Fresh from the wildest tour of 2009, it's gigs one day, track days the next for GSX-R1000 K9-riding Keith Flint.
MCN Senior Road Tester Michael Neeves got a few laps in with Flint around Castle Combe. According to Neevesy, “He’s a bit handy!”. MCN caught up with him (just) to talk bikes.
How did you get into bikes?
To be quite honest bikes were my ultimate freedom when I was sixteen. I had a few novice field bikes before that, but I got a Fizzie, followed by an RD50 and an RD80, and it was the first thing that got you freedom, it felt like you could go anywhere. F**k me, who’d go more than 30-miles on a 50? But you felt you’d got that freedom and it certainly had a sort of lawlessness about it. It was exhilarating because I had older brothers who’d take me out for rides from where I lived in Chelmsford up to Epping Forest and High Beach. It was a tear up and I sound like an old git now but those were the days when you could just nail it, you know what I mean?
What do they mean to you now?
They mean exactly the same thing to me now. When you’re scratching, it’s that buzz of doing something you f**king love, that freedom. In your mind you know when you’re on it and you’re just flowing. You’ve got to give it enough thought to do it well, but not enough thought that you are over thinking it. It’s like anything in life really, you have to have a nice free-flowing mind.
What gives you the biggest buzz?
Riding on the track like I have been today. It charges you with adrenalin and it’s exactly the same feeling as when I walk off stage. If you asked me what it’s like when I’m on stage that is what that’s like. I charge myself up with that. As for cars, it’s all well and good having a nice motor, but they don’t even come close.
What was your most memorable bike?
The air-cooled RD400 I had. I can’t remember who it belonged to, but I got it off a bloke who’d crashed it. It was a proddie racer, all lock-wired with a blueprinted engine. It came with standard pipes, as that was what they had to run, so I bought some Allspeeds and put those on. I bought it when I was 15 and rented a garage off an old girl on the estate to keep it in. I used to take my 50 round there, then ride the RD400 on a Sunday down to Southend and places like that.
I talked different mates into going on the back and we used to go up the bike park and hang out, or go to Le Mans, Bol D’Or or Spa and some of the other races. Someone came up to me recently and said ‘I’ve got a photo of you when you used to come round on that 400’. I looked like this f**king kid on this bike, I was more scared seeing it then than when I was on it at the time, like, what could of happened?
I had two or three RD400s. I’d do them up and get the tanks and frames sprayed up and fit Allspeeds to make them look special.
Do you modify your bikes yourself?
I’ve had my greasy phases. The first one I did was a GS550 I converted into a café racer with an ally tank. I did it up in my Nan’s garage. Then I got a GS850 I had big plans for, and we went off and did all the usual things, like going to the Kent Custom Show, bike rallies and the BMF looking for bits and ideas. But then I went travelling and kind of fell out of bed with the bikes. I gave the GS850 to a friend and he’s still got it now, funny enough.
What bike did you you buy when you first hit success?
When I joined the band and started to earn a bit of dollar, I got the Blade when it first came out, in 1992. Then I got it Repsol’d because I became a massive Mick Doohan fan. Nick Morgan [now team manager of the MSS Kawasaki BSB squad] tuned it for me. He was just down the road from me in Chelmsford. He’s a wicked guy, I love him to bits, an awesome bloke. I sold that to buy another Blade, which TTS tuned and track prepared for me. I used it as a trackday bike now.
Tell us about the bike you raced
I raced this ex-Red Bull Ducati 996 in 1998 at club level. I’ve really got to thank team owner Ben Atkins for all that and to John Reynolds, who rode for them at the time, for all his help. He’s a lovely guy.
What’s your current road bike?
An Aprilia Tuono Factory. I’ve done a load of touring on it including going to see MotoGP races in Europe. After riding the GSX-R1000 K9 today, though, I’m thinking of a way to trade the Aprilia in for the Suzuki, I’d desperately like one of those!