Cranked - Future Perfect - Lifan Motorcycle

The whine of the Lifan's straight-cut primary gears rising and falling with each Parkinson's twitch of my left ankle, a low moan building into a Harridan scream, my very own personal-pan-hurricane hurtles my body down the 1.3-mile back straight of Tibet's pre-WWIII Laughing Cow Raceway. I glance down. The numbers on the speedo blur as the racing surface darts left, then right, in response to my inattention. The needle rests gently on the stop. Three hundred and eighty rev-limited miles per hour and Turn Seven, so wide when we were dutifully following the pace bike this afternoon, is now a steely sliver glinting in the late-afternoon sun.

At the third hash mark my right index finger squeezes the brake lever, pushing 12cc of DOT 16 liquid nitrogen into both sides of the 42-piston, monolithic, Sliderslave fork legs. Eighteen-inch wide, ceramic-coated, glycol-cooled Rimtors ripple and distort under the tremendous pressure exerted by the servo-action calipers as all around me microgravity bubbles burst in tiny, desperate sighs. A dull, red glow, emanating from the star-cut, blue-anodized access plugs, rapidly engulfs the entire lower half of the massive slider assembly until operating temperature is breached and that powerful kick known in motorcycle racing as "The Wall" hits. Oh yeah, these babies hook!

I'm riding on Cheni Chen/Chen, shag-cut racing tires that grip the pavement with such ferocity, Turn Seven pulls loose from its crushed lime-rock sub-base and slides all the way past Turn One into the chicane between Three and Four. I'm stunned and a little disappointed that Lifan would hold the press intro for its new ultra-sportbike on a track with un-pinned corners. Through the chicane now, I deftly toggle the old-fashioned, right-grip bio-control switch until "4G" illuminates next to the blinking "You've Got Mail" icon on the upper outside edge of my Omni-MSN(r) cornea display. The Lifan responds with violent acceleration while the exhaust headers and intake tracts extend and contract noisily in concert with the bio-control CPU to precisely regulate the dark tunnel congealing in my peripheral vision.

Kept just so, on the edge of consciousness, my brain functions slow to a crawl and my autonomous nervous system takes over piloting the bike. Simple breathing is now all that's required to hold the Lifan on the dark-blue line. Sure, it's a crude system compared to some of the latest cuff-mounted, brain-wave-monitored, auto-bio-control units. Call me a stick in the mud-I still like to ride the bike.

The metallic clank of the suspension pivot lock releasing wakes me from my acceleration-induced coma, and the Lifan snap-rolls harshly toward the apex. Thanks to suspension-pivot technology (SPT), the 22-inch-wide shag-cuts remain at right angles to the pavement, allowing them to exact their full measure of adhesion. Unlike the more common axle pivots, known for their tendency to wobble and run wide on hard corner exits, SPT bikes do not require the finicky radial chains necessary to prevent derailment-the entire engine and drive train remain straight up in all but the tightest hairpins.

Hard over again and I sweep out onto the short chute leading to Turn Six. This is the money shot, baby! Our staff photographer has set up shop there in the hopes that someone (i.e. me) will toss one of these expensive pre-production prototypes down the road. Never one to disappoint the Editorial We, I toggle up "8G" on the bio. Looks like I'll be answering that mail a little late today...

The 2988cc four's cam cover bumps hard against the frame-mounted rockerstop, and the VariStroke hydraulic connecting rods and crankpins slide-n-slam to full extension, effectively doubling displacement in milliseconds. An unholy burst of power yanks my hands from the bars, but the rear-mounted Bikemate inflates in an eye-blink to keep me in the saddle. She's pullin' hard now, boys, and I can feel each individual air-sac puncture as my lungs squeeze out the back of my ribcage like clay through a Playdough Fun Factory.

The Lifan and I plunge into Turn Six, my beryllium-clad pinky finger trailing a shower of reddish sparks as I listlessly daub at the track, a slacker surfer worshipping inside the perfect tube. I begin chanting my private mantra-"cover shot, cover shot, cover shot"-but the g-forces make it sound like I'm saying, "cubber shaau, cubber shaau, cubber shaau."

The stroboscopic heat radiating from our lensman's Mattel tractor-beam, rapid-file camera-a camera that takes such realistic photos it actually scales the top layer of atoms from the subject-partially blinds me and I drift out of control onto the back stretch at well over 200 mph.

All the technology in the world can't save me now. In the few moments I have left I've got to ask myself: Is this new Lifan the real deal? How will it stack up against the latest offerings from India and Saudi Arabia? Only time-and next month's 64-bike comparo-will tell the tale.