‘I WAS HANGING OFF UPSIDE DOWN, STILL GOING FORWARDS’
Honda Racing’s BSB boss describes a misspent youth off-roading in the woods, riding too fast on Fizzies and how he’d love a go on an RC213V-S
When did you start riding?
It was when I was about eight years old. My first bike was a Cotton Minarelli 125, a great little machine. I lived on a farm with my parents so I’d just ride all over the place. After that I had various other bikes from an SS50, SS70S and 90s and we’d just ride around the farm.
When I was a bit older we moved to an area near a lot of woodland and I’d go riding in the woods with my friends. I had an AJS 250 motocross bike and we’d ride that to wherever we could get to. All my mates had bikes too so we’d have a real laugh.
There was this one time where we nicked my mate Danny’s XT500 and I just remember riding through the woods thinking ‘oh my god, what fun is this?’ and realising what riding a more modern machine was like.
My first road bike was a Yamaha FS1-E DX, a great little bike and I had some scary times on that! I remember crashing going off on a road towards Stroud. When I look back now, I went far too fast into this chicane, ran in way too quick, just got around the next bit but was going so quick I ended up going off up the bank and into the bushes!
After that I had a few close friends die riding on the roads and that hit me a bit, so I decided to focus on track stuff and motocross, but I think I had more determination, anger and grit than skill!
Wish you’d kept any old bikes?
I had so many bikes when I was younger and I really wish I’d kept them all, but realistically you can’t do that. I wish I still had the AJS 250 though, it was brilliant. It had a good old big carburettor on it and if you’d let it nearly stall it would backfire and run the other way. It was an absolute weapon, really trick and tidy.
What’s the best bike you’ve ridden?
Easy! I rode Aaron Slight’s RC45 at Phillip Island. It was a journalist test and at the end of the day they offered us mechanics five laps. It was fantastic. I remember coming down the front straight and rolling off the throttle at the bridge as all I could see was the sea! At that speed, well the speed I was going, I was thinking where am I? It was an unbelievable experience. I then got to ride Colin Edwards’ SP2 at Sentul a few years later, but I think I had more fun on the RC45 because of its V4 power, the sound and everything.
What was your most embarrassing crash?
It goes back to my motocross days. I was at Ripley and went way too fast up a hill and managed to loop it! I was hanging off the back of this bike upside down and still going forwards in the air… I absolutely destroyed the bike. I had a lot of scary moments on the road thinking I had more skill than I actually had!
What’s your dream bike?
I know this sounds like a cop out because I work for Honda, but honestly I would love to ride an RC213V-S on the road. It’s a special bit of kit. I hope I get a chance to ride one some day. There are some old motocross bikes I’d love to have. I’d love to ride the old CR500S – they were phenomenal machines and I always wished I could have ridden them. The power and set-up would have been way out of my league. As I get older I find myself starting to look at more touring-styled bikes – the Africa Twin appeals to me quite a bit as getting out on the road and thrashing a sportsbike wouldn’t be my cup of tea anymore as I’d just want to ride out of my ability.
Honda Racing’s Beltran has been around bikes since he was eight years old FIRST BIKE Cotton Minarelli 125 ‘I rode it all over our farm as a kid’ DREAM BIKE Honda RC213V-S ‘I hope I get the chance to ride one’