Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 9/27/2004 11:25:37 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/27/2004 11:27:36 AM EDT by Robbie]
I've been following this story for awhile now. I found the initial report that he was on a Fireblade. The RR's are way fast...no doubt there. But not 200 material...or even 180 material. Stock bikes are around the low 170's. Only the 12R (161hp) and the 'Busa (173 hp) are going over 190, and even then they may need a bolt-on mod or two. I've heard of several reports of a jetted/chipped/piped/regeared 'Busa making 200-203 on a good day. Though Bike Magazine clocked a stock Busa in '99 at 200 after several tries. The Busa redlines in top gear at 199 and modern Busa's have a chip to limit the bike to 189 (it isn't rocket science to disable it)...the big Kawi not making the magic number. But no Honda's in the club, and I'm a big Blackbird fan.

But 205 on a Fireblade? Did the guy have a turbo installed? Hmmm...

Turns out it wasn't a Fireblade..it was an RC-51. Now the RC's were the coolest bikes way back when Reagan was in office (remember 8-valve heads?). This guy has a later version...a 2002 128hp V-Twin with a top speed in the mid-160's (Honda claimed 170). And what mod's did the guy have? A set of slip-ons...that's it!

Did he deserve a ticket? Sure sounds like it.


Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:28:48 AM EDT
Here's the linked article for those who don't wish to sign up:

Ticket revs up 205-mph questions
Terry Collins and Curt Brown, Star Tribune
September 26, 2004 FASTBIKES0926

To some, he's a folk hero. Others are calling him an idiot.

Everybody, it seems, is talking about Samuel Armstrong Tilley, the 20-year-old Stillwater motorcyclist ticketed last weekend for going 205 miles per hour on Hwy. 61 near Wabasha.

Consider it the ticket heard 'round the world.

In the week since a State Patrol pilot's stopwatch clocked Tilley's Honda RC51 at historic speeds, every gear-head chatroom, mechanic's garage and biker bar from Sturgis, S.D., to Los Angeles has been buzzing about Tilley's alleged exploits.

A photo of the ticket has been posted on the Web (http: //www.thesmokinggun.com/ archive/0922042speed1.html).

Tilley was even the talk of Two-Wheel Tuesday, a national cable TV fix for motorcycle aficionados on the Speed Channel.

SpeculatorsJudy GriesedieckStar TribuneAll of which prompts a couple questions: How could a so-called crotch rocket, with limited gear ratios, go that fast amid thousands of riders on the annual Flood Run along the bluffs north of Winona?

And why has Tilley suddenly become an urban legend?

"Certainly anyone who flouts the law to that extent is seen by some as a latter-day Robin Hood, flying in the face of authority and doing stuff we all want to do but common sense stops us from," said David Edwards, editor-in-chief of Cycle World, a popular magazine out of Newport Beach, Calif.

"Basically, it's like stepping out of a small airplane, if indeed he was going 200 mph," said Edwards, who like many experts, doubts Tilley topped 200 mph.

"It's extremely unlikely that that bike was going that fast," he said. "More likely, the cop with the stopwatch had an itchy trigger finger."

State Patrol pilot Al Loney, a 27-year veteran, and his superiors stand by their stopwatch, which clocked Tilley going a quarter-mile in 4.39 seconds.

Among the doubters is former St. Paul Police Chief Bill Finney, who was riding a Boss Hoss bike with a V-8 car engine during the Flood Run.

"The most common viewpoint is: That Honda could not have done 205 miles per hour," Finney said. "There are Suzukis that can go 180 miles per hour out of the crate, and racing Hondas may get there after spending a million bucks on them. That 200 miles per hour is a tough nut to crack, but those crotch-rocket guys are a whole other breed."

Who is Tilley?

The only one who knows for sure how fast Tilley was going isn't talking. Tilley did not return numerous reporters' calls for his side of the story.

He was born in New Ulm and graduated last spring from Stillwater High School.

"He was a cocky kid, kind of arrogant," said Laurie Hansen, his English teacher.

Records show that his father, Dean Tilley, is a patrol sergeant for the Washington County Sheriff's Office, and his stepmother, who co-owns the motorcycle, is a nurse.

Tilley's mother, Mary, died of a sudden illness a decade ago when Tilley was 10. There's a toddler playground in Oakdale named after her; she helped transform an old dump into the park.

Tilley purchased his 2002 Honda RC51 last summer from Tousley Motorsports in White Bear Lake, where he once worked. Tousley President Larry Koch insists Tilley is a nice guy.

"But I really want to ask him: 'What in the hell were you thinking?' " Koch said.

Meeting the legend

Devin Harrington, 32, of Minneapolis, was among the thousands of riders on the Flood Run along Hwy. 61 on Sept. 18. Stopping for gas near Wabasha, he remembers seeing a clean-cut kid wearing jeans and racing boots and sitting on a curb as riders sped past.

Curious, Harrington asked him what happened. The rider said his bike was towed because he got a speeding ticket.

In a "smart-alecky way," Harrington asked how fast was he going. Nonchalantly, Tilley told him, "Well, they gave me a ticket for 205."

