2009 F1 champion talks customs, Monaco commuting and bike escapism...
When did you start riding?
I actually only did my bike licence five years ago because before that when I was younger my parents didn’t want me to ride a bike. I think that they were correct to not want me riding a bike because if I had have been riding a motorcycle at a young age I’d have been a nightmare! Starting to ride when I was 30 was probably the best time for me because I’m a little bit more cautious with things and I’ve a lot to lose now. It meant that I was also able to enjoy riding for what it is rather than just towing everyone around absolutely flat out!
What’s in your garage?
The first bike that I bought was a Harley-Davidson from Warrs in London, it’s a custom bike and it’s absolutely stunning. Then I had another bike made for me, again by Warrs, that was in the colour schemes of the old McLarens and it’s got a bigger rear wheel and a bigger engine with about 140 horsepower. Every single bit on it is custom and it was a lot of fun to be a part of the build. I was in every other week to check up on what was being done and that was really cool. I also bought an 1199 Panigale but that’s only done 40km. I bought it in 2012 and I’ve only gone to the shops twice on it down in Monaco! I had a Multistrada for a while, too. The Panigale’s got a dead battery now, so it’s stuck in the garage, and that’s probably the best place for it because I’d hurt myself on it! I’m about to take delivery of a CB1000R which I’m really looking forward to. The CB is awesome because it’s easy to ride, I can get my missus on the back of it and it’s nice and comfortable. It might sound silly but it’s actually easier to ride around Monaco than a scooter and it’s perfect for the hills here too. It’ll be a lot of fun getting out there on it.
What drew you to bikes?
I know what I’m doing in a car and it’s easier to find its limits. On a bike there’s only a few people in the world that can find the absolute limit of a bike before falling off. It’s very exciting but I’d never push a bike to that limit because I don’t have that ability or the skills to do that. For me it’s amazing to get away from everything and go to the hills and there’s some beautiful rides that I can take where there aren’t any cars at all. I think that a lot of people in the South of France buy a bike because it’s easier for getting around but for me it’s because I can get away from everyone. My life is very hectic, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but sometimes you need to get away from that. Riding is my chance to get away from everything and just enjoy the flow of the roads. I’m still amazed that you can strap that much power between your legs, get a licence and go out and ride. As long as you’re doing it in a safe manner it’s a great way to get a buzz and see the world.
What’s next on the shopping list after the CB1000R?
I’m looking forward to the CB, I’ve ridden one before and ordered it quite a while ago so I can’t wait to start using that. That’ll be my A-to-B bike but beyond that I’ve not got any plans at the moment. I like custom bikes and café racers, scramblers and I like those because I won’t ride them too quick. I’ve know a couple of guys that make customs in the UK and in Australia and I like that you can have something unique. Pintrest is good for following what custom bike builders are doing and getting ideas, so I follow a lot of the guys on there. With the CB for daily duties, and the Panigale ticking the superbike role, I expect I’ll get something customised if I add any more bikes to the garage.
Photos: Rex Features