Saturday, December 13, 2008

In conversation with Leslie Porterfield, the fastest woman in the US, on two wheels


Leslie Porterfield, the fastest woman in the world on a motorcycle!


The 32-year-old Leslie Porterfield has been riding bikes for 16 years, and if you ever meet her at a stoplight, you’d best not try to beat her off the line. That’s because Leslie uses a much-modified Suzuki Hayabusa, which she recently rode at the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials, hitting an impressive 234.197mph (374.715km/h). Yes indeed, Ms Porterfield is now officially the fastest female motorcyclist in the US.

Leslie, who’s broken various land speed records and who’s actually the first woman to enter the Bonneville 200mph Club on a conventional motorcycle (rather than one of those purpose-built land speed streamliners…), also won the 2008 AMA Racing Female Rider of the Year Award.

‘I’m hopelessly hooked on motorcycles – I truly love motorcycles and the people involved in motorcycling,’ says Leslie, who’s also an entrepreneur and owns High Five Cycles, a used motorcycles dealership in Dallas.

Suitably impressed with her motorcycling accomplishments, we sent her an email with some questions, and she was nice enough to respond. Here’s what she had to say:


"I try to keep my high speed on the salt at Bonneville," says Leslie...

On her 234mph Hayabusa

My racebike started out as a 2002 Hayabusa. It is now heavily modified, thanks to Scott Horner of Head's Up Performance and Rhys Griffiths of Apex Speed Technologies. The bike is turbocharged, with Airtech bodywork, a lock-up clutch and a really trick ECU from Apex. I have two motors for the bike built by Scott – one to run the 1350cc class, and a stroker motor for the 2000cc class.

On her 192mph Honda CBR1000RR

This year I also rode a CBR1000 in the production class. It had few modifications because of the limitations for the class. We re-geared it and put a Bazzaz tuner on it, and I was able to get the world record at 192mph! We had very little time to prepare it. I was drilling bolts for safety wire at Bonneville during Speedweek. I had some stiff competition against Rosey Lackey on the MV Agusta, but I ended up with the record.

On whether she actually works on her own bikes

I do work on my bikes, but Scott does almost everything to my Turbo bike. I'm learning more and more about the electronics thanks to Rhys. I am amazed at the amount of data that the ECU logs. It logs with GPS, throttle position, boost, fuel pressure, water temp, wheel speed and much more.

I help with minor repairs and maintenance, and an occasional motor swap. I own a used motorcycle dealership in Dallas that offers service, parts, and sales of used bikes. It's not uncommon to find me in my service department doing oil changes, cleaning carburettors, swapping chains and sprockets, or dismantling something we're sending to the painter. I've done a lot of car repairs, too - everything from changing starters to rebuilding an automatic transmission, to swapping rear ends. Most of my nine personal bikes are late model, and don't need much more than maintenance lately.

On how she got into motorcycle land speed racing

I started Land Speed Racing in 2007. Going to Bonneville was always a dream of mine – I have read about it for a long time. It is the only place on earth to find such a wide array of machinery, and the people who put on the events and other racers are some of the nicest people I've ever met. I started riding when I was 16 years old, when I bought a motorcycle for transportation. Took a road race school at age 19, and I was hooked. I road raced off and on for a while…

I also hold an SCCA car road racing license and I’ve pre-ridden the Baja 1000 – would love to participate in the race sometime soon. Got the opportunity to make a few passes on a pro stock drag bike last year, and I hope to get back out on the dragstrip again. I also tried motocross several years ago, and while I found it quite enjoyable, I'm terrible at it. I am not programmed to fly through the air on a bike!

On her everyday street rides

I have several bikes. Most of the time I ride my 2008 CBR1000, or my Ducati 998. I also have a CRF450 motard bike that I zip through town on. It's such a hooligan bike! I try to keep my high speed on the salt at Bonneville. I will say that I've had a few too many speeding tickets, and maybe one or two in the triple digits. But that was a long time ago!

On MotoGP

I love MotoGP. I have watched races in Motegi, Valencia, Laguna Seca, and Indy. They are all amazing riders on some of the most sophisticated machines. I love wandering through the pits looking at the bikes. I admire all of the riders.

