Practical Sportsbikes (UK)
Long-forgotten former racer crawls out of retirement to assist son in minitwin season
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