Shit Kenny Roberts Says: hole in one

Dailies -



It seems ridiculous to compare riding a motorcycle through a corner to hitting a golf ball, right? Kenny Roberts doesn’t think so. I’ve become fairly used to people who don’t understand sport riding calling me an adrenaline junkie, but to me, riding a motorcycle fast is much more than just a cheap thrill.

Still, even after explaining in detail what it’s really like to drag a knee, most people can’t get past their own opinions of what it would be like. Fear, danger and excitement are the feeling that most people conjure up, but those just are not things you think about when your puck touches down.

Until you’ve done it for yourself, though, it’s hard to imagine that riding a bike at its limits is anything else.If you hop on a superbike with no technical skills, whack the throttle open and manage to hold on, you’re going to be in for one hell of a ride. Same goes for riding as a passenger on said bike. Sheer terror and excitement. You see these guys running around in shorts, flip-flops, a vest and usually the flashiest race-replica helmet they can find. It’s just never occurred to them that motorcycling can also be a sport that requires physical ability, skill, thought and careful planning.

What it’s all about for me is achievement, success and reward. There is no room for opinions, taste, style or attention whoring in motorcycle racing. Hell, you can’t even cheat once you’re on the track. It’s a test of both how well you can decide what the motorcycle should do and your execution of that. If you’re right and you win, it means that you’re the best. No one else could do it better than you on that equipment, on that race track, under those conditions. It sounds like a long list of qualifiers, but it’s hard to get a much more simple definition. The satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done something very hard, and done it well, is like nothing else. It breaks my heart when people reduce that to a base craving for fear, danger and excitement.

What it comes down to is that riding a motorcycle is sport of careful planning and skill, just like Kenny Roberts explains: “Taking a corner on a racing machine is like playing golf. You are always taught to see the shot and then hit it. If you can’t picture the shot and see what you are going to do then you will never make it. The same applies to riding a bike. You have to be able to see the line you want to follow through the corner—picture it in your mind, where you want to brake, and turn and come out.”

  • Brammofan

    Be the bike.

    • tomwito

      You’re not being the bike Kenny.

      • Mark D

        This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere. Former greenskeeper and now about to become the MotoGP champion…

  • Tony

    Not even Max Biaggi can cheat.

    • Sean Smith

      That’s a good one. I can’t believe how pissed off everyone was over a few gears in place of a chain. Cheating or not, they did that back at the factory.

      • Rick

        Funny thing is just how fast it was with that ordinary cam chain.

  • the_doctor

    I golfed once, and disliked it. Mostly because I had no talent, skill or love for the game. I guess I should stay away from bikes.

    • HammSammich

      “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

      – Mark Twain

      I detest golf (I am also horrible at it). Until they replace the golf carts with dirtbikes, and the clubs with dirtbike mounted golf-ball launching cannons, I’m just not interested.

      • sean (the roommate)

        if you build it, they will come.

      • Thom

        I though about playing golf . Tried it once or twice . Decided if I continued on I’d become a hard core addict to the game and quit .

        Best use of a golf course ever though in my opinion .

        When Porsche had their Winter Driving Experience on the snowed over Golf Course in Vail CO

        Just the thought of flying over the 18th hole in a Carrera 4 w/studded tires , shooting ten ft plumes of snow in the air , hoping somehow you might just break thru the snow and ice , tearing the crap out of the greens , while some poor Golf Nerd is watching from his/her Condo in tears while you do was quite the thrill . Not on Two Wheels mind you but a thrill never the less .

        Having said that though . If KR likes the game , so be it . who am I to argue ?

        • HammSammich

          That sounds seriously awesome, Thom. I’m gonna have to try and track down video of that Porsche driving experience (I’ll be giggling the whole time I watch it, I’m sure…)

      • pinkyracer

        ditto. I mean, what Kenny said has been said by every Manifestation Guru ever, and about anything in life. But accusing motorcycling of being like the world’s most tedious, dull sport is a better way to draw clicks.

        • Sean Smith

          Ah, you speaketh the truth. Maybe.

      • Jason

        Hunter S Thompson had a great idea for shotgun-golf. It involves two-man teams where one guy tees off and the other tries to shoot his golf ball out of the air.

        • HammSammich

          Truly a visionary. So, instead of yelling, “FORE,” do you shout,”PULL?”

        • pinkyracer

          duuuuude. that needs to happen at the Texas Tornado Boot Camp instead of mere Skeet shooting.

    • mugget

      It’s only natural to dislike something you’re not good at.

      • Richard

        I’m a pretty good golfer and I still hate it.

  • Ted

    “There is no room for opinions, taste, style or attention whoring in motorcycle racing”

    Have you EVER watched MotoGP?

    • Sean Smith

      Have you ever seen that stuff make a difference in who wins?

      • Ted

        It could definitely be argued that attention whoring has contributed to more than a few crashes.

        And I’m 98% sure that Rossi’s yellow is chosen to blind the competition.

        • Sean Smith

          Ha, competition causes crashes. People will do anything they can if they think it’ll help them win.

  • Steven

    fantastic article. I’ve slung my clubs over my shoulder and bicycled to the local courses, but I’ve never worked up the guts to do it on anything with a motor.

  • rohorn

    I’ve been told that golf is playing fetch with yourself.

    If I ever find myself playing golf, I will know that I have died, gone to hell, and will spend eternity regretting not having led a better life – or – for not having had a whole lot more fun for the same result.

    Disclaimer: I’m a middle aged white guy – prime golfing demographic – I still don’t get it. But then again, I’m not a racing hero.

    • Sean Smith

      I’m not a golfer either, but King Kenny is and he’s using it to make a point about motorcycle racing.

      • HammSammich

        I completely understand his point, and I think its valid. Your article does a great job of explaining the connection he’s describing. Personally, I just like to proclaim my distaste for golf any chance I get. ;)

  • motoguru

    He’s got an excellent point there for sure, but golf is still lame.

  • dux

    I’m just as focused and decisive when I’m making my way through traffic. But usually more drunk when golfing.

  • Jeremy

    Unrelated, but check out John McGuiness’s comments about his foreskin around 3:10 into the press conference for the supersport TT race 2 – pretty funny:

    • frankieapples

      Completely unrelated, but HILARIOUS!

  • mugget

    Taking a corner on a racing machine is also like archery – there is a well known saying among Japanese archers (or so I’m lead to believe) that translates to something like “hit the target without thinking about the target, because all desire limits the spirit”.

    Words to ride by.

  • Mark D

    If racing motorcycles is like playing golf, riding scooters in the city is like mini-golf; lower stakes, but somehow way more fun.

    • motoguru


    • Sean Smith

      I can attest to this. A Kymco 300 in the pouring rain, fast, on Charleston, S.C. cobblestones is zen-like.