The wintery silence is broken by the piercing howl of a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and the scream of rubber. A small cloud of blue-ish smoke erupts from the back tyre.
Jonny Turbo then releases the front brake, shifts his weight rearward and the bike shoots off up the road and out of sight. As introductions go it’s pretty exuberant.
“Jonny’s bike is pushing over 200hp thanks to a variety of tweaks”
But then what would you expect from someone who turbocharges most of the bikes in his rather vast (and eclectic) collection. Well, he isn’t called Jonny Turbo for nothing…
In fact, the streetfighter-ed Suzuki is a rare exception to the Jonny’s rule. Of course, this hasn’t stopped him searching for a little more oomph from the 1,000cc superbike.
Coming from the factory with around 150hp, Jonny’s bike is pushing over 200hp thanks to a variety of tweaks. Hitting the scales at less than 200kg, well, you can do the maths. In simple terms, it’s fast. Very fast.
“It’s all about the speed and power for me,” Jonny explains while showing us around Read Performance, the tuning specialist he uses to help build his rather rapid creations.
With the help of Neil, proprietor of Read, Jonny searches for every extra ounce of power. Their latest project is a Honda CBX, to which they have fitted a pair of Garrett turbochargers.
As well as taking the usually-105hp machine to over 160hp, the modifications are likely to piss off a fair few motorcycling purists, not that Jonny is overly worried.
“The purists disowned me when I told them I’d twin-turbo’d it,” he says with child-like glee, a smile spreading across his face. “I don’t want to be another number though,” Jonny continues, explaining that there are enough collectors out there simply snaffling up these rare six-cylinder bikes.
Having previously owned six-cylinder Benellis and Kawasakis alongside the Hondas, the ‘collector’ moniker could also be aimed at Jonny but the painter-decorator (yes, really) likes to do things so differently he definitely falls into the ‘enthusiast’ category instead.
For three or four months each year, Jonny and a selection of his bikes head down to the south of France where he puts them, ahem, thoroughly through their paces.
Let’s put it this way, there are a number of gendarmerie across the channel to whom Jonny’s real name is rather infamous. Oh, and he was kicked out of Monaco once too and told to never return.
Pushing the limits isn’t without its consequences however. Outside Read Performance, one of Jonny’s turbocharged beasts (this one also fitted with NOS) currently sits sans engine, the motor having blown up rather spectacularly on a recent run.
“One of the pistons and rods made a bid for freedom,” he explains, that same grin creeping across his face again. “It punched through the crankcase and bathed my legs in hot oil!”
Jonny isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon though. Despite the years ticking by, he’s adamant that you’ll never find him astride a Harley-Davidson; the thrill provided by his turbocharged bikes is just too big an addiction to shake.
If there was an award for living life flat-out, Jonny Turbo would definitely be a deserving recipient.
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