SUR­TEES STYLE

Classic Bike (UK) - - World | Letters - MIKE GAZE

Like John Sur­tees, I too was born in 1934, so as a con­tem­po­rary I did see him race. What Mike Nicks missed in his ar­ti­cle (CB April) was just how much JS changed mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing. Prior to him, Ge­off Duke was the man to copy – his style was all about min­imis­ing frontal area; he stuck to the bike like a sec­ond skin, the em­pha­sis on smooth­ness with gearchang­ing and brak­ing all

done per­fectly. Back then you did not brake or change gear on a cor­ner – at least not twice, or you fell off. Sur­tees got off the seat and down the in­side of the bike, thereby mov­ing the cen­tre of grav­ity of the rider/bike com­bi­na­tion lower and nearer the in­side of the cor­ner. This was to­tally un­heard of at the time – and he could cor­ner faster than any­one else, un­doubt­edly based on his ex­pe­ri­ence as a pas­sen­ger on his dad’s out­fit. Mike Hail­wood copied Sur­tees’ style and added get­ting his knee down. Now, of course, ev­ery­one rides like that – all due to John Sur­tees – but at the time it was rev­o­lu­tion­ary and was even shock­ing to some.

As ev­ery­one knows, Sur­tees has been the only man to win world Cham­pi­onships on two and four wheels – Duke tried, but failed mis­er­ably. There was one other man who made it on both two and four wheels – I knew him, as we had friends in com­mon – that was Bob An­der­son. He was a colour­ful char­ac­ter from Bed­ford who rode Nor­tons and drove for Lola, then switched from bikes to cars be­cause of back prob­lems and lost his life com­pet­ing in a pri­vate Lola against ad­vice, as he had re­cently bro­ken his wrist. But he had shown his abil­ity to com­pete with the best in both rac­ing dis­ci­plines.

Doc­u­men­tary proof that you should be care­ful what kind of signs you park your bike in front of...

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