Interview: former Cleveland Police motorcyclist, cake connoisseur and motorbike safety expert Kevin Keay

ONE of the unsung heroes of motorcycle safety, the irrepressible Kevin Keay has retired from the police but certainly not from motorcycling. A tireless organiser of motorcycle safety initiatives in the north-east of England including Ridewell, Kevin now runs Redcar Speedway Club and a junior speedway team.

Kevin, we’ve met a few times, once when you asked me to talk about Visorcat to a room of police, some of whom were armed (a little unnerving) and also at Ridewell, the annual motorcycle safety event you used to organise. You’ve tested Visorcat at unmentionable speeds and I know you’re fussy about cake. What are you doing these days?
Since I retired from the police force, (six months ago) where I had served on the motorcycle section for the last sixteen years of my service, I have now somehow found myself running a professional Speedway club. I am now the ‘ Promoter’ at Redcar Speedway responsible for the day to day running of the track and the team of riders, staff and training school. I’m a little bit busier now as I’m speedway 24/7 but I’m lucky to be involved in something I love and it keeps me motivated to get out of bed in the morning. I also run a junior speedway team with kids aged from 10 years old racing so I’ve always got bikes to fix!
Do you still help out with Bikesafe or other motorcycle safety initiatives/events?
I now use my motorcycling skills to teach young and old the basics of handling a 500cc bike with no brakes around a shale track at 70 mph. Speedway still uses the basic bike riding skills, just with more of an emphasis on the ‘ counter steering’ angle.

Anything you miss about your old job?
I don’t miss policing at all but I was extremely lucky to have had 16 great years being a ‘ bobby on a bike’.

What bike(s) are you riding these days?
These days I have three speedway bikes of my own, (two for racing, one is on display in my dining room), a trials bike and my old faithful ZZR1100.

Of course! Who doesn’t have a bike in the dining room …
On a more serious note, how do you advise your fellow motorcyclists to stay alive? Do you have ONE pearl of wisdom to pass on?
I don’t know about ‘ pearls of wisdom’ but my advice for safer road riding would be ‘scan, scan and scan again’ , that way you are fully aware of what’s going on around you and you can set your pace accordingly.

And what’s your advice to youngsters who want to try motorcycling?
I would advise the less experienced to get as much training in as possible, at all levels, to enhance and improve your riding skills, and include a little off road riding within that to improve your understanding of achievable grip and braking techniques ( that’s good coming from a speedway rider!)

I couldn’t agree more. What’s your view of the future of motorcycling and of road safety in general?
Motorcycling is in a strange place at the moment with it being the domain of the ‘ older generation’ and regulations deterring youngsters from getting a full motorcycle licence. The industry needs to reach out more to make motorcycling more attractive to the younger generation. In an effort to improve road safety for bikers I would like to see an increase in the age limit before you could drive a car (19?) and encourage 16-18 year olds on to two wheels making them more aware of bikes before they get behind the wheel of a car.

I’ll have a word with Theresa. Any unfulfilled ambitions?
I still want to be speedway world champion but as it’s looking a little unlikely now I’d settle for a few laps around Brands Hatch on a Ducati 916.

OK, I’ll see what I can arrange for you Kevin! And your cake of the moment is …. ?
Cake wise, I’m partial to lemon drizzle cake at the moment.

I can see you’re having your cake and eating it Kevin! Good to catch up with you, and I hope to see you at Bikewise in 2017.