Honda CBR1000RR-Powered Lawn Mower Goes 150 mph

Honda CBR1000RR-Powered Lawn Mower racing down road.
Straight-line runs were all we did to test the Mean Mower V2, but it was enough to reveal what a crazy fast machine it is.Honda

Right foot on the gas pedal, just the slightest tip of the toe, and the engine revved immediately. One wrong move and I could end up spinning out. Breathe on it wrong and it could be serious consequences. The inline-four hummed angrily, like a giant swarm of bees. My heart was pounding as I gently lifted my left foot off the clutch pedal, easing ever so slightly into the throttle. I gripped the Sparco steering wheel, fingertips on the carbon-fiber shifter paddles, and focused on the straightaway ahead of me. Inhale. Exhale. Go!

Honda CBR1000RR-Powered Lawn Mower sits on road in front of mountains.
The Mean Mower V2 retains the original engine shroud, cutter deck, and grass basket of its donor HF2622 riding mower model. And yes, the mower deck is still functioning, supposedly able to mow grass at speeds up to 50 mph.Honda

Honda invited a group of journalists to its proving ground in the California desert to test ride/drive its one-off custom riding lawn mower. When I first got the assignment, I scoffed. “Seriously? A lawn mower? Is this what my career has come to?” And then I learned more. The daredevils at Honda UK, with their partners at Team Dynamics Motorsports, built a riding lawn mower based off a CBR1000RR engine. And it just broke a world record, going from zero to 100 mph in 6.29 seconds. This is not your neighbor’s mower.

The 999cc CBR1000RR SP engine used to power the Mean Mower V2.
The 999cc CBR1000RR SP engine used to power the Mean Mower V2 pumps out an estimated 200 bhp.Honda

The amazing work done by Honda’s partner, Team Dynamics Motorsports, to bring this Mean Mower V2 to life has included custom building a chassis with TIG-welded T45 steel, adding 8 inches to the length of the original HF2622 riding mower model. The T45 steel is used for its flexibility, reducing the likelihood of cracks. The TIG welding, though exceptionally strong, is the weak point in the frame, so the engineers at Team Dynamics are constantly checking the welds to make sure this mower doesn’t pull itself apart.

Along with a bespoke chassis, the Mean Mower V2 comes with a custom-molded race seat, which is a very snug fit. There is no seatbelt and no roll bar, but if something should happen, for better or worse, I don’t know if the seat would prevent the driver from being thrown from the vehicle (and I don’t know that I’d want it to). Other bespoke parts include coolant hoses, sprockets, and a custom 3-D-printed airbox, which helps the CBR1000RR SP engine breathe better than it does stock.

Honda CBR1000RR-Powered Lawn Mower sits on road in front of forest.
Team Dynamics Motorsports custom built a chassis from TIG welded T45 steel, adding 8 inches to the original length of the HF2622.Honda

Speaking of the engine, while the internals of the 998cc CBR1000RR SP engine remain stock, the Mean Mower pumps out more horsepower than the stock motorcycle. Because of the increased airflow on intake and 10 percent increase in header size as well as the removal of the catalytic converter, Honda’s Mean Mower V2 pumps out more than 200 bhp as opposed to the stock CBR’s 189. “We couldn’t get a proper dyno run,” explained James Rodgers, manager at Team Dynamics, “since it needs a karting dyno. But none of them go over [200 hp]. So we had friends from the superbike team do some flow rates on exhaust and they calculated about 200 bhp.” Custom mower problems, am I right?

With all that power right at the tip of my toe, it was no wonder when I squeezed into the Mean Mower’s sculpted seat that my heart was racing and my breath was shallow. Rodgers’ safety briefing about an hour prior was not exactly a pep talk, warning us to avoid standing starts: “In first gear it will light the wheels up and it will start sliding. It has a solid rear axle and there’s no differential. So if anyone does [a standing start and starts spinning the tires], you’ll get off the throttle ’cause you’ll panic, and then the grip will reattach, and it will spit you out of it about 50 meters down.” So we would be doing rolling starts, which was just fine by me.

