Take flight with this helicopter-powered motorcycle
There is something slightly insane about attempting to harness a vehicle with more power than it has any rights to possess. In modern times, a car or truck with 350 horsepower is run-of-the-mill. The motorcycle world has a different scale though, and the Marine Turbine Technologies Y2K turbine motorcycle brings the power and brings it in a delightfully absurd way.
The Y2K has an audacious powertrain. While most motorcyclists only come close to a turbine engine once aboard the Life Flight away from the crash scene, Y2K owners can enjoy the turbine whine from start to finish. That’s right, the Y2K is powered by a Rolls-Royce M250 turboshaft engine plucked right from the airframe of helicopters. It’s mounted upside-down compared to the airframe of a helicopter, which allows the searingly-hot exhaust to exit away from the rider rather than directly up onto them. The exhaust gas temperatures can reach 1400 degrees even at idle, and airflow through the engine is nearly 52 cubic feet of air per second. For reference, a 350 small-block Chevy only requires 68 cubic feet per minute to idle.
The integral gearbox puts out power at 6000 rotations per minute, so a custom 2-speed gearbox is required to make the machine ridable—if you could call something like this ridable. That gearbox is what decides the overall length of the chassis, since the engine is actually quite small. There are only a few moving parts, but with the original application being aircraft, those parts are expensive. In fact, that’s how these engines ended up in motorcycles. Rolls-Royce sets a run time limit and once it’s reached the engine is required to be torn down and rebuilt. That cost could be too great for an engine to be put back into aircraft service, but it is perfectly acceptable for a machine not designed to leave the ground.
The lag time between the throttle opening and engine uptick is noticeable, meaning that the machine is ridable but clearly not a good match for anything other than a wild showpiece or straight-line rocket. The start-up procedure also bars out quick trips as the one-minute process just to get the thing idling and ready to ride is absurd to everyone but the most dedicated British motorcycle rider.
Would I ride it given the chance? Absolutely. Would I end up hurting myself? More than likely. That might explain why these machines were built to order and only sold to buyers vetted by the company as being capable and responsible enough to maintain them. If you wouldn’t have passed that exam, you still have a shot to buy one second hand.
“The $245,000 asking price is steep, but with bikes this rare and alluring there is no other option, the price is merely a number if you have to have it,” says information analyst James Hewitt. “It is certainly a conversation piece and would be the only one at just about any event you take it to if you are brave enough to ride it out and about.”
Is this bike as wild as it sounds on paper? Are you crazy enough to think this is a good idea? Share your opinion in the Hagerty Community below.