Interview: Triumph test rider Felipe Lopez reveals all
We catch up with Felipe Lopez, Triumph test rider and member of the 2017 Street Triple’s development team to find out a bit about his life on two wheels at the moment.
1. What are you riding?
"Triumph Scrambler. I love it. I think it’s something really special."
2.Which living motorcyclist do you most admire?
"I wasn’t a big fan of Rossi at the beginning of his career when everybody liked him, but now I really appreciate what he is doing. I am really surprised and I love what he is proving at his age."
3. What’s your worst habit?
"Maybe I ride faster than I should. We spend our days riding at high speed on the track. Going back to the normal road and maintaining the limit, if you’re not concentrating, can be difficult."
4. If you could have one riding super skill, what would it be?
"I bought my daughter and son a Scalextric for Christmas. I love the way the cars can maintain a really high speed in the corners. If we were able to do this on a bike that would be fantastic – 200mph in a tight corner."
5. What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on a bike?
"I was doing high-speed tests for Dunlop on a GSX-R1000. The speedo only read to 300kmh but the bike was pulling faster. The real speed was probably 295 [183mph] but I had to maintain it for 14 miles on a part oval/part straight track. The bends were about a 600m radius that really strain your neck. Argh. Fortunately I don’t do this kind of test anymore."
6. When were you last scared?
"This summer going to work at 6am, I found a group of wild boars on the road in a corner. The only way to avoid an impact was to ride into a ditch. I chose the ditch."
7. How many miles have you done in the last year?
"Between Monday and Friday, about 300 miles a week. Let’s calculate [Felipe gets out his calculator]: maybe about 16,000 miles. Minus a few holidays."
8. What’s the highest mileage you’ve covered in one day?
9. You’ve got two weeks off: where are you going?
"I will take a break from riding with my family. I like to use my push bike downhill and the Spanish Alps is one of the best places to do that."
10. What irritates you most?
"Probably bad road conditions that can put you in trouble."
11. Got one pearl of wisdom for new riders?
"The road is very dangerous, honestly. My father, who is an ex-racer, bought my brother and me a bike for track use before he allowed us on the road. Only after we spent years on the track did he allow us to have a street bike."
12. Ever fallen off in a car park (or somewhere equally embarrassing)?
"I was racing at Cartegena and had a brake problem on the warm up lap. I crashed before I even arrived at the start."
13. Do you have one indispensable item of kit?
"I have some Garibaldi leathers that are really old but which I like a lot. They’re a Catalan brand. They don’t have air bags or anything but I am so comfortable in them that I every time I can, I use them. And I still fit in them!"
14. Which four people would you invite on a Sunday blast?
"I think I will call my brother and two friends. Last summer we crossed the Pyrenees – all the mountains off road over five days, 800 miles overall, and it was probably the best trip I’ve done on a motorcycle so I’d bring them. The fourth person would be my wife but unfortunately, even after all my efforts, she doesn’t have a bike licence."
15. Do you have a tool you couldn’t live without?
"Someone once told me that even a hammer, if you use correctly, is one of the most useful tools."
16. Do you adjust your suspension?
"Yes I do. Every day. I have to try dif- ferent things for work."
17. If you could have one old bike back, which would it be?
"I would try to get my Yamaha TZR250. That was the first bike that my father bought for me for the track in 1990."
18. What would you never buy?
"I’d never buy a one-off custom."
19. Which track would you have built on your desert island?
"Autopolis in Kumamoto, Japan. It’s on a very high mountain and there are a lot of slopes and drops."
20. If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?
"Everyone would be able to enjoy themselves without restrictions."