It goes without saying that driving a vehicle with two wheels is more difficult than driving one with four wheels. That additional difficulty combined with high speeds and tightly wound, obstacle-laden courses produce frequently extreme motorcycle races. Because of this, motorcycle racing is about about as intense as motorsports get.
Here are five insane motorcycle racing videos.
Isle of Man TT
It wouldn’t be right to not start at the Isle of Man TT, widely regarded as one of the world’s premier motor-racing events as well as one of the most dangerous. Held on private roads that have been closed off to other traffic by dictate of the government (the Isle of Man takes its motorcycle race very seriously), racers compete in time trials to see who can navigate the courses fastest. With a tradition stretching back an entire century, the race has a history that is as long as the motor vehicle itself. As the above video makes evident, the Isle of Man TT involves insanely high speeds in very tight and challenging quarters. These are hardly courses meant for motorcycle racing; they’re more intended for your regular automobile, and as such, the level of skill involved on behalf of the riders is immense.
Pikes Peak Hill Climb
City courses are not the only environments in which motorcycle racing takes place. This video is an example of an American hill race, pitting riders against each other to see who can climb the hill fastest. The challenges here are a little different: first, you have to contend with the unpaved surface of the hill, which poses its own unique difficulties such as maintaining traction with the bike and keeping up speed. Second, you have to contest with the unfavorable incline, which makes obtaining and maintaining consistent speeds difficult. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any high-velocity racing going on here. Instead, what it means is that the slightest mistakes become incredibly difficult to recover from. The only thing harder than making up lost ground is making up lost ground when that ground is pointed 40 degrees uphill.
MotoGP races are another spin on the sport of motorcycling. Here, racers face off on a closed circuit track, racing laps to see who can finish first. In this case, a huge amount of strategy comes into play: you have to decide when to try and make a move to pass your opponent and when to try and bide your time, and then, if you do make a move, whether to pass on the inside or the outside. That’s just for starters: based on the video, it looks hard enough just to hug the curves — you can see how close the riders get to the track as they turn.
Electric Superbike Race
Like other motor vehicles, motorcycles are beginning to go electric. Although electric cars have a reputation for often being weak or low-powered, these motorcycles can cook, as this video shows. It looks like these electric bikes are pretty small and lightweight, and when it comes to bikes, that can make a huge difference: the smaller the vehicle, the less power needed to make it go, meaning that you can get more done with a smaller engine than you could on a bigger bike and engine. Either way, you’ve still got to keep yourself upright on the thing.
Of course, the best way to get a sense of how fast these racers are going — short of actually doing it yourself — is to see it from their perspective. Particularly on the straightaways, the rider seems to be going so fast that any slip up or unprecedented obstruction in his path would be disastrous, meaning that a good motorcycle racer needs to have impeccable reaction time and a flexible mind. Plus, turning at these kinds of speeds requires incredible control and delicacy: turn too hard and you could lose control of the bike; turn too soft and you might not make it around the curve. All in all, it’s a discipline that demands a formidable amount of daring, energy and skill.
Share these videos or let us know @DegreeMen on Twitter if you’ve participated in any of these extreme races.
Cover Photo Credit: jack_spellingbacon – flickr.com