Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Car Vs. Bike

Ever wondered what would be faster on a race track between a car and a motorcycle? Easy answer right? Well maybe not. A few seasons back, the UK car show Top Gear did a car versus bike comparison and determined a Porsche Carerra 4s was quicker than a Yamaha R1 in a head to head race. A link to the video is at the bottom of this post.

We produced a RaceDV video of a 2003 Yamaha YZF R6 at Calabogie Motorsports Park. The lap times were quick. Quicker than the lap record held by a production car there. That was done in a 2007 Porsche 911 GT3. That's a 997 for you Porsche-philes out there.

Here's the comparison video. Higher quality video available here.



First, a couple of notes on this video. The recordings for each of these hot laps weren't performed on the same day. The recordings have been synchronized so they both cross the start finish line to begin their hot lap at the same time.

There are two interesting data elements to focus on. First, on the track map, the red dot is the R6 and the blue dot is the 911. They're right on top of each other as they cross the start finish line. Secondly, seeing the differences in speed throughout the lap sheds a lot of light on where each vehicle shines in comparison to the other.

So the R6 has a quicker lap time. That's expected, but we wanted to know why. Is it the higher power to weight ratio of the bike, quicker acceleration, or is the track better suited to two wheels than four?

Using the data we gathered with our incar video recording system we got our answer. First some specs.

Vehicle 2003 Yamaha YZF R6 2007 Porsche 911 GT3
Engine Configuration Inline 4 Flat 6 / Rear mounted
Displacement (litres) 0.6 3.6
Horsepower bhp 123 @ 13,000 rpm 415 @ 7,600 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 43.9 @ 10,000 rpm 299 @ 5500 rpm
Curb Weight (lbs) 388 3,075
Top Speed (mph) 161 193
0-60 (s) 3.28 4.1
MSRP (CAD) 11,000 133,800
Laptime 2:14.797 2:17:390



Some interesting points about those specs.
  • Bike's power to weight ratio is 3x bigger than the car's
  • Bike is 0.9s quicker to 60mph
  • Car has 6x the displacement of the bike
  • Car has almost 7 times the peak torque, but weights almost 8 times as much as the bike
  • Bike is less than 1/10th the price


Predictions as to why the bike is quicker?
First thought would be the bike is faster because its lighter and accelerates quicker. Advantage bike. That would be the end of it if this were a drag race, but its not.

This is a road coarse. Cars are generally quicker around corners than bikes. I guess two extra wheels under you and all the metal surrounding you inspires confidence. Not to mention those two extra wheels offer much better traction and the car's body work provides much needed downforce around corners. Advantage car.


So if the bike is better on the straights because of its quicker acceleration and the car is better in corners because of its superior mechanical grip and aerodynamics, does that mean it comes down to the track layout?


I asked Bruce Gregory of Calabogie Motorsports Park about their intentions when they designed the course.

"When Alan Wilson did the original design, bikes were high on his list of design considerations, and I think the performance of the bikes as well as the popularity of the track with the motorcycling community are a testament to the success of the design as a dual purpose facility."

OK. So they put a lot of thought into how this track would work for both bikes and cars. As a dual purpose road coarse, does Calabogie Motorsports Park treat two wheels better than four? Is it a factor in this at all? Let's find out.

Here's the turn by turn breakdown.

The Start
Coming up to the start of their laps, the bike reaches a higher speed down the front straight. This is from the good acceleration out of the last corner from the previous lap.

Turns 1 - 3
Turn 1 is a pretty fast corner. Aerodynamic downforce helps the Porsche carry more speed through here. This continues through corner 2 and 3 and the Porsche comes out slightly ahead of the bike.

Rocky Road
With its quicker acceleration out of turn 3 and higher top speed down the back straight the bike closes the gap, just before entering turn 5.

Mulligans & Big Rock (5 &6)
Both the Yamaha and the Porsche carry the same corner speed through both these turns.

Corners 7 & 8

Through turn 7 and leading up to 8, the R6 manages to gather 15kph more speed than the 911. A the sector marker, both have an identical time of 52.797. The cars mechanical grip and aerodynamic advantage help it tackle corner 8 a bit better than the bike.

Deliverance (9a & 9b)

Deliverance indeed. The bike manages to spring out ahead of the car with a speed 20kph higher before braking into turn 10, gaining a bit of a lead over the 911.

Crown & Brow (10 & 11)

The Yamaha R6 and Porsche 911 are evenly matched through turn 10 and 11, allowing the R6 to maintain its lead.

