2002 Suzuki GSX-R1000 | The Bike That Changed My Life

Photography by Brian J. Nelson

RIDER: Ben Spies
THEN: Soon-to-be AMA Formula Xtreme Champion
NOW: Reining World Superbike Champion; soon-to-be MotoGP World Champion?

"I was 14 when I got my first really fast bike, a Yamaha TZ250. That was probably '98, and it was really fun. It was a real Grand Prix bike, and it threw me on the ground really hard a couple of times. I crashed that thing at Texas World Speedway once, just high-sided and knocked myself silly, and I still don't remember about four years of my life!

"The bike that really changed my life, though, was the Suzuki GSX-R1000 that I raced for Attack Performance in 2002. I was only 17 years old, mostly racing 600s at the time, and all of a sudden they put me on this monster, 200-rear-wheel-horsepower bike that Richard Stamboli built. That was back when Formula Xtreme bikes could be bored out to 1200cc, and this one was a real animal! It was fast, just ridiculously fast. Nowadays it's a big deal for a 17-year-old to be on a 600, and I was 17 on 200 horsepower. That taught me a lot about riding a big bike and going fast, and I think it gave me a real head start for making the move to Superbikes at such a young age. I won the Formula Xtreme Championship the next year, in '03, and from there I never looked back."

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