Practical Sportsbikes (UK)

Mark Forsyth:

Long-forgotten former racer crawls out of retirement to assist son in minitwin season

- Mark Forsyth

Former PB chair-warmer MF makes an appearance with son Adam, who’s racing an SV650

A s a caring and dutiful parent, I’ve made it my duty to steer young Adam away from racing for pretty much his entire life on the basis that it’s dangerous, and he’s my son. He has protested, fairly frequently.

That said he hasn’t been bike-starved for his entire 23 years. He first rode a bike before he could even string a sentence together and he’s ridden a pretty wide variety of stuff since – mainly at maximum possible velocity. But actually going racing? Not a chance, son.

But a recent wobble in his normally steely well-being caused by the utterly wretched feeling of losing the job and independen­ce he loved (yep, that COVID factor) brought the topic up for debate.

Racing was the feel-good tonic he needed, and I didn’t take much persuading and. Perhaps more amazingly, neither did his mother. As far as I was concerned (focusing only on the positives) racing not only teaches you to plan and strategize, but also to budget, organize, and understand time management [It didn’t work for you though MF, did it? –

CN]. It’s also a really good pressure cooker environmen­t in which to acquaint yourself with managing stress, people and emotions. And my risk blinkers are firmly in place.

So, back in the post-lockdown summer the pair of us embarked on some intelligen­ce gathering, nosing round paddocks, chatting, wasting other people’s time, basically.

The minitwin paddock, irrespecti­ve of which club, is chock-full of friendly, helpful, and seemingly sensible individual­s. This is probably because it’s a very accessible class in which to learn your race craft.

Simple concept: Take a middle of the road, tame and practical sportsbike, chuck some decent suspension, a shouty pipe, and some sticky tyres on it, and go racing. And while you’re at it, ban any engine tuning, and police

this by putting the winners on a post-race dyno. 72bhp is the limit. You don’t have to run a Suzuki SV650 (an ER6 Kwak does the job) but practicall­y everyone runs an SV because they’re the way to go.

And why wouldn’t you? They’ve been around in one form or another since the last century, they’re bullet proof, cheap as Maccy D’s fries, and a hoot to ride. Their ubiquity is no coincidenc­e and the packed-full grids no surprise either.

Fortunatel­y we also knew where there was a really nicely sorted SV minitwin owned by a mate who was anything but mini-sized himself. The tempting lure of a physically larger CBR600RR was enough to coax the

SV into our ownership. And, let’s be realistic, what’s not to love about an £1800 scrutineer­ready race bike?

A cheeky Phil Bevan track day at the tricky Pembrey circuit in South Wales taught us two things. One: Adam is already faster than me. And Two: it’s definitely the right bike and the right time to go racing. The No Limits race club was dutifully joined, and an entry for a Cadwell Park full circuit meeting swiftly stuck in the post.

I’ll spare you the Motocross Dad-style race report from Adam’s first race meeting… but we had a great laugh, learned a lot, met some great like-minded folk, and notched a couple of top tens from a 40-strong grid. Oh, and home in one piece – not via Hull Royal Infirmary. Goal!

Donington, the month after… er, not quite the same success story, as you can probably spot from the pictures. On a way more positive note we can wholeheart­edly recommend Shark Helmets, Arlen Ness leathers, and the friendline­ss of the Donington Park medical centre staff.

More about that promising, but ultimately disappoint­ing weekend (back in October), and more about what we’re doing to the bike in next month’s PS.

I’LL SPARE YOU THE MOTOCROSS DAD STYLE RACE REPORT FROM THE MEETING... BUT WE HAD A GREAT LAUGH, LEARNED A LOT, MET SOME GREAT FOLK, AND NOTCHED A COUPLE OF TOP TENS

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Adam fully down with the concept of standing around and letting the old boy do it all
Adam fully down with the concept of standing around and letting the old boy do it all
 ??  ?? K-tech’d forks now behaving like forks should
K-tech’d forks now behaving like forks should
 ??  ?? New front fairing mount by SES of Snetterton
New front fairing mount by SES of Snetterton
 ??  ?? World’s biggest crash bungs preserved the big, important, expensive bits. More on order, naturally
World’s biggest crash bungs preserved the big, important, expensive bits. More on order, naturally
 ??  ?? Adam is laughing at the old man. Not with him
Adam is laughing at the old man. Not with him
 ??  ?? They might well be needing a few more of these
They might well be needing a few more of these
 ??  ?? Power Commander now properly dialled-in
Power Commander now properly dialled-in
 ??  ?? Highside at Donington in the wet did this. Oh...
Highside at Donington in the wet did this. Oh...
 ??  ?? Luckily, can escaped serious injury in the incident
Luckily, can escaped serious injury in the incident
 ??  ?? Subframe was also knackered in the crash. OK...
Subframe was also knackered in the crash. OK...

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