Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lakeside 21/1/2017 — A Track Made For Fun... And 600's.

Boys, boys, boys...
Why do we hype everything up? What's with the banter? The underhand tactic of knocking self-confidence?

As long as there's been racing, riders have been looking over at someone's front wheel, looking up at their opponent and tutting. Anything to put an air of doubt into someone's mind and gain an advantage. And, depending on the mental strength of the other person, it's worked more than once.

But I was looking forward to this day for more than one reason. It was a chance to play with the 600RR on a track that was almost designed for it. Sharp, off-camber corners make big power a pain in the 'arris. The little Honda should be in its element. Easy to turn, easy to stop, and easy to get on the power.

The heatwave continues in Queensland and today will be tough. I'm taking my old leathers because the sweat is going to be pouring.

Nice new T-shirt, but he was shaking so much with fear that he spilt his flat white all down it. He is now employing a cheating tactic known as "taping up the brake light so your rivals have no idea when you're braking". 

It is, of course, absolutely no use whatsoever if he's always behind.

Yeah nice job Tonto. Do what you need to do. 

I will still say, that GSXR750 is an absolutely perfect bike. Just don't tell Bryan.

Glad I got this picture of him smiling before the sessions started. He didn't smile again today... well not until I bought beers.

Using my old peppered Arai today. Don't want my new one getting soaked in sweat. The two blue dots must mean I'm special. Very special.

 I'd drunk a bottle of water before we even got out for our first session. It's so hot today the tyre warmers are actually bringing the temperatures down!

Remember sparky sliders? Not much Titanium left now though, and I ended up losing one of these, much to my surprise when I started rubbing the Velcro on my leathers!

Bryan spent a lot of time in here today. Fear does strange things to you.

And that's the reason why. 

Looking for tips on Google. Seat time is what you need buddy. 

But what about action shots?
Our main man, and all-round top fella, Will Course was on hand to take some brilliant action pics. If you were at Lakeside on the 21/1/2017, your pics could be right here so give him a big shout out at William Course Photography

It was hot, but absolutely ace!
Well that's about it. A lot of crashes today stopped a few of our sessions but the little Honda was just amazing. It's so much more fun on a 600 here compared to QR and really comes into its own.

Exiting the bus stop used to be a handful on the big Gixer thou, but now you just wring the neck of this thing and it goes where you want it without lifting the front. Overtaking used to be scary on the big bike trying to get it pulled up for the corners, this thing is easy. I'm happy!

The 750 couldn't really cope with the might of the 600 today. I think it was too hot for the Aussie. Obviously going up against a Welshman is always going to be hard but, being used to the heat, I thought he may've had an advantage. There's always next time though. 
As for the Harle... KTM, I stayed clear. The vibrations upset my equilibrium and the flames out the exhaust threaten to melt my fairings!

So, until next time, when I hope to bring back a little more of the mechanical workings of... something, the last pic is Bridgey's. Not bad for an iPhone buddy.

Monday, December 26, 2016

CBR600's, Trackdays and Relearning.

600's...Taking a step back?
There was a certain criteria I was looking for when downsizing:
  • Lighter bike 
  • Better brakes
  • More fun
I've never owned a 600 before, it's always been about big bikes, more power and all the hype that goes with it. But... having tried Smithy's GSXR750 (probably the best of both worlds), I wanted something that was easier to throw around and enjoy on the track. First go on the CBR was all I needed, it was like a toy. A very fast toy.

Queensland Raceway.
I've said it before, but this track is scary fast! Glenn Allerton currently holds the lap record at around 1.08 minutes on a BMW S1000RR. And I can mooch around in the 1.24's— snail's pace when you look at it like that. 

And when you turn up at the track and see this, you realise you're about to see some real talent. Glenn Allerton and Wayne Maxwell out playing in yellow group. Think I'll stick to blue.

And how would the little CBR fair amongst the 750 and 1000 of Messrs Smith and Wadwell, on their Suzukis. Well, in a straight line, not very well at all. 

The first thing that hit me was how many gear changes were needed, still leant over. When I usually exit turn 3 on the 1000 I have plenty of time to consider going up another gear. But now I was finding myself having to hook my left foot back under the lever because i was hitting the limiter, losing time every lap. 
Going down the front straight I was also having to make a concerted effort to watch the rev counter because, again, I'd hit the limiter each time! Big learning curve.

The first session was about getting up to speed again. Too long between trackdays, and a new bike to boot. The fear of turn 4 is still firmly lodged in my brain and I found it hard to go round there at anything above walking pace (that's what it felt like). And Bryan quickly followed up with "That's what it looked like!"

With the Yamaha and Kawasaki race teams playing here today too, there was a lot of talent to watch in the yellow group, including the aforementioned Glenn. He makes it look very easy to push out 1.09's. One of the kawasaki's went down into turn 1, during the second session, so we had to wait for ambulances etc. to come and pick the poor fella up. His bike was completely mullered/torn apart.

Wayne Maxwell pulls up by my CBR for some tips... from his crew.

The afternoon is where I pick up speed, every time. But Bryan's pace has picked up immensely since I last did a trackday, so he was disappearing in all but the final session. Going up against Pat on the 171BHP GSXR1000 was ok in the corners, but a waste of time down the straights. He eventually let me go in front and left me to it (felt sorry for me).

Bryan then puts in a 1.24, now the heat is on. That's the quickest I've done on my 1000 and his 750. It's going to be hard to pull that out on the 600!

