Yamaha BlogsAbout Yamaha Motor CanadaAbout the BlogProductsCustomer ServiceTerms of Use

October 26, 2009

Is it the rider, or the bike?

Ben Spies and his YAMAHA Italia Team celebrate their first ever World Superbike Championship.

It’s a question that has troubled experts and bench racers alike since the beginning of motorcycle racing: is it the rider or the bike?

Anyone with some racing background and experience, obviously says it’s the rider who ultimately determines the results. Sure, equipment is important – you need reliability, performance and confidence – but a good bike can only take you so far. A team is a valuable asset as well, but at the end of the day, it’s the rider turning the throttle.

For those with minimal motorcycling experience, they’ll typically say it’s machine, not man, who determines results. (At least that’s what all my high school buddies told me when I tried to share some glory on my motocross racing. “Come on, Danny, all you do is turn the throttle!” Yep, that’s all you do guys … turn a throttle … it’s that easy.)

That said, after looking back at our results and championships in several disciplines of two wheel racing this year, maybe it is the bike? Or maybe I’m just saying that because I work for Yamaha and have been drinking too much of the Kool-Aid?


Rossi collected his 9th “egg” this past weekend.

After last weekend, we added two more championships to our growing ladder, with Ben Spies taking his first World Superbike title in Portugal, and Valentino Rossi sealing his 9th MotoGP title at the Malaysian GP. Congrats, men!

Some words from Ben … 
“I’ve got to thank Yamaha for giving me the bike I need to win. We had a really good first race, in the second we did what we had to do to win. It was quite difficult to keep it in check as the pace was pretty fast, I saw I had a couple of people behind me and I knew that if Nori won I had to be in sixth and that’s where I was so I tried to get a bit of a gap on them and stay out of trouble. Max came through the inside of me and ran off a couple of times which really freaked me out so I went to get past him and then settled in for some nice fast laps to the end. It’s been a spectacular day and I can’t thank those people enough that have been behind me. It’s been incredible to do it for Yamaha, and especially in my first year here. I don’t think I really realize what’s happening right now but I’m sure it’s going to hit me in a couple of days!”

And a few Itali-lish words from “The Doctor” … 
“It’s great to be World Champion again, I am very proud to have done this nine times in my career. I want to thank everyone in my team, Furusawa-san, Davide Brivio, Lin Jarvis, Jeremy…everybody! This season has been very hard and Lorenzo especially has pushed me to new limits, but I think it’s been a great duel for everyone to watch. Today was unbelievable, when the rain came it was scary for everyone because all the work we’d done was then useless and we were riding ‘blind’ with the setting. I made a mistake at the first corner and then I was a long way back, so I think I did a great race to finish third! I was going to try to pass Dovizioso when he fell and then for a few laps I thought I would try to get Pedrosa but with wet tyres on a drying track it was a bit risky by then and so I decided to be safe. It’s a fantastic feeling to take this title with Yamaha again and I also must thank Bridgestone, who have done a great job with the tyres all year. My celebration was because in Italy we say an old chicken makes good soup but can no longer lay eggs! I am like the old chicken – 30 years now – but I have made another egg! That’s nine!”

To read a full recap of Spies final race, go here.

To read a full recap of Rossi’s final race, go here.

It’s incredible how well we’ve done in 2009 on the racing front, but I believe it’s the result of quality machinery, hard working race teams, and riders who know what it takes to be a champion. Below are Yamaha’s 2009 motorcycle champions. We here at the Bike Blog salute you!

James Stewart joined Yamaha for the first time in 2009. (Actually, that”s not true! He raced a PW50 back in the day.) He would go on to win the 2009 AMA Supercross championship, and also the US Open of SX two weeks ago in Las Vegas. He returns to AMA SX again this January on the all-new 2010 YZ450F.

Colton Facciotti captured his second – and Blackfoot’s umpteenth – MX1 Canadian National MX championship this summer. He’ll be back with BF and Yamaha again in 2010, along with Dusty Klatt, to defend his title.

Italian Antonio Cairoli captured his first MX1 World GP MX title this past year. Cairoli now has three World titles to his credit (two in MX2 – 2005 and 2007), all of which came aboard a Yamaha.

In only his first season in World Superbike, Ben Spies came away with the championship, which marked Yamaha’s first title in that series.

rossi one
Valentino Rossi … to no one’s surprise, wins again. That makes a total of 9 MotoGP titles for the 30-year-old Italian.


Britain’s Cal Crutchlow was victorious in the 2009 World Supersport series.


2009 FIM World Endurance Champions: Team YART – Steve Martin, Gwen Giabbani, and Igor Jerman.

Leon Camier won the 2009 British Superbike championship.

So what do you think? Is it the rider? Is it the bike? Be sure to comment and offer your opinion.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Related Tags: No related tags found.

