Taking a bike to a drag strip usually means power—whether it’s from the factory, like a Kawasaki Ninja H2R, or it’s a rolling showcase of hefty modifications. Impressive quarter-mile times are one thing, but if you ride on the street with any regularity, then chances are excellent that you’re more familiar with rolling in the traffic light grand prix.
Although Bike World more frequently likes to pit bikes against supercars at a local airstrip, this time, they opted to do things a little differently. Instead of, say, a MotoGP bike, they opted for that most bog-standard of popular street bikes of the last 25 years: The humble Suzuki SV650. If you can’t find at least one used example for sale at any given time, day or night, then you may want to check if your internet connection is working.
The structure of the drag racing event is different, too. Although it’s still at the local airstrip, and takes place over a quarter-mile, Chris Northover and his SV650 aren’t racing supercars. Instead, they’re racing more normal kinds of cars that you might encounter out on the road. In order, there’s a Ford Transit van, a Toyota 86, a BMW M2, and finally, a Porsche 911 Carrera 4.
Who’s quickest off the line? No matter what bike you ride, you probably have some idea already. Although the SV650 may not be considered a top-of-the-line model by anyone, when it comes down to standing starts, most bikes are usually faster off the line than most cars. (Heck, I’ve routinely been faster off the line than cars around me when I’m out riding my scooter, which has significantly less power than the SV!)
When it comes down to it, the little SV650 that could is faster off the line and even down the strip than almost everything on this list. In the end, only the Porsche is able to beat it, due in large part to its all-wheel-drive, which makes it much more competitive with any motorbike off the line. Even then, it’s extremely close—and the SV650 probably costs about a tenth of what the Porsche costs. I don’t know about you, but that feels an awful lot like a different kind of win.