Kenny Roberts On The Yamaha M1: "I Liked My 500 A Whole Lot Better"

One of the more interesting side entertainments at last weekend's Laguna Seca MotoGP round was the return of King Kenny Roberts, who did a couple of demonstration laps on both his 1980 YZR500 and on a specially prepared Yamaha YZF-M1 MotoGP bike. After the ride, he spoke to a small group of (mainly Italian) journalists about the experience of riding the two bikes, and the comparison between the two. Fortunately, the select group of journalists included Jensen Beeler, editor of the excellent motorcycle website Asphalt & Rubber, and Jensen was gracious enough to share the audio of Kenny Roberts talking about the bikes with MotoMatters.com.

Roberts' comments offer a fascinating insight into the difference between the bikes from 30 years ago and the bikes of today, and the difficulties that each bike presents. Back in the late seventies and early eighties, Roberts suggested, you could compensate for a failure in bike setup by over-riding the bike, pushing it to do things it didn't want to do and sliding the bike to compensate. Modern MotoGP machines - exacerbated by electronics and the Bridgestone tires - will go about as fast as physics allowed. The old 500cc two strokes would allow room for creativity, but the modern bikes reward only one thing: complete precision. Where previously, running wide at a corner could be compensated, now, the difference between success and failure is hitting your lines to within a few centimeters. Over-riding a modern MotoGP machine will get you precisely nowhere, and is likely to either make you radically slower or leave you rolling through the gravel traps.

The bike that Roberts rode did not have the full electronics package, giving full rein to its tendency to wheelie everywhere, making it even more difficult to ride. His 500 is more fun to ride, Roberts told the press. Here's what Kenny Roberts had to say after riding both machines:


Kenny Roberts: These things are so rigid and so precise, they're not near as fun to ride in my opinion. I think you can go round a corner as fast as you want, until you crash. In my day, you could go into the corner a little fast and you'd push the front, or the back would come around, but on that thing, you just go BOOM! That fast, and you're down. The tires, suspension, and chassis are so much better to do that exact corner, but if you don't do that exact corner exactly, it doesn't work.

Mine doesn't have all those electronic devices on it and it's wheelying everywhere. I don't know how they ride it. It wheelies everywhere, it doesn't have anti-wheelie. If you wheelie it more than two seconds, it blows up because it's missing oil. So, they said don't wheelie for more than two seconds. Why would you make a motorcycle that you can't wheelie, but that wheelies everywhere? And you can't wheelie it for more than 2 seconds. So it's bullshit. I wouldn't like that."

I rode the old 500 a week ago in England, and I liked it a lot better than I like this.

Q: You don't enjoy this?

KR: No. The 500s are better.

Q: Someone said in the past a rider needed to have more imagination to ride the bike because you could push over the limit of the bike.

KR: Yeah, yeah. The guys that could win were the guys that were physically stronger, that helped a lot, because the bikes wobbled so much and the tires went off. So every four laps the whole system change. It was the guys that had the muscles and the power that made a big difference. This isn't going to make any difference to that. This thing's so much more complicated, you can't over-ride it.

Q: You mean you need more physical power before or with this bike?

KR: No, because this bike is so much more precise, you're never going to get into the positions that we could get our bikes in. You know, we could over-ride our bikes, we could make it move around, we could slide it and make it turn, and two-strokes had a lot different powerband. This thing isn't going to do that, it's not going to slide going in, and set it up coming out. It ain't going to do that.

It wants to go round the corner as fast as it's possible to go, and if you don't hit that spot, exactly, you're out of the line, it doesn't like it. I can imagine going out and being very frustrated on this, because you're not fast enough and you don't know why. Whereas in our day, it was well, you know what, if we steepen the steering head up a little bit, I can get through the Esses better and that's going to make me faster, but this thing, no.

Q: You prefer two-strokes or four-strokes?

KR: I like four strokes. I think the 1000 will be a lot better. I tested the V5 Honda round I raced with Little Kenny around Valencia, and it was a much, much nicer, funner bike. I think the 1000s are going to help everybody out. These things are like a big 250 with 300 horsepower.

The riders are going to like the 1000 much better, because it's going to have more torque, these things only have RPM.

We raced the 700 here, the Daytona bike here, and it was an animal, a complete animal. That was my 1980 bike, it would flex so much, and down the the back straightaway is a big 2nd gear corner. I could go so fast, it would go BOING, like a big spring. So actually you could go round a corner faster than the bike could. But with this one, no way, it ain't gonna go like that.

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Total votes: 94

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Comments

Love that whole paragraph about the non/anti-wheelie.
"So it's bullshit. I wouldn't like that."
Epic!

Total votes: 201

But I'll be taking his comments about the bike with a large grain of salt. The riders are doing just as they did in his day, losing the front, saving the front, sliding the rear to turn etc etc but at a much higher level than in his day. Its a bit like when a journo gets of a GP bike and starts making pronouncments about its capabilities, pretty much meaningless because the tyres aren't even at proper operating temp unless you're doing lap times within a few seconds of the real deal. Ask Elias. Kenny is an ornament to the sport but I sometimes wish the old timers could resist the 'back in my day' stuff.

Total votes: 230

Are you seriously comparing the sliding of an 800 to a 500?

Casey is known for being wheels out of line more than any other 800cc rider but even his slides are chickenshi*t compared to what they were doing with 500s, even 990s.

Current riders are riding nothing like they did back on 500s.

This is not a slag on current or old riders because it takes an immense amount of skill to do what Casey and the others do with the bikes they have now. But the riding and the bikes are worlds apart.

Total votes: 211

in his comments. The machines are worlds apart. A rider can only do what the machine will allow. If lurid slides were the answer to a quick lap then you just know the modern boys would be doing them. But huge arcing blackies are not the way to a quick lap 2011 are they? As Roberts says 800's are all about precision.

As for muscling the machines around, sure they had to do that in Kenny's days, but the braking, accelerating and cornering forces are greater this day. Flicking 210-220 kg side to side through a chicane at 160kmph takes a lot of strength.

Total votes: 201

...but I think I might just agree with you on this one. Now, the precision is so high, you're just up against the limits of the laws of physics, with almost none-to absolutely no wiggle room. With the way that the best bikes have now upped the game, there's not much getting around fundamental flaws. It's become MUCH more like F1, in that the machine is a MUCH bigger percentage of the winning package.

Michael Scott and Jeremy Burgess always said that F1 was 80% machine, 20% pilot, while MotoGP was the exact opposite--80% pilot, 20% machine. Now, these "precision tools/engineering exercises" have exhausted the laws of physics, and therefore, the machine's percentage has gone up much closer to F1-ish figures.

I loved this article. King Kenny expressed my own sentiments about the current machines...a helluva lot better than I ever could have done. In the past, Renault has kicked some SERIOUS ASS, won world titles, etc. This year, not even Vettel would be leading the championship in a Renault. The game has moved on there, and it has most certainly moved on here.

Total votes: 210

I think it a little harsh comparing a legend like Roberts to a hack and say he is an ornament.

Bikes in his day didn't have the benefit of electronic rider-aids, which do exactly what it says on the tin, they aid a rider making his life easier. They were evil, rip-snorting bastards that ate tyres for breakfast forcing riders to adapt, using their own skill to overcome the problem of an excess of power over grip.

The natural advance of time and technology makes todays machines faster as you'd expect..but the diminishing input required on present computer controlled machines doesn't necessarily mean riders today are operating at a much higher level.

Total votes: 212

Then why have there only been four regular winners in the current 800 era compared to the last years of the 500s? I'm sure a guy like Capirossi would disagree with that, I'm sure he'd love to be riding a 500 again instead as it would be easier.

Total votes: 215

are the last of the present grid to race a 500..for that reason alone, they get my respect.

Total votes: 211

That EVERY rider in the whole damn circus would LOVE the opportunity to race a 500.

Total votes: 208

Funny how Rossi said himself last year that the Ducati had to be ridden hard like a 500 after he tested it for the first time at Valencia.

Let's face it, track performances speak for themselves. While the 500s remain my favorite out of the three premier classes we've had, nothing is harder to ride than the current 800s - only the very best can win on them, which is exactly why I prefer the 500s and 990s to them. ;)

Total votes: 222

There would be the same four guys at the top no matter what they were riding. It will be the same four guys next year in the 1000's (depending on whether Ducati can get it together). While modern day technology might make the riders' life easier in some respects, the skill differential between riders is still the same. Unless they were all riding Ducati's of course, in which case a certain Australian just might have a significant advantage over everyone else.

Total votes: 210

Do you understand that calling someone an "ornament" is a compliment, wosideg??
And where did anyone compare him to a "hack". Or are you referring to one of the current day riders as a hack??? I'm not sure what you mean....
Am I reading the same story you are??

As for the now vs then argument, I didn't buy that whole "Rossi is the Greatest of All Time" rubbish from a few years back either. The guys of today didn't race the unsafe tracks of Mike the Bike and Co, on skinny tyres and ineffective brakes etc, so to compare each generation is pointless IMHO.
Sadly, it's the conceit of every youthful generation to think they are doing a better job than their forebears, and the conceit of every ageing generation to proclaim that "it ain't as good as it was in my day".

I read the article with interest, but having ridden for over 40 years, I know that everything viewed through the lens of time becomes distorted.......so it's just information, it ain't fact........

