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Can you imagine travelling at more than 370mph on two wheels? The current motorcycle land speed record was set in September 2010 when the Top Oil-Ack Attack streamliner - powered by two turbo-charged 1299cc Suzuki Hayabusa engines - achieved an average speed of 376.363mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

It was the latest in a long line of amazing achievements in the pursuit of the highest speed on a bike. And in a few weeks time, the record will be challenged again - this time on a Triumph machine ridden by TT star Guy Martin.

Attempts on the record date back to the turn of the last century, when Glenn Curtiss set an unofficial best time of 64mph on a single-cylinder machine which he built himself - with a carburettor fashioned from a tomato soup can.

In 1907 Curtiss more than doubled his record to 136mph, riding a self-built V8 on Ormond Beach in Florida. His effort was not officially beaten until 1930, when in Arpajon, France, a British OEC machine with a 1000cc V-twin JAP engine achieved an average of 137mph over the required two-way run.

During the 1930s the record went back and forth between JAP-powered Brit bikes such as the Brough Superior, Zenith and OEC, and German BMWs.

The latter made 173.68mph before the outbreak of the Second World War. It stood for 11 years.

Following the end of hostilities, German and British manufacturers again battled for the record, with NSU representing the former and Vincent HRD and Triumph the latter. In 1956, at Bonneville, the 499cc NSU Delphin III set the first record over 200mph with 210.64.

In the 1960s, the Japanese entered the fray, as did Harley-Davidson. American bike racer Don Vesco became the first to go over 300mph in 1975, when he powered the 1480cc Yamaha "Silver Bird" streamliner to 302.92mph.

In 1990 the 3000cc Easyriders streamliner, with twin Harley engines, set the longest-standing (16 years) FIM-sanctioned record of 322.150mph.

Now, with 376mph to beat, Triumph has once again decided to take on the challenge.

Following a successful practice session at Bonneville - achieving 274.2mph - the firm has confirmed the attempt will take place later this month.

The Triumph Infor Rocket Streamliner, designed by Matt Markstaller, is made of carbon Kevlar and is 25ft long, 2ft wide and 3ft tall. It has two turbocharged Triumph Rocket III engines, using methanol fuel and producing 1,000bhp at 9,000rpm.

Matt told the Mirror: "We achieved a great deal during our test week at Bonneville and feel we are in a great position to move ahead with our record attempt. Guy impressed us with the speed in which he mastered both the motorcycle and riding on the salt."

So, can Triumph and Martin bring the record back to Britain? Watch this space


TIGHT FIT Guy Martin, and inset, a salt encrusted tyre

ALL OUT AS-SALT Triumph Infor Rocket at Bonneville

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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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