Philodromos. It’s a word I just created, and you may be a victim of it as am I.

In the process of developing this editorial, I had to scour my rusty memory bank to find the word philately, which is the quirky term given to the hobby of stamp collecting. The origin of the word is credited to stamp collector George Herpin, who in 1860 looked to the Greeks for inspiration to create a word for the nascent hobby.

Herpin combined phil(o), which means a fondness or attraction for something, with philatélie, which refers to a stamp’s tax-exempt status. The anglicized result is philately; a stamp collector is referred to as a philatelist.

I got sucked into this Greek lesson because I was looking for analogs to a peculiar little hobby I dabble in, and perhaps you do, too. I’m a lover of racetracks and curvy roads and receive great pleasure from riding on new ones. Like some philatelists, I’ve gotten into my hobby quite seriously, particularly racetracks, and needed to catalog them somehow.

Duke’s Den – My Tour Of Racetracks Around The World: Part 1
Duke’s Den – My Tour Of Racetracks Around The World: Part 2
Duke’s Den – My Tour Of Racetracks Around The World: Part 3
Duke’s Den – My Tour Of Racetracks Around The World: Part 4

Yup, I had ratcheted up the list of full-size racetracks I’ve ridden to 42, which seems inconceivable to someone who is failing to keep up with his actual, rapidly advancing age.

In the nearly two years since the last installment was written, I was able to bag two more racetracks, including a major one earlier this month when I accepted the invitation to ride Suzuki’s brilliant new GSX-R1000R at a circuit that’s frequently regarded as one of the best racetracks on the planet.

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R Review

Phillip Island, Australia. There’s probably places to pet cute little koalas nearby, but that’s not what brought me to Oz. Rather, it was this fantastically flowing and scenically captivating 2.76-mile track set along the shoreline of the Southern Ocean.

Phillip Island, Australia. There’s probably places to pet cute little koalas nearby, but that’s not what brought me to Oz. Rather, it was this fantastically flowing and scenically captivating 2.76-mile track set along the shoreline of the Indian Ocean.

Ah, summer in Australia, and I was at the fabulous Phillip Island circuit, about a two-hour drive from Melbourne. Many epic Grand Prix and World Superbike battles have taken place at this undulating track where the average speed of MotoGP bikes is more than 110 mph. It is both entertaining and challenging, and it lived up to my lofty expectations of it.

Phillip Island Lap Records
1:36.9 125cc Grand Prix Alvaro Bautista 2006
1:36.3 Moto3 Jack Miller 2014
1:32.7 250cc Grand Prix Alvaro Bautista 2008
1:33.2 World Supersport Kenan Sofuoglu 2013
1:32.8 Moto2 Alex de Angelis 2013
1:32.7 500cc Grand Prix Kenny Roberts Jr. 1999
1:30.9 World Superbike Chaz Davies 2014
1:28.1 MotoGP Marc Marquez 2013
Perusing the best laps logged at Phillip Island, I found it interesting to see the four-stroke 250s in Moto3 are barely quicker than the 125cc two-strokes from a decade ago. Note also the similarities in lap times between the 600cc bikes in Moto2 and World Supersport, but observe that a 250cc two-stroke GP bike from 2008 is still quicker than both. The million-dollar MotoGP prototype machines have nearly a 3-second advantage over the production-based World Superbikes. However, the Superbike is nearly 2 seconds quicker than a fire-breathing 500cc two-stroke GP bike, even if most of that gap is likely due to the additional grip from modern tires. Finally, notice that Bautista’s lap time on an Aprilia 250 was essentially identical to KRJR’s 500GP Suzuki, which is why Aprilia and Honda experimented with bikes that had fewer cylinders and/or less displacement.

Okay, so I’m really into something here with my collection of racetracks, even if what I’m into is little more than a vain method of me trying to frame my life into seemingly worthwhile chunks. But what should people call riders like us who enjoy racking up and logging places we’ve ridden?

That leads me to hippodromes, which were Greek stadiums used for horse and chariot racing; horse is the hippo in hippodrome, while dromos is the Greek word for course or road. So, from there it doesn’t require a peyote trip for the creativity necessary to combine philo with dromos to build the word philodromos: the love of riding on roads and tracks and logging them for posterity. Enthusiasts like us should, I suppose, be referred to as philodromists…?

Adding to the monumental nature of my trip to Phillip Island was the chance to bench race and get riding tips from legendary racer Kevin Schwantz, the 1993 500cc World Grand Prix champ. Here, after seeing me ride on track, Schwantz suggests I might be better suited to the back seat...

Adding to the monumental nature of my trip to Phillip Island was the chance to bench race and get riding tips from legendary racer Kevin Schwantz, the 1993 500cc World Grand Prix champ. Here, after seeing me ride on track, Schwantz suggests I might be better suited to the back seat…

In the first installment of my four-part racetrack tour, I warned my fellow MO editors they shouldn’t expect to be assigned to any sportbike launches at Mugello, Brno or Phillip Island. Well, with the Aussie track now checked off, I’d better replace it with Suzuka and hope for a bike launch at one of this trio of bucket-list tracks. Oh, and while I’m at it, let’s add Spa Francorchamps!

As humans, we all have dreams about achieving something a bit fanciful, something worth striving for, something that inspires us. As motorcyclists, what’s on your bucket list?

G’day, Phillip Island, thanks for having me! Next I hope to say ciao to Mugello!

G’day, Phillip Island, thanks for having me! Next I hope to say ciao to Mugello!

  • ken mcguire

    A bit lame. Using the abbreviation for circuit then removing afi from aficionado Circionado.

    And they are damn cool aspirations.

