This article was originally published in the February 2002 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

So, you’ve got a really fast motorcycle. How do you prove it? You could put it on a dyno and email all your friends the numbers. But we all know that different dynos give different numbers. You could go out trolling for roll-on contests. But racing on the street is illegal, and you never really have control over the situation enough to prove how fast your bike is. And besides, drag racing shows how quick your bike is but not how fast. The only real way to prove you have an extremely fast motorcycle is to race it at sanctioned land speed events. Of those contests, the biggest, baddest, and trickiest of them all is Bonneville Speed Week.

Christian Ray from Nashville, Tennessee knew he had a seriously fast Valkyrie and wanted a way to prove it to the world. Then he came upon the idea. He'd take his Valkyrie to the Bonneville Salt Flats. That way, nobody could dispute his claim on the world's fastest Valkyrie. However, he didn't want his bike to become a single-purpose vehicle. His record-setting bike would also be his daily rider and a bike he tours extensively on.

air and fuel meters
Only a lanyard and the air/fuel meters tucked between the tachometer and speedometer give away the sporting intent of this Valkyrie. Imagine going 150 mph with your hands on that wide bar.Evans Brasfield

How fast?

What makes Ray think his Valkyrie is so fast? For starters, the engine sports a sexy La Monster Supercharger System featuring a reliable Magnacharger supercharger. While that may sound powerful, the trick internals of the Valkyrie are where the real magic takes place. Dan Paramore, a head-flow guru in California, whipped up one of his Stage 6 heads for BonneValk by modifying and reshaping the combustion chamber to increase quench area (squish band). Then he ported and polished everything before slipping in some Swain Tech ceramic-coated valves. The results were a 20-percent increase in intake flow and 30-percent on the exhaust side. Ray even flew Paramore to Nashville so he could cut and polish the pistons. Once the heads were finished, Paramore focused his grinding skills on the Supercharger's manifold to increase its flow capabilities to match the new heads.

To safeguard the engine when running under full boost the compression ratio dropped to 9.1:1. The valve springs were shimmed to make them close snappier. Bumping those valves were a set of cams ground to Paramore’s specs. Cam timing was also altered to close the exhaust valve a bit earlier so that the blower could cram as much of the fuel charge into the cylinders as possible. To handle the power, a Barnett clutch replaced the stocker. Paramore and Ray rigged a double diaphragm clutch spring to make sure the plates didn’t slip.

But that labor is all out of sight. The glaringly obvious horsepower comes from the two bottles of nitrous oxide strapped to the rear fender. The Nitrous Express system is tunable for maximum boost and the ramp-up time of delivery, hopefully making it possible to get large bumps of power to the rear tire without spinning it on the salt. Finally, a Dynatek ignition and Supertrapp exhaust system were chosen for their tunability. The result? Around 165 hp, give or take a few.

Honda Valkyrie
Above: Jetting changes are crucial to getting good runs on the salt. You need to account for the 4200-foot altitude. Don’t get too lean, or you’ll end up with ventilated pistons. Below: Life on the bleeding edge of technology. When Mikuni doesn’t make a big enough jet, you make your own.Evans Brasfield

Another Planet

Although nobody attending Speed Week would probably notice if two suns rose over the expanse of the salt flats, participants in the Bonneville Nationals all know they’ve entered another world—one governed by Rules and Regulations.

All the players on Project BonneValk arrived on Monday of Speed Week. The first day was spent setting up base camp and navigating the tech inspection. At first they were confident, according to the rule book, that BonneValk could be configured to set four open records. All the bike had to do is complete qualifying and backup runs at any speed to set each of these records. However, Ray and Paramore didn’t want to set anything but solid, respectable records that others will have to work to beat. So, they disconnected the nitrous bottles and got ready for the supercharged gas class as their baseline.

Tuesday began with a slow start. None of the team realized that a two-hour plus wait for each run was in order. Lucky teams get three runs in a day. Paramore needed his two licensing passes before he could attempt a qualifying run. Ray also wanted to see how the Valkyrie’s jetting was working at the 4200-foot altitude. So, Paramore’s first pass was a mere 117 mph. A jetting change and a little more throttle netted BonneValk 147 mph. Paramore earned his license, and the team resolved to hit the ground running on Wednesday.

Honda Valkyrie
The starter gives Paramore advice on the first of his licensing runs.Evans Brasfield

Rules is Rules

Day three began with yet another jetting change and a valve-clearance check. Although the carb was still running a bit lean, the supercharged engine had yet to hiccup—and BonneValk still hadn’t run at full throttle on the salt! After seeing how slow everything progresses, Ray and Paramore revised their goal to setting only two records for the week; the first with gas and the second with nitrous.

