MMM: How old were you when you got your first bike?
Kevin Schwantz: Three.
MMM: What was your first bike?
Kevin Schwantz: Bonanza mini bike, had a 3HP Briggs & Stratton engine.
MMM: When did you know that you were hooked on motorcycles?
Kevin Schwantz: Well, my parents owned a motorcycle dealership and they got a yamaha franchise in 1964 which is the year I was born. So I think I kinda, maybe I, rode out of my mom on a motorcycle. Both parents worked there, it was a family run business. Everyday after school that’s where I went. So growing up around a motorcycle shop, I always knew I loved them and enjoyed the people that were around motorcycling.
MMM: How many motorcycles do you have?
Kevin Schwantz: Oh, I probably have 25-30. But the couple that are in the garage right now one are a Suzuki V-strom 650, a Triumph Steve McQueen and a 1964 R69S. Oh, and my OSSA trials bike.
MMM: New OSSA or an old OSSA?
Kevin Schwantz: No, its a new one. Fuel injected 280. First competition I ever rode was observed trials. My dad was a big trials rider.
MMM: Do you still get out and do Trials?
Kevin Schwantz: Oh, absolutely. I Love it. I have probably 4-5 Gas Gas, I have the OSSA now and I’m chompin’ at the bit for one of those 300 Montesa’s!
MMM: So what is it about Trials that you like so much?
Kevin Schwantz: Just how much you can learn about how to control a motorcycle goin’ so slow. You know it’s unbelievable the things I learned trials ridin’ that translate to how to be a better road racer, dirt tracker, motocross rider, everything.
MMM: Of any bike, what is your favorite and why?
Kevin Schwantz: You know if I had a favorite race bike it would definitely be my 93 championship bike (Suzuki RGV500- 500cc 2-stroke V4-less than 300lbs)
MMM: How would you describe what it feels like to be in a state of Flow, The Zone, “In the groove”?
Kevin Schwantz: The best description I can think of is when you’re out runnin’ at the front of a race and you’re doin’ it, you’re ridin’ away from people, it just seems like everything is happening in slow motion. The bike is setup so good that you’re that far in front of the motorcycle with your visual awareness that that chicane coming up just goes whhooosshhh! You know, just happens. When shits’ not workin’ right and you’re starin’ back at the front tire of the motorcycle and you get in the corner and (looping wheelie pantomime) aaaaayyyyuuuuggggghhh- Every things a ******* hurry. But yeah, slow motion is probably the best description.
MMM: Is there a way that you found to access it quickly?
Kevin Schwantz: NNNyeahh. It’s just sumpthin’ ya know and it’s somethin’ that I’ve learned, I think I’ve started to realize even more so since I quit racin’. I wish I could have thought of it or could have figured it out when I was racin’ without “I’m not tryin’ hard enough-I gotta go faster-I gotta try harder. Which means, everything then just gets faster and shittier and worse.
MMM: If you were starting out riding again what would you do differently?
Kevin Schwantz: Ya know I think I’d be smarter. I think I’d realize that points mean prizes, its not all about winnin’ every race out there. You know saying that, if I had my entire career to do over again? Yeah, there’s some races I’d like to have back. You know I liked the reputation, I liked my ridin’ style, I liked the, I mean I had to ride the Suzuki the way I had to ride the Suzuki. That was me, that was the bike, that was what we were together.