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5 Minutes with: Jean-Michel Bayle

Jean-Michel Bayle is undoubtedly one of the most famous, and iconic, motocross riders of all time. Why? JMB revolutionized the way that a bike is ridden all those years ago. Although his professional career didn’t last too long, he did achieve quite a lot in that time, as he won two world titles, two AMA Motocross titles and one AMA Supercross title. But in 1992, he started to look at some other avenues, and entered the road-race scene with Honda.

Some would say that Jean-Michel Bayle opened the door for many other Europeans to tackle the American series. Prior to his move in 1990, it wasn’t a common occurrence, like it is now. JMB was an enigma whilst he was in the USA, as he puzzled fans, and riders, with some of his decisions. Bayle was famous for carving his initials on the hillside by the Honda test track, for all of his teammates to see.

When Bayle disappeared in 1992, it was rare to see him on a motocross bike from that point onwards, hence why it was such a special, and unique, opportunity to see him race the 2013 Veterans MXdN at Farleigh Castle this past weekend. JMB was most definitely the attraction for most fans, and he didn’t disappoint! In his four motos across the weekend, we saw some glimpses of the rider that once ruled the world. Jean-Michel had some creative lines, and he also made a few passes that were technically brilliant.

Fortunately, Jean-Michel Bayle let us have a bit of his time on Sunday evening to talk about how the weekend went for him, and what he is up to at the moment.

MX Vice: JMB, how did the weekend go from your perspective?

Bayle: It was great! It was fun to ride again with the big bikes, the CR500 – I haven’t raced with this type of bike since 1992. So, it was quite difficult. Saturday was actually a good day, but today [Sunday] was slightly harder, because physically we are not ready, and also the track was more difficult. But, overall, it was to get together again, to race, and to spend the weekend here.

MX Vice: Was the bike as good as you remember? Or was it harder to adjust to the vintage bike again?

Bayle: You know, it was very similar [laughs] – it is the same bike! It was very similar, and just as fun to ride as I remember it!

MX Vice: Are you the type of rider that enjoys living in the past, so to speak, or do you prefer riding the modern stuff?

Bayle: I do like to ride the modern stuff. But, on this type of track, the CR500 is just so fun to ride. It’s such a big bike to handle and muscle around – I like that. 

MX Vice: I know the promoters have been trying to get you over to this event in recent years. So, what made you do it this year?

Bayle: I chose to do it this year, because we have a good French team. I didn’t want to come alone; I wanted to come with my friends – that was the reason for the trip.

MX Vice: Did the event (the Vets MXdN) as a whole live up to your expectations?

Bayle: It’s really great. There are so many fans, and the spirit of motocross is right here [at Farleigh Castle]. It’s really good to be a part of it. 

MX Vice: So, I guess you will be back next year then?

Bayle: I don’t know. No, we did it to make people happy, and we don’t really want to come every year. 

MX Vice: Did you have any expectations coming in, in regard to your results?

Bayle: No, not at all. We came here just to enjoy the riding. I had no practice, so that means no expectations. 

MX Vice: So, what are you doing with yourself nowadays? 

Bayle: It’s all road racing. We’re doing some commercial stuff for Honda, and the customers on the racing track, like we ride with them, for example. We also do schools with them. I just find it more fun to do it.

MX Vice: How much do you follow the professional motocross currently – do you help any up and coming French riders? 

Bayle: I do follow all of the results, and I try to go to one or two GP’s, to visit all of my friends, and the Honda team. So, yeah, only sometimes, but it is good. I don’t work with any riders too much, but I do work with some now and then. 

MX Vice Editor || 25

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