Filed under: motorcycles
Marine Turbine Technologies (MTT) is working on their second iteration of their jet-engine-powered hyperbike, the Y2K Superbike. The original featured a 320 hp Rolls Royce Allison 250 gas turbine that spun to 52,000 rpm. Instead of using the thrust produced by the turbines, the helicopter engine is mated to 2-speed automatic which drives a shaft connected to a final-drive chain system. If you’re old enough to remember the movie “Torque,” it showed up as the hero’s last ride at the end, barely keeping up with a nitrous-equipped Harley easyrider. Ahhh, Hollywood. Speaking of Hollywood, Jay Leno owns one of these. With a price tag of $150,000, you’d probably have to be a celebrity to own one of these. But if you want to feel like a fighter pilot everytime you turn on your bike, it’s probably worth every penny. Listening to it start up is giggle-inducing.
Jay riding the MTT Streetfighter, an upgraded version with a bigger swingarm, Pirelli Diablo 240-section rear tire, larger fuel tank and an enhanced cooling system as well as 100 extra horses.
Some interesting tidbits [via]:
- The bike comes with an LCD screen for the rear-mounted color camera.
- There are front and rearward radar detectors/laser scramblers.
- The exhausts put out 650°C of heat, hot enough to melt the plastic off of car bumpers according to Jay Leno!
- Although it runs best on diesel, the engine can handle a large variety of fuels from kerosene to biodiesel
Now, they’re working on a new generation of jetbike aptly named the MTT Y2K 420R. With an updated Rolls-Royce C-20B gas turbine engine and other improvements (e.g. carbon fiber wheels and fairings), the company is aiming for a top speed of 260 mph.
The truth about the MTT turbine bike….
The press release of the 420ss is not official and neither are the facts correct. It was copied from an Indian forum after a 3D render was released without permission. Below is the reality to dispel all the myths and educate fans of this amazing motorbike.
MTT stopped making the last ‘Y2K’ in 2005. That bike had a RR Allison 250 series C18, (from the Bell 206 helicopter) which offered 318shp (shaft horsepower) and about 286hp at the rear wheel, (10% loss from the drive chain).
A Joint Venture between Zef Eisenberg and MTT was created in 2009 to take the last 2005 C18 powered bike to Europe (UK) and test, race and land speed it to see what it could really do, under ACU/MSA sanctioned events and which areas could be improved. Since then it has been at Elvington, several top speed events, Goodwood festival of speed and expos in the UK.
Anyone with an understanding of the laws of physics will know that the drag always gets in the way of top speed, ie: The faster you go, the more drag is created and the more power you need to go faster… not in a linear way, but in a massive way, ie: depending on drag efficiency levels (how smoothly the object slips through the air) a normal motorbike will need circa 200rear wheel HP to achieve 200mph, 300rwHP to achieve 225mph, 450rwHP to do 250mph, etc…
Until you’ve been at these crazy high speeds, you have no idea how much resistance air itself creates. If you don’t believe me try sticking your arm out the car window at just 100mph and see if you can hold it straight!
You then create another problem, the more horsepower (and torque) you produce, the more traction (laying the power down) becomes an issue. That is why a 1500hp drag bike has a tyre the size of a lorry. If they used a normal 190 or 240 road legal tyre, it would just spin, smoke and go no where. For a road legal bike and safe high speed stability, curved road tyres is what you want, not giant flat drag tyres.
For the benefit of high speed stability ‘250mph bikes’ don’t want to have the front forks set like a GP bike at 23 degrees for quick turns and reaction, they prefer slower steering such as 26 to 30 degrees This will make the bike longer and more stable. Trust me, you don’t want a speed wobble at 250mph. The compromise is length hence the Turbine bike is longer than the average bike at 2450mm, but no longer than many cruising and touring bikes. Ignore the illusion of half finished 3D renders.
