At the Auto Expo 2016 there were not just new motorcycles on display for us to drool over. Outside the main pavilion there was the stunt and activity stalls as well. JK Tyre, Yamaha Motorcycles, Honda Motorcycles and Hero Motorcycles had different attractions for the crowds. We were fortunate to witness the Yamaha Trials Bike performance from the inside, with Fumitaka Nozaki slipping and sliding inches away from us. In the midst of the smoking tyres and roaring crowds Nozaki took up the Yamaha FZ-s and made that stock 150cc motorcycle do things that I didn’t think was possible with that bike. After a few minutes of working up the crowd into a lather, he hopped on to his Trials Bike and defied the laws of physics which us mortals believe in.
The beauty of watching Nozaki perform was not just in the application of his skill, but the sublime control of the machine. The utter ease with which he did what he wanted to do, without once looking under pressure. Even with the exceptional concentration required for this form of riding, he never once stopped smiling. What was on display was not just a motorcyclist who was in complete control, but a showman who knew perfectly well how to play the crowd. Coming from a different culture of motorcycling, Nozaki was in his elements as he high fived people and did stoppies which made him get ‘up close and personal’ with the people sitting on the fence!
During his 20 minute adrenaline packed physically demanding performance, I noticed him multiple times checking his watch while mid-air! Why did he do that? We asked him after the show, once he was done getting his photos clicked with many of the audience who had become his fans instantly. Hearing a Delhi crowd cheering on “Nozaki, Nozaki, Nozaaaaki” was as much of a pleasant surprise as seeing him perform.
Fumitaka Nozaki started riding as kid and still holds the record for being the youngest to get a Trials licence and compete. He won the Trials Championship in Japan in 1992 and still races. Unfortunately we don’t speak Japanese and Nozaki didn’t speak English, so we took the help of a translator. Here is a short, informal, impromptu chat with Fumitaka Nozaki, we hope that nothing got ‘lost in translation’!
xBhp: How was your experience of riding at the Auto Expo?
Fumitaka Nozaki: There are so many customers and so many people, that I really enjoyed riding here.
xBhp: How has your India experience been so far?
Fumitaka Nozaki: India is a fantastic country!
xBhp: Do you find the Indian audience appreciative of your performance?
Fumitaka Nozaki: I could feel during the performance, people’s appreciation.
xBhp: How different is the crowd’s response here than in Japan?
Fumitaka Nozaki: In Japan I am a Trials racer. People there regard me as a racer. So people’s appreciation is different than here, where here he is a riding to perform in front of an audience. So the difference in how people respond to his riding is different in both places. If Trial Racing Expands in India, it will be much more fun.
I also want Indian people to experience Trial Racing, since it is connected to safety riding. It might help improve Indian atmosphere of riding. Better bike control can be learnt through the help of Trial Racing.
xBhp: Do you train youngsters back in Japan?
Fumitaka Nozaki: Yes, I do.
xBhp: Which is your favourite performance stunt?
Fumitaka Nozaki: Air turning is my favourite trick, where you change direction of your body and bike while mid-air.
xBhp: While watching you perform today, we noticed that you checked your watch multiple times. Do you time yourself during your performance?
Fumitaka Nozaki: Yes, I keep checking when can I finish and go home! Just joking!
I targeted this performance that it should be between 15-20 minutes. And I am checking my watch to time the climax of the performance. So when should I do which stunt.
xBhp: This is a very physical sport. How do you stay so fit?
Fumitaka Nozaki: Back in Japan, I do a lot of physical training and muscle building. I also ride bicycles, in fact I started off my career as a bicycle rider and I continue doing it and enjoy it.
xBhp: How do you keep yourself fit mentally?
Fumitaka Nozaki: Trial Racing itself required a lot of concentration and as long as I race Trials maintaining my mental fitness is easy.
xBhp: How old were you when you started riding?
Fumitaka Nozaki: I was 10 years old. I got my international trial rider licence at the age of 12, which is the youngest record. That record still stands.
xBhp: Have you always ridden for Yamaha?
Fumitaka Nozaki: Yes from the start of my career.
xBhp: What do you think about the Indian traffic?
Fumitaka Nozaki: I haven’t ridden on Indian roads. But as I was coming here to the venue I saw people riding on the roads and I realized that traffic here is very dangerous. People here ride very dangerously. I would like to come here and give people training on how to ride safely.
The road surface is itself a bit bumpy so trial bikes or dirt bikes might be good for these roads!
xBhp: Which bikes do you own in Japan?
Fumitaka Nozaki: Yamaha Serow 250 dirt bike. I like to ride off-road for improving skills and enjoy it a lot as well.