12 through 14

The bike exits 12b with good acceleration but both seem evenly matched exiting turn 14. Now the bike really takes advantage of its lighter weight and superior acceleration in the uphill short straight leading into 15. You can clearly see the bike take the lead here on the track map in the video. Sector times show the bike 2 seconds ahead at this point.

Spoon
Turn 15 doesn’t seem to discriminate between two and four wheels. Whoever has a better entrance speed into 15 is going to have a serious advantage for the rest of the lap.

Through the Quarry
The final left handers give the car the advantage. Each take a very different line through here so they can't be compared based on speed alone, but it looks like the car has the advantage through these bends. The Porsche 911 manages to carry an average of 10kph more speed through these corners, but its not enough to close the gap.

Final Corner to the Finish
After a full 20 corners the bike is about 2 seconds ahead of the car. With its quicker acceleration out of Wilson’s it manages to build another second onto its lead to end the lap 2.6 seconds ahead of the 911.

So there you have it. It doesn't take a super bike to out perform a super car. If you compared flag ship bike to flag ship car; the Yamaha R1 to the 911 GT3, there would be no contest, at least at a track where bikes were considered in the design. It seems that single factor - thinking about bikes in the course design - completely eliminated any advantage a car would have at Calabogie.

Unlike Jeremy Clarkson's conclusion that all motorcycles riders are gay and that a Yamaha R1 can't outperform a Carrera 4, we've determined it certainly should have blown its doors off. My guess is if they didn't put them on the track at the same time so the rider didn't have to fear for his life, I'm sure Top Gear's results would have been different. Also, having two vehicles racing regardless of the number of wheels will always be slower than a single vehicle hot lapping by itself. I'll give them this though. While not very scientific, their method does make for good television.

Now with RaceDV's technology, viewers won't need to choose between good comparisons and quality television. They can have both.What would I choose? Well the R6 outperforms the 911 at a fraction of the price. The 911 has a roll cage though. Enough said.

What would you choose?



References & Links

Tim Wong - Hardware Engineer at RaceDV and certified car & bike nut.

For plenty more Porsche videos, including the lap record used for this comparison, visit our Porsche section of racedv.com.

For a full breakdown of each corner at Calabogie Motrosports Park, see their driver's guide.

See the Top Gear segment comparing a Carrera to an R1 here.

Specs from motorcycle-usa.com, caranddriver.com, and porsche.com

11 comments:

WhipDaddy said...

As much as I love the Porsche and have never owned one, I used to have a CBR 600F4i, so I would have to choose the bike over the car anyday on a track. I would let loose and not worry about having to outrun the OPP on any 400 series highway. ;)

Sean Morris said...

This is really cool. I have wanted to do a website with some comparisons like this.

Compare lots of different cars at the same track , and allow you to overlay or compare side by side the results.

Anonymous said...

This is worse than ignorant. Downforce from a Porsche at these speeds? Confidence being the deciding factor in lap times between an expert on a bike or in a car? Puhleeze.

Go race sometime and come back and write about this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Nice article, well balanced and presented.

I thinks it's a very fair shot at trying to answer the eternal question about which one is faster, a bike or a car.

As a little contribution, been driven both, I would like to say that in the psychological department the car has the advantage. You need much more courage to go fast in a bike than in a car. Because your sense of protection, and not only the sense but anyway, is bigger.

But at the same time, it's that feeling of freedom of the bike that make it so fun to drive.

So, I don't know which one is faster, but if I want to ride for fun I'll pick a bike any day hands down.

Anonymous said...

This is as close to the truth as you can find. If there are Porsche lovers out there with doubts buy a bike, any bike and spend what you would on your Porsche and find out for sure.

As a highway patrol pursuit driver (yes driver) It is hard to catch a bike with a good rider. Cars on the other hand are simple. The driver usually stuffs up. He thinks he is safe in his high powered car however rarely knows its or his limitations.

As far as tests like these go it favours the car/driver. He gets to thrash the car that is not his wihouut any fears for his safety. Most guys would take this challenge. The rider has to worry about himself and it would take a skilled rider with good circuit knowledge and confidence. So its more the car vs bike.

