After a nearly 30-year hiatus, Hesston resident Dwight Erb has once again hit the track on his Kawasaki ZX 14 motorcycle.
Erb said he left racing to focus on new priorities.
“I had too many responsibilities, like kids, which is why I got out. My last competitive race was in ’83 or ’84,” he said.
However, Erb knew he would not stay away from racing.
“Once you’ve had the need for speed, it never goes away. It’s an adrenaline high that can’t be obtained by any type of substance,” he said.
While many racers focus on performance cars, Erb has had a passion for motorcycles since childhood.
“What got me into cycles from the beginning, when I was 8, Dan, at Dan’s Cycle, we’re cousins. When we would go visit, he would put me on his 125 Suzuki dirtbike. He’d go do chores and when he was done with chores, he would help me off. There was a lot of incentive there not to crash; because if I did, ridding time was over,” said Erb.
As an adult, Erb said motorcycle racing held his interest because it could be done by a one-man crew.
“Motorcycle racing is more of a personal sport than car racing. So many car racers have a pit crew of anywhere from two to 15 guys and what you don’t think about, they do. So its more of a team effort than cycle racing. Back in the day, I was my own mechanic, transport, pit crew and my own boss,” he said.
Coming back on to the track, mental clarity was key for Erb.
“It’s a lot of mental preparedness. There’s some testing and tuning on your bike and knowing the clsss you want to run in. other than that, get on and ride to your best potential,” said Erb.
Erb said while he keeps his motorcycle simple, many riders make significant modifications to their motorcycles.
“Most all guys run the [Suzuki hyabusa]. There’s so much cost involved with making one of those bikes competitive and keep the transmissions together. It’ll cost about $1,500 to $2,000 to get the transmission to pull that kind of power. The ZX 14, so far, has been a proven motorcycle that all you have to do is get on and ride,” he said.
Erb said he has made minimal changes and investments in his motorcycle.
“That bike is extremely fast from the factory. Other than changing the exhaust and putting a power commander 5 on it with an O2 sensor in the exhaust, that’s all I’ve done to that bike. And I’ve spent a lot of time in the saddle,” he said.
Erb said as with any competitive endeavor, there are challenges – and other racers pushing the edge of what is allowed.
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