How to Ride A Jet Bike... (With Jay Leno)

Jay Leno is a TV celebrity, vehicle collector and the longest serving owner of the MTT Y2K – the first ever production jet bike.

‘Starting it up is pure theatre. You press the start button and the jet spins up for three seconds before ignition and then the turbine fires. You just let the clutch out as normal and off you go. It’s a two-speed automatic so you don’t have to do much else. Once you’re moving the noise isn’t too bad - it’s all behind you.

How to Ride A Jet Bike

This is one of my favourite bikes and I’ve done 12,000 miles on it since I got it in 1999 (it was the company’s prototype and Jay was effectively their test rider). It’s powered by a C18 Allison jet engine out of a Bell Ranger helicopter (that’s a six seater chopper and the C18 puts out around 320bhp).

‘It’s easy to ride when you get used to it. There’s a half a second lag between twisting the throttle and getting any reaction, and the same again when you throttle off, which can be interesting until you ride with that in mind. And there’s no engine braking either, so you have to use the brakes more than on a normal bike.

‘But it’s very stable and rolls through corners ok. And it doesn’t wheelie much – when the power comes on the geometry seems to keep the front down. The power is all at the top end so you don’t feel like you’re moving and then whoosh you’re off. I’ve had it up to around 150mph, but a friend of mine took it up to 237mph.

How to Ride A Jet Bike

‘You have to be careful with the exhaust, which is around 1400 degrees. A guy in a car was on my tail in traffic once and kept nosing up to see what the bike was and I kept moving forward to keep the exhaust away from his bumper. But he kept nosing up. The bike has a rear facing camera and a screen in the middle of the dash so I could see his bumper was made of plastic and now I was at a stop light so I couldn’t get away from him. I watched his bumper warping and drooping as it melted. By the time the light changed it was kind of a blob and I was outta there.

‘It’s pretty easy to maintain – you just change the oil like a regular bike. The main concern is dust and stuff on the road being sucked into the turbine. Quite a small object can wreck the turbine blades. The other issue is fuel consumption. It idles at about 60% maximum throttle (24,000 revs), so just ticking over it will drain a tank (32 litres) in half an hour.’