Brian Bartlow’s first attempt at getting a motorcycle didn’t go so well. When he was ten, he learned to ride a friend’s dirtbike. Surely, Bartlow thought, his mom would buy him one of his own if he showed her how well he could ride it.
With that in mind, Bartlow rode into his front yard so his mom could see him as she stood at the kitchen sink. Unfortunately, Bartlow’s plan backfired, and his mom declared motorcycles off limits.
Bartlow’s second attempt was successful: his dad bought him a streetbike when he was nearly sixteen. These days, the Kelseyville, California, resident not only rides, but races and makes a living off of motorcycles.
Bartlow has been racing since 1989. He has roadraced at tracks all over the country and even competed in AMA Pro Racing for a number of years. These days, Bartlow focuses on AFM, WERA and WSMC competition.
In his teenage years, Bartlow hadn’t even heard of roadracing. “I was at a motorcycle shop and I saw a picture of a guy leaned over, dragging his knee on the ground. I thought he was crashing. It was Fred Merkel,” Bartlow says.
An employee at the shop passed on the name and phone number of a local roadracer so Bartlow could learn more. After attending a local race, Bartlow was hooked. He started racing that next year.
Bartlow took a break from roadracing in 2004. He was feeling burned out, so he switched his focus to supermoto for a while. He won a few championships, then returned to roadracing. Over the years, Bartlow has amassed 162 race wins and multiple championships.
Galfer has been a sponsor throughout Bartlow’s career, and now supports Bartlow’s newest venture in racing: Feel Like a Pro. The company has twelve Kawasaki Ninja 250s that track day riders and racers can rent. Feel Like a Pro had 500 rentals in 2011.
“I’ve been racing a lot of years, and a lot of people, especially track day guys, show up on liter bikes and 600s. Typically, 250s have faster lap times,” Bartlow explains. “It’s a cheap, affordable bike to rent out. It’s easy on tires, too. If I was renting 600s, I’d have to charge twice as much. Sponsors really stepped up, so it’s really been exciting.”
Bartlow assures that a 250 is one of the most exciting classes to ride and race. He fondly recalls putting a street-model Aprilia RS250 up against 250 GP bikes at Laguna Seca. Bartlow’s goal was simply to qualify for the race, despite being 50hp down from the competition. Not only did he qualify, but he took 27th out of 44 riders. Over 250 friends and fans came to the race to cheer for him.
What’s next for Bartlow? More racing, of course, for both him and his renters.