Road Test Supremo Michael Neeves landed one of the plummest jobs of the year a few weeks ago, he got to get out on the cream of the MotoGP machinery at Valencia. Sitting round a beer down the pub Neevesie was reminiscing about what was the stand-out points for each bike in turn. Here’s his blog about what sticks in the grey matter more than anything else…
"I spent what could possibly be the best six days of earlier this year and it’s really taken until now to sort my head out enough about it to realise that: a – not a dream and: b - there are some serious memories that stand out about the trip above all else.
We flew out to Valencia to ride each of the five factory MotoGP bikes: Nicky Hayden’s RC211V, Troy Bayliss’s race-winning Desmosedici, Rossi’s M1, Vermeulen’s GSV-R and Nakano’s ZX-RR.
The big surprise for me, and one of those major memory points that still remain was just how much fun the Suzuki was to ride.
Such a beautifully powerful but user-friendly engine, and such epic handling that I could have stayed out on the track until the fuel ran out. It’s as shame they pulled me in after five laps.
A handful of laps was all I wanted on the Kawasaki; it was brutal – all wheelies and an ear-splitting exhaust racket.
It’s just like I’d imagine a 500 would be to ride. Scary.
The Honda was simply breathtaking, the Ducati like a 999 on steroids and of course there’s Rossi’s M1.
I couldn’t believe I’d even got to ride it; the thing that I remember most was how good damn roomy it was!
All these bikes are heavily controlled by electronics to make them more user-friendly for the riders.
The thing is that the bikes were toned down for us to ride. The M1 and Desmosedici actually felt flat in the first three gears, the GSV-R a bit quicker, the RC211V a bit quicker still, and the ZX-RR just mental.
It would be interesting to see just what the bikes are like with their proper race set-ups.
Maybe the Yamaha is as brutal as the Kawasaki when Rossi rides it, who knows?
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Not only did I get to see the race and ride the bikes, there were some notable names there test riding too like Alex Criville, Kevin Magee, Kevin Schwantz, Randy Mamola, Didier de Radigues, Capirossi’s Dad, Rossi’s mate Uccio, Cal Crutchlow, Leon Camier, Ryuichi Kiyonari and James Toseland.
For the two days after the race finished the pit lane was like one of those bike rental moped places you see on holiday; stacked with bikes. Except these were MotoGP bikes not mopeds and the riders.
GP Gods rather than sunburned tourists.
There were factory bikes everywhere with lines of people queuing up to have a go; it was surreal.
Add to that the sight of Kenny Roberts Junior and Senior pulling wheelies around the track on their KR Hondas, John Hopkins in a Formula One car, Kenny senior on Casey Stoner’s LCR Honda and the whole spectacle was like an exotic adrenalin-filled multi-million dollar two-wheeled carnival.
I even popped into the circuit the following day to see the 800s testing before getting a flight home. Amazing.
This time four years ago I working as a salesman selling signs for shops, and now thanks to winning this job as a road tester in MCN (in the Road Test Idol competition) I’m living the biking dream.
I’m still pinching myself now.