    SBK at PI this weekend and I have an ear infection BOOOO… cannot go. It’s awesome for spectators because you can take your bike in the general admission area (nearly everywhere). Want to try another view on the other side of the circuit and can’t be arsed walking? Saddle up! Very cool. Also, MV’s 3 & 4 cylinders at full tilt are amazing.

    Keep the dream alive Kevin! Spa up Eau Rouge would be terrifyingly breathtaking.

  • Starmag

    Great article Kevin. I love making up my own words. How about Trumplethinskin? Anyway, as a “philodromist” of the road variety, #1 on my bucket list is to fly into Milan, dine on Risotto alla Milanese, sip Amaone, and rent a Multistrada for a tour of the Dolomiti including, but not limited to a Moto Guzzi tour. The Twainish (another made up word), self-depreciating “more suited to the back seat” was great, although I’m sure not true.

    • Kevin Duke

      In a caption in an editorial, I play a little loose with facts. 🙂 Hope you get to Italy – marvelous country for roads and food and motorbikes!

  • BDan75

    Can you give any insight as to where the stock GSXR (or any modern 1,000cc supersport, really) would rank in that list of lap times? Based on other stuff I’ve read, it seems like maybe they’d fall somewhere in the Moto2 / World Supersport neighborhood…?

    • Kevin Duke

      That’s a good question. No lap timers on our bikes, AFAIK. Because acceleration is less of a concern at PI than carrying corner speed, a stock literbike won’t be able lap as quickly as a much lighter pure racebike like Moto2. The national Superbike record is a 1:32.3, but that’s a full-on racebike.

    • john phyyt

      …. Oh !! that is the delectable question BDan. Be careful because when people really care about Stock lap-times.. You really need to determine what Stock means. There was a race in where a smaller displacement 2 stroke defeated the 4 strokes but was disqualified for having the horn in the wrong place . maybe aided airflow to engine.
      I believe most hyper-sport owners would change tires;exhaust; flash.. would you allow that?

      • BDan75

        Yeah, I suppose definition of “stock” is the hard part, outside a comparison that used the same rider on truly from-the-dealership-stock bikes.

        Maybe what we should be looking at is results from FIM SuperStock 1000. Should be dealing with pretty talented riders there, and at least from what I can read it seems like the bikes are fairly close to what the average person might take to the track (albeit with pro setup, etc.).

        Anyway, if you look at Misano last year, pole for Superstock 1000 was 1’37.3 (Panigale). Superbike was 1’34.0 (ZX10R). MotoGP was 1’31.9 (Yamaha M1).

  • Old MOron

    Ha ha! How can anyone who isn’t also a GP god survive a cutting contest with Kevin Schwantz? Kevin vs Kevin sounds kind of like “Kramer vs Kramer”.

    When I first read “Philodromos”, I thought of Greek pastry, but when you explain the root words, it makes sense. Me, I guess I’m a philoMOdisquser. I spend my spare time on this forum 🙂

  • DickRuble

    Dick’s bucketlist
    a) repack muffler; even with earplugs it’s too loud
    b) figure out jetting once for all
    c) replace clutch cable, there are signs of fraying (note: most cables on Amazon are junk)
    d) put some metzeler’s mp7 or michelin pilot power on the bike, michelin road’s last a long time but that’s because you don’t feel like riding the bike with them on.
    e) find time and opportunities to do some riding
    f) get off the computer (aspirational)

    • Prakasit

      Thanks for a good laugh. Not sure what that says about me. Note to self, add f) to my list.

    • JMDGT

      What about the South African Supermodels? Where do they fit in?

      • DickRuble

        They’ll have to wait in line, right after the Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Supermodels.

        • JMDGT

          You are a cruel taskmaster Ruble.

  • JMDGT

    New Zealand. The Isle of Man. Ducati SS. Bonnevile T120. Moto Guzzi California. I will visit or own these before my chips get cashed in. Here’s to the bucket list. Good luck gentlemen.

  • mackja

    As a fellow philodomist my bucket list, once I retire I look forward to picking up a really nice toy hauler load up my track bike along with a street ride, head out accross the country and ride all the wonderful tracks and back roads I can find. Of course an opportunity to ride some of the great tracks of Europe would be icing on the bucket! I will freely admitt I am a bit envious, traveling and testing these wonderful machines at magnificent race tracks has to be truly amazing!

  • Alejandro Vandalay

    This may sound lame but, Riding a 1000cc+ superbike is my holy grail of moto-tasks. I’ve been riding for 3 years and the thought of purebred race machine makes my loins literally tingle. Is there a cream for that?

    • Kevin Duke

      You might have to make your own… 🙂

  • Old MOron

    Hey, I just noticed Revvin’ Kevin’s helmet. I didn’t know that Arai is making a modern replica. Pepsi colors, very cool. Well out of my price range, though.
    https://www.araiamericas.com/helmets/corsair-x/schwantz-93

    http://motorcycle.com.vsassets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/022217-dukes-den-racetrack-bucketlist-suzuki-gsx-r1000r-schwantz-696×464.jpg

  • Old MOron

    You know what’s on my bucket list? Reading Evans’s Saddlesore 1,000 report.

  • Andrew Horton

    Just a little factual correction, Phillip Island GP track is set on the shoreline of the Bass Straight, which separates the mainland from Tasmania. The ocean beyond is the Southern Ocean. The Indian Ocean starts 3500km to the west. And yes its a fantastic track. Phillip Island, Mugello, Brno, Spa, Suzuka. They be Holy places.

    • Kevin Duke

      Sure, next thing you’ll tell me is a koala bear isn’t really a bear! Seriously, thanks for the correction!

      • Andrew Horton

        No worries, plus you seem to be across the “bear” thing so I’ll keep the powder dry. Enjoyed the piece. Magic to see that the wide eyed joy continues to run strong.