1992 Suzuki GSX-R1100 - TURBINE! | WILD FILE

This Turbine-Powered GSX-R Won't Ever Have Any Tailgaters

Want a jet bike? You could go the "easy" route and order a turnkey, $150,000 Y2K from Marine Turbine Technologies. Or you could take the low road and consider Orlando, Florida-based powerboat racer Tony Pandolfo's solution. Go dumpster diving for a small jet turbine motor at your local aerospace outlet and then spend seven years grafting it into a 1992 Suzuki GSX-R1100 chassis. The end result might lack the Y2K's sexy carbon-fiber bodywork and chi-chi rearview camera, but it'll melt the front bumper of a tailgating Escalade just as well-or better, since Pandolfo's JETSX-R1100 is equipped with the afterburner that the Y2K machine critically lacks.

A tip from ex-USAF engineer (and master fabricator) Mike Goss led Pandolfo to this small jet turbine that's commonly used as a starter motor in military aircraft. Weighing just 84 lbs. and producing a whopping 300 lb.-ft. of torque, the motor seemed perfect for powering a motorcycle, but cramming it into the GSX-R frame was no small task. The motor uses jet thrust to drive a turbine gear that's connected to the rear wheel via a complex arrangement of jackshafts, sprockets and chains.

Forward motion is twist-'n'-go, like a scooter. With this much torque on demand, a clutch and gearbox are superfluous. The bike doesn't exactly rocket (sorry) off the line, but once the turbine spools up it delivers a seamless rush of power until: a) you run out of road; b) you run out of jet fuel (it gets just 10 mpg, and less with the afterburner lit); or c) your Top Gun-style Ray Bans fly off at 200 mph.

Jet turbine aside, this GSX-R is mostly stock, save for an extended swingarm to enhance high-speed stability and make room for the extra oil and fuel pumps and custom 24-volt electrical system. But this machine is just a test mule, Pandolfo says; he hopes one day to offer custom one-off conversions for sale (www.jetpwrbike.com).

How much, you ask? Put it this way:
* Custom turbine-powered Suzuki GSX-R1100: $80K
* Igniting the afterburner as the cops pull up behind you: Priceless!