Most manufacturers advertise their motorcycles with specific top speeds, but is this really the best you can hope for?
Far from it, you can tweak your bike and yourself to get more acceleration and a higher top speed. These are nine ways to do just that.
1. Install an Aftermarket Exhaust System
Stock exhaust systems rarely maximize your bike’s speed potential. You or a mechanic can install a new, sportier exhaust system to go faster. Just make sure the new system is legal in your jurisdiction.
You can either install a simple slip-on exhaust system or entirely overhaul the system from the headers and cylinders to the muffler end cap.
A slip-on exhaust doesn’t usually add more than marginal power, but fully redoing your exhaust system can improve airflow so the engine can push out exhaust gasses faster and burn more oxygen.
2. Install a Fuel Management System
If installing a new exhaust system, you should also install a fuel management system like the Power Commander.
This computerized control unit tunes your fuel and ignition curves to maximize combustion and power based on the situation within the engine at any given time. This is only an option for fuel-injected bikes, not ones with carburetors.
3. Adjust the Suspension
The tuning of your bike’s suspension can have a marginal effect on its speed. This is because energy from the engine can be lost on bouncing up and down rather than the horizontal motion if the suspension is out of whack.
Fine-tuning the suspension is something nearly anyone can benefit from because it depends on your weight and your seat position on the bike.
Each bike will have a different optimal distance between the seat and the rear wheel while the bike is static and while you’re riding it. Consult your owner’s manual for the correct measurements and how to tighten or loosen the suspension.
4. Change the Gear Ratios
Changing your gear ratios, that is, the number of teeth on the front sprocket versus the rear sprocket is one of the best ways to increase speed.
Most people increase the number of teeth on the back sprocket while reducing those on the front to increase power and acceleration. The most common change is -1, +2, meaning you reduce the front sprocket teeth by one while increasing the rear sprocket teeth by two.
However, if you just want a higher top speed, you’ll need to do the opposite: increase the teeth on the front sprockets and reduce the number on the rear. The most common change is simply the reverse: +2, -1.
If you change the gear ratios on your bike, you’ll most likely have to replace the chain. You’ll have more net teeth and need more links in the chain.
5. Remove Weight
For the same engine, the lighter the bike, the faster it will go. It’s just simple physics. Therefore, you can make your bike faster by reducing the weight in any way you can. One of the main ways to do this is to change out stock parts for lighter-weight aftermarket parts. Some you can easily replace are:
- Brake calipers
- Brake discs
You can even go so far as to replace fairings and other parts of the chassis with carbon-fiber alternatives.
Additionally, you can remove unnecessary parts altogether. For example, taking off luggage or the pillion will decrease weight and increase speed.
Finally, you can always reduce your own weight. If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, getting into shape will decrease the weight the engine has to move and make it easier to practice riding techniques that maximize speed.
6. Upgrade Your Tires
The tires on your motorcycle dramatically affect how fast you can accelerate, and not just because of their weight. Specialized racing or track tires for sport bikes are usually made from a softer rubber and have longer but thinner treads. This decreases resistance and increases acceleration, but it usually reduces the life of the tires as a tradeoff.
While upgrading to higher-quality tires will generally increase your speed, one tire will usually be better for specific bikes than another. Do your research to find which tires increase speed the most for your motorcycle model.
7. Turbocharge Your Engine
A turbocharger uses the force of the engine’s exhaust gasses to power an air compressor that provides the engine with more oxygen, allowing it to burn hotter and produce more energy. Some motorcycles these days are already turbocharged, but if not, you can add one.
Turbochargers come in many designs and sizes, some easier to install than others. Plus, not all bikes can be turbocharged. Talking to a professional mechanic about turbocharging is best if you’re not an expert yourself.
8. Replace or Clean the Air Filter
Keeping your air filter in good shape is important for maximizing your motorcycle’s speed. The engine can’t produce as much power and acceleration if it can’t get enough air because the air filter is clogged.
Some air filters can be removed and cleaned, so upgrading these can be a good option for maximizing speed. You can regularly clean them to ensure your engine burns fuel as efficiently as possible.
9. Learn Racing Techniques
Of course, going fast isn’t just your motorcycle’s responsibility. You have to do your part as well. You can dramatically increase your speed by practicing high-speed techniques like the full tuck riding position and correct cornering.
The best way to learn these techniques is to attend a track school. After learning the basics, you can regularly visit the track to practice.
Related: See our favorite cheap and fast motorcycles.