Total votes: 202

Hows he an ornament? What a stoopid thing to say.
Every rider from Crutchlow to Bayliss, Hayden etc has said how precise and unforgiving the modern GP bike is. I think Brother Bostrom will attest to that.

He never said the 500 were better that I read, nor did he say any back in the day bs. Your hating.

Watch Lorenzo's highside desh when he 'over-rode' it because he shvt the bed and didnt get the electronics back on. No room for flexibility or mistake and he got his face bitten off.

I think Roberts comments where very consistent with the consensus of comments from current & past racers...

Total votes: 204

Actually guys, saying someone is an ornament to the sport is usually complimentary, not derogatory! It's saying that someone adorns the sport, that is, enhances the sport, makes it look better.

Total votes: 207

"Why would you make a motorcycle that you can't wheelie, but that wheelies everywhere?"

Sort of sums up the 800s for me.

Total votes: 197

I'm pretty sure I've seen Jorge and Vale do wheelies longer than 2 seconds. :-P

Unless this years bike is different.

Total votes: 187

If you wheelie it more than two seconds, it blows up because it's missing oil.

I'm quite sure I've seen quite a number of 2+ second wheelies coming across the finish line, so what's he talking about here?

Total votes: 220

He's talking about nanny state engineers who are now obsessed with the longevity of the engines. Back in the day, nobody cared if you 'naded your race engine after checkered flag b/c it was going to get scrapped anyway. The 800cc engines are governed by different rules.

KRSR's engine was not going to be entered in any races, but the paradigms have changed and the engineers felt compelled to tell him not to wheelie the bike for longer than 2 seconds. Anything longer than 2 seconds might cause damage to the cylinders and the rings which might reduce the life of the engine.

Total votes: 193

I think KRSR was exaggerating with the whole 2 seconds thing.

And, yes, the old slides were bigger.

But the reason why riders don't do big slides anymore is not because they can't, it's because it's not the fastest way to get around (read: Gary McCoy).

Total votes: 195

...they run out of fuel.

He may be exaggerating the 2-second thing, but McCoy is not out of the sport because the big slides are the slow way around.  The big slides are out because the fuel map programmers had to do away with them.

Total votes: 194

Gary McCoy proved that sliding/spinning was FASTER on the tyres of the time and demonstarted how poorly tire performance was understood, as his tyres deteriorated LESS than his competitors.

Injuries and a lack of big money personal sponsors ended his GP career.

Total votes: 189

Gary McCoy was using a different tyre construction to Rossi and others as I recall, the 16.5", which worked for a while with his sliding style, but his advantage quickly disappeared. So you can't use that as proof that sliding to the degree that Gary McCoy did it was an advantage, as generally it wasn't.

Total votes: 204

I recall from an old interview with gary mccoy that when he initially started using the 16.5, it wasn't a a popular tyre profile with the other 500cc riders, so he could request his pick of the tyre compounds. The higher profile gave more side contact, which helped his spinning up style, but when he started winning races, more riders started to ask for that tyre profile. unfortunately as a consequence he couldn't always get the softer tyres he was after as the other riders (not spinning as much) preferred the harder compounds, so his sliding style on harder tyres became less effective, hence his deteriorating results. i'm not sure if that means that the sliding style is no good period, but it didn't work once the tyre choice became skewed towards what the majority of other riders preferred. i miss those 500cc days and mccoy's sliding, they were good times for sure.

Total votes: 190

It's not so hard to understand. The bike runs dry when it's doing a large wheelie and they didn't want him parading around on the back wheel. It's not like it's going to 'splode at exactly two seconds.

I'm not sure what Kenny was worried about though, considering he has 5 engines left in his yearly allocation. (if anyone doesn't know this line is a joke then please turn of your internet now)

Total votes: 197

KR and JB spoke off the cuff. Too many take their off hand statements at face value and expect an immediate return.
Between the lines, Kenny makes a lot of sense. In this golden era of GP, precision is the name of the game. Back then, there were many more BASE variables to play with in terms of set up. Technology was as advanced as one tooth on a sprocket up and a little more or less compression on the front.
Back then,optimum race lap time could not be determined by the speed of computer analysis per corner.
Those were the days when gladiators headed into battle with a pitchfork and a dagger. Today, gladiatorial dominance is largely controlled by information technology. The variable is the gladiator using the current tool.
Now,that does not diminish the current gladiator's mastery of his craft.
In fact,they have much more to contend with and absorb in a rapidly accelerating techno world.
In Kenny's day you had to visualize a foot at 270. Today,on the same circuit you have to visualize a centimetre at 300 +.
To sum up, human's dont want slower delivery,they want faster.
Just like I want Brno FP1 2011 on my table right now.
In Kenny's day I'd have to wait 2 weeks for the mail ship/plane. By then the race was over. No wonder 24hour endurance racing on 2 wheels was my favourite sport back then. Closest thing I could get to 'live timing'.