On how she prepares for the races

I prepare myself before every run by mentally going through everything I have to do from the starting line. I make mental notes of body position and try to improve it every time. Aerodynamics are extremely important in this sport, so having as much of my body as I can out of the wind is important.

My first pass down the salt this year made me a little bit nervous. I looked down the track from the starting line and thought about the last time I was there. Last year I ended up coming off of the bike at over 100mph, and breaking seven ribs, puncturing a lung, and had a concussion. I was helicoptered from Bonneville to the hospital in Salt Lake City. Luckily, I was only in the hospital overnight. After a long drive home, I went back to work the next day, although I was moving pretty slow. Slept sitting up for a month and a half.

I had to put those thoughts out of my head this year. After my first pass down the salt, I was back into the groove and ready to break some records. In all competitive sports, there are risks, and I try to minimize mine as best I can. I made a pass at 231mph to qualify for the record, and on my return run I was at around 240mph when I threw a rod through the cases. I was lucky and thankful that nothing locked up. I still managed to average 234mph on that run, which put my new world record at 232mph. It also earned me the title of the fastest woman in the world on a motorcycle. I was thrilled, even though I had a gaping hole in my motor!

On her all-time favourites

Bike: the CBR1000, my souped up CRF50

Car: I like my BMW Z4 M coupe! I think I'm going to try to find a mid-60's Lincoln Continental with suicide doors next. I've always wanted one

Racing hero/heroine: Of course every other Land Speed Racer out there. And I have sooo many heros... and heroines... all of the fast women in motorsport

Food: Pepperoni Pizza

Drink: Water, an occasional vodka and cranberry

Music: I love everything from rock to blues, jazz, classical

Movie: I love old Audrey Hepburn movies - Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday (yes, I am a girlie-girl sometimes). And of course motorcycle movies - On Any Sunday, World's Fastest Indian

Holiday destination: I'm in Costa Rica right now, and I like it! I have a house in Colorado and love to ski, also. I love to travel, anywhere new excites me...

Thank you, Leslie, for speaking to Faster and Faster.
We also thank Ed Kuhlenkamp (President, Build Momentum) for having arranged the email interview


Also see:
In conversation with KTM designer, Gerald Kiska...
Riding impression: Troy Bayliss' Ducati 1098R...
Project Bloodhound: The quest for 1,600km/h...
And the maddest, wildest ever scooter is...?
Brad Pitt wants to be Valentino Rossi...!
Marisa Miller does the Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle...
Born in the USA: Riding the Roehr 1250sc...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Riding impression: Moto Guzzi Millepercento BB1


With 50% more power than the standard Griso 1100, the Millepercento BB1 is looking good

Pics: Motociclismo

First shown earlier this year, the Millepercento BB1 features a bored-out, liquid-cooled, 1420cc version of the air-cooled 1100cc opposed-twin used on the Moto Guzzi Griso 1100. A different fuel-injection system, Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes complete the package, and we think the bike actually looks very cool – in a lean, mean, old-fashioned way...

Motociclismo recently had the opportunity to ride the bike at the Monza circuit, in Italy, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the BB1:

When you see the Millepercento BB1 for the first time, the first thing you’re likely to notice is the radiator, apart from which the bike looks quite similar to the standard Moto Guzzi Griso 1100. The radiator is masked by strips of carbonfibre and doesn’t harm the aesthetics at all.

The BB1’s 1420cc liquid-cooled engine, which has two spark plugs per cylinder and titanium valves, is a perfect fit for the stock Moto Guzzi chassis, which remains unchanged. The increase in power, over the standard Griso 1100, is incredible. With 117bhp in place of the stock bike’s 77bhp, the BB1’s 1420cc engine is about 50% more powerful than the air-cooled Guzzi mill.


It's long, low and heavy, but the BB1 has its own charm. Probably...

The BB1 feels roomier than the stock bike, and is more stable at higher speeds. The new fuel injection system made cold starts a bit difficult, and this needs to be changed. On the move, the bike feels heavy, though its low centre of gravity keeps things manageable.

Power delivery is not really linear, or very consistent – the throttle is more like an on/off switch. Even when you try to accelerate gently, the power comes in all at once – the amount of power that goes to the rear wheel is just not proportional to how much you turn the throttle. This makes it difficult to control the bike, especially in slower corners, where it becomes impossible to feed in the power gradually.