Anonymous said...

this is official lap records taken from the philip island circut australia from all vehicles

PHILLIP ISLAND GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT LAP RECORDS
OUTRIGHT SIMON WILLS REYNARD 94D 13/02/2000 1.24.2215
FORMULA 4000 SIMON WILLS REYNARD 94D 13/02/2000 1.24.2215
FORMULA 3 LEANNE TANDER DALLARA F307 MB 15/06/2008 1.26.9031
FORMULA FORD 1600 TYLER MECKLEM VAN DIEMAN RF91 16/05/1999 1.40.1079
FORMULA FORD FIESTA JAMES MOFFAT MYGALE SJO7A 1/12/2007 1.38.7257
FORMULA VEE 1200 DANIEL REINHARDT ELFIN 4/09/2005 1.56.8004
FORMULA VEE 1600 TIM HAMILTON JACER F2K7 15/06/2008 1.52.9995
V8 SUPERCARS CRAIG LOWNDES COMMODORE VT 16/05/1999 1.33.4389
SUPER TOURING GEOFF BRABHAM BMW 320i 1/06/1997 1.37.1706
NATIONS CUP/ GT PAUL STOKELL LAMBORGHINI DIABLO 10/08/2003 1.34.1058
GT PERFORMANCE JAMES PHILLIP FALCON BF FPV GT 19/08/2006 1.45.2660
GT PRODUCTION/PCCA LEE CASTLES SUBARU WRX STI 15/06/2008 1.49.8475
IMPROVED PRODUCTION
A (OVER 3001cc) WARICK MASSEY MAZDA RX7 7/05/1995 1.46.5800
B (2001-3000cc) ROHAN AMBROSE MAZDA RX7 12/09/1999 1.46.0362
C (1601-2000cc) JOHN RANDALL DATSUN 1600 12/09/1999 1.50.3537
D (UNDER 1600cc) DAVID LOFTUS TOYOTA STARLET 24/11/2002 1.54.2041
HQ HOLDENS DAVID WOOD HOLDEN HQ 12/06/1999 2.01.6608
COMMODORE CUP MARCUS ZUKANOVIC COMMODORE Vs 20/05/2006 1.47.9135
SALOON CARS KRIS WALTON FALCON AU 19/08/2006 1.50.8138
MIRAGE TROY HUNT MIRAGE 22/09/2002 1.53.0016
V8 UTES MARCUS ZUKANOVIC FALCON BF XR8 20/08/2006 1.51.9799
TOURING CAR MASTERS GAVIN BULLAS MUSTANG BOSS 302 02/12/2007 1.49.8087
SPORTS SEDANS
A (OVER 4001-6000cc) DARREN HOSSACK AUDI A4 CHEV 15/06/2008 1.31.8615
B (3001-4000cc) LUKE YOULDEN MAZDA RX7 14/04/2002 1.34.8902
C (2001-3000cc) RICHARD CATCHLOVE MAZDA RX7 9/06/2002 1.39.8284
D (1301-2001cc) BRYCE PETER-BUDGE PEUGEOT 406 7/09/2003 1.42.7417
E (UNDER 1301cc) BARRY DEVLIN MINI COOPER S 12/06/1999 1.56.3401
SPORTS CARS
MARQUE SPORTS ALLAN SIMONSEN FERRARI 360 25/11/2006 1.34.6990
MG RACING MORT FITZGERALD MGB V8 10/06/2007 1.40.1616
MGF ROBERT D'ERCOLE MGF 160 TROPHY 13/04/2003 2.00.4539
PORSCHE D/CHALLENGE BRYCE WASHINGTON PORSCHE GT3 21/08/2005 1.37.4727
CARRERA CUP DAVID REYNOLDS PORSCHE GT3 10/12/2006 1.35.5238
PORSCHE 944 JUSTIN TATE PORSCHE 944 2/09/2007 1.51.0708
SUPERKARTS
100cc NGB JUNIOR DEAN CROOKE 26/03/2000 2.07.3000
100cc SENIOR ROD CLARKE 15/09/2002 2.10.9000
125cc MAX LIGHT JASON McINTYRE 15/09/2002 1.57.2420
125cc MAX HEAVY MARK WICKS 17/02/2007 1.59.6850
125cc MAX JUNIOR SEAN WHITFIELD 12/10/2007 2.02.4000
125cc GEARBOX RUSSELL JAMIESON 6/05/2007 1.42.7163
80cc JUNIOR PETER GAZZALON 21/02/2004 2.13.0000
80cc SENIOR TROY BYRON 28/03/1999 1.51.6000
125cc STEVE CROSSLAND 18/03/2001 1.43.0000
250cc NATIONAL DAVID HOLDFORTH 28/03/1999 1.37.7000
250cc INTERNATIONAL WARREN McILVEEN 6/05/2007 1.32.6516