Total votes: 211

Racing a motorcycle is the same now as it was in KRSR's day, imo. Same struggles. Same difficulties. Perhaps more set up work b/c of the electronics, but it is still the same basic game. Gotta have grip and balance to get around a race track quickly.

The MSMA have gotten bored with playing the same thing over and over again, hence they have introduced a bunch of obnoxious restrictions in order to change the nature of the contest. First they changed the fuel capacity rules to make participation more difficult, then they dropped capacity in order to change the way the bikes were ridden. Honda were very straight-forward about the formula going into 2007. It was going to make mass centralization (Honda's desired engineering paradigm) more important, and the bikes would be all about flickability, usability, and stability. Honda succeeded in changing the sport, but they certainly failed to shape MotoGP in a predetermined fashion. If anything, it is the exact opposite of what they envisioned.

If the GPC abolish the regulatory skullduggery imposed by the MSMA, motorcycle racing will be roughly the same game now as it was 30 years ago, imo. If the manufacturers are bored with the game, they need to find a new hobby. The fans and the riders are not bored by the old game.

Total votes: 228

It's a bit misleading really, suggesting the current boys aren't sliding the bikes. the difference is where they slide them. The old 500's basically benefitted a riding style that involved stopping the bike, turning it and then firing it out of the corner as fast as you can. Mid corner speed was not vital, and chasing it just made you slower.

The current bikes reward mid-corner speed. The difference is guys like Stoner are sliding the bikes well before they reach the apex of a corner. If you watch Stoner he is on the power well before the apex and pushing the rear slightly wide to tighten the corner.

These current guys still slide the bikes, but they do it much earlier in the corner and are much more subtle in the way they do it.

Another part of that interview was shown on Aussie TV the other night. Kenny basically said that if he had to race these bikes he would probably not be competitive, as his style really doesn't suit them.

Total votes: 211

My problem with all of these types of comparisons goes back to one point. I suspect that the factory engineers will fully enable all of the electronics for any guest rider, especially given comments by Stoner that you really need to turn off a lot of the electronics to get the most out of the bikes.

I also think that the current level of the 4 aliens is more what leads the necessity to hit your corner marks precisely each lap. In the old 500/1000 days it would seem like Rossi could really kind of muck around and then if he made a mistake he could pull off a string of extrodinary, yet consistent, laps to make his way back through the field. Now with Jorge and Casey as his opposition making sure they run close to an identical lap for every lap of the race the comeback just isn't possible.

I really can't see the 1000's providing any better racing given the consistency the current 4 are capable of. But I still hope.

Total votes: 201

Yes, Rossi himself commented that Stoner changed the game in 2007. Rossi had always been a fairly average starter, and the same was true of Mick Doohan. Both those guys could hang back a few places and then work their way through the field to win. But in 2008 Rossi commented that he could no longer afford poor starts, because once Stoner got away at the front and controlled the race it was very difficult and often impossible to catch him. LS08 was classic example of the change in Rossi's approach to racing. And the same is true today: to have a chance to win a rider needs to get away in the leading group from the start. Is it electronics, tires, fuel restrictions or the skill of the riders that creates this situation? Probably a combination of all of them. And I can't see the 1000cc bikes changing that much.

Total votes: 201

As Casey said in a recent interview, the level of all the riders is much higher now that they are all so very precise. He said this is the main reason why there is less overtaking - less mistakes by the riders. They hit their points every corner of every lap, leaving fewer opportunities for another rider to get past.

With all due respect to KR, saying something like this: "So actually you could go round a corner faster than the bike could" is just stupid.

Total votes: 182

Every rider believes they are part of the best generation of riders. Casey isn't exactly an unbiased observer. Furthermore, fewer mistakes is likely due to the tires that never go off. Riders made mistakes during the tire war b/c they never knew exactly how much grip they would have or how hard they could torture a tire late in the race.

Perhaps Casey is correct, but excellent riders are not the reason for very little overtaking. Overtaking doesn't cease to exist unless their is a concerted effort to eliminate it. Granted, the organizers are not trying to eliminate overtaking, but the fuel rules, capacity rules, control tires, and electronics have made no-overtaking a reality (until very recently).

Total votes: 189

"Every rider believes they are part of the best generation of riders."

Probably true, but at least Stoner recognises that things will change - in his interview (the same one as discussed in many of the posts here) he added:

"Younger kids than us will come through and do stuff that we hadn't even dreamed of, so it's going to be the same sort of thing."