"Bull!" Harrington blurted out, only to have Tilley show him the ticket to prove it. Harrington had a buddy take a picture of the ticket with his cell phone for posterity.

That ticket lists fines of $215 for going 140 mph over the limit, $115 for failing to have his motorcycle endorsement with him and a reckless driving charge. Tilley is scheduled to appear in Wabasha County Court on Oct. 25.

Four days later, Harrington had forgotten the whole matter, when his dentist brought it up while checking his teeth. The kid on the sidewalk, he realized, had become a cause célèbre.

"This is hilarious," said Harrington, who has been riding for 17 years. "Now, we'll have some idiot trying to top that mark, whether it is true or not. They will try killing themselves, for what? To see who's the fastest?"

Reaction to Tilley's ticket has motorcycle enthusiasts across the country spinning their wheels. Not only is it the record speeding ticket in Minnesota, but it reportedly tops William Faenza's national record ticket for going 182 mph in a Lamborghini Diablo in Pennsylvania last spring. And Faenza's ride had four wheels.

"He's upset the whole sport bike world," said Erie Presley, 43, of Salt Lake City. "Not so much that he broke the law, but he apparently broke several racing records, and we're wondering if he really did it."

Glenn Conser, president of the Motorcycle Roadracing Association in Denver, has tracked all the chatter on Web sites.

"It's been funny to read the different reactions that go from: 'Wow, how cool is that,' to 'What a moron!' " Conser said.

Tim Carrithers, editor of Motorcyclist magazine in Los Angeles, said his phone rang nonstop as word of Tilley's speed spread nationwide.

"The guy couldn't have gone that fast, no way," said Carrithers, adding that his staff members once clocked an RC51 at a high of 163 mph during a magazine review of the bike in 2000. "There's no street bike in stock that will approach that speed."

Dean of speed

No one in Minnesota knows more about speed than Marv Jorgenson, 63, owner of Chopper City in Fridley. He's been racing motorcycles and boats for 45 years and holds a world snowmobile record of 190 mph.

Jorgenson was among the Flood Run riders. He even saw Loney's plane clocking the bikers and warned his fellow riders to watch out. With countless bikes going about 70 mph, Jorgenson wonders how someone going three times that fast wouldn't run over riders ahead.

"It was like rush hour out there," he said. "I don't know how you can call a trooper a liar, but if the bike's not capable of going that fast ... ."

Jorgenson said the bike's fuel-injection system would cut out unless expensive modifications were made. Nate Northrup, one of Tilley's coworkers at Tousley said he remembers Tilley adding on a set of slip-on exhaust mufflers.

"They're supposed to add a little bit of horsepower, but I don't think they do anything but make a lot of noise," said Northrup.

Edwards, the editor of Cycle World, said a turbo charger would need to be added to get Tilley's bike north of 165 mph.

"There are lots of guys who have been spending a lot of money and a lot of years at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah trying to join the official 200 Club and most still haven't done it," Edwards said. "It's a pretty remarkable feat to go that fast on a motorcycle and I doubt that's what happened here."

Edwards said he once rode a bike at 175 mph.

"Between the wind tearing at you, the engine screaming and the leather flapping, it's not a fun place to be," he said.

And Koch, Tilley's former boss, figures the butt-kicking that the 200-mph man probably received from his patrol-sergeant father wasn't much of a fun place to be either.

"But when this is all over," Koch said, "he can get a jacket that reads: 'I'm the fastest man in Minnesota and I have a ticket to prove it, too.' "

Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:31:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/27/2004 11:37:48 AM EDT by monkeyman]
Thank You.

I've been discussing this with people who say, "205? sure why not." These people do not have a clue how fast 200+ mph is, let alone on a motorcycle.

So this guys ticket will likely only be for 100mph over the speed limit, if that.

I wonder if he can prove his bike won't go 200, they will drop the charges.
Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:44:52 AM EDT
He was only fined $330??
Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:47:44 AM EDT
Smoking Run

205 mph ticket will cost *only* $215 but has other costs
by dean adams

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Smoking Gun web site has procured a copy of the actual ticket written to a Minnesota man last weekend for traveling 205 mph in a 65 zone. What's surprising about the ticket is not just the horrible penmanship of the officer who wrote it, but that the fine for the actual speeding offense, as referenced on the ticket, is only $215.

By the description of the motorcycle written on the ticket (gray/red/black), it appears that the lad was riding an RC51 Honda. Which makes the 205 mph "reading" (the rider was hand-timed from above by a hi-way patrol pilot) all the more dubious.

Again, it is highly unlikely that any non-turbo or nitrous-oxide injected RC51 will top 190 mph.

The 205 mph ticket incident has been widely reported around the world; one the network news, by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey and even on NPR. To give an indication of the wide reporting of this incident, searching the Google News page for the phrase "205 mph" returns over 170 individual reports of the incident.

If nothing else, the 205 mph speeding ticket incident has become a wonderful little case study in media hysteria and illustrates how the mainstream media really don't care about information being wrong, at least if the area in question is a niche group they really know nothing about. Calls and e-mail sent to TV stations and newspapers detailing how it is very probable that the reading was wrong and that even a very modified Honda 1000 can't go 205 mph have been ignored.

Moreover, reports abound of motorcyclists informally trying to convince non-motorcyclists that this incident is based on bad data, but non-motorcyclists being unable to comprehend it. Best uninformed line from that "debate": "My V65 Magna did 165 mph in 1984; I'm sure the new bikes will easily do over 200 mph."

(And I have seen responses from plenty of shitheads who think the same way)

Bottom line: the majority of non-motorcyclist people believe everything they read in the mainstream press or see on television, especially if it's motorcycle doom.

On the one hand, for informed motorcyclists, this incident is sort of like being in on a funny joke where all your non-riding co-workers are exposed as moronic buffoons. However, on the other, it's also frightening because it clearly shows that the very same factors that almost brought government-led horsepower and speed controls to sport bikes in the late 1980s are alive and well today. Those being:

The media will fall over their own feet to publicize and sensationalize the behavior of one or more bad egg motorcyclists riding in an irresponsible manner--no matter what the facts are in the incident.

The public seem to be little more than peasants from the original Frankenstein movie--waiting for the go-ahead to run into the street armed with bad information and torches and scream "Kill the Monster!".

In the 1980s, what followed motorcycle hysteria in the media was government investigations of sport bikes like those led by Sen. John Danforth. Let's hope it does not happen this time.

Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:49:42 AM EDT
Dr. Gaudino Weighs In On Infamous 205-mph Speeding Bust In Minnesota

Copyright 2004, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.


Via e-mail:

Normally I just read new reports like this and laugh at the obvious errors made by those reporting. But in this instance, I felt compelled to respond. There are possibly a number of errors at work here simultaneously, but without more detailed information regarding the altitude the plane (which may or may not have the curvature of the earth as a factor depending on how high the plane was), the speed of travel, direction of travel relative to the motorcycle, and angle of attack of the plane (whether the plane was level, descending, ascending, or banked into a turn), my comments can only be viewed as information that can put a "reasonable doubt" into the minds of any person who claims to actually use their brain. It is obvious that the "Airborne State Troopers" don't fall into this category, or don't understand motorcycles and physics very well. This preamble leads us to a well known phenomena, called Parallax.

First some basic math. 60 mph = 88ft/sec. At this rate of speed (notice I didn't say acceleration) the 1/4 mile is traveled in 15 seconds. The one correct part of this whole thing is that, Yes....1/4 mile in 4.39 seconds does = 205 mph. But an approximate half-second difference (1/4 mile in 5 seconds instead of 4.39 seconds) would drop that speed to 180 mph. A 1-second error (1/4 mile in 5.39 seconds) drops that speed to 168 mph.

168 mph is a completely believable speed for a stock CBR1000RR, as is 180 mph for a moderately to highly tuned 1000cc street legal sportbike.

Is it possible to introduce a half second or 1 second human error into this equation? YES, especially when Parallax is considered. The definition of Parallax is provided below.

Source: The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary, Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Main Entry: par·al·lax
Pronunciation: 'par-&-"laks
Function: noun
: the apparent displacement or the difference in apparent direction of an object as seen from two different points not on a straight line with the object

From this definition, it becomes apparent that a large number of factors can introduce optical illusion errors. Since the original article states that the motorcycle was accelerating away at an apparent rate of twice the speed of the plane, and the plane is viewing the entire event from above and behind, there is very little chance the measurement made from hundreds of feet in the air is anywhere near accurate. The spotter would be "ASSUMING" when the front tire did in fact cross the line that he used to start the watch, AND worse yet as the bike accelerates (not speeds) away and increases the distance between the plane and the motorcycle, the timing when the front wheel crosses the second line used to stop the stop watch is even MORE OF AN ASSUMPTION.

Then we have to ask, was the bike going uphill or downhill at all? Because if it was doing either, depending on what height the plane was, the motorcycle may have look like it crossed the line sooner from a viewing position above and behind. Or if the plane was traveling at any direction other than perpendicular to the direction of travel of the motorcycle, that would also effect the person's ability to accurately judge the time the motorcycle crossed the white line.

The officer also said he was "ready." Well, how ready was he? Did he maybe time the rear wheel as it crossed the first line and then the front wheel as it crossed the second line? All these issues add a significant degree of error due to the extremely short time duration over which the entire event occurred.

This also explains why the "photo-finish" cameras are placed perpendicular to the direction of travel of the "racing objects" as they cross the finish line in ALL FORMS OF RACING. Or, more simply, the photo finish camera is taking a picture that is parallel to the finish line, as things move across the finish line. You never see the photo finish cameras above and behind the finish line. Add in the height of plane and consider if the plane was high enough the curvature of the earth must also be factored into the equation, and you can see why this claim is just a publicity vehicle for that police department.

I could get into the physics required to push a motorcycle that fast against air, or that the really basic error is that NO VEHICLE, be it two wheels or four wheels, that is street legal in any way, shape or form can accelerate to 205 mph in 4.39 seconds regardless of how fast they were going to start with because of the wind resistance at those speeds, but I won't. So the question becomes, why didn't the police stop the bikes earlier when they saw them racing along an interstate with other traffic?

