That was no scooter Roethlisberger was riding
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Imagine you could harness the power of about 180 stallions, jam it into a machine that barely weighs 400 pounds and can push you to speeds of 186 mph -- and you might have an inkling of the sheer power of a Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle.
The Hayabusa, which is Japanese for peregrine falcon, is the motorcycle that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was riding on Monday before it smashed into a car on Second Avenue near the 10th Street Bridge.
People familiar with the motorcycle say it is not unlike a bird of prey -- with its dizzyingly fast nosedives -- as it is not only one of fastest machines on the road, but also one of the hardest to master riding.
"Have you ever been on a roller coaster?" asked Jason Seiling, a sales manager at Bob Tracey's World of Cycles in Coraopolis, as he tried to explain how difficult it is to ride the motorcycle.
"Take Kennywood's Steel Phantom and times that by two," he said.
The motorcycle is known in racing circles for its ability to run a quarter-mile in 10 seconds at a top-end speed of 135 mph. Before the year 2000, the Hayabusa was the fastest two wheels on the road because it pushed top speeds between 205 and 210 mph.
The federal government mandated that motorcycles built after 2000 be outfitted with an electronic speed limiter that would allow top speeds of 186 mph.
"A gun is a very powerful thing too, but it's nothing by itself until someone uses it," said Bill Caglic, a sales manager at Andrews Cycles on the South Side. "He wasn't going 180 mph. He was barely, hardly moving. It's just one of those things that happens when someone pulls out in front of you."
Motorcycle salesmen said that only experienced riders should ever attempt to handle the supersport model motorcycles that Mr. Roethlisberger was using. They said potential buyers are questioned about what motorcycle they have used before and if they are seasoned enough riders.
The motorcycle sells for a little more than $11,000 and most people who buy that particular model are men ages 18 to 28.
First Published June 14, 2006 12:00 am