When Bike Swaps Go Bad. No 3: John Hopkins

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2007 Suzuki GSV-R to 2008 Kawasaki ZX-RR

ohn Hopkins, once dubbed the new Kevin Schwantz, was doing well at Suzuki in 2007: four rostrums sealed fourth in the world. And he upped and left for Kawasaki.

What a disaster. It started with an unequal struggle then turned into a train of injuries, and precipitated a downward slide in both career and personal life that the rejuvenated Hopper is doing well at reversing in BSB.

“At that stage, I felt I needed to freshen things up. I felt ‘how cool would it be to take a bike that isn’t proven to be that great, and put it at the front right away’? I felt confident we were going to be able to do that.”

He was second at Valencia on the Suzuki at season’s end, then came the post-season tests. “The next day I’m on the Kawasaki. And I never felt more uncomfortable on a bike.”

It was tiny. And in spite of all the promises, it never changed much. “My knees would get stuck on my elbows. I lost the front at least six times by locking my elbow on to my knee.”

A string of increasingly serious injuries meant Hopper dropped from fourth in the world to 16th, and next year Kawasaki pulled the plug on the team.

Words Michael Scott  Photos 2Snap, Gold and Goose

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