On long straights and fast corners, however, the power delivery seems impressive. The BB1 is stable at high speeds, and though turn-in isn’t very quick, once you pick a line through a corner, the bike pretty much sticks to it. The brakes feel excellent, very powerful. And finally, yes, the bike still vibrates, though no more than the standard Griso.

The Millepercento BB1 will be available in Moto Guzzi dealerships from February 2009 onwards, at a price of around US$32,000.

For the full article, visit the Motociclismo website here

Also see:
First pics: 2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200...
Confederate Fighter: The most expensive Christmas present ever...
The 420bhp MTT Turbine Streetfighter...
If you've always wanted a Ferrari motorcycle...
Sheer Muscle: The Kawabusa II...
The Wakan 100 Roadster hits the... road
2009 Ducati Streetfighter wins beauty award...

Elsewhere today:
2009 Aprilia RS125: A 16-year-old's wet dream...

Moto2: 600cc four-stroke class regulations announced


Oh no, we've posted the wrong picture! But wait, who cares. Moto2 bikes should be just about this fast, and as for the racing... ho-hum...

The FIM has announced regulations for the 600cc four-stroke class, which will replace the current 250cc world championship series in 2011. To be called ‘Moto2,’ the new category will have bikes fitted with normally-aspirated 600cc, four-stroke engines, with the rev limit being 16,000rpm for four-cylinder engines, 15,500rpm for three-cylinder engines and 15,000rpm for twins.

In a move aimed at keeping costs low, Moto2 rules will only allow for data loggers, ECU and timing transponders supplied by the organisers. These will not cost more than US$900, and no other electronics will be permitted.

Moto2 bikes’ chassis will not be restricted in any way and manufacturers will be completely free to develop their own chassis and swingarm. Carbon brake discs and carbon composite wheels will not be allowed, and the FIM will also issue a list of other materials and manufacturing methods which won’t be permitted in Moto2.

Each rider in the Moto2 series will be limited to one bike only, with a maximum of two complete engines for each race. And here’s the clincher – the engines used in any given race will be available for purchase by rival competitors, for the fixed price of US$26,700, within one hour of a Moto2 Grand Prix race being completed.

The bikes will need to weigh a minimum of 135kg (in case of four-cylinder engines), 130kg (for bikes with three-cylinder engines) and 125kg (for bikes with two-cylinder engines.)

Hmmm… we don’t really know what to say, but on the whole, this whole Moto2 thing sounds dumb. Low cost racing is all fine – at the club level. But when it comes to top-level Grand Prix racing, we’re not too sure about the use of severely restricted engines.

Also, at this level, rules like competitors being allowed to buy each others’ engines seems just plain stupid. If anything, it seems like a recipe for one-make-only racing, and the 250cc replacement class should certainly not be that! Anyway, all should be revealed in 2010, when these Moto2 four-stroke 600s will first come out and race alongside the current two-stroke 250s. (That will be the last year for 250s before the 600s take over in 2011. ) We'll be happy if we're proved wrong, but for now, we do believe 250s will make mincemeat of the new-age 600s in 2010...

Also see:
The biggest ever collection of 2008 MotoGP wallpaper...!
Three Spree: The coolest trikes in the world...
Memorable: Graeme Crosby and his bikes...
Riding Noriyuki Haga's Yamaha R1...
Norton to return to the Isle of Man races in 2009...
The man even Valentino Rossi can't beat...
Face-off: Jason Crump vs Tiff Needell!
The coolest ever Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja...

Elsewhere today:
Beautiful old classic bikes: Here and here

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Motorcycle Buyers: The ones that got away


Hmmm..., so why didn't everybody just buy one of these?

According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Motorcycle Escaped Shopper Study, which analyzes the reasons shoppers consider a particular motorcycle brand but ultimately purchase a different brand, finds that 51% of new motorcycle shoppers cite dealer-related issues as a reason for rejecting a motorcycle brand.

According to this inaugural study, which is based on responses from 3,022 new motorcycle buyers, one of the primary dealer-related issues for rejecting a brand is the inability to test ride a bike, which was mentioned by one-fourth of shoppers as a reason for rejection.


