McLaren P1 – Finally Faster Than A Motorcycle

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For decades, there has been a stalemate in the car vs. bike wars — the most expensive cars claim higher top speeds, but much more affordable bikes have had them beat in every other performance metric. No longer, with the launch of the McLaren P1, a production car can now claim to beat any bike going, everywhere. It is simply faster than a motorcycle.

Sure, the P1 retails for a cool $1.15 million, and you can achieve 90 percent of its performance with a five-year old, $5,000 Suzuki GSX-R1000. I know we’re a motorcycle site, but as speed enthusiasts we have to appreciate what McLaren has been able to accomplish; here’s a look at how the supercar stacks up to superbikes on the track.

McLaren P1 Specs:
Power: 903 bhp
Torque: 722 lb.-ft.
Weight: 3,075 lb.
Engine: Mid-Mounted 3.8L V-8 paired with electric motor
Gas Mileage: 34 mpg combined
Price: $1,115,000
Top Speed: 217 mph (limited)

“Right. The P1. The next chapter in motoring. Speed like you simply would not believe.” – Jeremy Clarkson

Let’s Play With Some Numbers

The P1 has a power/weight ratio of 0.29 hp/lb. This is absolutely trashed by the Ducati 1199 Panigale R (202 hp/414 lb. curb weight), with a ratio of 0.49 hp/lb.

The P1 has a torque/weight ratio of 0.23 lb.-ft./lb., just barely off of our two-wheeled champ, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R (0.24 lb.-ft./lb.)

The Panigale R tops out at (gearing limited, RideApart-verified) 202 mph. Benefiting from the typically huge aerodynamic advantage held by cars, the P1 will hit (electronically limited) 217 mph..

McLaren P1
McLaren P1


So What does this translate to in acceleration? We have to beat it there, right?

Evo magazine reports the McLaren P1 has a 0-62 mph time of 2.8 seconds, the same as a BMW HP4.

It has a 0-124 mph time of 6.8 seconds, one tenth of a second faster than the HP4.

The P1 has a 0-186 mph time of 16.5 seconds (5 seconds faster than the McLaren F1), the HP4 does it in 19.1 seconds.

The McLaren P1 has a 1/4 –mile time of 9.8 seconds. The Bugatti does it in 10.5 seconds, the HP4 at 9.6 seconds.

The HP4 retails for $20,525 which means you could buy 54 of them for the price of a McLaren P1…just in case you were wondering.

So, with inferior torque-to-weight and power-to-weight numbers, how does the P1 achieve faster acceleration than the bikes? According to Car and Driver, “The 57-pound electric motor can declutch from the driveline, and produces 177 horses and effective torque of 192 lb-ft. In addition to its normal propulsion duties, it helps, McLaren says, “fill in” torque gaps after shifts while the turbos spool up and also aids faster upshifts by providing driveline drag to drop engine speed more quickly.”

This article began as a, “Look how a normal sportbike is faster than this new awesome car,” until I realized that McLaren has finally come up with a car I don’t think we could actually race (and beat) on a track. The good news is that it’s still crazy expensive and we can rest assured we’ll still be able to take on everything except purpose-built track cars for a little while longer.

I’d love to stand with you, my fellow two-wheeled brethren, and try and hate this latest attempt to exceed the kind of performance we get to experience on a daily basis but, this thing just has us beat.

Related Links:
Review: Ducati 1199 Panigale R
BMW HP4: A “factory” S1000RR
More Car Vs. Bike: Aprilia RSV4 vs Nissan GT-R

  • Aakash

    Performance =/= fun. Does it offer the same atmospheric experience that a motorcycle does? Nope.

    • Lee Scuppers

      If a <$2000 used beater bike is still more awesomer than a $1.15m car by any measure other than raw acceleration (which, bluntly, yeah), we can afford to be gracious.

      I'd take one of these if offered. But after a few weeks of lunacy and a night in jail I'd trade it for an old house, a used Tacoma, and a couple used bikes.

