My life in bikes; John Reynolds

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‘I blew my bike to bits after just four outings’

rom dirty beginnings to three BSB titles and aerial acrobatics


Have you always been into bikes?
Yes, my uncle Tom was Scottish motocross champion on a works DOT, and after my dad John came back from WWII he raced bikes, so I was taken to my first race meeting at Mallory Park at six months old.

When did you start riding?
I pestered my dad for ages to get me a bike and he finally built me one when I was eight years old. It started out as a little Honda 50 step-thru before dad modified it. Then he got me a little Suzuki 80 and modified that for me to go racing on. You couldn’t buy bikes for kids then – you had to build your own.

What was your first road bike?
I got a Suzuki AP50 when I turned 16 and then passed my test on a Suzuki A100. I had already bought a Honda CB900F so as soon I passed my test I jumped straight on that.

When did you start racing?
I raced motocross until I was 19 but became disillusioned because I wasn’t really getting anywhere and realised I’d never be a world champion! My absolute dream was to try road racing but I couldn’t afford it. Then I realised we still had one of my dad’s old vintage race bikes in the back of the garage – a Velocette 250 MOV. I thought that would be a really cheap way to go racing but how wrong I was! It really split the family up too because my mum was determined that I wouldn’t go road racing – she’d been around it too much and seen too many people hurt and killed. But I stood by my guns and started road racing in 1987.

How did it go?
The bike blew itself to bits in only my fourth outing but I had already won a race so my dad saw my potential and loaned me the money to go and buy a Yamaha 350 power valve. I picked that bike because Ron Haslam had given me some great advice: “Don’t race anything you can’t afford to fix!”

BSB Champion
2004 Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000
‘My title-winning bike was best I rode’

What was your career highlight?
Well, my three BSB titles were all very special but as a one-off highlight it would have to be winning a World Superbike round at Brands Hatch in 2000 as a wildcard on a Ducati 996.

Do you still ride on the road?
Yes, but not much. I do testing and ride-outs for Suzuki so that gets me out there, but I don’t own a road bike.

What was the best bike you raced?
Whenever you win a championship, the bike you won it on always feels like the best bike you ever rode! But I’d have to say the Suzuki GSX-R1000 I won the BSB title on in 2004 was probably the best. I rode the GSX-R again in 2005 but was badly injured so I don’t have such fond memories of that year!

Have you helped Suzuki develop the new GSX-R1000 L7?
Yes, I’ve been involved in that but can’t really say too much about it. It’s involved some trips to Japan and I’ve really enjoyed it because you have to ride fast but there’s not the same pressure on you as there is in racing.

Flying high
2009 Guinot Aerobatic wing walk
‘I’m a pilot but I’d never do this again’

What do you do with your time now?
I was floundering for a bit when I stopped racing, but I do stuff with Suzuki, although that’s not a full-time job, so I’m also involved in property as a landlord and property developer.

Do you still fly aeroplanes?
I’ve sold my aeroplane now but I still do a lot of flying with other pilots who are all really good. I wasn’t flying my plane enough to justify keeping it. I worked out that it had cost me £1000 per hour to fly it the last year I had it!

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