Rapom V8: A bike that runs on alcohol

It has a truck engine and more than five times the grunt of the world's fastest bike, says Sean O'Grady

Tuesday 30 January 2007 01:00

This is the love of 44-year-old engineer Nick Argyle's life: it is the Rapom V8. It is also, I am told, the most powerful motorcycle in Britain - and it runs on pure alcohol. Hic!

However, despite its renewable power source, it isn't that friendly to the environment. I am sorry to say that it can only manage some four miles to the gallon. Maybe that's one reason why this motorbike is only used on the roads for a 10-mile journey to a local drag-racing strip.

It is, nevertheless, fully street-legal so, theoretically, you could drive the Rapom V8 as far as and as fast as you like - cash, law and skill permitting. How fast? Thanks to traction control, it'll easily do 0-60mph in under three seconds and from a standing start to a quarter of a mile in under seven seconds.

The bike is an impressive piece of kit, whichever way you look at it. Powering it is an awesome 8.2-litre supercharged V8 truck engine that develops 1,000bhp - equivalent to a Bugatti Veyron or five Mini Cooper engines put together. The unit is more often to be found in Chrysler or Dodge trucks, and is sourced from their parts division, Mopar. (Rapom is Mopar backwards, in case you hadn't realised.)

This monster bike is more than five times as powerful as Kawasaki's ZZR-1400, the world's fastest production motorcycle. The Rapom certainly goes well, with that sort of power available with a twist of the wrist. It tips the scales at more than 1,000lb and features a super-long chassis in order to stop it flipping under hard acceleration. Some of us feel like falling over just looking at it.

It was created in a small garage in the Cotswolds, its conception spawned from an unusual marriage of convenience and naivety, says its builder. After selling the chassis of his monster truck (another hobby of his), Nick Argyle was searching for a smaller project.

He explains how the Rapom came about: "I didn't have the same workshop space I had when I built the truck. I only had the house garage, so it had to be a bike.

"I was going to buy a new engine for the project, but my wife told me to use the one that was still in a garage - that monster truck engine. Despite its size, I thought, why not?"

The remarkable Rapom V8 will make its public show debut on the Harrison Billet stand (S71) at the MCN London Motorcycle Show at ExCeL from 1 to 4 February.

Advance tickets for the 'MCN' London Motorcycle Show are on sale now at £13 (www. londonmotorcycleshow.com; 0870 730 0049)

Low-down on the bike that Nick built...

Engine: 8,193cc Mopar big block, tuned by ICE Racing

Supercharger: 8.71 Littlefield blower

Power: 1,000-1,200bhp, depending on blower speed and fuel used

Gearbox: Two-speed and reverse, by API Racing Transmissions

Frame: 32mm wall steel tube, using the motor as a stressed member, kept short by running the blower belt through the forks

Wheels: Front: 15 x 5.5 Prostar with Metzeler Marathon 180x70

Rear: 15 x 15 Prostar with Micky Thompson Sportsman Pro 29x18.5

Brakes: Front: two Harrison Billet 'Big' six-piston calipers

Rear Harrison Billet 'Mini' six-piston caliper

Bodywork: Seat unit mixes MV Agusta F4 and Suzuki Hayabusa

Miscellaneous: 95 per cent of work is one-off for this machine

Builder: Nick Argyle

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