‘We wear helmets now, our heads are getting softer’
Exhaust legend Igor Akrapovič on racing, wheelies and his riding heroes
Q1. What are you currently riding?
I haven’t been riding much at all in the last two years because of a knee injury. But I do own and ride a Ducati Diavel. I love that bike. I’ll be back on it next year. Of course, it has an Akrapovič exhaust on it.
Q2. Which living motorcyclist do you most admire?
Giacomo Agostini is my all-time favourite rider. I remember watching him racing. What unbelievable memories.
Q3. What’s your worst riding habit?
I rode a bit too fast when I was young. I did some crazy things. But that’s old history. And it was a lot easier to ride like that because we’d get away without using licence plates and the police couldn’t catch us anyway.
Q4. If you could have one riding super skill, what would it be?
I wasn’t very good in wet conditions back when I used to race. I raced for 12 years but was just never very good in the rain.
Q5. What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on a bike?
310kmph (193mph), it was on a Suzuki 1100 turned into a 1260 with a Kawasaki frame, what a crazy bike. A dangerous thing, really.
Q6. When were you last scared on a bike?
There were some circuits in the old Yugoslavia which were incredibly dangerous. It was so bad that I refused to ride at Slavonska Požega.
Q7. How many miles have you done in the last year?
Not a lot, because of the knee injury. I had a complete reconstruction of the knee.
Q8. What’s the highest mileage you’ve covered in one day?
1000km (around 600 miles). That’s because we used to have races over in Macedonia and I’d ride there on my MZ 250.
Q9. What irritates you most while you’re on a bike?
Traffic. Years ago it was easy to go fast, now it has to be on a race track.
Q10. You’ve got two weeks off: where are you going?
Somewhere hot, Namibia, Croatia, Crete, Greece. I love hot weather. I’m a big fan of global warming, it’s just not happening fast enough. You know, in Great Britain I’m sure you’d love another 5 degrees more… I’m just kidding, of course.
Q11. Got one pearl of wisdom for new riders?
Well, for a racer I would say to be so careful with contracts, which bikes to ride and how to secure their future. Back then it was if you’re fast you could get a factory ride. Now it’s all about managers and lawyers.
Q12. Ever fallen off while trying to show off?
Not really, I was always good at wheelies so I never had a problem with that. The Kawasaki 500 two-stroke was a great wheelie bike. Actually, the best wheelie bike at that time.
Q13. Do you have one indispensable item of kit?
I guess it’s the proper clothing. When we were young we didn’t wear helmets, but now our heads are getting softer.
Q14. Which four people would you invite on a Sunday blast?
My wife and some close friends. We have some real heroes in the company, older guys who are so fast.
Q15. Do you have a tool you couldn’t live without? Nope. Q16. Do you adjust your suspension?
Yes, absolutely. I always rework the suspension. I used to make all of my own changes including rake and trail. If you wanted to go fast into a corner you needed to do this yourself.
Q17. If you could have one old bike back, which would it be?
Definitely the Kawasaki 500, I remember seeing that three-cylinder two-stroke when I was 15 and thinking it was unbelievable.
Q18. What type of machine would you never buy?
Q19. Which road (or track) would you have built on your desert island?
My favourite track is Grobnik in Croatia.
Q20. If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?
More relaxed speed limits on the motorways.
‘We’d get away without licence plates and the police couldn’t catch us’
Igor remembers traffic-free roads and lid-free heads Igor Akrapovič with a four-into-one full system back in 1991