Any lawyer with a basic college understanding of physics and motorcycles would be able to get this case reduced or thrown out.

Reginald J. Gaudino, Ph.D.
Gaudino & Associates, Inc.
Oceanside, California

Dr. Gaudino is a licensed road racer...Editor.

More, from another reader and racer:


Via e-mail:

Just a note about the 205 mph-streetbike.

This morning on the Paul Harvey radio show on 700 WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, he told a story of two motorcyclists being caught racing on Highway 61 in Minnesota at speeds "in excess of 205 mph."

Now it's two bikes at over 205 mph. WOW!

Jeff Wood

More, from another reader:


Via e-mail:

First: I applaud John Hopkins for the maturity he is showing in MotoGP. It takes a strong person to stand up and say that he forgives someone and wishes them no penalty. Bravo, John!

Second: 205 mph, on a Honda 1000, at that rate, my stock 636 should do an easy 180 mph! Give me a freaking break.

Eric Robinson
Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania

More, from still another reader:


Via e-mail:

No doubt that the guy was acting like an idiot. However, it would be interesting to know how the state patrol could clock him at 205 mph when the top speed of the Cessna 182s that they fly is only 143 - 148 kts (165 - 170 mph.) Even if they were using the one aircraft they have with retractable gear, an R182-RG Skylane, its top speed is only 160 kts (184 mph).

Adam Boklage
Vancouver, Washington

Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:50:55 AM EDT
Updated: PhDs Battle Over Why 205-mph Bike Calculations Were Wrong, And We Now Know The Guy Was On A Honda RC51 V-Twin!

Copyright 2004, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.


Via e-mail:

Rubbish. Dr. Gaudino suggests that parallax could have produced a 1 second timing error in the case of the 205-mph speeder in Minnesota, but simple geometry shows that's not likely. The worst case would be for a pilot sitting over the start of the 1/4-mile marker, then trying to time when the bike passes the end of the run. For a rural minimum fixed-wing aircraft altitude of 500 feet, the angle of view at the end of the run would be about 21 degrees. A crouched rider sitting 4 feet off the ground would cast a "shadow" that is about 10 feet long at this angle, so this is the maximum parallax distance error. 180 mph is 264 feet/second, so the bike covers 10 feet in 0.038 seconds, which is the maximum parallax timing error. Converted to an inferred speed, this would only be an error of about 1.5 mph. A much more likely explanation for the error (I don't believe the guy was doing 205 mph either) is the pilot trying to "time" his reactions to the bike passing either or both markers.

Jeffrey Koch, Ph.D.
AFM #964
Livermore, California


Via e-mail:

I suspect Dr. Gaudino may be a little confused.

The mechanics of a parallax are simple: you stand somebody in front of a wall on which a scale is marked, they will appear taller or shorter depending on whether your point of view is, respectively, lower or higher than the top of their head. It's a combination of the angle of observation and the distance from the person being measured to the wall.

In the case of a motorcycle viewed from above, it's the height of the bike above the road. That's about a metre (40"). So even if you viewed from an angle of 60 degrees from vertical, the error would be limited to about 1.7m.

Moreover that doesn't matter if the same mistake is made at both beginning and end of the timed distance. In a worst case scenario, suppose the plane was flying at only 200m. Then the parallax error would be about 1m at each end of the run, for a total error of 2m. As for the curvature of the earth, which has a radius of 6400km, that will contribute an additional 0.0036 degrees of error over 400m.

Now 205mph is 91m/s, so a 2m error would lead to a timing error of 22 milliseconds, or 1/2 of one percent, or 1 mph. I'd say simple reaction time would be much greater than that.

Is it possible? The news item didn't mention a standing start, so the question is whether a street bike can attain 205 mph (328km/h). We know that MotoGP bikes (ok, not the Proton) regularly achieve this thanks to about 240-250 hp. It's certainly true that no standard road-legal motorcycle could manage that, but there are people out there who attach turbochargers and nitrous oxide systems to large sport bikes. Even heavily discounting their claims for bravado, 300 hp would seem possible and account for the extra aerodynamic drag of road-bike paraphenalia.

This is not to say the trooper didn't get it wrong for any number of reasons, but parallax is not one of them and physics will not provide a defense.

Graham Byrnes BSc PhD (applied mathematics)
The University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Via e-mail:

Every e-mail so far is dismissing the whole thing, making arguments against the trooper being wrong for estimating 205 mph. This is disappointing.

Everyone seems to miss the REAL point, that some idiots were out racing their bikes, riding 160+ mph on public roads. +1 second error = 5.4 seconds = 168 mph. This is ridiculous in its own right anywhere but the track. Hell, I don't even get that fast at TWS on an R6.

So the cop's mistake was over-estimating the speed. That doesn't excuse these riders for being dumb.

Jesse Johnson
CMRA #21 Expert
Austin, Texas


Via e-mail:

I just wanted to comment on the ridiculous speeding violation reported by our local and national media.

The kid riding the so called "Honda 1000" was indeed riding a 1000cc Honda, just not the one you'd expect. He was actually riding an RC51. I have reliable sources at the scene who were passing by and spoke with the unlicensed rider (and saw his bike) just after his being pulled over while participating in the Minnesota Flood Run motorcycle ride which took place along the same route on highway 61.

