Drag racers say there is no replacement for displacement. But according to Mike Akatiff, owner and designer of the fastest streamliner motorcycle in history, the secret to success is not more cubic inches, but less drag. TOP 1 ACK ATTACK became the world’s fastest motorcycle when it set the Land Speed Record of 376.363 mph/605.697 km/h back in 2010, and while no one has beaten his twin-engined streamliner since, Akatiff is not the type to rest on his laurels. He is headed to Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni salt flats with pilot Rocky Robinson, for the Top of the World Landspeed Trial on August 3-8, 2017. The goal is to exceed 400 mph and break his team’s own longstanding LSR mark.
“I’ll never retire,” he says. “The day I retire, I’d be dead. I always need to be doing something.” Since 2000, that something has been the quest for the motorcycle land speed record. “To be honest, the last few years we ran at Bonneville were nothing but disappointment. We would go there and haven’t been able to push to the speed that we wanted to run and I haven’t felt safe or comfortable.” He has succeeded in building the world’s fastest motorcycle — three times — but the fact that going more 400mph is theoretically possible continues to motivate him. “We touched 400 mph, but it doesn’t mean anything because it’s not officially recorded… we had onboard equipment that showed about 402.6 when we set the record.”
Largely self-taught, Mike Akatiff cut his teeth tinkering with motorcycles – and developing a knack for proving people wrong when they tell him something is impossible. As he puts it, “I was always interested in mechanical stuff and explosives, too — like making my own fireworks.” That extensive experience has lead him to innovative and precise design ideas for his motorcycle.
“The aerodynamics of the ACK ATTACK, or any high-speed land vehicle, are so important,” notes Akatiff . “We’ve run high-speed computer simulations, but to get really accurate data, we performed wind tunnel testing.” Akatiff and the ACK ATTACK team went to the Darko Technologies wind tunnel to unlock the data they needed to go 400 mph/643.74 km/h on the Bolivian salt flats.
“We wanted to see how the air flows around the bike and found that the bike was already very streamlined the way it is,” says Akatiff. The sleek carbon fiber-skinned streamliner slices through the air with a very efficient drag coefficient of 0.71. That said, Akatiff and the team knew that any reduction in drag would improve their speed. “For every percentage point we further reduce drag, it gives us another 4 mph/6.43 km/h of speed,” says Akatiff. So, if we reduce drag by 10 percent, theoretically we will go 40 mph faster with the power we already have.”
The Salar de Uyuni salt flat is nearly 12,000 feet (3,656 meters) above sea level. However, the team is confident that the twin 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa engines will deliver more than enough horsepower. A ram air induction scoop channels air into a specially built Garret turbocharger/intercooler system to force-feed both engines with 35 lbs. of boost to generate 900+ horsepower.
As a matter of fact, the elevation and conditions of the Salar de Uyuni flats will work to the bike’s advantage. “If you went 400 mph at the Bonneville salt flats and then go clear up to 12,000 feet with the same amount of drag on the vehicle, you would go 8% or 32 mph faster,” explains Akatiff.
“I haven’t seen salt this good in 40 years,” said fellow LSR icon Mike Cook after visiting the Salar de Uyuni last month. With a few years to work the bugs out and with the help of sponsors like TOP 1 and Ace Cafe, ACK ATTACK is ready to blast by the 400 mph mark.
There is one more secret to going 400 mph for the ACK ATTACK. TOP1 Evolution ACK ATTACK Special Formula lubricants. “When we set the land speed record of 376.4 mph/605.7 km/h, we couldn’t shift into high gear,” says Akatiff. “The TOP 1 lubricants endured incredible abuse, extended high heat and shear forces well beyond what we had anticipated, yet the ACK ATTACK didn’t suffer any scoring, galling or internal engine damage.”
The TOP 1 ACK ATTACK is the only streamliner motorcycle to have made more than 25 runs over 300 mph and without catastrophic engine failure. “TOP 1 works,” says Akatiff. “We have held the world Land Speed Record for a decade as proof. TOP 1 Oil offered their support before we ever went out to Bonneville or broke any records. Since then, they’ve been a tremendous sponsor through all of our record-breaking runs. I would not have taken the ACK ATTACK as far as I have without them. I can’t say enough about the Ryan family and the other TOP 1 Oil guys.”