The only constant in life is change. My most recent reminder of this was the invitation to ride one of the new four-stroke racebikes built to compete in the new MotoGP support class, Moto2. So, there I was, on scene in Spain at the sweet new Motorland Aragon circuit to ride American Kenny Noyes’ Harris-framed Honda during pre-season testing.
Like anything new, broad speculation and skepticism faces the prototype series. Specs call for identically prepped Honda CBR600RR engines and Dunlop spec tires. Which leaves chassis and suspension of these new-millennium machines open to interpretation. I haven’t spotted any Elf-like center-hub-steering innovations, but this machine is trick enough in its own right.
First impression? I can’t remember when, if ever, that I’ve ridden a bike with chassis potential to truly outperform its engine. But after 20 laps on this Antonio Banderas-sponsored, Jack & Jones-backed bike, I’m convinced this class is going to be all about corner-entrance speed. This is probably why I spent more time waiting than riding: Öhlins suspension techs put in some serious effort working to tune suspension settings front and rear. With everybody getting the same estimated 150 ponies out of the spec 600cc engines, everything will have to be perfect to get competitive lap times.
Twenty laps were enough to determine that this is an incredible bike to ride, able to carve razor lines precisely drawn with ridiculous corner speed. I turned some respectable times, trimming off a tenth per lap there for a while.
On Day Two, unfortunately, I was relegated to spectator duty as my bike was taken apart for spares after a minor incident by Noyes’ Spanish teammate. But by the end of the day, both Promo Racing riders lapped the circuit’s freezing-cold surface faster than the full-blown superbike lap record—improving over the previous day’s times by some 3.3 seconds.
For me, maybe the long trip to Barcelona was worth it beyond just a great day riding an amazing new bike. Over a late lunch, Kenny’s team manager said he was surprised by how comfortable I looked riding “too fast” for what was supposed to be a simple photo shoot and magazine riding impression.
Gee, thanks. How do you ask for an “Indy wildcard ride” in Espanol anyway?! Tough duty. Somebody’s got to pull it…