Found on another site...
I was going through some old magazines yesterday and found this story written by Kent K. Its one of my favs and appears in the June 2000 edition of the mag.
Most of the products we use in everyday life dazzle us in their ability to operate with total efficiency and convenience, delivering capabilities far beyond the utilitarian devices of yesteryear. Whether it is the toaster sitting in the kitchen, or the now ubiquitous cellular telephone, we are demanding (and usually receiving) ever-expanding performance from modern consumer products. This expectancy has fueled an incredibly rapid development pace that fosters a “here today, gone tomorrow’ mentality; as soon as the latest-and-greatest model makes its debut, the previous version is considered obsolete, and no longer worthy of even a cursory glance. Much of the same can be said of the current sportbike market. People are bombarded with ad-speak and magazine headlines proclaiming the newest pavement shredder to he the ultimate, and they often conclude that the older bikes sitting in their garage or on the dealership floor won’t allow them to keep pace with their buddies astride the latest machinery.
But consistently overlooked is the real key to performance, and it’s frequently the major factor that determines a consumer product’s success on the market: the trickest hardware in the world is nothing without the software to make it work.
Sure, the latest sportbikes possess handling and acceleration capabilities rivaling Grand Prix machines of two decades ago, but there are plenty of other hikes out there capable of the same speed in the right hands. It’s one of the aspects of motorcycles that make them unique in the world of motorsports: Riding skill can overcome a seemingly vast performance deficit.
Case in point: I was attending the CBR929RR press introduction at Las Vegas International Speedway, circulating the track aboard Honda’s exciting new super-light, ultra-fast, open-class sportbike. I was marveling continually at the CBR’s outright performance, which is a big step above the previous CBR900RR. As I continued to acclimate myself to the new CBR’s abilities and began turning quicker laps, I came upon a rider astride the older 900RR model; as he waved me past, I smugly figured that would be the last I would see of him. The rider on that CBR, however; was Jell Haney, former Team Honda AMA Superbike racer and instructor at the Freddie Spencer High Performance Riding School. Haney quickly latched onto my tail, and when he finally surprised me by whizzing past on the brakes entering a corner several laps later, I found myself having a hard time keeping up with him—let alone repassing. Haney was simply getting the most out of that older CBR’s performance envelope, and was giving me a quick refresher course in Riding Skills 101. Despite having an approximate 27-horsepower! 18 pound deficit (not to mention inferior brakes and handling). Haney repulsed my best efforts at getting past.
But even more telling was something I noticed while dicing with Haney. As we came by the pits on one lap, I glimpsed another hike getting onto the track behind us. I noticed in my mirror that the motorcycle was a number of hike lengths behind us as we accelerated onto the front straight, and once again, figured that was the last I’d see of that bike. However, when we were slicing through the infield section of the course, I observed in my mirrors that the hike was still there. It looked different than the other bikes on the course; the paint scheme was solid red—one that none of the new CBR929RRs (nor the older models on hand) were made in. When I saw that the bike was still fairly close behind us as we accelerated onto the back straight, I decided to check out who this bike/rider combination was. To my utter amazement, it turned out to he three-time World Champion Freddie Spencer— aboard his Honda VFR800 Interceptor!! Not exactly the kind of bike you would consider a serious track weapon, and one that suffered even more of a performance disadvantage than Haney’s CBR900RR compared to the new 929RR I was riding. Yet here he was, keeping both of us—astride far superior machinery—in sight for at least a lap. “You guys were going good out there,” he said later, shaking my hand in his usual amiable manner. Yeah right, Freddie. I seriously doubt—no, make that very seriously doubt—that I’d he able to hustle a VFR around the track as quickly as he did that day. The man didn’t win those world championships for nothing.