Nick Junkersfeld
Motoprimo Motorsports
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Via e-mail:

just a quick note in addition to Dr. Gaudino's response:

Did you guys notice that he's not on a CBR1000RR; he's on an RC51! (I got this information here:

To make an RC51 go over 200 mph is a HUGE accomplishment. I'm not saying it's totally impossible, but to make any bike go over 200 is tough; but an RC51? A guy with no license taking the time to build an RC51 capable of such a feat is amazing.

I agree with the good doctor's response; the accuracy of this speed is highly questionable.

Steve Bauman
CRA #169
St. Bonifacius, Minnesota


Via e-mail:

I am absolutely certain, without reservation, that the facts presented to me for this story of a 205 mph motorcycle are true.

Dan Rather
New York, New York

(Eric A. Trytko, Dearborn, Michigan)


Via e-mail:

I don't want to get into a huge battle over this and waste your time and webspace. I also can't seem to find the article again at the original web location so I can't quote from the article to support my arguments, so that's even more reason not to get into it.

But from the beginning, my e-mail said that the ideas I was presenting were enough to put reasonable doubt into minds of people who put any thought into this. My entire post was directed to the factors in the entire "event" that could contribute human error and thus reasonable doubt into a reasonable persons mind. Dr. Byrne seems more intent on showing how I erred in saying that Parallax could have played any part, than in showing why it doesn't. If anything, he supports that idea. He quantifies the various amounts of error that ARE introduced, and then tries to say they are too small to be of any consequence. BUT, he doesn't say what the error he has quantified will do to affect the way the HUMAN at the observing end responds, i.e. starting and stopping the stop watch. He also doesn't comment on the following:

1) ANY maneuvering of the plane to be able to track that motorcycle (if they weren't already traveling in the same direction OR perpendicular to the direction of travel so that the plane was at right angle to the section of road where the lines were painted) would possibly introduce a situation where human error could affect the timing.

2) The response also didn't take into account any hills that may have changed the viewer's ability to accurately judge when to time. Perspective changes as the distance and angle from which an event is viewed. It IS possible that a perspective change on a hill (up or down) could create an optical illusion where it seems the motorcycle crossed the line sooner (and yes it could change it so it seemed to cross later as well) when viewing from a distance, especially if that distance is removed in 2 directions, distance away and distance above. I don't say this did happen because I am making no assumptions regarding this, but it COULD happen , and thus it could contribute to human error in timing. Without being there witnessing it, there is no way to say for sure one way or the other.

3) Dr. Byrne's response graciously provides the additional error caused by curvature of the earth, which would tend to add error to the timing event. Which was my point. Timing errors.

4) The short duration of the event, makes any error approaching 1/2 a second a significant amount of error. Enough error in fact to make the measurement completely suspect. And if its suspect, then its capable of being the basis for reasonable doubt, which in turn supports my other statement...a decent lawyer could get this case tossed or reduced.

I will admit that I assumed that the timing event started when the bike accelerated and then finished when he clicked and saw 4.39 seconds. It is possible I misinterpreted the officers action. From Dr. Byrne's response it would seem that the motorcycle had already accelerated to the terminal speed and that is when the officer started timing the event. I can't verify, so I'm willing to concede that point.

However, Dr. Byrne doesn't address what the apparent acceleration away from the plane at a rate of twice that of the plane does to the ability to accurately judge when to start and stop the timing event, thus he offers no comment on any possible human error introduced by any or all of these circumstances. I would ask Dr. Byrne if he's ever tried to time a motorcycle between 2 white lines from hundreds of feet in the air and from a position that would possibly be the worst of all circumstances, above and behind the event with the bike moving away faster than the vehicle that is being used to spot it. Forget that there could be additional factors of plane movement that could alter the ability to accurately judge.

The next 2 points I think are very important as well. The American Justice system probably doesn't work like the British Justice system...ANY reasonable doubt, can get a case reduced or overturned. I realize that Dr. Byrne is from Australia, but the legal system practiced there is basically the British legal system with very few changes. In fact they still wear the wigs in court. Our system which started as the British legal system has changed considerably from the original British system.

And in this case Physics DOES provide some reasonable doubt. Dr. Byrne seems to be confused about how the Law works here in the USA. The bike is probably in impound...so it would be easy enough for a lawyer to bring it in as an exhibit and show what its state of tune is. I agree that a 300 hp cbr1000 rr might have enough horsepower to travel at 205 mph...but that is a HUGE assumption. Since I can't see the bike, I chose not to assume anything about its state of tune. I chose to determine if small amounts of human error could in fact create the seemingly impossible discrepancy between what was claimed and what we motorcycle riders and racers should know is a VERY difficult plateau to reach. And then determine if those timing errors reduced the speed which seems outrageous to a speed more in line with what we, as reasonable motorcycle racers and riders, know to be possible for stock and moderately tuned streetbikes.

Occams Razor suggests, that all things being equal the simplest answer is usually correct, or stated another way, the less assumptions made, the greater the probability of an answer being correct.

