My life in bikes: Livio Suppo
Team Principal of HRC Honda’s MotoGP squad, Suppo talks Dominators, Africa Twins, and grabbing a ride on the mental NSR500 two-stroke.
What was your first bike?
I had my first bike when I was 11, but my first real bike was a Montesa Cota 49. I have ridden all my life, I did some motocross at the beginning and then some enduro racing in my local area, it was more the passion than the talent but it was enough to enjoy!
What are you riding now?
I have a 1988 Honda Dominator, totally modified – it’s inspired by a more motocross style. I really like it, even if I don’t use it much! When I worked at Ducati with Casey Stoner and he won the 2007 title I wanted to buy an old Ducati Scrambler, but then I thought at the end of the day it’d be a bike you’d never use as it’s difficult to start with poor brakes.
Then at Honda, when Casey won in 2012 I wanted to do a bike to celebrate this. I thought the Dominator was a good starting point because while it’s quite old, it already has an electric starter, disc brakes, a good chassis and on top of this it had some good memories for me as I had owned a Dominator back in 1988!
"I had the chance to do a few laps on Doohan’s NSR500"
Do you get to ride much?
Unfortunately, I do not ride much at all. I finished that bike at the end of 2012 and I think it now has 1000km (650 miles) on it so basically nothing. I’m 52 years old and have a family so when I am already always around motorbikes for my job, in my free time I prefer to spend with my family or go out riding on the bicycle.
What machines would you most like to buy for yourself?
At the moment I would like to buy two bikes, one is the new CRF450, the enduro version, and the other one I would like is the Africa Twin as it’s unbelievable how light it is when you ride it. It looks very big but as soon as you start it feels like an off-road bike. I’d like to try the DCT version as everybody says it’s great. Honestly too, it’s not just because I work for Honda but the some of the production bikes they build are something special. I find them very easy to ride. These days everybody seems to be looking for the top level of performance but at the end of the day we are human and there are very few humans who can ride that kind of bike, so for me something like the Africa Twin is great!
As a team boss it must be tempting to get out there on the race bikes…
I have not ridden the RCV! When I was younger, way back in 1995, I had the chance to do a few laps in Barcelona on Mick Doohan’s NSR500. The year after in 1996 in Eastern Creek, I did a few more laps on it and it was crazy. It was a really impressive bike. It was at a journalist test and I was able to ride it as a sponsor as at the time I was working for Benetton. I was really worried that I would stall it when the mechanics pushed me off and I just remember the feeling of the mechanic pushing me, jumping on the seat and then leaving the pitlane. And I was then surprised as the bike was really easy to ride at first but as the RPM went up it was like a rocket!