Related Posts:
  • None
Posted @ 11:45 am in Authors,Dirt,Racing,Sport   

Make a Comment
RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI

4 Responses to “Is it the rider, or the bike?”

  1. Bob Hogg says:

    Informative story… Danbro

    Well..it depends on the level. Put me against any world class rider (15 years ago) on 80 cc bikes and it would be a good race….MX or road. Put me on a 125CC with a world class rider..and he may lap me.

    Put Bubba on a stock YZ125 and let him go in a 450 Canadian MX race..and …I would bet he would win.

    In the end…if you watched close at the indoor..James was struggling early season..riding over his head….the bike wasn’t right for the indoor. Once he got it dialled – he was gone. MX is more of a fear sport than road racing…so James can win with a bike that may not be world class.

    In road racing…I’m talking world class riders. Anyone of the top 4 or 5 can win on any day depending on the bike.

    Hats off to the Road Yamaha team and driver feedback. To win at that level..well – were talking very smart people. Driver feedback..

    In its simplest form..how about F1 …Hamilton is a good driver…but a driver at that level needs the vehicle. I have only been to 1 high end car race..and it was clear – there were only about 5 drivers that had the capability of winning with the right car.

    So..it depends on the venue.

    Looking forward to more interesting stuff.

  2. rightarm says:

    Yamaha Canada pulls out of the Parts Canada Superbike series,congrats on the poor choice of team to go with last year {OSTFF} resulting in your dismal showing in the 09 season should have stayed with Fast Company/Rush Racing and you would have not been beaten by a {privateer operation} but I guess thats what happens when you have a dirt bike team trying to put together a road race program.If anything should have been pulled it should have been the extremely talented guy{not}that made this decision in the first place.Shame Shame Yamaha you are much wiser than this and have made this mistake in the past,I just hope you will learn from this and not make this mistake again.


    Hello Right Arm,

    First of all I want to thank you for your comment but most of all your passion for racing. Internally, we squabble back and forth about racing and the directions it should take so this isn’t a new topic for us. You’re speaking to the guy who makes the decisions for racing so rest assured you’re getting it from the source. I just wanted to give you some background information on the decisions we (I) made. FAST company does a great job at being a top level team that competes for championships. They kept the Yamaha brand well represented in the hunt for a champion for a couple years and were always professional and well represented.

    Racing being as it is though the money and resources that a top level team requires to stay at the top of the road race battles is fairly significant. Faced with declining sales in the economy and a slashed budget for 09 race season, we didn’t have the same resources available to re-sign FAST. Thus we had to look elsewhere. Enter OTSFF. OTSFF was able to assemble a competitive team for less due to the outside sponsorship they had attracted.

    I do feel we were competitive. With a new team and all-new bike, Kevin finished 3rd overall in Sport Bike and was on the podium in 4 of the 7 Superbike races that he completed (crashes and mechanicals in the others). He was among the fastest lap at each race and battled with Szoke and McCormick on occasion (Mosport comes to mind when he was leading going into the final lap). Then there was Royce McLean who at 14 years of age was sitting in 7th until he broke his leg. He was clearly on track for rookie of the year and showed a lot of promise.

    I think OTSFF did an admirable job this year competing against established teams who have years of experience working together, data acquisition, larger budgets etc. Yamaha Motor Canada withdrawing from road racing has absolutely NOTHING to do with the performance of the team last year. It’s got everything to do with the economy and how motorcycle sales are down quite significantly. You can’t spend money you don’t have!

    I understand it can be frustrating to watch a team in transition (I’m a Leafs fan) but I wanted to give you a perspective of where we were/are coming from. Don’t hold it against us for too long eh? Thanks for riding Yamahas!


  3. rightarm says:

    I will never hold it against you or Yamaha but I feel that the best Brand out there in my opinion should have the best resources and finishing behind Clint Mcbain on a privateer program for a top level Manufacturer should not be acceptable or considered being competitive. That said I look forward to once again cheering on my favourite manufacturer when you return to the Canadian series and will always support Yamaha regardless of the decisions made,I am just disappointed and sad.

    Thx Hurry back I miss you already
    Bleeding blue 4 life


    We understand, Kandu. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I’m glad we could have this conversation. I’m sure it helps provide better light into why and how we made the decision not to go road racing in 2010.


  4. Bob Hogg says:

    You will find the truth at only the top level teams…in any form of racing…money buys time..thats what wins.

    There is no magic 🙂

    I don’t know if I agree with that, Bob. Being a MX guy, I believe that it really does come down to the rider, not the bike. Although, in other forms of racing (road racing, F1, NASCAR), I believe less emphasis is placed on the rider and a little more on the bike. Set up seems to be much more crucial on the pavement, where as a good rider in MX can outwork others even if his equipment is subpar.


Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. They may be edited for length and clarity. For more information, please see our Terms of Use.