Old Bikes Are Fast, Too

Here at Right Wrist Twist we try not to parrot what the other sites are talking about. But I have to make an exception in the case this video of Troy Corser racing a 1935 BMW RSS at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Anyone can hop on a modern sport bike and go fast, but it takes a real expert like Corser to wring every last bit of performance out of a machine and ride an 80 year old motorcycle this fast.

Not only is Corser dragging knees in the turns, he’s almost dragging the cylinder heads on the pavement as he maxes out his lean angle. Without all of the aerodynamic bodywork you can watch his technique and see exactly what he’s doing. That Beemer is on the ragged edge of traction pretty much everywhere, even beyond it at times, but Corser keeps it together while on maximum attack. It’s no wonder he’s a two-time Superbike World Champion. Unfortunately it’s all too much for the elderly Beemer, which gives up the ghost after a few laps. But it’s still enough qualify him in pole position by half a second over his closest rival.

Harley and the Davidsons race

There are two things I take away from watching this. One is how excellent riding skill can make an old bike go seriously fast. But the other is that a 1935 BMW isn’t exactly a slow bike to begin with. Like many riders I recently watched Harley and the Davidsons. If you haven’t, I recommend it – whether you love Harleys or hate them, it’s an important piece of American motorcycle history. While the bikes in the show were reproductions, it still amazes me just how fast old bikes were. It’s also scary, considering that at first they were basically bicycles modified to have an engine, rather than machines purpose built to handle the speeds they were ridden. Let’s not even talk about the complete lack of modern riding gear, which claimed many lives on those old, fast machines.

Still, amazing stuff.

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