Robert Barker, an American motorcycle innovator had a storied career in motorcycle engineering. Bob grew up in Altadena, California and could be found learning life’s lessons at San Gabriel Drag Strip, Santa Barbra, or Marchbanks Speedway.
As a young engineer in Southern California Bob was involved with the aerospace program that landed on the moon. In the late-60s Bob rode a 350 air-cooled Bridgestone to set an AMA record at Bonneville going 147 mph. Just a few years later in 1973, Bob was back at Bonneville setting another land speed record riding a Can-Am 125cc two-stroke to 138 mph (a record that stood for 35 plus years).
Bob moved to Quebec after Can-Am’s vice president, hired him to head up the design team that built the 500cc two stroke street bike, until uncertain emission regulations forced the cancellation of a brilliant design. In 1978 Bob was the Can-Am MX race-team manager and he convinced his boss to let him establish (and choose the location of) a remote Can-Am workshop where motocross testing would not be inhibited by the cold winters of Quebec. Bob did just that in Gainesville, Florida, because of its warm weather and close proximity to Gatorback motocross track. Bob oversaw the Can-Am test riders and the development of parts until the end of the Can-Am motorcycle program.
Bob and his wife Marrie opened an engineering company “RC Barker Engineering.” Bob was a master machinist and specialized in tricky vintage motorcycle jobs, the company also produced machine parts for the state of Florida. In 1988 tragedy struck when Bob and Marrie’s son Alan, was killed in a motorcycle accident. The love of racing vintage motorcycles led Bob to be one of the founding members of AHRMA. Bob was “the guy” for anything and everything to do with Dunlop vintage race tires. He was also known for being a Manx Norton and Ducati 125 guru; an amazing problem solver and mentor.
Bob Barker died in his sleep from COPD on May 25, 2015.