Whenever I have to travel 400 miles or less, I ask myself, “would it be quicker to take the bike?” If I account for travel to and from the airport, traffic, security checks, and the flight itself, it’s usually a much closer comparison than one would initially expect. To put this conundrum to rest, a collective of moto-vloggers set out to prove that riding beats flying by racing a plane with their motorcycles.
Inspired by the Top Gear episode that pitted a Bugatti Veyron against a Cessna 182 in a race from Italy to London, the moto-vloggers swap out the car for three bikes. The Bugatti got the best of the airplane in the Top Gear matchup and with a Kawasaki Ninja H2, KTM Super Duke 1290 GT, and a Zero SR/F as its contenders this go around, the Cessna faced the same pedigree of competition.
Both teams were tasked with navigating a route from Goodwood Aerodrome to the Beehive Pub in Maidenhead, England. Of course, the Cessna team had the added stop of White Waltham Airfield before they could disembark for the tavern.
According to Google Maps, the on-road journey consisted of 60 miles and a one hour and forty minute-drivetime. By air, the plane would only take 20 minutes to cover the same distance, but the plane has to get in the air first.
We should caveat that this race didn’t have a wheels up/kickstands up start. Instead, it was a door-to-door scramble with the motorcycles pushing off much sooner than team Cessna. To compound the late takeoff, the “flyboys” ran into an issue during their pre-flight check which required the assistance of an on-call engineer.
Meanwhile, team motorbike continued to chug along and build a considerable lead. With John pinning the throttle of the H2, Andy agonizing over the range of the electric Zero, and Bruce confined to all posted speed limits on the KTM 1290 GT, the battle between the bikes soon became the focus of the experiment.
However, the plot thickened once the plane lifted off, but the activity in the cockpit would never let on. Filled with geography lessons and rudimentary flight lessons, the travels of the flyboys seemed light as air.
Back on the bikes, the riders coped with botched directions and heavy traffic. Weaving through the English countryside meant passing through numerous hamlets with 30mph zones that thwarted the efforts of our heroes. The setbacks only encouraged the team to take more risks like filtering past oncoming traffic.
In a brilliant use of editing, the video producers flipped between the frantic pace of the motorcyclists and the calming environment of the cockpit. The rapid cross-cutting and juxtaposition only amplified the drama, especially once the flyboys touch down.
After mooring the plane and a mad dash to the car, team Cessna wheeled away from the airfield and rushed toward the pub. Sadly, their last-minute efforts couldn’t make up for their early foibles as the Kawasaki arrived at the Beehive first with the Zero and KTM not far behind.
Yes, the race wasn’t a shining example of fair play. Yes, the result may have been impacted by the inherent bias of its participants. We understand that this experiment was anything but foolproof, but at least we as motorcyclists have a new excuse to take the bike on our next trip instead of flying.