Speed freaks are known for bringing some truly off-the-wall machines to the Bonneville Salt Flats in search of glory. But a team from a distillery in Montana recently made waves by showing up and claiming a motorcycle speed record with a 1980 Yamaha XS650 fueled by a different kind of fire water: Vodka.
Ryan Montgomery of Montgomery Distillery assembled a team to turn a non-running barn find bike into a record-breaking motorcycle named “Sudden Wisdom” that uses an experimental fuel that really does come from the company's spirits. The process of distilling vodka creates a “head” which can’t be consumed, so it’s normally just separated out and discarded. Montgomery decided to put it in the gas tank instead.
Off to #bonnevillesaltflats tomorrow after paying our respects to the fuel maker. As our crew chief @tadworth_vontadington said, “a bike built by a novice, ridden by an amateur, running experimental fuel to go as fast as possible - what could go wrong?” Thanks crew chief. #amateurracing * * * * * * @seeseemotorcycles @seeseemotorcoffee @uniongaragenyc @bigskybrewing @mikesxsnation @blueribbonauto #bonneville #handbuilt #landspeed #yamaha #suddenwisdom #missoula #lewistownmt
The real process was a little more involved than that. According to The Sun, Montgomery and his team spent $5,000 modifying this Yamaha to run on vodka. We’re not sure how much they spent on the bike, but a non-running XS650 can’t be worth more than about $500. Overall that's a pretty small investment for a motorcycle that can say it broke a record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The record, specifically, was top speed record for motorcycles 1980 and older, 750cc and smaller modified for alternative fuel. A very specific category, yes, but still an impressive record considering the bike's origins. Sudden Wisdom managed to get an average speed of 113 mph which was faster than what they were expecting—and even faster than the XS650’s official top speed of 105 mph when its parallel twin engine is running on regular gas.
Sadly, this record was short-lived and later broken by a 1974 Honda CB750 that managed to hit 143 mph. Still, this Yamaha is a pretty fast bike that was built on the cheap, and the fact that it runs on vodka is just plain cool. Drinking and riding don’t mix, but it turns out vodka and motorcycles can as long as the booze goes into the fuel tank and not in the rider.