Doug Polen takes 1st in the Battle of the CB160s LeMans Start!

| 9/8/2009 2:02:40 PM

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Doug Polen and Honda CB 

Four-time World Champ Doug Polen (#23) chats with second-place finisher Mick Hart (#775) and third-place finisher Tim O'Mahony (#290) after winning the Battle of the CB160s LeMans Start exhibition race during the 2009 Bonneville Vintage GP at Miller Motorsports Park, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009. 

As a four-time World Champion, you can bet Doug Polen rides to win. So when Polen swings a leg over a bike, you sort of assume a rider of his caliber will smoke just about all comers, regardless of what he’s riding. But could Polen, who made his name riding100-plus horsepower bikes like the Ducati 888 and Honda RC45, successfully compete against seasoned veterans in the Lillipution world of 14hp Honda CB160s? And starting at the very back of the pack? He could, and he did, and he won.

The fact that the Battle of the CB160s LeMans Start at the Bonneville Vintage GP is actually an exhibition race doesn’t change the competitive spirit one iota. Regardless of whether they’re racing for points or for fun (and believe me, they’re always racing for fun), the guys and gals who race in the CB160 category are in it to win. So when Polen ran across the track last Saturday and jumped on his little CB after bump-starting it to life, it was anybody’s guess just how this little “exhibition” was going to play out. I always like rooting for the underdog, so it just felt right thinking that maybe, just maybe, somebody would really give Polen a run for the money. Oh ye of little faith.

Polen did have a slight advantage over the competition, as the bike he was riding was actually a CB200, which, we understand from owner Wick Wilkinson, started life as a CL175. But that only gave Polen a 2hp or 3hp advantage – at best – over the rest of the field. And to make things at least a little bit fairer, Polen was placed in the very last spot on the lineup, number 37 of 37 riders. (9-11-09 Update: Michael Bateman informs me that Polen's bike was powered by an essentially stock but carefully built CB175 engine. He also tells me the 175s have about a 4hp advantage over the 160s, not the 2hp to 3hp I suggested. Michael should know; he helped Tim O'Mahoney build the bike. - Richard Backus) 

CB160 LeMans start
Riders dash for their bikes in the Battle of the CB160s LeMans Start
at Miller during the 4th Annual Bonneville Vintage GP.

johnny conley
9/14/2009 4:35:04 PM

Why do you run 175's with 160's. Not to good of publicity a pro plus a HUGE power advantage. What a wanker.

Michael Bateman
9/14/2009 9:16:22 AM

We call them all 160 racers, and they're all based on roughly the same early honda twins with the same "spiritual ancestry" but there's a difference between 160 racers and 175 racers and there's a mix of both 160s and 175s in the same class. Built to the same basic spec 160s make about 14hp and 175s make about 18hp, which is a significant advantage so there's sort of 2 sub-classes running within the grid really. And a more hotted up 160 is competitive with a more stockish or less carefully built 175, so there's a whole range of combinations of bike and rider speeds in the field. But - it's way more about the rider. A fast rider on a 160 will beat most all the 175s anyway, and a slower rider will be slow regardless of how fast his bike is. For instance, Joe Pethoud finished 4th on both Saturday and Sunday, way in front of many 175s, and I believe he was on a 160. Also note that while Polen may have had an advantage over the 160s in the field he did not have that advantage over the other 175s in the field. I think we all agree though that we're thrilled he agreed to ride with us and show us "how it's done." Michael

Edward "Buddy" Vitt
9/11/2009 5:42:40 PM

Multiply the HP advantage by a 5 speed gear box and you get the acceleration to top speed advantage to the first corner but if he was able to keep the throttle pined all the time , the bike may have been geared wrong for his weight, he looks to be about 2 and one half to 3 squirrels

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