Some people shouldn't have too much trouble getting test rides, but for the rest of us...

Motorcyclists want to try before they buy

Seven% of shoppers indicate that the inability to test ride was the most influential reason for not purchasing a particular motorcycle brand. In addition, 18% of shoppers rejected a motorcycle because it was not available at the dealership, while the perception of being able to receive better service at another dealership is mentioned by 15% of shoppers as a reason for rejection.

‘To avoid losing customers due to dealer-related issues, it’s important for dealers to better manage customer expectations,’ says Tim Fox, research manager of the powersports practice at J.D. Power and Associates. ‘For example, making customers aware before they arrive at the dealership why they can or cannot test ride a particular motorcycle may help brands convert more shopper visits into sales,’ he adds.


Prices and financing, reasons why more people buy GSX-Rs than Desmosedici RRs

Prices and financing are important concerns

The study also finds that price and financing are cited most often as the reason for rejecting a motorcycle brand, with 57% of shoppers mentioning price-related issues as a reason for rejection. Overall, price is cited by 41% of shoppers as a reason for rejection, and 28% name price as the most influential reason for rejection.

Similarly, 16% of shoppers mention the lack of low-interest financing, rebates or other incentives as a rejection reason, while 23% of shoppers mention high maintenance costs.

‘It is important for dealers to understand that for many of these lost sales, there was a legitimate chance of closing the sale during the shopping process,’ says Fox. ‘Eighty-four% of shoppers indicate they ‘seriously’ considered the brand they rejected, while 41% indicate they considered the brand ‘very seriously.’ While price is often a major reason for rejection, 51% of shoppers end up spending the same or more on the brand they purchased compared with the brand they considered but rejected.’


Bikers are getting more Web-savvy, Faster and Faster is getting more popular... :-)

More motorcyclists are using the Internet

A vast majority of customers – 81% – report having used the Internet to research motorcycles when shopping, 73% say they read magazine reviews, and 28% say they attended a trade show or motorcycle event, according to the study. And 78% of motorcycle buyers indicated they contacted or visited a dealership for information before purchasing.

‘More than 75% of customers report interacting with a dealership to find more information on a particular motorcycle, so manufacturers have a great opportunity to win or lose customers at this point in the shopping process,’ says Fox.


That's US$500 worth of fuel gone up in smoke. Where's the battery-powered KillaCycle...?

Motorcyclists are riding less because of higher petrol prices

The study, which also examines the impact of petrol prices on motorcycle riding habits, finds that 29% of motorcycle riders report that they changed their driving habits during late September and early October 2008, when petrol were the highest.

Among those riders who changed their habits, 75% report using their motorcycle more often for commuting to work or school, and 41% say they use their motorcycle more often when driving around town. Additionally, 31% report doing less cruising, and 30% say they did less extended travelling.

Also see:
Electric bikes, because petrol is 'so last century'?
Duel in Hell: BMW HP2 Sport vs KTM RC8!
UK study says women love big, noisy engines...
Get ready for the 200km/h battery-powered sportsbike...
Quiet Please: Put a lid on this...!
Honda: The future of motorcycles...
Valentino Rossi, on learning to lose...

Elsewhere today:
Classic: Mike Hailwood’s 1977 Ducati 750SS...
270km/h, in a steam-powered car..!
Wild Child: 1980 Moriwaki Kawasaki Z1...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Birthday: Angelina to give a Ducati Monster 1100 to Brad!


A wife who looks like that, who also gives you new Ducatis on your birthday? Hmmm...

What’s better than just having Angelina Jolie for your wife? Having Angelina Jolie also sponsor your motorcycle habit, that’s what. According to In Touch magazine, old man Brad will soon be turning 45 and to celebrate, Angie is giving him a Ducati Monster 1100 as a birthday present. Brad, who already has a Desmosedici RR, is a big motorcycle buff and even says he wants to be like Valentino Rossi.