Dr. Byrne says that a 300 hp motorcycle might be able to attain that speed. And he is correct, it MIGHT. But he ASSUMES that the rider had the time, the money, and the ability to build or have built for him, a 300 hp streetbike, when he makes that statement. My argument makes no such assumption. My argument is based on parallax, which is a known and naturally occurring physical phenomena (as is perspective change), and human error which could be introduced due to viewing inaccuracies. The human error factor is my assumption, because in order to reduce the 205 mph to a more believable 180 mph or 168 mph , a half second to 1 second error is introduced which represents either 10 or 20 % timing error, respectively. This is important. The basis of my post is about the timing event. An interval that short, needs only a minor error to completely blow it.

Anyway, I won't be upset at all if you decide not to waste any more space on this and don't print this. I really don't want to get into a physics and mathematics debate, since I'm not a physicist or mathematician. My only purpose for responding to Dr. Byrne's post at all was to let you know I'm not a complete bonehead, and that Dr. Byrne, while quantifying the curvature of the earth and its apparently small contribution to the overall error, really didn't address the main problem with the whole thing, which was human error, and the visual cues that could lead to human error affecting the timing event.

Next time remind me to delete my signature file at the bottom of my e-mails so I don't elicit a 'I'm going to shoot that guy's arguments down, just because he has a Ph.D. after his name' response.

Reginald J. Gaudino, Ph.D.
Gaudino & Associates, Inc.
Oceanside, California

Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:54:07 AM EDT
Updated: Speed Of Light May Have Affected 205-mph Clocking

Copyright 2005, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.


Via e-mail:

A few other points:

1. There were a number of interesting points raised in the discussion of potential errors related to the measurement of the elapsed time through a speed trap via airplane. I believe one of the most critical factors is the reaction time of the person taking the measurement. Most people at a dragstrip will rarely be under 1/2 a second from the time the light goes from yellow to green until they start, and probably higher. Those who do it professionally get accustomed to the time interval between the 'christmas tree lights' and can be under 1/3 second reaction time, but this comes with significant practice. Anticipating when a person will past a line running at over 150 mph can easily be off one side or another, either being early or late, which affect the total time.

2. If, indeed, the rider was accelerating, then assuming the timing was accurate, the rider was probably initially going 150 mph at the start of the quarter mile, and 250 mph at the end of the quarter mile in order to average 205 mph for the 1/4 mile. Therefore the ticket should have been for 250 mph (his highest rate of speed at the end of the quarter mile) not 205 mph.

3. However, the riders absolute speed is closer to 35,000 mph, when you factor in the speed of the earth's rotation, the speed of the earth's orbit around the sun, the speed of the solar system around our galaxy, and the speed of the milky way galaxy moving through space. Remember that it is all relative to your own viewpoint and speed. Thus, if two bikes are both going 60 mph in the same direction next to each other, it appears that both are either not moving at all, or moving at the same speed to each other, when in reality they are moving 60 mph to a stationary observer.

4. One final point to ponder:
You need to factor in the speed of light, which is approximately 186,000 miles per second. So, the instant the rider crosses either the start or finish line, there is some delay until the light reaches the pilot. So, when the pilot actuals 'sees' the rider cross the line, a few micro or nano seconds have elapsed, and the rider is actually passed the line when the observer 'sees' it, assuming instantaneous reaction time of the pilot.

I wonder what kind of tires he was using, and whether they were rated for the supposed speed he was running.. I guess RC51s are a lot faster than we thought.

Fred Ege
Chicago, Illinois


Via e-mail:

In all actuality, everyone is still missing the big picture... Regardless of parallax or human/State Trooper error, all of this attention is making this alleged 205-mph, modified (or not) Honda RC51 riding fool into a national folk hero--which he is not!

Officer Michael Oakvik #91
Brooklyn Park Police Department
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
2003 Honda CBR954RR


Via e-mail:

All these PhD's and they still don't have it right. The guy was actually doing more like 225 mph but all the donut sugar on the stopwatch made the button stick so the time was actually faster than reported.

Gordon Lunde
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Via e-mail:

I completely agree with the reader who said that anything over 160 mph on public roads is ridiculous. However, this shouldn't stop us from questioning the accuracy of the speed reading. The reason we should be concerned about this is a PR issue for motorcyclists. The difference between a 3-figure speed starting with a "1" and one that starts with a "2" is dramatic in the minds of the non-motorcycling public. I'd bet that a speed that's 6% lower (199 mph) would have resulted in far more than 6% fewer articles in mainstream media. In fact, I reckon that a ticket for 199 mph would have resulted in at least 25% fewer articles.

Unfortunately the damage is done and even if it turns out that the guy was doing less than 200 it won't alter the perceptions of non-motorcyclists who dismiss us all as hooligans.

