"‘There’ll never be another Carl Fogarty. I don’t think the world wants one. Not for another 20 years at least,’ so says Carl Fogarty. And he’s right, in some respects. I think the world, racing fans at least, "
Foggy – king of superbikers
When it comes to superbikes in the UK there's a clear King - multiple World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty.
Carl Fogarty is currently a household name as much for appearances on “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!” which he won in 2014, as much as his incredible motorsport success, but to us he’s very much the epitome of the superbike rider.
Having won races on some of the most challenging circuits in the world, riding cutting edge motorbikes from the world’s most advanced manufacturers like Honda, Ducati and more, he knows what makes a great superbike.
We caught up with him whilst on family duty – including the first few days with a new Staffordshire Bull Terrier which already has a big instagram following – to chat superbikes.
So what defines a ‘superbike’?
“I suppose a superbike is a racer for the road,” he said, “the ultimate bikes, based on the ones they actually race. Nowadays they’re perhaps too fast for the public roads, though. Some can do 100mph in first gear which is fine for the track, but is no use on the road.”
So could this affect their popularity for the general public?
“I’m not sure how many people are still buying them, really,” he continued, “I think maybe they’re too fast and too expensive.
“A mate has bought a new Yamaha R1 and hasn’t ridden it on the road yet – he rides on trackdays. It belongs on track.”
So why do superbikes exist at all?
“They’re the ultimate bike, essentially. And a really close taste of what is possible from the MotoGP bikes of today, but one that you can go and buy. You don’t have to be a professional bike racer – you can own it. You can get that incredible performance for yourself.
“Short of getting hold of a proper MotoGP bike and using that – or I think a couple of manufacturers like Honda do MotoGP ‘specials’ but you’re looking at a hundred grand’s worth of bike – the modern superbike is really the ultimate in motorbikes.”
A real taster of what race bikes are like then, from a man who clearly knows both sides of the pit wall.
We then asked how Carl felt about the future of motorbikes – could electric power start to take over?
“I guess it’s already started – I’m still not sure about lapping the Isle of Man on an electric bike and then being able to say you’ve ‘won’ the TT. Something doesn’t feel right about that, but I guess inevitably the future’s going that way.
“I can see it in cars, for sure, it makes sense – but electric bikes? Well I’m not sure. You’ve got to have a noisy bike so people know you’re coming!
“You’ve got to consider where the electricity is being generated too, and whether it comes from fossil fuels anyway – but that’s another story.”
As Carl chatted more about superbikes a couple of things became clear – there’s no real replacement for the thrill of a petrol-powered superbike revving high and screaming along the roads but also maybe, just maybe, the modern superbike – after decades of improvements and boundaries being pushed – is a bit too quick.
Will this mean superbikes end up being the preserve of trackdays and Autobahns? Has the pursuit of ever-faster machines gone too far, and have modern law enforcement and safety concerns made the super-fast superbikes of today a bit pointless for the public roads? That’s anyone’s guess.
Foggy is now working closely with Triumph on their range of road bikes, and we can’t help feeling he’s got it nailed there – the range of bikes they’re producing is all about the fun of riding, the thrill of getting from A to B – and not just about how quick you can get around Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
Maybe we can all learn from Foggy – a multiple world champion – and remember that enjoying motorcycling on the road is not all about sector times. It’s about enjoying the ride.
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