Y2K had by now become totally obsolete. The developmentteam designed and fabricated a brand new single speed gearbox with a multiplate carbon dry clutch.
Most spindles and flywheels, originally made fromaluminum alloy, were replaced with stronger and lighter one-off titanium parts, and the original Harley-Davidson wheels gave way to BST carbon fiber rims.For the front suspension system the weapon of choice was a racing superbike pairof inverted Marzocchi 50 mm forks, allowing for two 320 mm discs with six-potISR brake calipers. The engine management was assigned to a Motec ECU usingcustom software, developed in house with data logging capabilities and several built-insafety features.
The list ofchanges and improvements made to the motorcycle became so long that in the endonly some parts of the frame remain as proof that the starting point once was theY2K turbine motorcycle – and even these are soon to be replaced. The cost ofthis project was estimated at around £200,000 (US$308,000) last year and sincethen it continues to evolve.
Althoughoriginally the motorcycle was designed with aerodynamic carbon fairings, the team ultimately decided to go for a naked, streetfighter look, allowing forthe turbine and all the technology used to be on full display. As soon as itwas completed, Eisenberg created the Madmax Race Team and decided to take hiscreation for a try at breaking some speed records.
In May 2014 at the ElvingtonAirfield in Yorkshire, UK, the fully-faired race bike, sponsored by Tag Heuer,broke the British Land speed record with a one way speed of 214 mph (344.4 km/h).In August 2014 in streetfighter form it set a new world record of 224.9 mph (361.9km/h) over a mile from a standing start, which was ratified by the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU), theSpeed Record Club and the Timing Association.
The planfor this year was to return to Elvington for some more record breaking. Thisposed several problems that the team had to overcome. First of all they neededmore power. The streetfighter bike has a drag coefficient of around 0.9 – asopposed to the much sleeker 0.35 of the fully-faired race bike. After somecareful calculations, they realized that in order to increase the top speedfrom 224.9 mph to the target of 231.7 (372.8 km/h), they had to come up with an additional100 hp (75 kW)!
This was achieved with a lot of hard work and a special addition to theengine fuel system: a water/methanol injection system. Using a mix of 30 percentmethanol and 70 percent water, a special order pump injects 1.4 liters (0.36 US gal) into the turbine inlet every 10seconds at a pressure exceeding 200 psi. Holding enoughfor just 20 seconds, the team estimated this additional boost should cut it.
The Madmaxturbine streetfighter that turned up at Elvington was by now producing anestimated 542 peak horsepower (404 kW), with a torque of at least 450 lb-ft (610 Nm) at maximumrpm. These performance figures are not 100 percent accurate because themotorcycle proved to be too brutal for any dyno to handle. The latest attempt wason May 13, on a Dynojet 250 equipped with an Eddy Brake system. The bike wasstrapped down with 150 kg (331 lb) of force on each side in a bid to achieve maximumtraction for the 240/40-18 rear wheel.
Despite every measure taken, at around80 percent throttle the rear wheel started to spin on the dyno’s 750 kg (1,653 lb) groovedsteel roller. That would be the inescapable result of too much torque. When thebike’s ECU calculated a perceived acceleration from 190 to 240 mph (306 to 386 km/h) in just onesecond at the rear wheel, it shut down the turbine as it was designed to do asa safety precaution. Mind you, this happened before using the water/methanolboost!
As of May17, Madmax’s turbine streetfighter, at the hands of Zef Eisenberg, is the proudholder of three world records and one British national record:
- World’s fastestTurbine Motorcycle – 1 mile (one way): 233.7 mph (376.1 km/h)
- World’s fastest Streetfighter – 1 mile (one way): 231.6 mph (372.7 km/h)
- World's fastest flying quarter mile for Turbine Motorcycle: 3.91 sec
- Britain’s fastest Naked Motorcycle (Official ACU two way average): 225.6 mph (363.1km/h)
All these wereachieved in road legal trim, as the motorcycle is registered for road use. Thebike competed at the Elvington event using normal diesel fuel and road legalDOT tires. In fact, Eisenberg has ridden it to almost every event it hasattended, reaching as far as the Helitech 2014 show in Amsterdam, Holland. That’dbe 1,200 miles (1,930 km) from the team’s base in Guernsey, UK, travelling and handlingroad bends smoothly while doing 7.2 mpg (32.9 l/100 km) on pump diesel.
TheC20B turbine is equipped with a titanium retainer ring ensuring that theturbine blades will not become lethal projectiles in the case of a failure. Thereis also a system that prevents flames from coming out of the exhaust pipes – JayLeno had admitted in an old interview that, while idling at a red light on hisY2K bike, he could smell the bumper of a car behind him melting from hisexhaust’s heat, before he took off in a hurry.
There is nocommercial future for this turbine motorcycle, as Maxicorp believes that it’s simply too powerful for most riders. Yet, the company’s website does leave a smallwindow of opportunity declaring that, “we may be tempted to build one forthose that can demonstrate they have sufficient money and expertise in handlingsuch a bike for special occasions or ideally for those that want to addpossibly the most extreme bike ever made to their current collection of automotiveexotica”. Have you seen this Mr. Leno?
Enjoy the Madmax turbine bike in its first test runs and on the road trip to Amsterdam in the following videos.
Source:Madmax Race Team