The best bikes to see at Festival of Speed

09th July 2024
Russell Campbell

The Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard isn't just about cars, some of the most star-spangled machines from the world of two wheels will be on show, too. These are eight of our favourite picks. 


BMW R255/1 Kompressor

The BMW R255/1 Kompressor will be one of the many bikes to pay tribute to the Isle of Man TT. The bike features a supercharged boxer engine that powered it to victory at the 1939 TT with Georg Meier behind the handlebars. The supercharge produces 15psi of boost and is lubricated caster oil added to the fuel. The 255 is also the second most expensive bike sold at auction, selling for $480,000 (£374,000) in 2013.

Honda RC142

The RC142 was the first Honda bike to enter the Isle of Man, starting a relationship that still runs today. Designed for racing, the R142 featured a four-stroke 124cc twin, lightweight design, aerodynamic bodywork that reduced drag, telescopic front suspension, and dual rear shocks, while braking came from – gulp – front and rear drums. Nevertheless, the 142 proved Honda's racing nous and provided the foundation for what it is today. 


Honda RC213V

Honda's RC213V – a bike built specifically for road racing, will be taken up the Hill by 2011 MotoGP champion Stefan Bradl. The RC213V features a 90-degree cylinder angle, which means its inline-four, 1.0-litre engine doesn't need a balancer shaft, while clever electronics remove the need for a reverse-rotating crank, two innovations that help save weight. 


Yamaha XTZ850TRX 

The Yamaha XTZ850TRX is a bike more at home in the desert than at a race circuit – it's secured nine motorcycle wins in the 20 years the Paris Dakar Rally has run. Much of this success is attributed to the TRX's 270-degree crank, which delivers a smooth torque curve and a more linear power delivery. By 1998, the bike had moved to a twin-cylinder motor with connecting rods fine-tuned to enhance smoothness.


Indian Challenger RR

The Indian Challenger will be one of the most eye-catching bikes taking to the Hill. Developed to race in the King of the Baggers – a race that sees souped-up American cruisers take to track, the Challenger features a PowerPlus V-twin engine with a big-bore cylinder kit and custom air intake. Oh, and don't forget the pillion bags. While it's not road-legal, the Challenger can be bought in the US for a princely $95,000 (£74,000).


Triumph Rocket

The Triumph Rocket confirms America doesn't have a monopoly on big, fast bikes. Power comes from a huge 2.3-litre triple that is the biggest engine fitted to a production bike that, fittingly, produces more torque than any other production bike. The only downside? The bike's plus-300kg weight will be a struggle for some riders to get to grips with.


BMW R20 

The Big Boxer R20 concept is all about retro cool, previewing a new production bike from BMW. The bike's 2.0-litre, twin-cylinder motor forms the centre point of its design, with a sculpted fuel tank and a simple rear end that keeps your focus on the brawny motor. Chrome-molybdenum steel tubes form the motorcycle's backbone with a chrome-molybdenum steel swing arm and Öhlins Blackline dampers front and rear.

Honda CBR1000RR-R

As a race bike, the Honda Fireblade needs no introduction, and the same goes for the man who will be riding it up the Hill, Michael Dunlop, who rode it on the way to a record 29 wins at the Isle of Man TT.  The bikes produce up to 217PS (160kW) and have features like a length swingarm, Unit Pro-Link rear suspension, and Dual Stage fuel injection. 


2008 Ducati Desmosedici GP8

Australian motorcycle racer and two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner will take to the Hill on his Ducati Desmosedici GP8. It's powered by an 800cc four-cylinder with desmodromic actuation of its 16 valves, hence the bike's name. Instead of using valve springs, the Ducati's valves are closed by a camshaft, reducing valve float, which can cause reduced power at high RPMs at the cost of increased engine wear.

Ducati image courtesy of Motorsport Images

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