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Hitting the track with Nicky HaydenNicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP World Champion, is heading to World Superbike this year. We join The Kentucky Kid on the track and take a look back at some of the bikes that have carried him this far.
[SOUND] [NOISE] Nicky Hayden is one of the world's fastest men on two wheels. Wearing the number 69, the Kentucky Kid has won championships at nearly every level on the way up. Including the pinnacle of the sport, MotoGP. This year, he's moving on to World Super Bike, where he's going to be racing a production based Honda CBR 1000 against some of the world's best. In some ways, it's like a return to the beginning of his career, where he was racing real bikes Real fast. Take a look at some of the iconic motorcycles that have defined his career. American Honda has opened the door to the private collection. We've booked all the track time with Mr. Hayden himself. [MUSIC] All right, we've got Nicky Hayden on the pit wall. Right. A couple of pretty good looking bikes back there behind us. Now you were telling me earlier, that's the Honda RC45. You were riding that in high school, is that right? Yeah, it's the first ever super bike I ever ridden. I remember riding that for the first time at Willow Springs. Remember rolled one out onto the track and just feeling the power, and how smooth it went through the gears. So yeah, a few things have changed since then, but that was a great experience for me. This is a 1994 Honda RC45, also known as the RVF750. 750 is the displacement of the engine, at 750 CCB4. This bike was meant to go racing and indeed Honda only ever sold 200 of the things, just enough to qualify for production based super bike competitions. Only 50 RC45s came to the US, and this is one of them. A bike that spends most of its time locked away in the American Honda Museum. A bike like this would make for Nikki Hayden's first entry into professional super bike race. Yeah, was a good period for me. It was my first year with Honda and that was a good opportunity. Won the American 600 Super Sport title that year on 600. And was the beginning of something special for me. And it still looks fantastic. I love the twin headlights. I think that is such an iconic look. I kinda miss it, to be honest with you. Within the domestic AMA series, it's not unusual for riders to race in both the Super Bike and the slightly slower Super Sport series, meaning multiple races per weekend [INAUDIBLE] On a CBR600, Nicky Hayden won his first AMA championship in 1999, and this is the bike he rode in 2000, which still bares his number 1 championship winning plate. Nicky would continue racing in AMA through the new millennium. And this would be his new super bike. This is a production version Nicky's RC51. A 999cc v twin. Bigger and more powerful than RC45 it replaced, on a bike very much like this one, he would win the 2002 AMA Super Bike Championship and be propelled on to the international stage with a motor GP ride starting in 2000 and [MUSIC] Nicky would spend most of his MotoGP career riding some variation of this bike, a Honda RC211V. A prototype machine is custom built for racing from the ground up and is powered by a 990cc V5. The bike weighs just 326 pounds. That's 100 less than a road going superbike. It makes somewhere around 250 horsepower. It's quite a ride, a ride that would carry Nicky to his MotoGP championship in 2006. Yeah I did that 13 years in MotoGP. Got the title I really wanted. And had a lot of Everybody wanted it. Yeah some good days. Very thankful for the opportunity. Was an amazing experience to ride those bikes on those tracks in front of those crowds. And you know I got now an opportunity to move to World Super Bike. I'm 34 now and I'm very happy. To keep racing and get this opportunity and after while I think a change is good and to be back with this team and everything, I got a good fresh start. So looking forward top try and have some fun. I always have been a fan of super bikes. Also, my goal would be to try and win the World Superbike Championship. With Honda as well and be the first rider to ever have both crowns. [MUSIC] As Nicky moves on to World Superbike Racing, he'll be riding a machine much like this. It's a box fresh CBR1000RR, showing two decades worth of advancement over that earlier RC45 Despite only having a 250cc advantage over that older bike, it makes around 175 horsepower. That's nearly twice as much as an early 90s Superbike. But it also adds modern suspension and lot's of other niceties you didn't get back in the 90s. Though you can't deny the RC45 had a better paint job, and those twin headlights are nothing short of iconic. So we've got 20 years worth of super bike progress sitting behind us, obviously a lot of changes between the V4 versus an inline 4, a lot more horsepower in the new bike. I think 75 more horsepower or something like that. Honda won't tell us for sure, but I think it's something like that. What do you think is the biggest change other than the engine between these two, suspension or the set up [CROSSTALK] Well I mean just sitting on it you already feel the position is more racing. A little bit more like full race bike. Where that one kind of feels like a street bike. Where that one feels. I mean the ride position is very similar to my CBR. On the new bike? Yeah on the new bike. Yeah on the new one. I would say that and the weight is a big thing and how narrow it is. But it's cool to see. I mean, you know, you can just sit there and step back and see how far the technology's came and all the little refinements, so it's just cool. [SOUND] Climbing on the back of a bike like this, especially after watching someone like Mickey flying around the track, you really appreciate just how good these guys are. It's a bike that wants to throw its front wheel in the sky with every twist of the throttle and spin the rear tire up coming up out of every turn. Getting the most out of a bike like this takes incredible skill and confidence. [MUSIC] [SOUND] [MUSIC] What's the difference between that guy and the bike that you're gonna be racing on this season? Well, I mean, my bike, that's the base. They, as you say, they take a production bike and a lot of the rules have the same thing, obviously, with the frame and different things. But they can modify obviously the suspension can be modified but you know you can't change a lot of stuff. Yeah the engine can be hopped up with different I think I believe it's pistons and different things, and electronics we can work a lot with those and adjustments, but the bikes must be As you said production, and any part we use can't be a prototype. You have to be able to buy it, and there's even a price cap on it. So it keeps it fair for some of the teams, that they can't go out and buy a $200 thousand suspension setting that nobody else in the paddock can afford. I kind of like that part of it. In MotoGP in the last years The difference between the factories and the supported teams got so big that [UNKNOWN] took a little fun out of it. So in superbike, they're closing that gap. Well, it's been quite a great privilege hanging out with you at the track, I wish you the best of luck this year. I hope you have a lot of great success and I hope you have a lot of fun out there on the track, too. All right, well thanks for having me out here. And yeah, I'm looking forward to a new season. Like I say, very fortunate to To keep going, I still like racing. I still have a lot of support. Especially, here, in America. Let's go have some fun. In a lot of ways, World Superbike is a purer form of motor sport. It's certainly a lot closer to bikes that you and I can buy anyway. And, if Nicky plays his cards right this season, he can become the first man To win both the MotoGP and the World Superbike Championships. And I for one wouldn't bet against it. 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