‘BIKES IN THE GARAGE BEAT KEEP­ING MONEY IN THE BANK’

Former Grand Prix and TT racer, and sup­plier of Pirelli tyres to the Bri­tish Su­per­bike grid, talks about his ac­ci­den­tal life in bikes

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - ED­DIE ROBERTS MAL­LORY PARK BOSS

How did bikes come into your life?

I was born in New Brighton on Merseyside, near Lea­sowe where they had sand rac­ing on the beach. When we were kids we used to run across the golf course to go and watch. I was about 15 when I thought to my­self, ‘I could do a bit of this’ so I bought my­self a BSA and went sand rac­ing. Then I was straight into road bikes, and I must’ve got through about 30 in those first few years, all sorts of Bri­tish bikes. But my first ex­pe­ri­ence with a Ja­panese bike was when I was 17 and work­ing for Bill Smith Mo­tors. This guy brought in a Honda CB450 Black Bomber and I took it for a test ride and it blew me away.

How did you get into rac­ing?

I never in­tended to race, it all came about just by chance. One Satur­day in 1969 I was work­ing in a car shop and this lad came in look­ing for parts for his Mini. I had the parts he was look­ing for at home, and he said ‘when I sell my race bike I’ll have them off you.’ And I said, ‘race bike?’ And that was that. We swapped the Mini parts for the race bike, a Honda CB72, and I went rac­ing. Then it all just snow­balled from there.

How far did you go with rac­ing?

I did Bri­tish championship stuff then I went to GPS – the ‘con­ti­nen­tal cir­cus’, as they called it. My best re­sult was a fourth at the 1977 Bri­tish GP – the 350cc class, against peo­ple like Her­ron, Ekerold and Balling­ton. Then in 1978 I got a fac­tory Jawa 250, but that year at the Span­ish GP at Jarama I got hit from be­hind by Vir­gino Fer­rari on my 500 and broke my shoul­der badly, and that put my ca­reer on hold. It was at that point that I re­alised I wasn’t go­ing to reach that goal of be­ing a fac­tory Grand Prix rider, so the TT be­came more my thing. I had lots of podi­ums and I won the 1975 pro­duc­tion TT with Char­lie Wil­liams on the Honda 500. I also rode fac­tory Hon­das at the Bol d’or with Ron Chan­dler – two rid­ers for a 24-hour race! I also rode and crashed Mike Hail­wood’s 1978 Tt-win­ning Du­cati – I was his team-mate at Sports Mo­tor­cy­cles, but I crashed the bike on oil later that year!

What do you ride on the road now?

I’ve got an MT-09 which I take tour­ing. Whitham, Macken­zie, Moody and me usu­ally go for a ride around Scot­land every summer, where we just ter­rorise the coun­try­side and have a good laugh but I couldn’t make it this year.

What else is in your garage?

I’m an avid col­lec­tor of Yamaha TZS and I’ve got a TR2, TZ350A, a TZ250E, a TZ250G, a pair of Max­ton TZ350S, a TZ250U, TZ250W, a TZ250 4PD, a TZ750A, TZ750E, and a 1989 Honda RS250. I’ve built a new TZ350 with a Bill Simp­son frame, and Su­per­stock rider Leon Jea­cock is rid­ing it for me. They’re my pen­sion – lit­er­ally, be­cause when I fin­ished rac­ing I walked straight into a job with Pirelli, and then after 20 years or so they asked me whether I wanted to take my pen­sion as a lump sum or reg­u­lar pay­ments, so I thought ooh I’ll take the money thanks, and went out and bought some mo­tor­bikes!

Is there a bike that you haven’t got that you’d re­ally like?

That thing that Bruce An­stey rides, the Yamaha YZR500 V4. If you watch how Bruce rides it, he rides it like it’s a road bike, and he al­ways has this mas­sive smile on his face when he gets off.

Roberts back in the day. These days he has a cou­ple of Max­ton TZ350S in the garage

1978 Sports Mo­tor­cy­cles Du­cati ‘I was Hail­wood’s team-mate’

Spencer’s NSR ‘Best bike I’ve ever rid­den’

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