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Old 01-20-2016, 12:21 PM   #1
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Top 10 bikes made just for the sake of it

Think the Kawasaki Ninja H2R is an extreme bike The owners of these creations might disagree with you about that

MOST bikes are made for a reason. Mainstream manufacturers spend unfathomable fortunes developing models to gain market share or improve their image. Custom builders spend countless hours creating their own dreams of perfection.

But then there are some bikes that are out simply to be the most extreme machines their creators can conceive of. To most of us these are pointless follies, but it’s easy enough to understand the motivation of having the biggest, the fastest or the something-else-est bike that’s ever been seen.

It’s hard to rate one against another – after all, is length more important than girth? But this is our list of the 10 most extreme bikes to have been made simply in the pursuit of a world record or just for the sake of having something madder than the next person.

The smallest

Sweden’s Tom Wiberg once held the record for the world’s tallest motorcycle with his Jaguar V12-engined ‘Big Toe.’ It was beaten for that record some years ago but the companion piece – Small Toe – still remains the world’s smallest rideable motorcycle. So small that to ride it you need special boots with built-in pegs that slot into the holes in either side, it’s powered by the sort of engine you might find in a radio controlled car and made from a machined block of aluminium with roller bearings for wheels. Yes, it can be ridden but despite being handily pocket-sized, it’s lacking a practical purpose.

The tallest

If Small Toe is impractical, at least it’s portable, which is more than can be said of the world’s tallest rideable bike, built by Fabio Reggiani in Italy. The latest in a stream of machines to hold this oddly competitive record (it’s far, far taller than Big Toe was), Reggiani’s machine is over five metres high at the top of its ape-hangers. And no, you aren’t meant to hold them – the steering is done remotely. Here it is in action.

The longest

Until fairly recently the longest bike ever made was a creation by British lunatic and serial record-breaker Colin Furze and his 22-metre scooter, but the title is now held by India’s Bharat Sinh who’s bike is 26.29 meters long. Why? Well… err… because… yeah.

The heaviest

Weight is the motorcyclists’ enemy. It dents performance and harms handling so many are prepared to spend a small fortune stripping grammes away from their bikes. That’s not the path chosen by Tilo and Wilfred Niebel. Their creation uses a V12 engine from a Russian tank, which should be more than capable of shifting the bike, which tips the scales at a little less than five tonnes. Yes, it can be ridden.

Biggest single

The idea of a 2-litre engine in a bike isn’t that alien – after all, the Triumph Rocket III has a 2.3-litre motor – but when all that capacity is in the form of a single cylinder the idea starts to look a little madder. The NSU ‘Bison 2000’ made by Franz Langer came after his previous record-holding single cylinder – a mere 1000cc – was beaten by a rival’s 1500cc creation. The bottom end is from an NSU Konsul, but the cylinder bolted on top comes from a radial aero engine. Compared to some on this list it’s eminently rideable, but we’d steer clear of the kick starter.

Biggest twin

If one radial aircraft engine cylinder is ideal for making a huge single, why not take two and expand it to a V-twin? That appears to be the thinking behind Clemens Leonhardt’s ‘Gunbus’ – a bike which at one stage he planned to build a limited production run of. At 6.7 litres, it’s insanely big for a twin. The original cylinders came from a nine-cylinder radial, and aircraft also donate the massive tyre carcasses. It was planned to go on sale at €325,000 a pop, but Leonhardt’s website now appears to be gone, so perhaps the demand wasn’t as strong as originally expected…

Most cylinders

We’ve covered the Whitelock Tinker Toy – built by Simon Whitelock of the Hertfordshire Superbike Centre – before, but it’s unlikely to be beaten on cylinder-count in the near future. It’s referred to as a 48-cylinder thanks to a custom engine made from six eight-cylinder banks, each using cylinders from Kawasaki KH250s, 16 of which gave their lives so this beast may live. However, there’s actually a 49th cylinder in there, since the main engine’s starter motor is a separate 50cc single! Have a closer look, and see it run, here.

Most engines

There might be the guts of 16 KH250s in the Whitelock Tinker Toy but the Dolmette uses no fewer than 24 separate engines. Each is a 78cc, two-stroke Dolmar chainsaw motor, linked together to a five-speed gearbox from a Harley-Davidson. Practicality is lacking, particularly since each of the motors needs to be individually pull-started… Oh, and for all that noise and effort it’s still only making around 170bhp from 1.9 litres.

Most big and powerful engines

The Dolmette is ultimately short on power, but that’s not an accusation that can be levelled at Gordon Tronson’s multi-engined creation. His chopper might only have four engines, but each is a RevTech 100 cubic inch V-twin, making over 100hp for a total well in excess of 400hp. The Kiwi engineer has something of fixation on multi-engined creations, since he also owns a hot rod with two twin-supercharged V8s and a truck with four supercharged V8s making more than 1000bhp each.

Most seats, wheels, engines

Did you know that you could once legitimately buy a four-seat motorcycle? The Czech-built Bohmerland, sold before WW2, accommodated whole families on the long bench of its Langtouren model. But even that is beaten by the creation of Steve ‘Doc’ Hopkins, owner of Doc’s Harley-Davidson in Wisconsin. His bike, called ‘Timeline,’ seats up to 10 people. And that’s not its only big number – there are also seven Harley engines in there, each from a different generation of Harley. From front to back there’s a 1923 1200cc JD, a 1944 1200cc Flathead, a 1946 1200cc Knucklehead, a 1948 1200cc Panhead, a 1981 1340cc Shovehead, a 1993 1340cc Evolution and finally a 2009 1584cc Twin Cam. The excessive numbers continue with the wheels – there are four main ones, two front and two rear, all in a line, plus a couple of removable stabilisers. And it all works.

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