At the end of the day, with every run producing faster speeds, Team BonneValk settled on the last run of 156 mph as the qualifier for their first record. However, upon arriving at the impound area, they experienced the great, unbending weight of the rule book. When a bike arrives in impound, an official performs a visual check to make sure the machine qualifies for the class. Everyone’s heart sank as the unsealed gas tank was pointed out. Being time trial novices, none of the team members knew that an official had to witness event-sanctioned gas being put into the empty tank before it’s sealed shut. Unswayed by the teams pleas, the official explained that the only way to insure the integrity of the records was to follow the rules to the letter. The team recategorized Wednesday as a testing and tuning day.

Faster and Faster

Thursday began with jetting woes. Despite the fact that Ray had installed a 220 main jet, the largest one made for the 45mm Mikuni, the plugs said the bike was running dangerously lean during the long wide-open portion of the timing run. Paramore and Ray resorted to drilling out a jet and calculated that it measured the equivalent of a 245 main. The change yielded a 158 mph pass through the lights.

Honda Valkyrie
Measuring the engine’s displacement—the final step on the road to a record. Note the O-ring marking displacement inside the graduated cylinder.Evans Brasfield

Talking with people in impound the previous day had alerted Paramore and Ray to a loophole in the rules that allows competitors a second chance at a better qualifying run without sacrificing the current run. The rule book said that contestants have an hour after a timing slip is issued to deliver a bike to the impound area. So, the scuttlebutt went, if you could turn around the second run in less than an hour, you could still use the first run if the second wasn’t any faster.

The line was significantly shorter on day four as Speed Week wound down, and a second run in an hour was feasible. Naiveté and the desire to post the best record possible got the best of the team, and Paramore went out for a second run. Midway through the timed mile, as he tried to make himself as small as possible, Paramore’s knee hit the ignition switch, killing the engine—and the run. They arrived with the bike in impound with only a minute to spare.

Unfortunately, a couple of seasoned veterans pointed out that the exact wording of the rule governing record runs contradicted the popular sentiment expressed by the old salts the team had talked to. So, to dispel any appearance of impropriety, Bonnevalk hit the salt again and rewarded the team with a timed mile of 161.352 mph! The improved speed was the result of bumping the fuel pressure up to four PSI to force the fuel into the carb faster to counter the still present lean problem.

The bike was tucked away in impound without incident, and the team went back to the hotel in a celebratory mood. A record was in their grasp.

Honda Valkyrie
Although it was designed to run at 150 mph, this Avon AM 23 did not carry the required Z rating, but the precursor V280 rating. Since both tires didn’t have the important Z stamped on them and hadn’t been shaved to increase their speed rating, safety officials inspected them after every run.Evans Brasfield

Rules is Rules—Reprise

Thanks to a miscommunication about the hotel departure time, Team Project BonneValk arrived five minutes too late for the backup runs. Not being part of the escorted procession from impound to the starting line is the equivalent of breaking the seal on a gas tank. Once again—but this time on the last day of Bonneville Speed Week—the team found itself back at square one. The only option they had available to them was to run the bike for another qualifying time after the morning’s back-up runs. Then in the afternoon, they would have one last shot to back up their qualifier. The dream of setting more than a single record was abandoned. One more misstep and the week would be wasted.

The final two timing runs were almost anticlimactic. BonneValk suffered from a bit of wheelspin in the qualifier, limiting the speed to 158.149 mph. While the bike waited in impound, the team packed up their pit and loaded the trailer. Friday was the end of the week. In a few hours, they would leave with or without a record.

The Fates cast their cruel eyes once again on Project BonneValk during the final backup run. For the first time during the week, the engine sputtered, sounding like it would give out. Paramore pulled in the clutch, preparing to coast through the timing lights at the end of the track. However, when the engine settled down at idle, he released the clutch and gave it the berries. The result was a disappointing 149.763 mph. Only the displacement test remained between Ray and his record.

Honda Valkyrie
In the end, Ray's perseverance won him the right to say he owns the world's fastest Valkyrie.Evans Brasfield

Since Bonnevalk displaced a stock 1520 cc in a 1650cc class, the record was a fait accompli before the measurement was taken. However, the chastened team waited anxiously for the final signatures on the record form before beginning the celebration. After five days on the salt, months of preparation and more money than anyone was willing to admit, Project Bonnevalk had a certified land speed record at an average speed of 153.956 mph.

Although Ray didn’t get the four records he’d initially hoped for, he struggled, persevered, and won the privilege of being able to say he owns the world’s fastest Valkyrie—at least for this year. But Ray and Paramore are planning for another attempt at the record. Dual carburetors will address the jetting issues while better streamlining and narrower bars will help Bonnevalk push less air. They’re already dreaming of the magic 200mph.