      • Solarservant

        …and a vacation home, and a few bikes for it.

      • Aakash

        There’s not much I wouldn’t take if offered (within good taste).

        But like you, I’d turn around and sell it and live a happy life travelling the world and riding motorcycles in wonderful and beautiful places.

        Not posing around in my $1.15 million dollar toy.

      • NOCHnoch

        The P1 will corner much faster than a bike as well (4 contact patches and active aero helps quite a bit) but the bike will still be more fun!

  • Jack McLovin

    You keep doing it backwards, like you did with the 12 high torque bikes, by dividing the little number by the big one. WTF is a torque or hp ratio? It’s lbs./hp not the other way around. Not that it matters since that’s a peak hp number that the vehicle makes only for a split second at one particular RPM. Oh and are the vehicles driving themselves? Because taking an operator into the equation hurts the bike power to weight much more than the car. In any case most bikes would get smoked on the track by a Miata.

    • NOCHnoch

      The answer is ALWAYS Miata

    • nick2ny

      Yeah, lbs./hp has been the standard unit I’ve seen in other outlets, too.

    • Davidabl2

      Any affordable Miata? It’s a serious question, as I’m not a car guy.
      I could get interested ;-)

      • StigRossi

        You can get an original 1990 Miata for under $5k. Great great fun

        • Davidabl2

          I see. Thanks. I can just see my sig other’s reaction when i tell her i want to get a car that’s older than my truck:-)
          On the other hand, she’d probably enjoy driving the Miata. And she doesn’t enjoy driving our’92 Toyota Hilux.

  • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

    They say youth is wasted on the young. Well fast cars are wasted on the rich. Bikes offer performance to the masses and an experience which cars will forever be incapable of capturing.

  • Mark D

    Fast than a motorcycle, until you hit traffic.

    • Bruce Steever

      Just proved that the From is faster than a P1, verified on PCH.

      • Piglet2010


    • Ken

      I overtook a Maranello on a twisty road once using that very strategy. It’s pathetic but quite rewarding.

    • Bartek Ciorga

      When talking about hitting anything, a car guarantees much more safety to begin with. Also you don’t get such car to race on the public roads… where it’s officially illegal.

  • Richard Gozinya

    Just another very expensive toy. Some kid on a 15 year old Ninjette will still have more thrills, and the guy walking his puppy on the beach will get more women.

    • Aakash

      Real talk

    • sean macdonald

      I love motorcycles more than most things, but neither of those statements are true.

      • Piglet2010

        One can ride a Ninjette nearly full out on the street without attracting undue attention – much more fun than driving a supercar around at near idle (or for that matter, riding a super-sport or super-bike around with the throttle barely open). A ridiculous amount of fun for $2-2.5K. :)

        • Davidabl2

          Word on a car like that : racetrack. Or some very remote locations.
          I know one 70 yr. old guy that was stopped doing mph twice his age out near
          the Salton Sea in SoCal. Because he didn’t feel like taking it to the track that weekend. btw, his girlfriend at the time was younger than any of his children.
          Or their partners..
          Actually, word on a BIKE like that..You’re right.

        • Mike Hunt

          I pull either of my 1199′s out and the jaws start hitting the floor, this guy ^^^^ is an idiota.

          • Piglet2010

            Yes, I am sure you are a superhero and open up the 1199 on the street, and the cops wave you on instead of hauling you to jail.

            Nb. That was sarcasm.

      • Davidabl2

        Quoting self:”These assertions(by R. Gozinya) need to be scientifically tested :-)”

    • Jen Degtjarewsky

      They don’t allow dogs on the beach in CA. This might be why…

      • Ken Lindsay

        If you go to the right beach, they do!

    • Davidabl2

      These assertions need to be scientifically tested :-)

    • Mike Hunt

      Awwwe, mad you can’t afford it?

      • Richard Gozinya

        Not particularly, are you mad that someone in the world doesn’t care about status symbols?

