What it was like to crack the ton

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Ring ting, ting. We all know the sound from our learner days. Little 125cc two-stroke engines blowing clouds of delicious-smelling blue smoke into the atmosphere. This isn’t pollution, it’s a joy.

But an engine is only good if it’ll punt you along at a fair rate of knots, which is why few of us could leave our motors alone at that stage in our biking careers. Whether it was simply disconnecting that wire from the CDI box of a Suzuki RG125 or more radically getting a big bore and a DEP exhaust system for almost any two stroke ever created, we all suffered the same affliction as Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Not poor acting – the need for speed.

All this mechanical butchery was in a single cause – the quest for 100mph. Because no amount of teenage bullshit that we’d done it could actually cover the knowledge deep inside that we hadn’t.

But with all the work done, there you are feeling like a GP god. You’ve chosen the day perfectly – it’s cool enough to get those vital extra few tenths of a bhp, and the road you’re on has a tail wind so it’s looking good.

Chin on the tank so you can hardly see down the road, knees pulled in so hard they’re denting the tank (which is virtually empty to lighten the load) and left arm down behind you to improve aerodynamics, you’re spinning it hard to get the most from each gear.

50, 60, 70 come up and go by quickly. By 80mph it’s beginning to feel it and you have to shift your arse to the pillion seat to wring the last wind-cheating benefit out of it. 90 shows, then 95. The last five mph are given out about as willingly as a Scotsman dropping his change, but finally it’s there. You have ” done the ton ” .

Once you move on from those bikes the whole world changes. Any 250cc sports machine or bigger will give you the magic 100mph with ease. There’s a certain something about 150mph but it’s not the same, and so far 200mph is the preserve of Shinichi Itoh (the first GP rider to do it in a race), drag racers and turbo nutters. For most of us there’s never another moment quite like it.

You can only listen to your mates’ stories in the pub so many times, so grab a pint and find out how other people, from top racers to MCN staff, remember that magic moment.

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff