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If you wanted to be as close to the race winner as possible, in what era of GP500/MotoGP racing do you think you'd be best off? And why?

 

Personally, I believe I could be lapped the least amount of times if I rode in the old times, in the 1950s. Yes, the bikes were horrible and the roads and tracks even more so. But I'm pretty decent under such conditions, I like to believe, and also the lower limits of the bikes means that speeds are lower, so more time to read the road and so on.

 

But perhaps I'm kidding myself?

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No, I think you're on the right track, considering the amount of technology and knowledge we now have about riding, thanks in no small part to Keith, you'd have a better grasp on technique than a lot of the riders in those days who could ride fast, but not really be able to put their fingers on how how they did it.

 

I'm not suggesting in any way at all that it would be easy, but I think that's the era you'd have a better chance in.

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I know what you mean and it makes sense. With the speed and technical setup of today's machines, riders have to start racing as children so they can be prepared to race at MotoGP pace.

 

However I am curious if some of the faster members of our forum might go the other route though and pick the modern era since what we ride at the track today is such a high performance machine, would stepping back to the equipment of the past be too much for them to acclimate to? Personally I don't think I could handle riding on the rubber of those days. Of course you could put me on a modern machine in the old days and I would still be me (which is to say hopeless :P).

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I have a different take on this question. I have a race prepped track only Ducati and a Street Ducati in identical trim that I love to ride and I have raced the track Duc. I also have a 1968 Triumph T120R Bonneville that I fully restored and I can say without equivocation and they are worlds apart from each other. The Triumph is in bone stock trim with an 8" drum front brake and an Avon Speedmaster II 3.25x19" front tire with a smaller rear drum and a Dunlop Gold Seal 4.25 x 18" rear. About as historically accurate as you can get with an eastern USA Import model.

 

On a very spirited highway run and despite the excessive vibration and upright riding style I found myself "forgetting" what I was riding as I approached an off ramp way too hot. My training kicked in to avoid becoming overwhelmed by SR's but there was a lot of "concern" while I coaxed the old girl to hold a line and lean angle that seemed beyond her range. Not having reliable disc brakes or Q2's at a minimum was something that made me realize how difficult it must have been to race back in the time. "Slippery Sam" a somewhat historically significant 750 Triumph Trident was competitive beyond its time and must have been a handful for its riders in a way that make me glad that I track ride only contemporary bikes; ...but that's just me.

 

Rainman

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My angle, which could be incorrect since I have no means of testing it, is that back in the 1950s, a lap around IoM would be done at a speed between 90 and 100 mph. Now, considering the tyres and bikes from that time, that's pretty impressive.

 

Compare that to today's pace of more than 130 mph, and the picture for me becomes pretty clear - my limits would be dictated far more by my own fear and ability to learn and challenge the track than the bike, I believe. The speed itself would scare me well before the limits of a current bike could be reached.

 

I think it would be more difficult for me to cut a 100 mph lap on a modern 600 than it would be to do an 80 mph time on a bike from 1955. I say that based upon the fact that two journalists went around the island with an average of 77 mph on an XBR500 and an SRX-6 in ordinary traffic under less than ideal conditions back in 1985, and also knowing myself; I don't mind pushing a street bike from the 70s to its wobbly limits, scraping engine cases and throwing sparks, but I don't ride around the corners terribly much faster on a more modern bikes, despite the bike improvements.

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Kevin - Great example form the real world. I have much respect for riders of both era's, sometimes for different reasons.

 

Eirik - Thanks for the provocative question. I thought about this all day yesterday. It had me thinking about that old (and to me unanswerable question) as to who is the GOAT. Ago, Mike the Bike, The Doctor? Of course I came to no conclusion but I was pleasantly distracted all afternoon. :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a follow-up, I read an article by Eric Bostrom yesterday where he had tried several classic race bikes, dating from 1937 to 1993. He said that the 180hp YZF from 1993 was really difficult to ride compared to modern bikes with lumpy power delivery and the need of a delicate touch, whereas on current machines you can use the throttle much more freely. He also had lots of respect for those who raced way back when, because the bikes were much harder to ride when you began to push.

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I'd say today is when I'd have the best odds of keeping pace. With manufacturers all reaching near max potential of the engines provided and a standardized riding style that maximizes the tire capabilities, the bikes have never been more comparable than they are now. Not to mention the tires being very forgiving of any flaws the riders may have, where-as back then they had to be flat out good to control the bike. Electronics would allow me to start (launch control) and come out of corners (traction control) at a better pace than if I didn't have them. And I'd have similar power on the straights. I'd be dead if I had to actually be as good as the other riders on the track.

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