In May 2012, The C18 powered ‘Y2K’ bike achieved a certified GPS speed of 205.87mph in its fastest run. The gearing (front and rear sprockets combo) was wrong, so the turbine spooled to 5300rpm, instead of its 6000rpm governed speed. This resulted in a loss of much needed horsepower for the higher speeds. Lots of testing has been done since on tweaking and improving many areas, with greater results expected in 2013.
With all the C18 testing and knowledge, a new model was created – The 420ss. This bike is 90% built, but has not undergone high speed testing yet. Everything about the bike is new. Although the bike without it’s fairing, looks similar; the frame, forks, wheels, brakes, tank, gearbox, swingarm, aerodynamic fairing, electronics, triple tree, rake/trial, suspension, etc… has all been improved, strengthened and tweaked.
Most newsworthy is that it is using the RR Allison 250 series C20B turbine, as found in the 6 seater luxury VIP Augusta 109 Helicopter. At 100% N1 (fuel input) at 6000rpm (N2) it achieves between 420 and 440shp (at the shaft), which will be 378-396 rear wheel HP. The torque is considerably more than the C18, being 367 lbft v 280lbft. These power ratings have been achieved on a RR turbine engine dyno and Dyno250, without any component failure.
To understand this, a Honda gold wing makes about 110lb ft and a 500hp Turbo Hayabusa makes around 238 lbft at 11,000rpm. The concern with the 420ss is will the 240mm rear tyre be wide enough to lay down the power to achieve the acceleration and top speed its capable of?
It is for these reasons that claims of 200mph in 5.4seconds is rubbish. Such times would make the bike win every prostock ¼ mile drag race in the world. Top speeds of 275mph is also rubbish. 240mph is realistic, 250mph a big maybe if the aerodynamics of the bike was improved over the original, which we all agree was not optimised in design or looks. Yes, if the bike was made into a 20 foot long pencil thin ‘bonneville’ stream liner, 275mph would be very realistic, but then it’s not road legal, which is all the fun!
Turbine’s are unique compared to piston engines. They take about 45 seconds to spool up to maximum rpm (N2) and rev slowly when under load, as they are designed to operate for hours at 100% RPM, as opposed to revving like a piston engine. There are ways to achieve very fast acceleration on the bike by using a technique where you spool the turbine up to the limit of the tyre traction and then release the turbine brake, resulting in you being catapulted from the start line. However as the bike is single geared you can end up spinning the tyre up to 200mph in seconds, without moving forward, so great care is required to avoid causing catastrophic tyre failure.
The gearbox is not really a 2 speed auto. It is actually 2 speeds that you select as the conditions require via the handlebar switch using hydraulics. 1st speed is 0-100mph allowing for lower cruising speeds and better RPM for town use. 2nd speed is 0-250mph or however else it is geared, for cruising along the motorway or racing. You do not change gears during use.
In terms of fuel; the bike does not need Avgas, as it does not need the high altitude additives to stop the fuel freezing. The bike runs very well on boiler oil (Kerosene) or basic pump diesel. It can also run on Biodiesel B100 (purified vegetable oil). In terms of MPG, it is very inefficient during normal cruising speeds or traffic jams, as the turbine spins at 27,500 rpm (3500 shaft) at idle !
However it is very efficient (in comparison to other engines) when cruising at 200mph + at 6000rpm, which is what the engine is designed to do for hours on end with total reliability.
Unknown to may, when it achieved it’s Diesel and Turbine record in May 2012, Zef, the rider actually rode it up the M6 from Birmingham, UK, all the way to Elvington in Yorkshire without any issues or reliability problems, filling up with Diesel along the way and enjoying the fast highways and twisty B roads alike.
The reality is if you want an affordable, practical, good economy, commuter bike or great handling track day bike, don’t buy an MTT turbine bike ever, you will be disappointed.
However, if you want a second bike with a sound and presence to turn heads and stop everyone in their tracks without fail wherever you go, a turbine bike is the ultimate choice! If you’ve never heard a turbine bike start and ride past you in real life, it’s jaw dropping. It still impresses me every time!
All the best,
MTT 420ss Project co-ordinator
British Record holder for Diesel and Turbine wheel powered motorbike
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