The question seems fairly rhetorical, right? We thought so too when we got a tip that someone had pitted a Yamaha YZF-R1 against a custom carbon fiber road bike, afterall there’s a 179hp power discrepancy, right? Well here’s the catch, the contest for this battle of two-wheeled brawn is took place on the downhill slope of the Alpe d’Huez, a part of the French alps that also happens to be one of the hardest climbs and descents on the Tour de France (that little bicycle race that’s going on right now).
What the bicycle gains in lower rotational mass and overall weight, it loses in contact patches, brakes, and oh…power. Contested between motorcycle journalist Warren Pole and former professional cyclist Howie Sylveste, the race to the bottom of the Alpe d’Huez was surprisingly close over the 8.57 mile drop with its 21 hairpin turns and 8% grade. Taking three goes at the French descent, Pole on his Yamaha R1 was in trouble by the second round, as Sylveste made a gearing change and put the power to the pedals.
Riding a smoother third run though, Pole’s motorcycle took the honors of fastest down the mountain, though only with a 28 gap over the Sylveste’s bicycle on the 10m 44sec descent. For those doing the math, the Yamaha R1 was only 4.3% quicker down the Alpe d’Huez, and would have easily qualified under the typical 110% motorcycle qualifying rule. You can read the full account on The National, the UAE’s daily english-language newspaper. Thanks for the tip John!