A British engineer builds a half-ton, 1,000-horse drag-racing bike with the power of a monster truck.
Nick Argyle’s shop was only big enough to work on a motorcycle, but his only engine belonged in a monster truck. So the 44-year-old British engineer did what any power-mad gearhead would do: He built a 1,000-horsepower, methanol-guzzling, two-wheeled colossus.
- Dept: You Built What?!
- Project: a monstrous motorcycle
- Cost: $80,000
- Time: 3 years
Argyle had two priorities. First, he had to keep the bike light despite its 800-pound engine. So instead of building a traditional, heavy drag-racing frame, he used the engine itself as the main load-bearing structure.
The next objective: keeping it short. Drag-racing motorcycles are very long and, as a result, don’t turn well. But Argyle knew he’d need to ride on winding country roads to get to his local track, so he cut a foot off the length by sticking the supercharger belt—which helps generate extra power—between the forks, rather than behind them. The chariot may be shorter than its competitors, but the roar of 1,000 horses should make it clear who’s in charge.
How it works
Fuel: The bike runs on alcohol-rich methanol, a common fuel for racers. Alcohol keeps the engine cooler than gasoline would. Methanol is cheaper, too—and at four miles a gallon, price is important.
Safety: Argyle ran the exhaust pipes coming down from the cylinder heads wide and close to the ground. That way, if the back wheel kicks out during a race, the large pipes will scrape against the track and stabilize the bike, enabling the driver to right it.
- Performance: Argyle hasn’t clocked the bike’s speed yet, but now that he’s installed a new gearbox, he hopes to get it on the strip and top 200 miles an hour.
This story was originally featured in the May 2007 issue of Popular Science magazine.