Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

Steve Wheat­man is no stranger to ex­otic Grand Prix ma­chines, but of all the bikes in his mouth-wa­ter­ing col­lec­tion, the story be­hind the RGV500R’s pur­chase is some­thing else.

“It was 9am on New Year’s Day”, ex­plained Steve. “The phone rang and I heard this guy putting on a funny ac­cent, try­ing to flog me a bike. It had to be a wind-up, but the more the guy chat­ted the more I re­alised it wasn’t one of my mates still drunk from the night be­fore. It turned out to be Kenny Roberts se­nior, call­ing from the States and of­fer­ing to sell me his son’s GP-win­ning ’99 RGV. What could I say, other than how much did he want for it? He told me the sober­ing fig­ure, but it was never go­ing to be cheap. I said okay, sorted the fi­nances and be­fore I knew it I’d added some­thing pretty ex­cep­tional into my col­lec­tion.

“It was ab­so­lutely im­mac­u­late. At the end of the 1999 sea­son the Suzuki tech­ni­cians com­pletely stripped and over­hauled the RGV be­fore pre­sent­ing it to Kenny ju­nior as a gift. From that day for­ward it had never turned a wheel, un­til I got hold of it. I’m not one for park­ing bikes up out of sight and leav­ing them to col­lect dust. It was a priv­i­lege to be­come the owner of the Suzuki, and equally as spe­cial to ac­tu­ally ride it. We don’t use these bikes all the time, be­cause you can soon wear them out, but I’m so glad that it ac­tu­ally gets used on oc­ca­sion. Peo­ple who ride it al­ways say that they love it. It’s to­tally orig­i­nal, and it’s prob­a­bly the most tech­ni­cally bril­liant bike in my col­lec­tion. It’s some­thing else.”

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