I believe that what Stoner was saying is that the current best riders are getting the limits out of the equipment they currently have and that relatively, the current riders are the equal of the top guys of yesteryear. I don't think that Roberts is fundamentally disagreeing with that.

Total votes: 213

That may have been true during the Kings reign Phoenix, but Mr Rossi has won a fair few 990 races with fastest laps right at the death by scything through the field.

Again because the knife edge has been sharpen to such a degree by all the factors discussed here a small mistake such as a slight out braking by a rider of himself can mean game over.

Total votes: 204

What Stoner said may have been misunderstood by a lot of people. He wasn't saying that the current generation are more talented than previous generations, he was saying that they are better prepared and better trained. This is obviously the case in all major professional sports as the level of professionalism has increased. There has been significant advances in sports nutrition, sports medicine and sports psychology. There has also been major advances in engine design and electronics, also tires.

Look at Stoner's lap times from lap 15 to lap 29, before and after he passed Lorenzo at Laguna Seca. He was doing 21.8 lap after lap. He did a 21.865 four laps from the end before backing of the pace. This just never happened with 500's. They often went significantly slower as the race went on. It's just a different racing environment today, and no doubt advances will continue to be made, as Stoner himself pointed out. Saying that the old is better is a very human response, just not necessarily accurate.

Total votes: 204

Lorenzo excels at pounding out metronomic race times. Stoner can run the same lap times on the 20th lap as he did on the 5th lap. This is a new thing - we've never had the bikes/tires (and maybe riders) that were capable of this before. If Schwantz bolted at the start Rainey knew his tires would be going off by mid-race and, if he'd kept his own tires in good shape, the gap would start to close. No-one can do that now - in the last 3 years if Stoner got a flyer he was gone, race over.

The Bridgestones are too good.

Total votes: 181

But it's not just the tires, that's the point. It's also the electronics, and it's also the preparation and fitness of the riders. And it's also the sophisticated set up of the bikes that is now possible with computer modelling and GPS, so that the bikes' performance can be optimized for every centimeter part of the track. With this degree of sophistication the riders need to be very precise in the way they ride the bikes. And even though Stoner slides the bike more than others, it is still nothing like the tire smoking slides we once saw guys like Doohan performing on 500's. But motorsport technology has moved on since then, and it would make no sense for major manufacturers at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing to go back to the past.

Total votes: 196

My take on the ‘now and then’ debate…
In the earlier bike precision was an asset, as in any sport but a “creative” rider (and I use the word creative loosely here) - who could take different lines, adapt to tire and machine conditions, be braver, exploit the competitions weaknesses etc - could win.
In the new bikes you could be very ‘creative’ but if you are not precise and ride with complete commitment and faith in the electronics you don’t stand a chance of winning. I am perhaps saying the same thing as everyone else but I think ‘precision’, ‘faith’ and ‘commitment’ have become more important than race craft, tactics and pure old fashioned smarts and rush of blood.
And…. for spectators and (I think) the riders, in any sport the excitement always comes from human endeavor and achievement. In all motor sports it is getting to a point where the race is between manufacturers more than riders. Unfortunately that will always be the bane of any ‘motored’ sport.
SO are you a fan of Yamaha or….

Total votes: 205

A TZ500 & an M1 are different beasts & have to be ridden accordingly. Kenny Roberts said in an interview on oneHD Australia after riding the M1 that he would not do any good on it as he has a squirt,stop,turn,squirt riding style & he expressed his dislike for high speed cornering. The M1 is all about corner speed & lean angle, 180 deg different than the TZ. I'm not surprised he didn't like it.
Re the wheelie thing, the boys do 500 meter long wheelies after the chequered flag drops, much longer than 2 seconds, I suspect miscommunication.

Total votes: 199

My take on the ‘now and then’ debate…
In the earlier bike precision was an asset, as in any sport but a “creative” rider (and I use the word creative loosely here) - who could take different lines, adapt to tire and machine conditions, be braver, exploit the competitions weaknesses etc - could win.
In the new bikes you could be very ‘creative’ but if you are not precise and ride with complete commitment and faith in the electronics you don’t stand a chance of winning. I am perhaps saying the same thing as everyone else but I think ‘precision’, ‘faith’ and ‘commitment’ have become more important than race craft, tactics and pure old fashioned smarts and rush of blood.
And…. for spectators and (I think) the riders, in any sport the excitement always comes from human endeavor and achievement. In all motor sports it is getting to a point where the race is between manufacturers more than riders. Unfortunately that will always be the bane of any ‘motored’ sport.
SO are you a fan of Yamaha or….

Total votes: 207

Contrary to popular belief the single most intelligent and controlling factor on a motorcycle is the ECU within a riders lid and the direct messages it sends to his right wrist.