  • Simon Jennings

    Any muppet can jump in the car and do mega speed, bikes take a slightly bigger skillset!
    Still prefer two wheels ;)

    • E Brown

      Skillset has to be the oddest eupemism for testicles I’ve ever heard…

    • NOCHnoch

      I prefer two wheels (and one wheel when I dump the clutch) but try driving a competition-level kart (much less an F1 car) in anger…no small skill level

  • Piglet2010

    The Ducati 1199 has 2.9 lb/hp with a 175 rider, while the P1 has 3.6 lb/hp with a 175 driver.

  • wookieefuzz

    I wouldn’t say that cars have an aero advantage over bikes. All that extra power is needed to overcome drag at top speed. Even if cars had the same drag coefficient, they still have significantly more frontal area you need to multiply it out by to get total drag force and then multiply by velocity to get power reqd. So all things being equal, a car would be at a distinct aerodynamic disadvantage if anything.

    • Ken Ross

      Mathematically, with a rider, bikes do not have coefficients of drag as low as cars. Their greater frontal area necessitated by their four-wheeled design that affords flat underbodies, fairings, wings, spoilers, etc. is negated by these aero aids while cornering speed is aided. Their weight, primarily, and increased driveline loss due to friction are what necessitate the extra horsepower. I would like to see some comparisons of frontal area of the Panigale R vs the P1. I wonder how different they are but I’m too lazy to Google it.

    • Justin McClintock

      Bikes with riders actually don’t have that much less frontal area than something like a P1. Meanwhile, the most aerodynamic cars (which admittedly usually aren’t high performance ones) have drag coefficients that bikes could only dream of (think Prius here). Basically, if somebody actually tried to build a hypercar that was truly aerodynamic (instead of giving it lots of downforce), it would be significantly faster…if you could keep it going straight.

      • Piglet2010

        Ask Bernd Rosemeyer how that works out.

    • NOCHnoch

      It’s not all about drag coefficient. A car like the P1 produces actual downforce, which greatly helps with cornering and other things like not crashing at high speed.

      • sean macdonald

        the P! produces something like 1300 pound of downforce, the most of any production car.

  • Alejo Pichot


  • Sebastian Koch

    I’d prefer an Aston Martin ;)

  • James Battaglia

    Slight difference in cost though.

  • Murat Oğuz Kanpak

    If I had the money, I’d buy one for sure. It’s an incredible machine, I’m sure it’s a blast to drive…

  • Justin McClintock

    There’s somebody out there with a MTT Y2K Superbike that’s just laughing at this thing right now.

  • NOCHnoch

    that’s me bro. i got nine turbos and a 16 foot swingarm, fuck’n crushes, yo

  • di0genes

    MC hp to weight data is misleading without factoring in the rider and some quantity of gas. Taking the panigale, a 180 lb. rider and one gallon of gasoline makes a total weight 600 lbs which is a hp to weight ratio of .34, more than the car

  • Kevin Riedl

    Still has too many wheels and leans the wrong way in corners.

  • grahluk

    Let’s see what happens if Honda release that homologation killer RC213V lite street bike.

  • CruisingTroll

    AND the P1 has a CUPHOLDER!!!

    Car WINS!!!

    • Piglet2010

      Cup-holders in cars are evil.

      • Mike Hunt

        Eighty thousand dollars for this car and you ain’t got no damn cup holder?

  • Brian

    so, how long till Jay Leno shows up at the Rock Store with one and starts bantering with people about it ?!?!?

  • grb

    Yes, thats exactly what Im trying to say. If you qualify experiences by what they give you in emotion and not by which is faster, there are a bunch of cars out there that are awesome to drive (I confess, driving is one of my passion) and even if most of this are slower then bikes they manage to offer similar levels of experiences and intensity. All Im saying is that for similar levels of awesomeness and intensity you need a really extreme car, bikes are allot more accessible, both are wonderful to me.

