Sports bike racing is the fastidious sport of racing motorcycles. As we see more and more women making history on the track, it's evident sports bike racing is not just a man's world. And without question, women have proven to be extremely fast — just as fast as their male counterparts — on the bike.
The bigger questions — who has the superior engine, who is rocking the best plush suspension or razor-sharp turning ability, and who has mastered the bike? We have the answer. Chloe Lerin.
MotoAmerica Data Engineer and WERA racer, Chloe Lerin — is undoubtedly on the fast track to glory. Today, we sat down for an exclusive interview with the Knoxville, Tennessee GFG ambassador.
How Did You Get Started in Sports Bike Racing?
I first rode a motorcycle when I was around 8 or 9 years old. My grandfather had bought a PW80 for the grandkids and my uncle had a PW50 for his kid. We would rip these around my grandparents’ backyard. Unfortunately, my grandparents lived pretty far away from us, so I did not get a lot of seat time. Fast forward to me being around 21 with some money in the bank, I decided to take a motorcycle training course so I could get my license and stop riding on the back of my boyfriend’s bike. Back home in France, taking your motorcycle license course is a 30-hour instruction deal. It usually takes a couple of months to complete.
My first two bikes were naked bikes — Kawasaki ER5 and a Honda CB599 hornet that I purchased when I moved to the US. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of racing or sports bikes until I first went to the track. I wanted to be a better rider and started doing track days on my CB599 and soon after I started my engineering job in 2018.
That’s where I fell in love with track riding and realized that sport bikes were better, more appropriate machines. After maybe 4 or 5 track days on my CB599, I purchased a Yamaha R6. As soon as I rode my R6, it all clicked and I started getting a lot faster and more comfortable. And so, it began I did track days for about 1.5 years before I started coaching and started racing last week (February 2021)!
What’s Your Favorite Thing About Sports Bike Racing?
I am a mechanical engineer specializing in engine research and a thrill seeker. What I love about sport bikes is that I can combine an athletic endeavor with my engineering interests. I can have fun on a machine that I understand, and love working on. Another aspect of racing that I love is the data analysis part. I am a data engineer for a Pro MotoAmerica racer as well. The excitement of being part of a team, contributing to the rider’s progress, being in pit lane during the races and traveling the country is for me unmatched. It’s like the quote, “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work one day in your life” although that’s just my weekend job, I do still have my engineering job that is also very fulfilling.
What Advice Would You Give Beginner Motorcycle Racer?
Being a beginner motorcycle racer myself, this one is a bit tough. The advice that I gave myself before the race weekend was to rely on my training and never forget to have fun. It is a dangerous sport that requires a lot of focus, so we need to be in a good headspace when we straddle the bike. For me, the paddocks are my happy place, so I just try to remind myself how lucky I am to be doing something I love.
If You Could Own Any Sports Bike, What Would it be?
All of them? Is that an acceptable answer? Jokes aside, and although I’d love to have more types of bikes (dirt bike, Supermoto, minibike, etc.), a sport bike that stands out at the moment is the Aprilia RS660. It was just released in the US and it is likely to change the Twins Cup Class at MotoAmerica. So far, the twins class has required heavily modified bikes, including naked bikes that were turned into sport bikes.
With the arrival of the RS660, we now have a sport twin that’s stock and makes 20 hp more than a built SV650 or FZ07, which are the current bikes in the twins cup. At club racing level, the twins class is a bit less competitive and offers a path to pro-racing on a budget so I think it is interesting. Not to mention the awesome electronics package that it comes with, which is exciting for data analysis purposes. Other than the RS660, I would get a newer Yamaha R6 to have access to more electronics and data channels.
Do You Still Plan on Racing CCS and WERA in 2021?
Absolutely! As a matter of fact, I just completed my race school and WERA license at Talladega GP raceway in Alabama last weekend. I knew that it would be fun, but I was not expecting it to be THAT fun. Each race was a battle with the other rider. Three of my girlfriends also made the plunge and decided to start racing this year — Anna, Sarah, and Emily. We are all at about the same pace, so we had our own race within the race, and it made the entire experience so memorable. I am not sure that I will do CCS this year, mainly because CCS races at tracks that are further from where I live, but I will do most of the WERA rounds.
What’s Your Favorite Thing to Do Outside of Racing?
I mentioned my role as a Data Engineer in a previous question, but that’s definitely high up on the list. I love applying my engineering skills to racing and being on the other side of the pit wall is equally nerve-wracking for me. When I’m not doing anything motorcycle-related, I ride my mountain bike or go road cycling. I used to compete in Judo back home and trained here a little bit, but cycling has been a great cross-training activity for motorcycle racing and an easy one to keep doing during COVID.
What’s Your Favorite GFG Racing Apparel?
The one I do not have yet! I am in love with my hoodies, so I have my eyes on the Sherpa Zipped Hoodie. And now that I am racing for real, I think I’ll need the Trackside Umbrella for my umbrella boy.
What’s Your Obsession with Unicorns?
Ahahahah! Well, disclaimer here, most girls in sport bike racing call themselves unicorns, so it’s not as unique anymore. But originally the unicorn thing comes from a friend who once told me “As a woman in mechanical engineering, you’re like a unicorn, too good to be true.” I was always the only female or one of the few females so I found it suitable and I ran with it.
Now I always have a pack of unicorn stickers that I distribute to women at the track. What I learned later is that the unicorn analogy comes from an old video with a man drawing a graph on a whiteboard. The Y-axis is the sanity scale and the x-axis is the beauty scale which used to categorize women. The unicorn is the most beautiful and sane.
Tell Us What ‘I Have No Idols. I Admire Work, Dedication and Competence’ Means To You?
This is a quote from late Formula 1 Legend Ayrton Senna. We all know that it’s never a good thing to meet your heroes. We tend to put them on a pedestal and get disappointed. The first part of this quote is a reminder that everybody is human and comes with their history and wisdom (aka mistakes). Nobody is perfect and it is ok. However, some qualities make some humans successful and success is not handed to them.
These people have a goal, and they all start somewhere. At first, they work hard to learn, then they sharpen their skills over a long period of time which is dedication, and then it all leads to experience and knowledge which make up competence. As I looked for role models, I realized that there is no single person who fits the criteria that I have set for my definition of success. The criteria: being a woman with a successful career, successful in a hobby/athletic endeavor, and having a fruitful family life.
I know of successful women in one or two of these aspects but never all there … and after all … how does one describe what successful means? Work, dedication, and competence are more tangible qualities. So instead of that perfect unicorn idol that does not exist, I take my inspiration from all the amazing people that I cross paths with and have a chance to chat with.
If you want to learn more about Chloe, see racing photos, and connect on IG — ride over to her GFG ambassador profile.