GT Motorcycles’ Mike Grainger has a bit of a thing for speed, and in 1996 he broke the European Speed Record. However, when this was beaten in 1998, Mike was determined he’d take it back one day. And in May this year, and at the age of 61, he did. Riding his road legal Hayabusa he clocked a top speed of 249.1mph, and an average speed of 229mph over two rolling quarter miles.
Mike’s been into bikes since he was a kid, before he started riding when he was 16.
“I started riding bikes on my 16th birthday,” he says. “I was always going to as my father and brother both rode bikes. Now all three of my brothers ride bikes, my oldest also rides a Hayabusa.
“But I was 16 when I got on two wheels and went everywhere on it. I even rode to the Isle of Man TT when I was 16.”
Mike successfully runs his own dealership, GT Motorcycles, in Plymouth, a business he started himself in 1978.
“When I left school I did an apprenticeship as a tool maker, and after 10 years I saw an advert for a Motorcycle salesman. I went and worked for them for two years until I decided that if they could do it, I could do it.
In 1995, after a lot of preparation and consideration, things started to take shape for a record breaking run, and in 1996 the record was broken.
“In 1995 I ran 222.2mph on a Kawasaki I built myself at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, and Motorcycle News ran a feature on it. But the chap that currently held the record wrote in saying that we hadn’t beaten the record, despite the fact we never actually claimed we had. So we went back a year later to make sure we beat it and took the record from him!
“But it did take a lot of preparation, and did cost, with having to fund the track, time keepers, the ACU, and everyone else. We also had technical difficulties to overcome, where I had a misfiring problem that turned out to be a problem with the igniter.
“But it was a great achievement to take the record, and something I was immensely proud of. And doing it on a road bike too.”
Mike held the record until 1998, until it was eventually beaten. Mike was in hospital at the time, but was always determined to have another crack at it.
“When my record was broken in 1998 I was in hospital,” Mike explains. “I had a very big and very serious accident at Castle Combe, snapping my right femur in two. I also broke seven ribs and broke my back in three places. But I always planned on having another go at the record.
“And it felt just as good the second time round. In fact I’m still on a high. I’m definitely not getting any younger. It’s just the feeling at that speed is immense. Travelling at nearly 250mph the concentration required is unbelievable, and the adrenalin pumping at that speed is just a wonderful thing.”
Mike smashed the record this time around on his road legal Hayabusa.
“The Hayabusa is just a fantastic bike, and the obvious choice for something like this. And a lot of it is still standard, which shows you just how good it is.
“The chassis, the forks, the swing arm, calipers, the shock; all stock items. All I’ve done for the extra speed is fit it with a GT35 turbo, Carillo rods and Motec electronics, and run it on high octane fuel.
“But my bike is still totally road legal, and I use it often.”
And if the record’s beaten again will Mike have another go at reclaiming it?
“Definitely. If it’s beaten again I’d have to have another go. I hold five other records from the past, but this one is the one I just love.”