Hmmm… how very nice. We sincerely hope Mr Pitt gets to enjoy his new Monster 1100, hopefully on some sunny, twisty roads in Italy. And now if you’ll excuse us, we need to go and check our mailbox. Who knows, someone might have sent us a new baseball hat or a new pair of socks for Christmas…

Also see:
Brad Pitt: "I want to be like Rossi!"
UK bikers want to ride with Angelina Jolie...
Women love big, noisy engines...
Desmosedici RR: For the love of Ducati!
Exclusive, one-off Ferrari bike coming up for sale...
An airbag helmet for motorcyclists...
In conversation with KTM designer, Gerald Kiska...
The 200bhp, NOS'd Suzuki B-King everyone should ride...

Elsewhere today:
Bayliss-special Ducati Monster 696...
In conversation with James Toseland...
MotoGP, the Edelweiss way...


A battery-powered tilting trike? See the Persu Hybrid here

Riding impression: Carlos Checa’s WSBK Honda CBR1000RR


According to Motociclismo, Checa's Honda Fireblade feels neutral and has superb electronics...

The guys at Motociclismo are one seriously lucky bunch. In the last few weeks, they’ve already ridden Troy Bayliss’ World Superbikes Ducati 1098R and Noriyuki Haga’s Yamaha R1. And now, they’ve got their hands on Carlos Checa’s Honda Fireblade, which they rode on the Portimao circuit in Portugal. Here are some excerpts from what Randy Mamola, who tested the bike on behalf of Motociclismo, has to say about the bike:

The TenKate team has, clearly, done an impressive job – they’ve managed to make the Fireblade easier to ‘understand,’ and evened out all the rough edges, making the bike more cohesive, more consistent all around. Perhaps more than ever before, the Blade is a very powerful, effective track tool…

On the move, the first that draws your attention is that the riding position is quite comfortable and easy to live with. Some other WSBK bikes, like Troy Bayliss’ Ducati, make you feel more ‘squeezed.’ The Honda’s handlebars are also more ‘open’ and let you move around on the bike, which, it seems, is what Checa likes.

The sounds that the Honda’s four-cylinder engine makes are simply intoxicating. Its power delivery is tamed only be the bike’s on-board electronics, which work very well indeed – perhaps better than most other WSBK bikes.

Open the throttle and you’ll feel there’s a direct link between your right hand and the engine’s fuel injection system – response is instant, immediate. Remember, this engine is making more than 215 horsepower, in a bike that weighs around 162 kilos. At least there Pirelli tyres grip very well, and there’s traction control to get you out of trouble if you gas the bike a bit too hard…

Checa likes his engines to feel similar to the two-strokes of yore hence the Fireblade is electronically programmed to deliver it best at high revs. Yes, you need to really rev this engine to get the best out of it.

In terms of handling, the TenKate Fireblade feels completely neutral. It isn’t as easily flickable or intuitive as the Yamaha, but it goes exactly where you want, and feels very well controlled at all times. Mid-corner stability is excellent, and the Showa suspension flat out works. On the flip side, the CBR’s Nissin brakes don’t feel as strong as the Brembo units of its rivals.

Overall, the Ducati 1098R feels more sorted, more consistent, and the Yamaha R1 feels more manageable and a bit more exciting to ride. However, the Honda is more neutral, the engine feels very powerful and the electronics are, perhaps, the best. Now all that remains is to see just how well Regis Laconi’s Kawasaki works…

TenKate Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR: Tech Specs

Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, 999.8cc inline-four
Power: In excess of 215bhp
Transmission: 6-speed
Clutch: Multi STM in oil bath, with anti-lock system
Chassis: Aluminium twin-spar
Front suspension: 43mm WP USD fork (RCA 4800), fully adjustable
Rear Suspension: WP 4618 monoshock, fully adjustable
Brakes: Twin 320mm discs (front), single 220mm disc (rear)
Wheels and tyres: 120/65 ZR 16.5 (front), 190/65 ZR 16.5 (rear)

For the full riding impression, visit the Motociclismo website here

Monday, December 08, 2008

MTT Turbine Streetfighter: The 420 horsepower, US$175,000 rocket-bike


The MTT Turbine Streetfighter. Simply awesome...

Pics: MTT / Flickr

Based in South Louisiana, in the US and headed by Ted McIntyre II, MTT are turbine engine specialists. According to a note on the company’s website, ‘MTT is made up of the world's most experienced professionals in the turbine engine industry, having completed more diverse, custom turbine engine installations than any other company in the world.’