PHILLIP ISLAND GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT
MOTORCYCLE LAP RECORDS
MotoGP Marco Melandri (Ita) Honda RC211V 1:30.332 16-Oct-05
Pole : Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda RC211V 1:29.020 16-Sep-06
250cc Grand Prix Seastian Porto(Arg) Aprilia 250 1:33.381 17-Oct-05
Pole : Seastian Porto(Arg) Aprilia 250 1:32.099 16-Oct-04
125cc Grand Prix Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Honda 125 1:36.927 17-Sep-06
Pole : Mika Kallio (Fin) KTM 125 1:36.625 16-Sep-06
Superbike Troy Corser (Aust) Yamaha YZF-R1 1:31.826 4-Mar-07
Previous record : Troy Bayliss (Aust) Ducati 999 F06 1:32.402 5-Mar-06
Pole : Troy Bayliss (Aust) Ducati 999 F07 1:31.887 3-Mar-07
Previous record pole : Troy Bayliss (Aust) Ducati 999 F06 1:32.081 4-Mar-06
Supersport Sebastian Charpentier (Fra) Honda CBR RR 1:34.976 4-Mar-07
Previous record : Broc Parkes (Aust) Yamaha YZF R6 1:36.399 5-Mar-06
Pole : Fabien Foret (Fra) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1:35.166 2-Mar-07
Previous record pole : Chris Vermuelen (Aust) Honda 600 1:35.291 29-Mar-03
Sidecar Steve Webster / David Suzuki 1:38.726 18-Apr-99
James (UK)
National
Production Superbike Jamie Stauffer (NSW) Yamaha 1:33.756 15-Sep-06
Pole : Jamie Stauffer (NSW) Yamaha 1:34.625 14-Sep-06
600cc Supersport Jeremy Crowe (NSW) Yamaha 1:36.475 15-Sep-06
Pole : Jamie Stauffer (NSW) Yamaha 1:36.838 14-Sep-06
125cc Grand Prix Peter Galvin (NSW) Honda 1:41.632 17-May-03
Pole : Josh Waters (Vic) Honda 1:42.317 16-Aug-03
Superstock Billy McConnell (SA) Honda 1:41.112 28-Mar-04
ASC record: Ben Henry (WA) Ducati 1:43.687 12-Nov-05
Previous ASC record: Dale Broadfoot (NSW) Honda 1:44.257 2-Apr-05
Pole : Brendan Roberts (SA) Yamaha 1:41.297 26-Mar-04
Pole (ASC): Ben Henry (WA) Ducati 1:43.721 12-Nov-05
Prev. Pole (ASC): Darren Edwards (Qld) Yamaha 1:44.216 1-Apr-05
Sidecars Steve Abbott / Jamie Biggs (UK) Suzuki LCR 1:38.896 13-Nov-05
Pole : Steve Abbott / Jamie Biggs (UK) Suzuki LCR 1:40.526 12-Nov-05
Pro-Twins Craig McMartin (NSW) Ducati 1:39.110 13-Nov-05
Pole: Craig McMartin(NSW) Ducati 1:39.645 10-Sep-04
PHILLIP ISLAND GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT
MOTORCYCLE LAP RECORDS
Class Name Machine Time Date
Nakedbikes Simon Rattenbury (Tas) Yamaha 1:40.680 12-Nov-05
Pole: Benn Archibald (Qld) Aprilia 1:40.773 10-Sep-04
Formula 400 Jason Cullen (NSW) Honda 1:46.295 15-May-05
Pole : Michael Halliday (Vic) Kawasaki 1:47.373 12-Aug-06
250cc Production Ben Attard (Qld) Aprilia 1:44.925 10-Sep-00
Pole : Brent George (Vic) Aprilia 1:46.147 31-Mar-01
FIM Superbike Steve Martin (NSW) Ducati 1:36.149 8-Jun-97
Pole : Craig Connell (NSW) Ducati 1:34.192 22-May-99
250cc Grand Prix Shaun Geronimi (NSW) Yamaha 1:37.448 2-May-99
Pole : Shaun Geronimi (NSW) Yamaha 1:38.404 20-Mar-99

as you can see the f1 class of bikes motogp (which share the same basic dimensions as a standard road bike)has the edge over every car except the open wheel cars with wings for downforce, which are more of a resemblance to a fighter jet than a standard road car

RB said...

F1 cars also have the same approximate dimensions as road cars.
The wings add downforce, but also limit top speed and are a huge aero brake.

Here's a datapoint for you:
Barcelona 2005
Formula One - Fisicella's Renault - 1:15.641 fast lap.
MotoGP - Gibernau's Honda - 1:42.337 fast lap.

Steve Paul said...

Well it is a good way to get familiar with things! used cars houston

Audi Service said...

A great post here, but for me I'll always prefer a car over a bike.

MOT and Service said...

Cars are no doubt better than bikes because of the comfort , speed and other factors but , bikes are also very much popular with youngsters.

Chauffeur hire london said...

In bike vs cars debate . cars will always win.

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