Being dragged around is a big thing, go out on your own and you end up braking way too early and go in much too slowly. Follow someone and you're always looking for places to get in front — it helps. As it was in our final session. Because he waited for me to warm my tyres for a couple of laps, it was much easier to hang on behind. The horsepower difference between the 600 and the 750 is around 30 big ones, but you can overhaul that quite easily if you're on it. 

Final session of the day, we finished on 1.25's, not too bad for a horsepower needy track. There's plenty of places for me to make up that lack of speed, the main one being bravery. Lakeside will be a more even challenge with any luck, but let's wait for some cooler weather.

Pretty consistently slow. Ready to race below.

Overall, Smithy has upped the pace immensely. Pat doesn't care and will use whatever means possible to say goodbye. I've got what I wanted, something to make me faster in the turns, but now I need to practise it. The CBR is a cracking little bike, great on the road too. And easy for my 72kg's to throw around rather than the Gixer working me over.

Seriously folks, that bike is fun!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Kawasaki Versys — from the Latin phrase...

Stone me guv'nor, what a bike!
Does any Japanese motorcycle manufacturer make a bad bike anymore? Like sports bike tyres, there are great ones, and superb ones, but not many crap ones. And so it is with today's test mule.

The Kawasaki Versys 650L ABS
I've been a big fan of the ER6-N for a while, mainly because I liked how the shock was mounted on the side. No, I haven't ridden one, but did try to lose one on the road a long time ago. And after I worked hard through a series of tight mountain bends, I managed to drop him a few metres... on a GSXR1000. So I thought it must be a pretty capable bike. It is, and the Versys?

Well, having been a big fan of the Paris Dakar inspired trailies from years ago, the Africa Twins, Super Tenere's and DR BIG's all left a lasting impression so I do like these current trail/sport bike configurations. Sat up high, in comfort, with all the important whirly bits working away metres below you. A bit like the Titanic in its heyday, ok maybe a different cruise liner, but you get the drift.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Alpinestars, Arai's and Peter Stevens.

For proper service and cock-on quality.
After the palaver I just went through to buy a bike through Team Moto, it was a pleasure to deal with a company that actually have helpful staff. 

Deciding I needed new kit, with my current Arai ticking over the seven year mark and stone chipped to death, I took a look through eBay. I soon found a new Arai Vector 2 I liked, along with Alpinestars' gloves and boots. Best of all, some of it was on sale!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Oil Filter Review — The True Cost!

Be afraid!
How do you really know what you're getting when you screw on a new oil filter? That little canister has a big job to do considering it's trying to protect your several thousand dollar engine. 
For those lucky enough to have a cartridge-style filter, most of these questions won't apply. You can see every part of the new filter element, you can eyeball all the components on the engine. You can clean out the housing to your own impeccable tolerances. You fit it into the engine using the original manufacturer's components. Boom, you're done.

But what about the spin-ons?
  • Does the material filter out all the nasties? And to what micron?
  • Does the anti-drain back valve (rubber washer) really stop the oil flowing back into the sump?
  • Does the bypass valve open at the specified pressure for your bike?
  • Is the filter element sealed correctly within the canister? Hmm...
The news.
Take a look around the net and read about filter reviews, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I've been a mechanic for a long time and screwed on thousands of filters. And as long as they screw on, happy days. You get the odd leaker, or bad thread, and that's to be expected with a mass-produced unit.
But it's all fit and forget. You never look inside one, and don't know if it's done its job. In a garage, it's all completed in minutes. You don't look at the oil that comes out, couldn't care less about the old filter and send the vehicle on its way for another 20,000 thousand miles (or less, as the case maybe). And that's the harsh reality. You're relying on the fact that the filter is a quality component.

But when an engine fails, can you prove it was the filters fault?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

2011 CBR600RR Review — I've Turned.

You meet the nicest people... on a Honda.
The last Honda I owned was a '91 CBR1000FL, she'd done a few miles, had a few cracks in the fairing but that old beauty took me round Europe, in comfort, with no worries at all. The old timing tensioner mod was the only real engine work it ever received. I traded it on a new Hayabusa in 2000, and stuck with Suzukis ever since.

I've owned the GSXR1000 K6 for seven years now and it's been absolutely superb. No real issues, just general wear and tear, and it's still as quick as ever. But my last stint at the track on a Gixer 750 made me realise how much extra weight I was fighting with, not to mention the power I could never really get down (I'm a wuss). It was time to trade. 

A quick road test on a 5,000km only (honest guv), 2013 model GSXR750 with squared-off tyres at Team Moto soon put me off — for the price they wanted anyway. No history or books whatsoever, it was in desperate need of some tyres with a round profile, but they weren't interested in putting any on. The whole experience was disappointing to be fair, and I walked away... until I tried a 2011 CBR600RR Tri-colour, and within fifty yards of the dealership I was in love! Holy F*#k this thing is nimble, light, smooth with a gear shift I could barely feel. Want... now.

A process started, which could only be described as painful. In vehicle salesmanship, as with any type of sales, there should be a bit of effort from the people who are trying so hard to get that, well, sale. They should go that extra mile, make you feel like it's an easy process, put your mind at ease. Not at Team Moto it would seem, going through ten hours of labour would be easier. But it's done now and hopefully remains a distant memory.

Enter the CBR600RR.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

KTM Duke 390 - First Ride Of The Uncrashable.

Less is more, much more.
He's been trying to get me to ride the 390 for ages. I'm a bit busy. 
He said its cornering speed is unreal and fast guys on ZX636R's and GSXR1000's are getting left behind (miles behind). Yeah, but I'm working on the GSX. 
He finally convinced me to ride all of the Yamaha MT range. Ok, now I'm in the mood.

I haven't come back from a ride shaking for a while. That was fun, a hell of a lot of fun.