MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Blessed by nature?
The third of our four Hall of Fame blogs examines the dazzling skills of the so-called natural riders: Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz and Casey Stoner
People often talk about naturally talented bike racers, but does such a thing as natural talent to ride a motorcycle actually exist?
It seems unlikely. Our distant ancestor homo erectus lived 1.9 million years ago, while the motorcycle, in any useful form, arrived a little over a hundred years ago, which works out as 0.005 percent of mankind’s time on earth. It doesn’t seem possible that in such a short time a gene might exist that allows some of us to control machinery better than others.
Of course, some people do have superior hand-to-eye coordination, spatial awareness, bravery and so on, but the riders we believe to be blessed with natural talent for riding motorcycle actually have nothing of the sort.
There is, however, something that unites all the greatest so-called natural talents: a childhood spent hooning around on minibikes. And possibly none more so than Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner and Kevin Schwantz.
All three of these men seemed beyond mortal when they raced. They were capable of doing things on a motorcycle that would make even their greatest rivals blink and gulp in awe. (I use the past tense for Stoner, because he is a retired racer until he says otherwise.)
Spencer was like that on Honda’s superb NS500 triple in the early 1980s, sliding the front and rear tyres, modulating the throttle to increase or decrease load and grip to the front and rear as he deemed appropriate.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.