McLaren and motorcycles don't really mix. In summer of 2017, there was an altercation in Palm Beach, Florida betweeen a McLaren 720S owner and a couple of bikers. (Names are being withheld to protect the innocent and the stupid.) Apparently, the two bikers cut off the McLaren, boxing it in. When the driver stepped out to express her displeasure, it seems the parking brake was not on. Whether this was on purpose or by accident remains to be seen. In the video, the street appears to be slick from a recent rain, which possibly did not help the situation. The result was the McLaren hitting one of the motorcycles. Now, it was time for the bikers to express their displeasure. They started punching and kicking at the car andtook a swing at the driver. The McLaren owner got back in her car and sped off to contact the police. The McLaren suffered cracked front bumper, smashed mirrors, and multiple kick-induced scuff marks. One of the motorcycles was tipped over but appeared unmarred. Of course, tell that to the irate biker babe. (Her friend may have been a guy, but it's hard to tell from the video. They're obscured by the motorcycle and a helmet.) Apparently, Florida Man has nothing on Florida Woman.
What if McLaren Did Make Motorcycles?
A few graphic designers as CarThrottle decided to do some Photoshop magic to see what a motorcycle made by McLaren would look like. It kinda looks like what would happen if Bumblebee from the Transformers franchise was a cool motorcycle instead of a VW Beetle. (Camaro in the Michael Bay movies.) The headlights and the hood intakes would be strongly influenced by the 720S. The sporty, speedy looking bike would also be that signature papaya orange color. This bright, warm color contrasted with black along with the overall design does make the bike resemble a bee or a wasp or a hornet. Some kind of stinging insect.
Who Needs A Motorcycle Anyway?
The 2020 McLaren 720S Spider is faster than a motorcycle. It's true! Autocar put said McLaren in a quarter mile drag race against a 2019 BMW S1000RR liter bike and an Ariel Atom. The McLaren simply has more horsepower (about 710 hp) and those 305-width rear tires really grip the road. In the race, the BMW bike took an early lead due to being lighter. However, it's not where you start, it's where you finish. And the McLaren finished on top. And that's just the most recent model! McLaren has been able to outpace motorcycles since 2013 with the McLaren P1. Granted, a 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000 could keep up, but the P1 would win by a nose. Its Mid-Mounted 3.8L V-8 paired with an electric motor comes with an incredible 903 horsepower and and could reach speeds up to 217 miles per hour.
Why Doesn't McLaren Make Motorcycles?
Motorcycles are just a different kettle of fish compared to supercars like the kind made by McLaren. While some car companies can successfully diversify into other types of vehicle, Asking a supercar company to make a motorcycle is a bit like going to Starbucks and asking for an ice cream cone. Motorcycles are just so different in manufacture from supercars that many companies, such as McLaren, may decide it's just not worth the risk.
Just What is A Supercar?
And...that song is stuck in my head. Way back in the Sixties, there was a Supermarionation show called Supercar about a team of scientist who invented a flying car. Along with the two scientists, it had a hot shot pilot, the kid appeal character, a pet monkey and an earworm of a theme song. It was also here in the Sixties that what we were introduced to what would eventually be called the Supercar, often with a capital S. Unfortunately, it could not fly. (The Jetsons lied to us!) In the mid Sixties, cars we would now classify as muscle cars were referred to in the press as Supercars. The famous Nash Rambler (Beep! Beep!) was classified as a "SuperCar". In the Seventies, there came the oil shortage and gas guzzling muscle cars fell out of fashion. Zippy Italian sports cars like Lamborghini and Ferrari became more stylish. These were now called Supercars. Eventually, this term was applied only to high performance cars, particularly limited-production models meant for only the wealthiest of enthusiasts.
What's the Difference Between a Motorcycle and a Sport Bike?
It's like this. All sport bikes are motorcycles, but not all motorcycles are sport bikes. "Motorcycle" is a broad term that can cover mopeds, cruisers, roadsters, scooters and other similar vehicles. The sport bike is specifically built for speed as well as acceleration, braking, and cornering. They are versatile and known for great performance and maneuverability. Motorcycles predate the First World War, but the Sport Bike didn't really come along until the Fifties. Motorcycle racing was becoming popular, so bikes were streamlined to make them go faster. NSU and Moto Guzzi were the two biggest manufacturers of sport bikes at the time. Starting in the Sixties and well into the Nineties, small two-stroke motorcycles were very popular all over the world. Today, India and Japan have cornered the market on sport bikes and motorcycles in general. The current record for fastest motorcycle land speed is 376.36 mph (605.69 km/h). The record has been held since 2010 by a Top Oil-Ack Attack streamliner ridden by one Rocky Robinson. Hope he held on real tight!
While it is fun to imagine what a motorcycle designed by McLaren would look like, it appears the company is going to focus on what it does best. That would be sleek, speedy, barely street legal supercars and racecars. Don't fix what's not broken.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith