Bikes vs Cars: who's faster?

Competing head-to-head in the Pikes Peak hill climb, the results are surprisingly close

Posted: 13 August 2012
by Visordown News

PIKES PEAK International Hillclimb is one of the few big-profile events that pits both bikes and cars against the clock and against each other.

In the past, cars have had the edge. Half the track was unsurfaced, meaning four-wheel-drive, turbocharged monsters – some with as much as 1000bhp – were the fastest way to climb the 12-mile route to the 14,110ft summit. Last year the fastest car just broke the 10-minute barrier while the quickest bike was nearly a minute-and-a-half behind.

But for 2012 the road has been fully asphalted, start to finish, and the results in yesterday's event were not only the fastest times ever set but ones that showed bikes really had the upper hand.

OK, so the overall winner was Californian driver Rhys Millen in a 700bhp, turbocharged Hyundai Genesis, running on slicks and with enormous amounts of downforce. He completed the run in 9 minutes, 46.164 seconds, just pipping runner up Romain Dumas in his Porsche 911 GT3-R (again, a full-on racer) by 17 thousandths of a second. 

But third place went to Carlin Dunne, from Santa Barbara, on a Ducati Multistrada 1200, finishing in 9 minutes, 52.819 – well over a minute quicker than his victory last year on the old part-gravel road. His team-mate Greg Tracy on a similar bike was fourth, five seconds behind. Apart from some basic tuning and slicks, the bikes weren't far removed from stock.

Those four were the only competitors to break the 10-minute barrier.

At the moment, Pikes Peak organisers aren't keen on allowing full-on sports bikes or dedicated race machines, denying us the chance to see what might be possible. A Yamaha R1 was allowed to run as part of an 'exhibition' class, but its 11 minute time suggests it wasn't being used to its full potential.

“Today was an emotional day,” said Dunne. “The year of work the Spider Grips Ducati team put into preparing for Pikes Peak got us across the finish line in under 10 minutes, an achievement we’re very proud of. When we heard that we won and broke the record for the second time, I was speechless. The one-two finish proves the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S is the ultimate bike to conquer Pikes Peak.”

“Ducatisti around the world are celebrating the victory of Carlin Dunne and the Spider Grips Ducati Team – we are all very proud,” said Dominique Cheraki, General Manager of Ducati North America. “Three years ago we chose the Multistrada 1200 S to compete at Pikes Peak to showcase its on-and-off road capabilities, class-leading ergonomics, handling, and performance. When we were alerted that the entire course would be paved in 2012, there was no doubt that the Multistrada 1200 S was still the right choice and breaking the record today proves this.”

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Discuss this story

"that showed bikes really had the upper hand"
But they came third!
I suppose that means team GB had the "upper hand" in the Olympics?
Surely, you mean, bikes are getting more and more competitive here.
You cant make bikes faster than cars just when you fancy it.

Posted: 13/08/2012 at 18:11

All well and good getting to the top first but i think we all know which one is the most fun.

Posted: 13/08/2012 at 18:39

"But they came third!"

Sure, but the winning car had 700bhp behind it, to say a 1200 Multistrada was ~10 seconds off it? The organizers don't seem to want sportsbikes, I'd suggest the result is the reason for that.

I'd expect any of the current 1000cc sports bikes to nail it, imagine mounting John M on his Honda? I think it'd have been a different story then.

Posted: 13/08/2012 at 19:02

you've written that Audi RS5 Sport would compete. what happened? none of sources tells about it.

Posted: 13/08/2012 at 21:44

This race used to be special because of its mix of on AND off road surfaces.


Posted: 14/08/2012 at 01:59

I'd agree man in bangkok, I was surprised to see the entire event had went to tarmac. That naturally limited the bikes available for competition.

It was also an interesting race, I more of less looked at it as a Rally Race with a few bikes on the side.

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 08:56

Most of the fastest cars were unable to compete because of snow. Only some of the cars got to run. That is why the bikes were so close in times.
But the cars were nowhere near stock. Sportbikes were not allowed to run unless they had less than 4cyl and a tube style handlebar from the factory. Hence the Multistrada. Even the vintage bikes had to use a vintage rider of 50+ years. Very odd restricitons.
Cars are not restricted except for roll cages. Time attack class must use stock engine block and stock frame, but mods to these are almost unlimited, including the use of non stock forced induction, different suspension and sequential transmissions.
Most organizations restrict the less qualified and slower entries if the field is too big, not the most qualified and fastest. I do not like these restrictions at all. They artificially remove the fastest road bikes.

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 15:37

Regardless of the debate about rules, restrictions, bikes faster than whatever, Pikes Peak has probably lost something in now being all tarmac. America's mountain has been sanitised, so a ride up probably won't provide the same thrill it did when the dust on you and your machine made it feel an achievement for the non competition enthusiasts. Progress ?

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 17:41

think they meant Hyper sports cars vs almost stock bikes but stupid headline anyways.
But why allow juiced up cars and only stock frikking dual purpose bikes are beyond me. probably not to turn all the attention on the bikes??

Posted: 15/08/2012 at 11:44

They paved the road to protect the quality of the water that runs off the mountain which people in Colorado end up drinking. The dust and rock from the unpaved surfaces were all ending up in this water and then had to be replaced by trucks driving up the mountain. Here's this from Wikipedia:

"Litigation was pursued by the Sierra Club in 1998-1999, on grounds of environmental damage from the gravel portion of the road. The environmental damage was caused primarily by the 150,000,000 pounds (68,038,856 kg) of gravel that washes away annually. The same amount needed to be hauled up the mountain each year in order to maintain the road surface. Environmental damage includes alpine ponds and wetlands becoming filled with gravel, and layers of gravel averaging 2 feet (0.6 m) to 4 feet (1.2 m) feet deep covering the forest floor below. Pursuant to the settlement agreed by the Sierra Club and the City of Colorado Springs, the unpaved portion of the Pikes Peak Highway became a hard-surface road, despite concerns that such a project would radically change the nature of the annual automobile and motorcycle race. The paving project was completed on October 1, 2011."

It is a pity because this was a unique race, but compared to leaving it as it was I think the reduction in costs and environmental damage justifies the change. And it also means that one day soemone will run an S1000RR up Pike's Peak and obliterate all the records... ;)

Posted: 25/08/2012 at 15:46

I think car is faster than bikes. Of course, it doesn't need more efforts in driving as well as less force are being used. However, in some instances using bike is much better. Likely one of the great story I've read is about a doctor in Baton Rouge, LA, unwittingly recreated part of an episode of super-popular motoring program “Top Gear” by defeating traffic in a novel way. En route to a surgical procedure, she was able to avoid stop-and-go traffic using a child's bicycle.Catherine Baucom, surgeon, beats traffic with kiddie bike.

Posted: 30/08/2012 at 09:57

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