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Living the life – Test Rider by Julian Amos | Other | Tested

The True Motorcycling Adventures of a Secret Development Test Rider by Julian Amos

“I was flying along the main straight now, almost flat-out. A light twin-engine aircraft, hidden from me by the slight uphill climb of the track for the first half of the main straight, was coming in to attempt a landing. We were about 100ft apart and closing on each other at a combined speed of perhaps as much as 300mph…”

Yep, the life of a test rider. Julian Amos really has lived it, working at Triumph for 20 years on every machine from the T595 right up to the recently released models. So you can imagine the kinds of adventures he’s had – the incredible prototype machinery, the high-speed lunacy, the money, the glamour…

Well, not exactly. In fact, one of the most endearing things about Test Rider is the way Amos gently disabuses us of such notions. Sure, there are thrills and spills – personally delivering a Daytona 600 to Prince William, for example, or miraculously surviving a crash while altitude testing in the Sierra Nevada – but there’s also dreary road mileage work on England’s highways and byways (800km a day, five days a week), wind tunnel sessions that leave Amos drenched in sweat, and other tasks that sound like they were dreamt up simply as cruel and unusual punishment:

“Once I got asked if I could step outside the rear of the development workshop for a moment, where I came face to face with a car engine hoist that was suspending a Speed Triple’s front end up off the floor because the front wheel and forks had been taken off. ‘Could you just sit on that with your feet on the footpegs while we cut the straps and drop the bike onto the floor,’ they said.”

Just as engaging are the parts that explore Amos’s wider and deeper relationship with bikes. He talks us through early mechanical infatuations and describes how he developed a soft spot for old motorcycles. In the end you’re left with an overwhelming sense of his love for all things two wheels. As he says, to be a good test rider, “it really helps if you can appreciate all motorcycles, whatever the size and type.”

Test Rider – The True Motorcycling Adventures of a Secret Development Test Rider

Julian Amos

Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd

US$8.58 (A$11.60)