Honda CBR1000RR-Powered Lawn Mower with Scorpion exhaust sits on road in front of forest.
From the rear, the Mean Mower looks pretty tame…aside from the Scorpion exhaust.Honda

Feathering the clutch was nearly impossible. The Mean Mower V2 uses the CBR1000RR SP’s stock wet multiplate clutch, which was engineered for a bike’s two small contact patches. Not only does the Mean Mower have twice as many contact patches, those patches are each easily twice as big. Both clutch and throttle were like on-off switches. Any hesitation or timid footplay on either pedal resulted in the mower bucking as it struggled to engage in gear, or stalled altogether. There was no wishy-washy driving of this thing. I had to commit to the throttle and go all in.

And so, with a couple of awkward first starts, I finally got first gear engaged, hooked up the super-sticky Hoosier R25B slicks, and shot quick like an arrow released from a bow. I completely forgot the instruction James had given us to short-shift first and bury the pedal in second gear. I carried first up through 60 mph (even though he claims it is rated for 85), then shifted into second gear which took me well above 85. Then I ran out of straightaway and had to smash the brake pedal. The return run wasn’t much better, but luckily I’d get another go in each direction.

Sparco steering wheel and carbon-fiber paddle shifters.
A custom Sparco steering wheel and carbon-fiber paddle shifters frame the stock CBR1000RR SP instrument screen.Honda

As I returned to meet back up with James and his partner in crime, Craig Smith (race driver, and Team Dynamic’s number one mechanic for Honda’s Formula cars), I was grateful for the fierce gripping power of the Mean Mower’s Kelgate four-piston calipers up front and six-piston calipers in the rear. No doubt this monster machine can stop on a dime. I quickly whipped the Mean Mower around to face the other direction (it turns on a dime too, as long as you’ve got momentum) and staged for my next run.

Even after some coaching, it was difficult to commit 100 percent to smashing the throttle on the Mean Mower V2. Despite my straight-line attempts, the acceleration of Honda’s one-off record breaker is so freakishly fast, it’s somewhat terrifying. Considering its slight 482-pound weight, the Mean Mower’s power-to-weight ratio is better than a Bugatti Chiron. Not that I’ve ever driven a Bugatti Chiron, but the point is it’s ridiculously fast. “Faster than an F1 car at takeoff,” Rodgers claims. I didn’t get anywhere near Team Dynamics’ recorded top speed of 150.99 mph, but I know others that day got a fair bit over 110, which is still unbelievably fast considering how short our straightaway was.

Honda CBR1000RR-Powered Lawn Mower with Hoosier slicks.
A full set of Hoosier slicks kept the Mean Mower V2 stuck to the tarmac, hooking up at three different rev points: 7,000 rpm, 10,000 rpm, and again at 12,000 rpm.Honda

How did Team Dynamics do it? How did they convert a motorcycle engine and transmission into a blazing-fast go-kart-like lawn mower? Their biggest challenge was the drivetrain, as the original chain length was too long to control. So they introduced a center axle, and now run two shorter chains with custom sprockets. The mechanics of switching the system from foot shifter to hand-operated paddle shifters required a Translogic PSR Pro Gear Lever Powershift. And while the riding mower doesn’t currently use the ABS or traction control, Rodgers’ team had to keep those electronics on board to keep the stock CBR1000RR SP gauge free of warning lights. To say this project has been complicated would be an understatement.

And all that work has paid off. With a new lawn mower acceleration world record under their belt, Team Dynamics Motorsports and Honda UK will take their hypermower back across the pond and already have plans to make additional changes. “That mower is all line one, so it’s a prototype vehicle, so we experience failures with it, successes, too, but 99 percent failures. So we keep evolving it… We never stop playing with it, we never stop testing it.” Here’s looking forward to Mean Mower V3!

Honda CBR1000RR-Powered Lawn Mower header openings.
One of the ways Team Dynamics opened up the airflow of the CBR1000RR SP engine was with header openings that are 10 percent bigger than the stock bike, in addition to the Scorpion exhaust.Honda

2018 Mean Mower V2 Specifications


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