  • Guzzto

    I don’t get the car v bikes thing, it’s all the same excitement and passion that goes into pushing the boundaries of technology and speed, Bruce Maclaren was a visionary like fellow Kiwis John Britten an Burt Monroe, their achievements and advancements trickle down to affordable machines (cars or bikes) for the benefit of us mere mortals .

    • Piglet2010

      Of course, Bruce McLaren has eff-all to do with the P1.

  • grindz145

    That achievable human scale of motorcycles is one of the fundamental reasons why motorcycles are so great. Motorcycling is enabling. This car is disabling. I’m not sure how you can get that excited about a car.

    I can afford a fast car (not this one but a nice one), but I don’t buy one, because I couldn’t care less.

    • sean macdonald

      So, because you couldn’t care less, we should infer that no one should care or that it’s dumb to care?

      • grindz145

        I suspect that many of your readers will have similar opinions, because it’s a fundamental conflict.

      • yyzmxs

        Stop trying, you cannot win, you know that, right? …. it’s just the way it is and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    • StigRossi

      Well then you should try one :) They are fun.

  • King

    Call me crazy, but I really like both. I’d consider myself a very lucky guy to have a P1 or anHP4 in the garage.

  • Piglet2010

    The only ways to become super rich are to inherit money or to be an immoral psychopath – and there is a great difference between jealousy and hatred of evil.

    • Davidabl2

      By my count there’s more like four ways (plus combinations of the four): inherit it, marry into it, earn it, steal it.

      • Piglet2010

        Theft has been legalized in most cases. You have enough money, you get the government to write the laws the way you want them – one of the evils of some having great wealth.

        • Davidabl2

          We both are preaching to the choir here, brother Piglet :-)

          There are any number of ways in which large divisions of wealth are bad for the societies that have them-most typically places like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Mexico,
          the Philippines, etc. etc. Letting america go the same way as we have been doing simply cannot be a good idea from any standpoint.

          • Piglet2010

            Motorcycles are certainly more egalitarian – find last year’s liter-bike in an Upper Midwest dealer in February, upgrade the exhaust, air filter, and suspension, and for $15-16K you can run with anything street legal out there. Most people can afford that if they make it their priority.

            On the other hand, even highly paid professionals cannot buy and insure a $1.15 million supercar – and while some make the income to afford it, they do not earn that much.

  • Piglet2010

    “street shod dirtbikes” – please Honda, make a motard CRF300M.

  • Davidabl2

    Comparo will be apples & oranges..just like any other bike vs car comparison.
    Difference is that this car vs almost any other car is going to be grapefruit vs golfballs ;-)

  • Davidabl2

    Probably wrong there..the hedge fund guy just as likely rents a racetrack for himself when he wants to let it all hang out.
    I’d suspect (but I’ve personally never been able to test the hypothesis) that what really draws some women to guys that own of these hyper-expensive über status symbols is the smell of money,power,and celebrity that they exude.
    The guy on the beach with a cute puppy probably has next tozero appeal to the same women..unless he’s a celebrity

    • Piglet2010

      Look at the attractive women found with fat, ugly, old Congresscritters, fat, ugly, old multimillionaires, etc.

      • Davidabl2

        Quoting self: “the smell (aka power) of money, power and celebrity”

  • Davidabl2

    Reading thru the comments here, it sounds like the real differentiation comes down to the open cockpit
    vs enclosed cockpit..and downward force vs lean to corner.
    I wonder how both would compare with a racing or acrobatic aircraft. An affordable alternative to the P1,
    if not to a super bike.

    • Piglet2010

      A $10K used open-wheel race car would be more fun to drive on the track.

  • Kevin G.

    Sorry McLaren, I will see these hot bikes every weekend on the twisty roads of America, and if I’m lucky and hang out in Hollywood where the stars are will I be lucky enough to see a P1. Nice car, but unobtainium for 99.999% of the population…..unlike motorcycles, where most can come up with the money to get a nice bike. Nuff said.

