On The Road: Between motorcycles and med school, one wins out over the other
Throughout high school, Brett Hart thought he would become a doctor. As graduation loomed, however, he reflected on his young life and decided he’d follow his passion: Motorcycles, and more specifically, fixing them.
“Being a physician would have been OK,” Hart says. “But I don’t think I would have loved doing the job.”
And Hart clearly loves being a master motorcycle technician with a career at Blackfoot Motosports. It’s given the Calgarian opportunities he’d never imagined, and taken him places such as Iwata, Japan.
It was there, in mid-October, that Hart beat out 21 competitors from 19 countries and regions to take top spot in the prestigious Yamaha World Technician GP — essentially, a motorcycle mechanic and customer service skills competition.
“Brett’s one hell of a hard worker and a super smart mechanic with a great depth in his ability to troubleshoot,” says Blackfoot Motosports president and CEO Doug MacRae. “We couldn’t be prouder of his World Tech GP win, and he’s an integral piece of the puzzle around here.”
Hart was 10 years old when his dad, Tim, put him on the back of a 1985 Honda XL600. The pair explored the roads and the country around their Vulcan, Alberta hometown. When Hart was 12, he decided it was time to buy a motorcycle of his own. After a summer of mowing lawns and painting fences, Hart had saved up enough money to lay down $300 for a 1981 XL125.
“As soon as I got my own Honda, my dad stated teaching me how to do simple things, such as oil changes,” Hart explains.
When Hart blew the engine in his next bike, a Honda XR350, he simply bought another exact same model. He badly crashed that machine in the dirt and wrecked the frame. That saw him doing his first engine swap, putting the still-healthy motor from the crash victim into the chassis of his first XR350.
“It was just something I did for fun and it kept me out of trouble,” Hart says.
By the time he was 16 and armed with a driver’s licence, Hart had moved to street bikes and a 1984 Kawasaki GPZ900. Soon after, he reached the critical juncture of having to make a decision about what he’d do after high school.
Deciding against medical school, he began a pre-employment program at Fairview College that set him up to become a motorcycle technician. He got his first job at Seitzco Motorsports in Okotoks, s a single-line Yamaha dealer bought out by Cycle Works Motorsports. He worked at Seitzco for six years before moving on to Walt Healy Yamaha in Calgary and then Blackfoot Motosports.
Meanwhile, Hart had watched his mentor Ryan Peddie become involved with the Yamaha World Technician GP competition. In 2007, Peddie had placed first in the Canadian qualifier and traveled to Japan.
“I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Hart says.
In 2009, Hart began competing in the events that take place every two years. He placed in the top three at his first Canadian qualifying event, and then fourth two times in a row. In July this year, he clinched the top spot in the national event at Yamaha’s Toronto headquarters, and that gave him a spot in Japan.
“I knew I’d be working on the Yamaha MT-09 in the sport bike class,” Hart explains, and continues, “to prepare for the competition, I spent time studying the manuals for that bike, and I’d stay after work and de-bug an MT-09 that had been given an ‘issue.”
In the competition in Japan, the mechanics had 80 minutes to complete a technical lab consisting of two components — first, get the bike running, and second, complete a service list and adjust what needed to be adjusted on the bike. Then, the competing technicians had to complete a customer service lab, where they listened to a ‘customer’ who’d brought a bike in for work.
“The main portion of that lab was the importance Yamaha placed on how you treated the customer during the return of the serviced motorcycle,” Hart explains.
Throughout the competition, Hart felt that he was doing well but was still surprised at the awards ceremony when he was declared the overall winner.
“I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it,” he says.
Hart was presented with the trophy as winner of the Yamaha World Technician GP and part of the recognition will be an upcoming Moto GP trip. After winning, Hart’s girlfriend Jordan Van Eerden flew into Japan and the pair took a week to explore the country.
“I’m glad I didn’t become a physician,” Hart concludes. “I’m sure I would have liked the job, but my life is pretty sweet right now.”
Greg Williams is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Have a column tip? Contact him at 403-287-1067 or email@example.com.