I DROPPED A K1200 LT. IT WAS MAS­SIVE

As The Grand Tour kicks off, TV’S Ham­mond an­swers the RE­ALLY big ques­tions Q17.

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Tim Thomp­son HEAD OF CON­TENT

Q1. What are you rid­ing?

My BMW R1200RT. It’s 130 miles from home to the of­fice and, when you have a dis­tance to do, its com­fort, weather pro­tec­tion and low cen­tre of grav­ity are un­beat­able. I pile the miles on it.

Q2. Which liv­ing mo­tor­cy­clist do you most ad­mire?

A des­patch rider I saw the other day. I thought I was good at fil­ter­ing but this guy… my god. He was a great one to fol­low.

Q3. What’s your worst habit?

When the roads are bor­ing, I have been known to pop the RT’S cruise con­trol on, turn up the stereo and have a go with my elec­tronic cig­a­rette. And over­tak­ing cars with kids in when the cruise con­trol is on is great fun.

Q4. If you could have one su­per power, what would it be?

When the back wheel breaks away I still, af­ter 30 years rid­ing, as­sume it’s time to bail. So drift­ing would be magic.

Q5. What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on a bike?

I max’d a Busa when they first came out. So close to 200mph in those days.

Q6. When were you last scared?

A cou­ple of week­ends ago I was rid­ing a ’56 Bon­nie (US spec) on a beau­ti­ful set of bends to­wards Led­bury (it’s part of my route) and as I started brak­ing I re­alised that a) I was brak­ing far too late, ob­vi­ously, and b) that I was car­ry­ing too much speed even for a 916, let alone an old Tri­umph. The front end was all over the place…

Q7. How many miles have you done in the last year?

God knows be­cause I’ve rid­den so many bikes, but I’d say be­tween 15,000 and 20,000. Some weeks I ride ev­ery day and oth­ers, when I’m stay­ing in Lon­don or trav­el­ling, not at all.

Q8. What’s the high­est mileage you’ve cov­ered in one day?

Re­turn­ing from the south of France on a GSX-R750WP. Great bike. We’d got all the way back to Lake District and my mate on a GPZ600 stuck it un­der a car on the last bend of whole ride.

Q9. What ir­ri­tates you most when you are out rid­ing?

When peo­ple in­con­ve­nience them­selves just to in­con­ve­nience me. So it’s rain­ing and I just want to get the hell out of Lon­don. I’m fil­ter­ing and they close the door. They make all that ef­fort just to in­con­ve­nience me. What have they gained from that?

Q10. You’ve got two weeks off: where are you go­ing?

Scot­land. I did a tour of the north-west high­lands and is­lands and it was ut­terly beau­ti­ful. And I wouldn’t mind do­ing big old grown-up ad­ven­ture on a bike some­where in Africa.

Q11. Got one pearl of wis­dom for new rid­ers?

Ride on the ba­sis that ev­ery­one is try­ing to kill you. What, you thought they weren’t go­ing to pull out on you?

Q12. Ever fallen off in a car park (or some­where equally em­bar­rass­ing)?

I dropped a BMW K1200LT when they first came out. It was mas­sive. The first bike I’d rid­den with a stereo. I pulled away from a petrol sta­tion, mu­sic on, and it stalled. Couldn’t hold it on my leg… and it went over. Peo­ple were laugh­ing out loud. Hoot­ing. It took four peo­ple to pick it up.

Q13. Do you have one in­dis­pens­able item of kit?

I bought a mas­sively ex­pen­sive Rukka suit 10 years ago and even when the rain is hor­i­zon­tal I still don’t get wet. I don’t want to sound like the tosser off the TV with too much money with all the best kit but there’s no get­ting round it – there are some things that are ex­pen­sive be­cause they re­ally work.

Q14. Which four peo­ple would you invite on a Sun­day blast?

My younger brother Nick. We ride to the Lakes ev­ery year. Plus the guy who taught me to fly he­li­copters be­cause the last time I rode with him my cus­tomised Har­ley de­vel­oped a mas­sive tankslap­per, threw him off and broke his col­lar­bone. Foggy is in­vited, but he has to play nice – I think he would – and I’d invite my old mate Al Clarke who doesn’t even ride bikes any more but he’s the guy I rode to France with 150 years ago. We’d be a rag­tag bunch.

Q15. Do you have a tool you couldn’t live with­out?

It’s ac­tu­ally a moun­tain bike multi-tool but it’s al­ways in the ruck­sack.

Q16. Do you ad­just your sus­pen­sion?

No. I’m not a big track­day fiend so, to be hon­est, I’d be wast­ing my time.

If you could have just one of your old ma­chines back, which would it be?

My old Gixxer 750 WP. It wasn’t the best but it meant so much to me. One day I woke up and re­alised I had noth­ing left in the cup­board, no room on my credit card – no choice. So I dragged it out of the lock up where it was hid­ing in the cor­ner, rode it around Ac­cring­ton and sold it to who­ever would give me the most. Broke my heart.

Q18. What would you never buy?

I would have said a scooter but I’ve been rid­ing a Vespa in Lon­don re­cently and it’s bloody bril­liant.

Q19. Which road (or track) would you build on your desert is­land?

I’d have to de­sign a road that in­cludes the Hon­is­ter Pass in the Lake District, which isn’t the best bik­ing road but it is glo­ri­ous, plus I’d in­clude some lo­cal roads to me out through Ross-on-wye.

Q20. If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?

If I was be­ing a b*****d I’d say: ‘If you haven’t got a li­cence by the time you’re 17-and-a-half you’re banned.’ Mo­tor­cy­cling isn’t just some­thing to talk about in the pub, it isn’t a cheap Fer­rari. It should be some­thing that ob­sesses you, that you dream about, that you try to as good as you can be at do­ing. It’s bliss­ful and needs to be pre­served.

‘Peo­ple were laugh­ing out loud. Hoot­ing. It took four peo­ple to pick it up’

Ham­monds’ ad­vice… never ride an old Bon­nie into a cor­ner at 916 ve­loc­ity

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