The best part is, the guys at MTT seem to be putting their expertise to damn good use, by building turbine-engined two-wheeled rocketships. A few years ago, the company had made the MTT Y2K Turbine Superbike, which was powered by a Rolls Royce-Allison turbine that made 320 horsepower and 576Nm of torque. The bike’s top speed was in excess of 400km/h…

So, since a 320bhp bike that can do 400km/h simply isn’t adequate for everybody, MTT are now ready with their next bike – the Turbine Streetfighter. The MTT Streetfighter’s Rolls Royce-Allison turbine now pumps out as much as 420bhp and 680Nm of torque. Other changes over the Y2K Superbike include a bigger swingarm, Pirelli Diablo 240-section rear tyre, increased fuel capacity and an enhanced cooling system.

The MTT Turbine Streetfighter is also fitted with a full carbonfibre fairing, 17-inch carbonfibre wheels, tubular aluminium alloy frame, a rear-mounted camera with LCD color display, computerized ignition and two-speed automatic transmission. Suspension components comprise of a 55mm USD fork and oleo-pneumatic, fully adjustable monoshock from Ohlins. Brakes are Brembo units, with 320mm discs all around. The bike runs on either diesel or kerosense (!), and has a 34-litre fuel tank.

As you would expect, the Streetfighter isn’t exactly inexpensive. The turbine-engined bike sells for US$175,000 and once you’ve placed an order, you’ll need to wait for 12 weeks before you get your hands on your jet bike. Then again, you can get your bike in whatever colour you want and design your own graphics etc. if you wish…

It may not be the most practical thing in the world – a Hayabusa or a ZZR1400 is usually plenty fast for most people – but owning a jet-engined bike has got to be the stuff of dreams for bike-mad speed junkies. Imagine the look on your neighbours’ faces when you start up your MTT Turbine Streetfighter in the morning, before leaving for office. Ooooohh..., now that would be some trip…!


A Discovery channel video of the MTT Y2K jet-engined bike...


Also see:
Big CC Racing's Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo...
Acabion GTBO 70: The fastest bike in the world...
NitroDuke: The world's fastest KTM...
200bhp, NOS'd Suzuki B-King...
Larry McBride: "GSX-Rs are for moped riders!"
MAB's turbocharged BMW K1200R...
Ducati SuperSport Turbo dragbike...
Fearsome: Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker...

Elsewhere today:
The HOTTEST Yamaha RD250LC ever...!
The shape shifting R-Bike. Cool, or just plain silly...?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Memorable: Graeme Crosby and his bikes…


Graeme Crosby finished second in the 500cc world championship in 1982

Pics: Highsider

Now 53 years old, Graeme Crosby was one of the most versatile and accomplished motorcycle grand prix racers of his time. Born in New Zealand in 1955, Crosby went on to race around the world, winning the Daytona 200, Imola 200 and the Suzuka 8 Hours races. He also raced at the Isle of Man, winning the Senior TT in 1980.

Crosby ultimately went on to race in the 500cc class, racing with Suzuki on an RG500 in 1980 and 1981. He finished eighth in the 500cc world championship in 1980, and fifth in 1981, also winning the British TT F1 championship in the same year.

Crosby moved to Yamaha for the 1982 season, and finished second in the 500cc world championship that year, behind Franco Uncini. Crosby retired from motorcycle road racing at the end of 1982, and though he never won a race in the 500cc class, he did take 10 podium finishes between 1980-1982.


Crosby rode in the 500cc class with Suzuki, in 1980 and 81

‘No one ever told Crosby what to do. Croz liked to ride motorcycles insanely fast and he liked a drink. And sometimes, he combined the two, even on the Isle of Man,’ says Mat Oxley, who recently mentioned Graeme in a story he did on maverick motorcycle racers.

‘When he first hit Europe in 1979, the British TT F1 championship was all about mega-trick Honda RCB1000s with lightweight racing frames and aerodynamic bodywork,’ says Oxley. ‘So Croz rocked up at Brands on the rattiest heap of a Moriwaki Z1000 streetbike, and gave Ron Haslam the fright of his life. The fans loved Croz, and a legend was born,’ concludes Oxley.