Total votes: 217

i agree on the fact every rider thinks his generation is the best, and the bikes he rode were the best. But look at it this way, today you can go out and buy a mazda RX8 manaul transmission, or get a ford focus which has park assist, i.e. it can park itself... i hope i didnt offend by giving examples from the auto world.. same goes for motorcycle.. who knows 50 years from now, there wont be a rider on the bike.. there might be computer controlled bikes which race against each other... and the best manufacture who can program and write the codes well will win.. and they will definitely argue their generation and technology is the best, but question is will u agree??

i understand that technology has played a pivotal role, but question is do u need so much technology? the rider is slowly being pushed out fo the equation... ever wondered why they give a prestigious respect when a rider wins in two different kind of machinary? like the 500 2 stroke and 990 4 stroke? cuz 2 very different machines and the ability to adapt and ride it better than the rest... ask the likes of valentino rossi and giacomo agostini.. i think kenny has all the freedom to say that his generation was the best and even this generation has pretty much agreed on that...

Total votes: 205

and about what stoner said about riders who used to smoke before races and how much these ppl have to train to be fit and stuff, ask him to win 15 titles in 10 seasons, winning two titles per season on the 350cc and the 500cc... especially when you are participating in both the classes and the races are back to back.. a stunning feat achieved by giacomo agostini, cannot be repeated by anyone at all.. if he was not fit, am sure he would not have won those titles... Just a matter of understanding we are all product of the previous generation and we should be proud of them, not whine how much we are working compared to them..

just the same way he talked abt rossi, he said, rossi won against weaker opponents.. ya rite! stoner won the 2007 title, and it was rossi who beat stoner's ass on both 2008 and 2009... two more world titles when stoner was involved in the title clash... i think riders shud talk less and rider harder, just the way it was when king kenny rode the wheels of the yzr500 to cross ahead of barry sheen, in silverstone..

Total votes: 197

You simply cannot compare the Agostini era with the modern era. In Agostini's time motor sport was much less professional than today. It was commonplace for riders and drivers to compete in multiple classes. A guy like Jim Clarke competed in F1, F2, touring cars, rallies and the Indy 500 in the same year. It just isn't possible today. Motor sport is big business, lots of PR, ultra professional, with very different kinds of pressures on the riders than 40 years ago. The degree of professional training and preparation is much more sophisticated. The bikes stop and corner much faster.

It was Wayne Rainey who said that Rossi was competing against weaker competition in the early part of his career. For that reason I think that Rossi's 2008 championship was better than any of his previous ones. But by 2009 the writing was on the wall with Lorenzo pushing Rossi all the way on equal equipment. And it can never be said that Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa ever won a MotoGP race against weaker opposition.

Total votes: 215

Stoner is absolutely right about professionalism now in motorsport compared to yesteryear. Just look at vision of Barry Sheene (god rest his soul) smoking after and before a race.... and I'm sure he did plenty of skirt chasing rather than training. You would never see a current rider smoking, Troy Bayliss is as fit today as when he retired, so fit that he has contemplated professional bicycle racing. Yeah guys like Sheene and Agostini did amazing things and I'm sure they were fit, but they were only fit enough for their time, their competition. Just look at the race schedule back then, it was no where near has long a season and travel was rarely out of Europe. Look how quick riders recover from serious injury these days. Stoner wasn't whining about the previous generation, far from it. Just as KR wasn't saying his generation was better.. he was just stating his opinion on bikes of today and yesterday. I challenge you to show me the article, video whatever it was that said, Stoner said, "Rossi won against weaker opponents". Sometimes I think people just make up total bs to try and give there argument legitimacy. However IMHO I tend to think that statement (wherever it allegedly came from) is basically true. I really can't think of a consistant opponent for Rossi, pre 2007 that he now faces. And your right Rossi did come back and kick butt in 08 & 09. Now I'm not saying he didn't deserve it but the butt he kicked was riding the now evolved bike Rossi is seriously faltering on today. So I ask you... is it the rider or the bike?

Total votes: 220

I've met Ago and would never discredit his accomplishments but the simple fact is that they just didn't run near the races that they do now per season. The respective mfr wouldn't allow it either.

The mfr's can have their super computer series. What will they do when nobody wants to watch it anymore. The reason we watch is the human element, the right wrist. If the MSMA wants to continue to develop 1's and 0's to take away rider duties why not just put some trained chimps on the bikes instead.

