New alt-fuel land speed record set – at 56 mph

Not exactly what you first think of when you hear "land speed record." Photo:
Not exactly what you first think of when you hear "land speed record." Photo:

What do you think of when you hear about motorcycle land speed records?

Start talking about motorcycles setting record times, and most people imagine streamlined, high-powered bikes running on alcohol. Well, here’s another record-setting bike running on alternate fuel, and bike and fuel are both homebrewed.


Petsche's record-setting machine looks like something hatched between a deranged gardener and an outlaw biker from Mad Max. Photo: is reporting that John Petsche has set a new land speed record for unstreamed alternate-fuel motorcycles in the 350cc class. He piloted a home-built motorcycle, cobbled together from what appears to be a KZ-series Kawasaki motorcycle and a six-horsepower industrial engine, and ran the bizarre rig on biodiesel.

His record speed of a whopping 56.535 mph was good enough for a U.S. record run, set with Maine’s Loring Timing Association. That’s right, the same bunch that just saw a Hayabusa set a 311 mph world record last month. Apparently, they don’t discriminate down there – a top speed is a top speed, no matter how slow it is, even if they have to make up the vehicle class – which we’re pretty sure they did.

Kudos to Petsche, though, for getting off his butt and doing something different. There are still plenty of land speed records out there attainable with a little brains and a lot of hard work – just ask all those guys who set battery bike records this summer. If you want to be fastest, there’s a niche for you out there – find it, and start working towards that record.


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