Neil Smith
San Francisco, California


Via e-mail:

Not missing the point:

Jesse Johnson makes a good point that the rider was going too fast whether he was going 160 mph or 205 mph. I certainly wouldn't disagree with that but the point is that this was made into a huge issue because it's alleged that he was going 205 mph. If he had been clocked at 160 or so mph, that would not have been that extraordinary. At best it would have made page 4 of the local paper and maybe a personal website. Parallax, Plavix or whatever, the real issue is that the likelihood of an RC51 with mods reaching any speed to warrant the media attention (and negative perception of the non-riding public) that it has is clearly suspect. I for one think that efforts to dispute the validity of the timing is in the interests of anyone who throws a leg over as I fear it won't be long before some lawmaker tries to build his or her political career around suspect information.

Adrian Chapman
Not a Ph.D. but certainly a rider.
Atlanta, Georgia


Via e-mail:

1st: If that RC will do 205 mph I will buy it. I'll pay the kid's fine and ship the bike out here to Oregon to race it. Of course, I'm sure I'm not alone in that sentiment and the bidding will probably drive it out of my price range.

2nd: A great deal of noise has been made about possible "human error" or inaccuracies caused by the physics of observation. A few have rightfully pointed out the seeming irrelevance of the exact speed figure based on the "well, he sure as heck was going too fast anyway" argument. I personally feel both miss the silent and more critical point. The officer's observations are valued based on his impartiality, his experience and his training. All these factors will determine whether his testimony of his observations can be trusted on any level. If the officer has a sworn statement that the kid flew the 1/4 mile 8 inches off the ground, would we waste the breath on an argument that it may have actually been 6 inches off the ground? Would we condemn the kid for the stupidity of flying in a flight restricted zone? Or more likely, would we come to the conclusion that the observation is suspect of being flawed by observer bias. Clearly the officer thinks the bike can go 205 mph, or he would not have written the ticket. His belief prevents him from checking himself from holding whatever bias he has in his observations, and the kid gets a ticket for something he couldn't have done. The subsequent stop revealed the lack of a motorcycle license, but would he have been stopped without the claim of having been doing 205 mph? The infractions developed from the eventual stop depend on the viability of the premise for the stop; they might just as well have called the bike in for illegal crop dusting.

I expect that this case will eventually be tossed, if not in the lower court then possibly on appeal. That is, unless daddy makes a deal with the judge, to settle on a more realistic charge, to teach Jr. some respect for the law and its repercussions.

No I don't condone such behavior. Not from either party.

Bill Cismar
Vancouver, Washington


Via e-mail:

Perhaps Dr. Gaudino should learn how the American court system works. In traffic court (where the ticket would be fought) reasonable doubt is not the standard for disproving the state - that is reserved for criminal cases. In traffic court the defendant must show a preponderance of evidence against the state. Of course it's all up to the judge, but most traffic court judges could care less about reasonable doubt and will still uphold the ticket. All of Dr. Gaudino's "human error" arguments would not qualify for a preponderance of evidence and is not a good defense.

Jeff Lind
Portland, Oregon


Via e-mail:

A couple of items on the story.

The cop in the plane said he was going about half the speed of the bike and the bike was pulling away from him. So it was accelerating away from him at roughly 100 mph.

I called a couple of the TV stations that aired the story (second item on the evening news). I asked them if they were interested in hearing from someone who races 1000cc bikes why it was very unlikely that this speed was correct. One just wanted to argue and hung up on me when I said "why let relevant facts and physics get in the way of a sensational story?" That was the CBS affiliate. The other asked if it was possible. i told him "yes, it's possible, but extremely difficult to do under ideal conditions." He jsut wanted to hear that it was possible. Told me he would call back. They didn't. Hard to counter bad press when you can't get a voice.

Basically it's just a campaign against bikes by the highway patrol. The kid they stopped wasn't arrested, just ticketed. The reason he wasn't arrested (and I have never heard of anyone not getting arrested for that type of speed) was that there was a motorcycle run called the Flood Run. It goes up the river from Wisconsin to the Twin Cities. The organizers never say which side of the river to keep the cops guessing, so they wait on both sides of the river. The kid didn't get arrested cause they didn't want to lose the manpower when accosting the rest of the bikers.

Marc Chiodo
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Via e-mail:

No, I did NOT suggest that parallax would cause a 1 second timing error. That is a statement taken completely out of context. I showed how a half second or 1 second timing error could explain much more reasonable speeds. Then I suggest that parallax can contribute to that timing error.

Ok, I will admit from rereading my original post that I do suggest that Parallax is responsible. But closer inspection of my ENTIRE post will reveal that while I may have misspoken and pointed the focus of the post to parallax, that I spend as much time talking about other factors that could induce timing inaccuracies as I do talking about parallax. Why hasn't anyone mentioned any of those other factors?

For this I apologize. I do see from the opening of my post that it would be possible to infer that I am suggesting that parallax is the only possible explanation. But its apparent that no one paid any attention to any of the other details I discuss that could have contributed to the error that caused the inaccuracy of the calculated speed.

I mention the effect perspective changes might have on the judging of when to time by suggesting that if the motorcycle were climbing or descending a hill it could also affect the ability to judge when to start or stop the stop watch, depending on the angle the motorcycle is being viewed from while it goes up or down that hill.

I also mention discrepancies in the speeds of the 2 vehicles, which would increase the distance between the plane and motorcycle due to the acceleration of the motorcycle away from the plane occurring at a rate "twice that of the plane" according to the officer interviewed. As the motorcycle accelerated away from the plane by a factor of 2 (according to the officer) the officer timing the event would be even more hard pressed to get the watch stopped at the precise moment. Thus adding more error.

All these could contribute to a timing error. An error that would arise from the officer trying to "get it just right" and maybe "anticipating the crossing of the line". The real intent of the post was to show how all these factors could cause a significant error from the HUMAN stand point, and how ridiculous the 205 mph citation was. Which is not all that far removed from some of the responses you have been getting. And yes, I do realize that because of the way I started the post, that I've asked for the responses I'm getting. However, those same people should review the post in its entirety to see that there are a number of factors mentioned ALL of which could contribute to the error in timing. Just as Dr. Koch's suggestion that a more likely

"explanation for the error (I don't believe the guy was doing 205 mph either) is the pilot trying to "time" his reactions to the bike passing either or both markers."

That's all I was trying to point out. And once again instead of proving that parallax has NO contribution to the potential timing error, it was shown that it could contribute, albeit in a small way, along with the other factors I mention, to increased human error in the timing event.

I hope that this post will help clarify my original posting. Once again I apologize for sending out a post that was not written clearly enough to express my complete thought process.

Reginald J. Gaudino, Ph.D.
Oceanside, California


Via e-mail:

Now that I know that it was an RC51 and not the CBR1000RR, which I think most of us made the mistake assuming it was (thanks to lack of information in the news article), I withdraw all my previous comments.

We all know for sure that an RC51 is the completely correct platform for turbocharging and nitrous oxide induction, and whose cases will routinely withstand 300hp. Therefore I concede that the speed measured by the police officer was indeed correct, and my arguments about timing inaccuracies introduced due to human error based on visual "guesswork" are all out in left field.

My sincere apologies.

(Yes, this is indeed sarcasm.)

Reggie Gaudino, Ph.D.
Oceanside, California


Via e-mail:

I think Officer Michael Oakvik #91 is the one missing the big picture. I think many readers have been victimized by an officer of the law who for whatever reason puts down a speed on the ticket that is just plain wrong. I won't go so far as to say these officers are intentionally misconstruing the truth, but I think they routinely record the speed to the high side in order to make sure the errant rider learns a lesson.

In some cases, when the violation occurs far from home, the rider simply pays the ticket, and deals with the associated insurance hassles. In other cases, the rider may actually have to appear in court at least once, and in at least one case I have specific information on, the arresting officer never showed up and the case was dismissed.

If these officers would simply do their job instead of trying to teach us all a lesson and sensationalizing this in the first place, with tickets written for 205 mph for example, this folk-hero business could be avoided as well.

Bob Setbacken
Santa Barbara, California

If the involved cop hadn't gone grandstanding in the media, there would be no discussion of the kid wrongly becoming a folk hero, because he wouldn't have been all over the evening news...Editor.


Via e-mail:

I haven't read all the BS on this, but let me help in the headline department:

"Man Clocked Doing 205 Mph on RC51 While Migratory Swine Fly South For The Winter!"

Tony D'Augusta
WSMC #99
San Diego, California

Link Posted: 9/27/2004 12:03:01 PM EDT
At a more believable 165 MPH the guy would have covered a 1/4 mile in 5.45 seconds. If the trooper simply subtracted a second (or read the watch wrong) that would mean he was going 167. This I would buy. Stupid, but believable.

Either that or the cop hit the watch on the wrong stripe or set of stripes.

Whatever the case may be, they should toss the ticket (except maybe the riding without an endorsement). If they got the speed wrong because they couldn't operate a stopwatch correctly, they have no evidence as to how fast he was going. "It looked like he was going too fast" doesn't wash in court, not even in Minnesota.

Should be easy to beat this ticket. Tilley is doing the right thing by keeping his mouth shut. Makes me wonder if he's retained council. I sure as hell would.

Link Posted: 9/27/2004 12:15:38 PM EDT
I wouldnt want to be on no bike at 205...Daaaaaammmmnnnnnn!!!!!!
Link Posted: 9/27/2004 12:26:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KA3B:
"Man Clocked Doing 205 Mph on RC51 While Migratory Swine Fly South For The Winter!"


Link Posted: 9/27/2004 12:44:00 PM EDT
I posted the RC51 info here on 9/25...the thread can be found here:


Another thread predated even this thread, for those that have been following this for a bit now
Link Posted: 9/27/2004 12:47:27 PM EDT
I've driven a bike on a brand new section of rt 66 in Virginia a few years ago now. I looked down and saw 13? mph on the speedometer, that was way faster than I wanted to be going, but way slower than I thought I was going.

It was really scary. Granted it was a 83' Yamaha SECA 750 that bike was pretty hot at the time but is nothing like modern crotch rockets. The front end was starting to shimmy. A shimmy at 13? mph is really freaky. I backed off immediately.

The newer bikes have way better suspensions, better front fork bracing, better brakes, better tires better everything, but it takes a RARE breed of man to go much faster than 150 mph on a bike. At 150 mph everything except for things right directly in front of you are nothing but a big blur.

I don't believe he was going 205 mph for an instant.
Top Top