They've done this, and I'll use Rossi as the analogy here......they've done this to TAKE AWAY rider duties. That way a rider cannot over ride a bike and beat a competitor on a better machine. Electronic nannies don't make the bikes any safer. If you think so go ask Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Capirossi, Rossi, any of them. Many riders have had nasty low/high sides over the past few seasons that 1's and 0's couldn't stop. The bikes are safer due to the 4 stroke powerband which eliminated the nothing, nothing, nothing, bam, full power 2 stroke power band. 1's and 0's are there to reduce lap times, something fans, generally, just don't care about. We want to see sliding, tyre smoking battles, with heaps of position changes. Make the bikes for this.
Develop your engine, chassis, brakes, etc and let the riders right wrist do the rest. They are in a closed environment (racing circuit) so let the riders do their job and race these machines without so much electronic interference. In the past 5 years there have been only a handful of really exciting races with the overwhelming majority of them being boring processions.

up the fuel limit to 25 liters and ban tc, gyros, gps, and the rest of the bs. It wouldn't be going to the past because you have state of the art chassis (except Ducati), engine, etc. F1 did it, why can't the MSMA?

Total votes: 189

For me MotoGP became a little like the Apollo program.

It was amazing what efforts were put in Apollo, but its like Othello or Mary Shelly´s Frankenstein...they wanted something so bad that they killed the whole thing.
After Apollo there was no human deep space exploration anymore....only low earth orbit and that was definitley no big bang for the buck, even though it was advertised.

After the 500 there was such a great demand to make it even more spectacular, that the very same thing that made 500 so interesting-technology-became so big that it killed the whole thing.
And the 990 era was like Apollo 17 compared to Apollop 11....they stayed 3 day´s on the Moon whereas Neil Armstrong was only 8hrs there. They even had a car and a Doctor of Geology on board!
After that the guys at congress had no interest in Apollo anymore because they thought it was too dangerous and the "Go green" thinking set in, so they killed funding.

Funny how the MotoGP series is simmilar.
Probably the Media is like congress.
And 800cc is like low earth orbit.

Now they go back to 1000cc and thats for me like Apollo-based Skylab: Could have been great ,but congress killed that too and they had to drop it into the ocean.They had no rockets to keep it on its orbit and the shuttle wasnt ready yet.

Means: The media will kill 1000cc too, because it will only be like 800cc on steroids as long as they don`t ban electronic driver aids and fuel consumption is limited too.(Btw:Why not use Ethanol?E85 or similar?)

KRSR is a little like a Neil Armstrong- a first man.
He has proven his points by his riding and everybody who saw him doing the Indy mile in 2009, knows from what he is made of.

Who is ruling the motorsports world now?
Proven Experts like King Kenny or people like the commentators here...too bad for Kenny I guess.

From my point of view, they should really watch what they are doing with the rules this time and should in doubt ask people like King Kenny or Eddie Lawson, Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey at least for advice once, before screwing the sports of men vs men vs machine up in a way the machine wins.

The first moon landing was watched by half the population of the earth(exggerated)-nobody would have watched if it was a robot and not Neil from Wapakoneta...

Total votes: 190

Kenny says "the modern bikes require more precision" and that's true, the old days were more point and shoot and torque and slides,rewarding like KR says, stronger riders with lots of cojones... today's bikes must be ridden mistake free by speed geeks resembling a super human breed with an USB interface in their a$$. I see no mysteries there, but certainly old school racing was more exiting, more depending on the racer rather than the machine it was indeed, more like a gladiator battle where now we are watching an android battle of all sorts.

A little off topic, but goes to show why Rossi is the real GOAT, he'd win on a 500, he'd win on a 990, he'd win on a 800. I like to actually see if it's true that the same 4 will win on any machine...

Total votes: 209

There is no way we can know who the GOAT would be. Each rider has only raced in their own time, after all. Rossi is no different.

It's not like he's proving himself worthy of being called the GOAT right now, so I am confused as to why you'd see him in that way.

Total votes: 197

this link is for the ppl who doubt the credibility... it came on motogp.com... if you dont know something, does not mean it does't exists... first do your HW and then comment...

http://www.motogp.com/en/news/2011/Stoner+about+Rossi

anyways, cannot compare agostini and modern era? well, how can u compare KK's era and current era? and not so many races back then? check out the number of wins in a season by agostini through his career.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Agostini

and its always a combination of both, bike + rider, never just the bike or just the rider.. if a rider is good and winning races, that means his bike is good too.. and thats why riders build bikes arnd their limits, and not the other way.. thats why rossi was successful with the yamaha, but with ducati, it needed more work, and thats what he is doing.. btw, rossi is riding something similar to GP9 and GP10. and both the years stoner was competitive only in certain races and won a few. and the RC212v, was ridden by rossi... i dont have to highlight the things which rossi achieved... u want to know rossi at his best, watch 2003 philip island race.

you can always whine abt competition.. but truth is every year only the best in the world race in the championship, not u and me... u can go on and say agositini won against weaker opponents, and so he's worthless, king kenny didnt have any competition, and no real riders were there until casey stoner and danny pedrosa came along.. BS! think before you speak..

if you dont believe they were good, then u shud not consider them legends. my point is technologically we are light years ahead, but taming those bikes, they were far better... the current riders are good controlling a bike with TCS, ABS, fuel mapping and stuff like that, but from a global perspective as a rider their skills are less compared to the previous generation..

