Exclusive! Ben Spies Describes Road America

Road America Elkhart Lake

Turn six: Ben Spies won two AMA Superbike races, in 2007 and ’08, on Yoshimura Suzukis at Road America.

Road America is a pretty straightforward track. You definitely want a fast bike and a good race tuck. You also want a bike that stops well because four of the big braking zones—turns one, three, five, and eight—are downhill. The rear tire gets really light, so the bike needs to be stable.

Road America track map

Road America is 4.048 miles long with 14 turns.

You also want a bike that works well in long, fast corners. The Carousel, for example, feels like half the track. You need more trail and a longer wheelbase so the bike tracks all the way through the turn. A stiffer top-out spring on the shock also helps with braking. Quick turn-in isn’t quite as important.

On a big bike, I would rather lead off the final corner. The thing is already wheelying and the rear tire is spinning, so when you’re in the lead you’re less worried about grabbing a big handful of throttle to get around someone. Most Superbikes get into a bit of a head shake over the rise, and sometimes you have to back out of the throttle if you’re trying to pass.

On a 600, I would prefer to be in the back and come around. You don’t have to worry about the bike wheelying as much over the rise when you’re trying to break the draft.

This story is excerpted from the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season guide. Produced by the Bonnier Motorcycle Group, the 56-page publication is available for purchase at all nine MotoAmerica events.

Road America Elkhart Lake

Turn six: Ben Spies won two AMA Superbike races, in 2007 and ’08, on Yoshimura Suzukis at Road America.

Road America is a pretty straightforward track. You definitely want a fast bike and a good race tuck. You also want a bike that stops well because four of the big braking zones—turns one, three, five, and eight—are downhill. The rear tire gets really light, so the bike needs to be stable.

Road America track map

Road America is 4.048 miles long with 14 turns.

You also want a bike that works well in long, fast corners. The Carousel, for example, feels like half the track. You need more trail and a longer wheelbase so the bike tracks all the way through the turn. A stiffer top-out spring on the shock also helps with braking. Quick turn-in isn’t quite as important.

On a big bike, I would rather lead off the final corner. The thing is already wheelying and the rear tire is spinning, so when you’re in the lead you’re less worried about grabbing a big handful of throttle to get around someone. Most Superbikes get into a bit of a head shake over the rise, and sometimes you have to back out of the throttle if you’re trying to pass.

On a 600, I would prefer to be in the back and come around. You don’t have to worry about the bike wheelying as much over the rise when you’re trying to break the draft.

This story is excerpted from the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season guide. Produced by the Bonnier Motorcycle Group, the 56-page publication is available for purchase at all nine MotoAmerica events.