  • Davidabl2

    “why can’t there be room for hypercar driving?
    It’s kind of a moral thing
    Passing mistakes or loss of control of the vehicle are far more likely to kill innocent bystanders(other motorists, cyclists,motorcyclists) if you’re driving a hypercar than
    if you’re riding a bike. The motorist is more likely to kill others, the motorist to kill him/herself.

  • DucMan

    Well put.

    I admire supercars. The problem with them, however, is that you can’t enjoy them on the street. If you live where I live, race tracks are too far away for the needed speed fix on a regular basis. Shoot, even a Mustang GT is a waste at 55 mph.

    I’d buy a 458 Italia for the exhaust note alone.

    Still, the lamest motorcycle is more fun on public roads than the coolest supercar.

    I hope.

    I’ll never know.

    But I’m O.K. with that.

    • StigRossi

      I disagree that the lamest motorcycle is more fun. In a supercar like, I dunno, the 458 Speciale, you can brap randomly up and down the gearbox, while getting the back end out a little little bit on right and left turns, while listening to Black Sabbath and sipping on a latte. A motorcycle in a place where you can’t filter past traffic is one of the most frustrating boring things imaginable imho, and I say that as someone who was once a die-hard motorcycle guy, and I still am I think, I just appreciate the comforts of a car now (tho i dont and wont ever own a 458S)

  • CJ Wilson

    I love reading the comments on here about super car / hyper car drivers…they can obviously afford to get motorcycles as well. at least 30% of all the guys I know with these type of cars (Ferrari, Lambo, McLaren etc) also have at least one motorcycle.

    It is great and I appreciate all the different machines from cafe racers (not my style) to the enduro/adventures, dirtbikes, literbikes etc. Car wise also, I still want an old NSX and the bottom line is there are lot of ways to have fun with this stuff.

    I started off driving a piece of crap 1983 240D mercedes stick shift. 68 HP of diesel fury.
    I started off riding a vespa 150. 50mph of fun.

    cars like this are a goal for people in the same sense that a 1199R or HP4 etc are…if there is something you want in life you can use things like this as motivation- worked for me and my life and garage are a lot better for it.

    • CJ Wilson

      oh and I will post some GoPro videos online

  • Chris

    Well now cars can keep up with motorcycles on straight line acceleration. On racetracks car’s have been faster since they existed!

  • tohidnikkhah

    LaFerrari is faster than it !

  • Adriaan de Goede

    Let we also look to the price, not many people can afford a Mc-Laren i dont it’s not a car that i can afford (ever)

  • Carlos André Ribeiro

    Now we have to see the performance of Ferrari LaFerrari, wich is lighter and more powerfull.

    • Jack Randall

      But not necessarily faster.

      • Carlos André Ribeiro

        True. A lot of petrolheads are crazy to see a P1 x LaFerrari test, me included.

  • Ducky

    The only bit of egg on McLaren’s face is that they were unable to beat the Porsche 918′s ring time (which is heavier, potentially less aerodynamically efficient but has AWD and bigger battery capacity) and thus will never ever publish it. Normally I wouldn’t care, but the amount of boasting from them was shameful.

  • Alex

    Comparing motorcycles to automobiles isn’t exactly “apples to oranges” more like “apples to pears” or something…

    No hate towards the McLaren, it’s just that most of us have our own ideas on how we’d like to spend 1.15 million.

  • fortyminstofive

    If you were so inclined, you could just buy an HP4 and modify it to be faster than the P1 surely? For under 30k. Who cares at the end of the day, the only person you have to beat is yourself.

  • H.V.

    A bike is only so fast how the rider can handle it ! Best time with a stock BMW S1000RR in 8.75 sec. 1/4mile ! And a Mtt Y2K do the 300km/h faster than each car!

  • GhostRiderJr

    Sean, it’s a car. It could do the quarter in 20 seconds it would still have you and your Gixxer beat the moment it started to rain.
    Or you needed to carry something.
    Or the trip stretched over an hour. Or for any number of other reasons.

    ps you need a rider on the Panigale.