Total votes: 189

Bikes in KR's era were closer to Agostini's than the current crop. No-one knows how Agostini or KR would perform in the current era, nor how the current crop of top riders would perform on bikes from past eras. KR himself said that his style wouldn't suit the current bikes. But it's all just pure speculation.

But nowhere did I see anyone say Agostini and KR were no good, or that they faced weaker competition. It is true though, that the MV Augusta was often massively superior to anything else, which is why some people discount Agostini's record to some extent. But for all that Agostini is clearly one of the greats.

Regarding Rossi's competition in his early MotoGP career, his competition was guys like Roberts Jnr, McCoy, Capirossi, Melandri, Barros, Nakano, Checa, Abe, Gibernau, Biaggi, Ukawa, Hayden. Does anyone seriously think any of those guys were as good as Lorenzo, Stoner and Pedrosa? You could make a case for Biaggi, but he'd be the only one, and he never won a 500/MotoGP championship. And it was not only Stoner that suggested that Rossi had weaker competition in his early career, Wayne Rainey said the same thing. Incidentally I have seen every one of Rossi's races, including PI2003, which I watched live on TV at the time, and every 500/MotoGP race since the mid 1980's. And while Rossi at PI2003 was a great performance, he was on the best bike, and he qualified 4/10ths quicker than anyone else, and who he did beat? Capirossi, Hayden, guys that Stoner blew away at Ducati. Do you think Rossi could repeat the PI2003 performance against Stoner, Pedrosa and Lorenzo on equal equipment? Not a chance! I am not saying this to denigrate Rossi, who is unquestionably one of the greats, although some people do take a very uncritical view his record. But some people fail to appreciate just how good the current top three young guns are. After all, all three of them have beaten Rossi fair and square on numerous occasions, and make no mistake, that makes them very good indeed. To say that their skills are less than previous generations is utter nonsense.

Total votes: 181

and i thought racing was fun, not about professionalism.. why do u want to incorporate professionalism BS in everything? if thats the case, no touching fairings while racing, no sudden moves that might shake the rhythm of the opponent and all that BS. thats what professionalism will give you.. if barry smoked, thats cuz he chose to... end of the day he beat KK in lot of occasions.. thats what matters... why do u care if he has extra marital affairs and smokes or drinks or any kind of BS? you are there to watch the race, not comment on people's personal lives...

btw, its RC211V not RC212v in my previous post...

Total votes: 184

I see where you're coming from... and I've said quite often that chasing "professionalism" in ie the Australian national championships just screws over the 90% of riders who are funding their own racing.

But...

In motoGP everything costs buckets of Euros. Individuals (rarely) have 50 million € to spend on fun... and corporations don't have a fun budget. They have to justify racing in terms of advertising, R&D, staff motivation, and whatever other guff the passionate people can invent to keep the investors happy.

Now, given they're spending several hundred salaries every year, it makes sense to spend to get the best rider they can afford. It's the same (often abused) argument that justifies CEO salaries. Skimp a million on the rider, run 3 places lower down and the advertising value lost is much more.

Ok, so now we're paying a rider $5 million. At that price, he better damn well turn up sober, trained to superb physical fitness, and take all his commitments seriously. Be professional, in other words.

Total votes: 188

Yup ... MotoGP has become a very complicated class to compete in. Here's a Q / A response from Karel Abraham in an Interview recently done on ASPHALT & RUBBER.

Q: What’s been the biggest hurdle in coming to MotoGP?

A: It’s everything. It’s the setup of the bike — the electronics, there’s so many electronics, and so many setups within the electronics. There is the tires which are…they were nice in the beginning, but they can betray you very easily. Very easily. They get cold so quickly. What else? Engines, tires, brakes, suspension, the engine power…that’s crazy.

Full Interview is here: http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/racing/karel-abraham-interview-laguna-seca/

Total votes: 205

... the rubber doughnuts are the biggest single factor determining how the bikes are ridden, more so then the metal/carbon bits or the fleshy bits.

I'd like to see an alien ride a bike with a Goodyear circa 1979! And I'm not saying they can't, I'm suggesting the show would be a heck of a lot better.

Hell, I'd like to see the the current 800's do a race on the current WSBK Spec. Pirelli and see the difference it makes.

Total votes: 211