What are the biggest reasons that Cars get higher Land Speed Records than motorcycles'?

It is because cars have a more streamlined frame than than motorcycles? But, from pictures, it seems that doesn't matter with LSR vehicles.

Is it because more rocket can be packed onto a car, as compared to a motorbike? Or is it a higher chance of high-speed accidents with motorcycles? Or a limit of current manufacturing ability?

Most likely, it's a combination of those reasons and more... But, what are the main reasons?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That seems to be a question about car/motorcycle engineering. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind - Well, I flagged it for a move to Engineering... $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ This title makes no sense... $\endgroup$
    – Steeven
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 22:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Steeven - ... Copy and paste errors... $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ None of the above. Try reading up before asking questions like this. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


The main phenomena which limit land vehicle speed are aerodynamic drag, lack of stability, and lack of power. Drag increases (approximately) with the frontal area of the vehicle. Stability increases with the weight, length and width of the vehicle. Finally, power increases (approximately) with the volume of the vehicle.

Let's say you keep the shape of the vehicle approximately the same. Then, drag increases as the square of the length, power and weight increase as the cube of the length, and stability increases as some function of the length. In sum, bigger is better.

The wheels are also a problem, with accelerations on the order of fifty thousand gravities at the treads. Centrifugal force is proportional to velocity squared divided by radius, so again, bigger is better.

Finally, it's tough to protect a motorcycle rider when he crashes; you can't make a wrap-around protective tub as you can with a race car.


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