Top 10s

Top 10 highest-revving production bikes

Because nothing beats the barely-contained fury of highly-stressed components moving at unimaginable speed

ELECTRIC motors may be the future but they’ll always struggle to capture the soul-stirring effect of a screaming piston engine.

Who knows what makes a high-speed series of explosions so captivating. Maybe it’s the barely-contained fury, the large numbers of highly-stressed components moving at unimaginable speed, the clattering valves, trumpeting exhausts and growling intakes, all sequenced together into a finely-tuned orchestra of mechanical perfection. Yes, it's that.

Petrol engines may in fact have past their peak in terms of that noise and fury. Emission laws make the very highest-revving creations of the past – things like those 20,000rpm 250cc fours of the late 1980s – an impossible dream today.  And as the limits get tighter, petrol engines are likely to become progressively lower-revving from here on in. They may adopt turbos or superchargers, and they’re certain to keep getting more powerful and efficient, but if you hanker for revs, enjoy the present.

So which current bikes rev hardest? We’ve scoured the current offerings to see which achieve their peak power at the highest revs – a better indicator than red line alone as to an engine’s propensity to rev. We’re only including current models that meet the Euro4 emissions limits – so stuff like the track-only, 14,000rpm Kawasaki H2R doesn’t make the cut.

Here's out countdown from 10, starting with..

10: MV Agusta Dragster 800: peak power at 12,500rpm

You might have thought there would be nothing but out-and-out sportsbikes on the list. But to be honest we were surprised that 12,500rpm was enough to make it into the top 10 at all. It’s largely the fact that most of the 600-class four-cylinder sportsbikes don’t meet Euro4 emissions rules, and as a result don’t meet our criteria. However, there’s little doubt that the MV’s triple sounds glorious at its 12,500rpm peak.

Straight from 10th to 6th=; it seems that 13,000rpm is a sweet spot for modern bikes. Picked in random order, the first to feature in this spot is Kawasaki’s latest ZX-10R (and the RR derivative.) Wound to its 13,000rpm power peak, the Ninja makes an easy 200PS, or 210PS if we’re including the hard-to-measure ram air affect that Kawasaki claims.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE KAWASAKI ZX-10R.

As a sportier variation of the same engine that powers the Dragster 800, the MV Agusta F3 800’s 13,000rpm power peak comes 500rpm higher than its sibling. That’s enough to elevate it a few places and make it a solid mid-fielder in this pack.

Given that the ‘new’ 2017 Fireblade can easily trace its roots back to the 2008 model, it’s impressive that its engine has been both made Euro4-legal and grabbed a significant power increase into the bargain. Its claimed 191.7PS (189hp) still falls slightly shy of the best in the 1000cc class, but it’s within spitting distance. The extra power comes from increasing revs – the old model peaked at 12,000rpm and made 178hp.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE HONDA FIREBLADE.

Another bike that manages to make a lot of its 1000cc four-cylinder engine, Aprilia’s V4 achieves 201hp at its 13,000rpm peak. The RSV4 has long been a favourite of the motorcycle press, and its racing performance shows they’re not all wrong, but buy one and you’re assured a certain level of exclusivity, as it’s never sold in numbers as high as its main rivals.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE APRILIA RSV4 RF.

There’s a problem with getting very high-revving engines through emissions testing. They need lots of valve overlap to run at such high speed, but at low revs the same solution tends to result in poor emissions performance. Suzuki’s new GSX-R1000 overcomes that problem to some extent with its mechanical variable valve timing. If future engines are to keep revving so high, VVT is sure to become more widespread. It combines its high 13,200rpm power peak with an impressive torque band as a result of the same technology. Impressively, the Suzuki has around 1000rpm left in its engine beyond the 13,200rpm power peak before hitting the red line.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE SUZUKI GSX-R1000R.

No clever VVT here, but the 200PS R1 is a real screamer with its 13,500rpm power peak.  The red line is just 500rpm higher, at 14,000rpm, so on that measure alone the GSX-R1000 actually beats it by a fraction. It could be a result of the cross-plane crankshaft, which may discourage the last couple of hundred revs that its flat-plane rivals achieve.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE YAMAHA YZF-R1.

Making similar power as the R1 (199PS), the S1000RR’s peak comes at an identical 13,500rpm. However, with a smoother-running flat-plane crank it spins on a little more freely beyond that, with its redline emerging at 14,200rpm. Both the S1000RR and the R1 are likely to be updated in the not-too-distant future, though, and those changes could shuffle the order of this list.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE BMW S1000RR.

An MV Agusta is in 10th place, and another is here in the number 2 spot. And in fact they have much the same basic engine. The F3 675, though, has a far shorter stroke (45.9mm vs 54.3mm) than its 800cc brethren, which means it can rev significantly higher. The peak power – 128hp – comes at 14,400rpm. It’s telling that the MV’s peak power comes nearly 2000rpm higher than the similarly-engined (and non-Euro4) Triumph Daytona 675; proof that the world’s two three-cylinder, 675cc supersports bikes are very different animals.

There’s only one remaining 600cc supersport-class bike that currently achieves Euro4 emissions compliance. So while you may still find GSX-R600s, ZX-6Rs and CBR600RRs in dealers, they’re not eligible for inclusion in this list. The Yamaha’s engine is a direct descendent of the motor that first emerged in the 2006 R6, which was controversially supposed to have a 17,500rpm redline. It later turned out that the rev counters were geared incorrectly, and in fact the motor was revving out at ‘just’ 15,800rpm. Today’s R6 has a 16,500rpm redline, but its power peak lies 2000rpm lower than that at 14,500rpm. That’s still enough to make it the highest-revving bike on sale today.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE YAMAHA YZF-R6.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE VISORDOWN TOP TENS.

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