My life in bikes: Martin Brundle

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‘I went from a moped to a 500 GP missile’

eteran of 158 Formula 1 races and Le Mans 24-hour winner now F1 commentator for Sky, Martin Brundle reveals his unconventional biking background


When did you start riding?
It’s a weird story to be honest. I had a Garelli moped when I was 16 but I was always a car man. I’d been racing since I was 12 doing grass track in Norfolk and went straight to cars because we had a car dealership. My dad was happy for me to do anything but he was never too keen on me riding a bike because he had so many close calls on his bike. He used to have an Ariel Square Four and all sorts of BSAs and the like. He threw one down the road with my mum on the back once, so he didn’t want me riding. That’s why I got more into cars.

But you got to ride a Roberts Yamaha in 1994?
It sounds completely ridiculous, but I was in Barcelona filming for Marlboro and Randy Mamola was there with his Yamaha 500. Gil de Ferran was there with the second McLaren and there was a crazy guy called Wolff flying a helicopter. We were making a simulator game where every time the bike went under the old bridge on the start/finish straight the F1 car would come out the other side. It was three days of filming and at the end of it Randy was saying ‘Can I get a go in the car, and you have a go on the bike?’ So I called the factory and asked if Randy could have a quick go around in the car and the factory said ‘no’ and I said to him ‘Sorry mate, I guess that means that I can’t have a go on the bike?’ But Randy said it was no problem and he stepped out of his leathers and his boots and handed them to me. I’m still not actually sure how I managed to fit into them because I’m three or four inches taller than Randy but I managed to get into them and the next minute I was riding down the pitlane on a 500cc Grand Prix bike! It was the first thing that I’d ridden since my Garelli!

First Bike
Ducati 916
‘I bought a 916, then got sensible’

After that did the motorcyclingbug bite deep?
Yeah, I absolutely loved it and I went back home and – like all the F1 drivers did – bought a Ducati 916. Then I got a bit more sensible and decided that I wanted to go a bit further with a rucksack on my back and with a bit less weight on my wrists so I bought a Triumph Sprint. Then I had an FJR1300 which was a really good bike, then I got a bumblebee K1200S (the black and yellow one), then I had a K1200GT and now I’ve got the K1600GT, which is a mega piece of kit.

What’s next on your shopping list?
I quite fancy getting a collection together. I’m looking for an SP2, I’ve really got the hots for one of them at the moment. I had a go on an RC30 in the US at one point and I thought that it was a lovely piece of kit but the prices have gone stratospheric for them now. I’ve a feeling that I’ll buy the SP2 because the K1600GT is a lot of fun, but for going around Norfolk it’s a bit big and heavy. It’s been a slightly reversed way of going about biking but I love it and I’ll ride to Silverstone, Spa and Monza on the bike next year. Last year I went to Austria via Le Mans and I loved the long trip but the trouble is that I’m away so much that I can’t get to ride as much as I want to.

Current Bike
‘The K1600GT is a mega piece of kit’

What attracts you to riding bikes?
It’s just that it’s the fastest way to get from A to B and you’ve got an almost guaranteed journey time. I think that if you look a bit serious with a big tourer and panniers, the police don’t seem to mind you being on the road. It seems to me that it’s when you’ve got the big exhaust or the purple headlight covers that they target you more. I don’t think that there’s anything quicker on the road than a bike.

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