The Mother of All Speeding Tickets

By Deane Barker on September 25, 2004

Was 205-mph ride a goof?: I’m not saying that low-tech methods of calculating a vehicle’s speed are bad, but 205 m.p.h. on a motorcycle? Supposedly, the Minnesota State Police clocked this guy at that speed by timing him with a stopwatch from a Cessna overhead.

They note that if the trooper who timed Tilley were off by a half-second — which critics say is possible given variables such as the altitude, speed and the angle of approach of his Cessna — it drops Tilley’s speed to about 185 mph.

This still would be the unofficial state record for the fastest speeding ticket, and everyone agrees a Honda RC51 can hit that speed. But it’s not the double C-note.

I know that there are production bikes that can hit that speed theoretically, but there are so many real-world factors that make it awfully hard — wind, road conditions, air temperature, etc. Could you find a stretch of road perfectly smooth enough to give confidence enough to hit 205? In Minnesota, no less?

Call me a skeptic, but the police make a good point:

Smith suggested that even if Tilley were to plead his case down 20 mph, it wouldn’t help him beat the reckless driving charge. “Let’s say he was going 186 — that’s still 121 mph over the speed limit. I don’t see the relevance.”

121 m.p.h. over the limit? Never thought I’d hear that. Here’s a road test of bike in question — a 2003 Honda RC51.



  1. Not possible. There are guys with Nitrous injected & Turbo charged Hayabusa’s that can’t hit 200 mph. The Busa is a 1300cc bike with close to 180HP stock. It is widely considered to be the fastest production bike in existence, the Honda is only a 1000cc, stock HP is rated only around 145.

    Enable to gain each MPH over 200, the power required is exponential. The Honda 1000RR is a great bike, don’t get me wrong, but it is NOT possible for this bike to do 205. 190 would be a stretch, and it would require quite a bit of room and a dedicated rider capapble of delaing with some pretty nasty side-effects of this kind of speed on a showroom stock bike.

    MotoGP bikes, the most advanced race bikes in the world (F1 on 2 wheels) have been hitting 216 this year (Ducati’s Desmo-sedici) but the bikes are producing 240 crank HP and weigh only 160kg (if my memory serves me). So, a +400lb OEM Honda with 145 HP, or even a highly tuned version of this bike, ownerd by a 20-something guy in BFE hitting these kinds of speeds? No.

  2. bonneville 2004: street driven turbo hayabusa does over 251 mph! check with the scta for even more proof…Southern California Timing Association

  3. 251 record set by my friend John Noonan. He works for JE Pistons. Although the bike is legal for street use, there’s nothing remotely OEM about it. It’s also won Dyno Events with the highest peak hp numbers recorded for this displacement/engine configuration.

    After talking with John, anything over 200 mph with a regular faired machine requires some very specialized equipment — the main thing he had to modify after his first 2 runs at Bonneville last year was his helmet.

    Why??? The design of the foam padding put too much pressure on his cheekbones and caused his EYES to BLEED. Yup. Gives the term ‘red-eye flight’ a whole new meaning.

    A different helmet design was implemented and that problem was solved.

    John said that everything on the bike would handle relatively normally up to about 185 (a speed he’s reached on tarmac) after that, it’s a whole new ballgame, and why really special places like Bonneville are usually where speedss above that are reached.

    I’ve also worked with Craig Breedlove’s son on a few projects (Craig’s a multi-time unlimited class Bonneville record holder) – I’ve heard the same stories from him. Up to 190 is childs’ play, over that takes special equipment and a special pilot.

    The RC can be purchased with the ‘Race’ package, and the hp numbers do increase, but I agree with everyone else here – 190 is believeable, but 200 is a loooong way from 190 in the real world.


  4. I have a 2000 Yamaha R1 1000cc. I’ve reached speeds up to 160mph with no problems and it was still pulling. I could of went faster but I was running out of straight runway. All is stock too! Only 40mph more and I could of reached it.

  5. I have a 2002 RC51. M4 ti pipes, PCII w/ my custom dyno map, carillo rods, wiesco pistons, adv 3 deg below 5000 rpms, and 4 above that, carbon fibre wheels, 520 chain and sprockets, 17 tooth front, carbon metallic brakes, 112 octane, carbon fibre tank, l/r fairing, rear cowl and front cowl, carbon airbox, metzeler race-tecs. All of that equals 192.197 mph on GPS.

  6. gearing matters more then HP if you were to change the sprokets to a top end gearing it is posibal to reach 205mph. gp bikes did finaly hit 216 mph but thats a track that has less than a quarter mile to reach that speed, any modern high output bike with the proper gearing could reach 205 if the rider has the sack to do it….

  7. Yeah um. my prelude goes 120! (I’m saving for a bike, gonna start with a 250 to learn how since i’m the first in my family) i just want a bike so i can mess with the lambo’s and ferari’s around town in my home of ft. lauderdale. they always kill my lude.

  8. Having read the article, i found it hard to believe that a honda 1000 reached the claimed speed unless turbo charged, re-maped and some heavy duty work done on the motor.
    Although the 200 mile club may be difficult to join, it is possible. I am the proud owner of a hayabusa (unrestricted model) and have experienced the 200ml rush. the busa and zx12 will reach over 200 miles and has been proven in numerous motorcycle periodicals. the only barrier which prevents the busa and zx12 from from reaching 200 miles is THE RIDER. Unfortunantly, this debate will continue to exist due to restrictions which have been introduced on motorcycles. To the sceptics and those who refuse to believe, I challenge you to purchase an unrestricted busa or zx12 and prove me wrong otherwise keep your ignorant comments to yourselves. jimmy g 200 mile club member

  9. hey i’m only 17 and just ran at the ecta at maxton and 191.938 on a stock hayabusa i just to the govener off so can any buddy that for when they were 17 and oh a guy just hit 260.246 mph on his hayabusa it was crazy but ye he was turboed so peace

  10. the guy under me is a fuckin idiot the hayabusa can reach well over 200 mph if you do it right and factor in the road and wind conditions

  11. Posted by andrew:

    “gearing matters more then HP if you were to change the sprokets to a top end gearing it is posibal to reach 205mph. gp bikes did finaly hit 216 mph but thats a track that has less than a quarter mile to reach that speed, any modern high output bike with the proper gearing could reach 205 if the rider has the sack to do it?.”

    This is not a true statement.

    Power required is given as F x V, or force times velocity. Meaning if it takes F amount of forward propulsion to move you at 200 mph, you multiply those numbers (and with a little bit of unit manipulation) you arrive at the wheel-horsepower necessary to do this.

    You can put whatever gearing on the bike that you want, but all the numbers I just mentioned still hold true. Gearing alone won’t do it. If this was true, we’d all run 2.73 gearing in our cars and we’d all be turning 1200 RPM going down the highway.

  12. Yeah after you spend 2 grand on a suspension, and derestict the exhaust + a remap, and you are a better rider. i know, i own a TL1000r, and have ridden both. the TL has more power, but the RC is more user friendly. What it really comes down to is rider experience.


  14. I have a cbr600rr an have reached 178 on the speedo which is probley a little off but if I can get that fast on a 600 an I have friends with 1000cc bikes that have reached over 200 stock with the gov removed then I’m sure a busa has no problem

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