Graeme rode this GSX-R1000 in the parade of champions, at the Isle of Man races in 2007

So what’s the fast Kiwi doing now, you might wonder? Well, he’s still riding – Crosby rode a GSX-R1000 in the parade of champions during the Isle of Man races last year. And he seems to have kept up with technology, so he even has a website. Among other things on his site, Crosby talks about some of the bikes he’s raced in the past, and here are some excerpts from what he has to say about some of those bikes:


'I loved it. It had style,' says Crosby, about the Kawasaki H1

Kawasaki H1 and H1R

If there was a bike that caused so many broken bones and gravel rash and skin grafts then this is it. Totally responsible for undertakers massive bottom line profit. What a shocker! The engine was a very wide three cylinder, two stroke unit designed by a psychotic Kamikaze teacher. This bike was a bad handler and a real beast to ride.

The engine sat too high, the chassis lacked strength. The brakes were virtually non existent, unless you fitted green linings, and even then it was at best marginal. To tame this monster required balls the size of a hot air balloon and a total disregard for ones own safety. It was hellishly fast and handled like a roller skate in a gravel pit. But I loved it. It had style, it had presence and everyone admired it. Sadly, most of these end their life with crumpled up front ends laying in wrecker’s yards.

The 500 Factory racer version of this beast was a HIR-A and it was the only bike I rode that caused me to break a bone. A collarbone! What a bastard of a bike!

image host

You had to ride the wheels off these things to get them to perform, says Croz

Kawasaki Z1 and Z1R

The best big bike made, ever. This was an engineering feat that put Kawasaki into the big league. Lots of innovative technical refinements with this bike, DOHC, bucket valve gear etc.... a real strong engine that would go like a raped ape and had plenty of horsepower, but at the same time as strong as an oxen.

This bike formed the backbone of four stroke racing for many years. The engine was fitted to various chassis’s and performed really well. I used this base Z1 production bike to win the Castrol 6 Hour race in NZ, which I rode on my own for the full 6 hours. I even stopped for ‘pee’ during re-fuelling at one of the scheduled stops.

We then began modifying the production Z1s and ‘Superbikes’ were born. We used the standard Z1, Z1000, Z1R models and modified the engines and tuned the chassis. We did lots of work on the engine by using Pop Yoshimura’s racing parts to make good amounts of horsepower. We then tried to tame it by slightly modifying the chassis. Bracing it here and there and fitting wider wheels and soft slick tyres.

Then came the fun part – I would throw a leg over it and set off down pit lane not knowing what to expect! Well, we generally got them steering OK but looking back it was still just a modified rode bike that you had to ride the wheels off to get it to perform.


The Yamaha YZR500 OW60, the bike Crosby rode to a second place finish in the 1982 500cc motorcycle grand prix racing world championship

Yamaha OW60

I joined Yamaha with the Agostini Marlboro Team in 1982 and was faced with an extraordinary situation. Kenny Roberts had convinced Yamaha to build the 82 GP bike with unconventional steering geometry. I tested the bike in Japan and was disappointed with its performance.

We decided to make our own modifications and I used Suzuki geometry from the 81 XR35 bike, and it transformed this OW60 into a weapon. An alloy chassis and power valves made it a delight to ride. It had very similar performance to the 82 Suzuki’s but I liked its colour scheme much better!

Anyway, I rode this to a 2nd place in the 500cc World Championship. I felt though it was an intermediate bike made in 82 as a stop gap measurement while waiting for the V4 to be produced.

For more of Graeme Crosby and his bikes, visit his website here

Also see:
In conversation with Alex Criville, 1999 500cc world champ...
Mick Doohan interview...
Marco 'Crazy Horse' Lucchinelli, 1981 500cc world champ...
Kevin Schwantz interviews Valentino Rossi...!
In conversation with Wayne Gardner...
Libero Liberati, 500cc world champ half a century ago…
Colin Edwards talks about Valentino Rossi...
In conversation with Jeremy Burgess...

Elsewhere today:
The Globe of Death...
How to completely ruin a Harley-Davidson V-Rod...
1980 Honda CB1100R - the six-hour specialist...

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