Excuse the unusual rambled writing and the lack of pictures. I just didn’t have time to take any. I suppose there’s always time to do a proper write-up with some decent pictures when I put the bike back into street trim, when I’m not so pressed for time. With that said, here we go…
I almost didn’t do it, but then I made myself. I had a plan, I needed to stick to it, even though I’m currently a day behind schedule in race prep. It took me six hours to do the gearing change. SIX stinkin’ HOURS! I’m really getting tired of this mechanic’s gig. My mileage has dropped off significantly since I came up with this crackpot idea to go motorcycle road racing. I’m working more on my bike than I actually ride the thing. I should just slap a Harley sticker on my tail…
Work. Wrench. Sleep. Repeat.
That is not how it’s supposed to be…
Wrench. Race. Fight in the pits.
Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
There. That’s all I ever wanted to do. With a (huge) emphasis on RIDE. But it was the natural progression of things… it had to end up where it did. Eventually. The street isn’t my playground anymore. The street is boring. The street doesn’t challenge my will to learn and to improve. I need to move forward. I need to progress. I need to improve my riding skill. I need to get faster, smoother, better. But I digress, as I so often do…
I took the lowers off, then the sprocket cover. There was so much gunk under there, the chain was actually touching it; a redneck version of an automatic chain oiler. It took me two hours to get all the mess out of there and make it look like new again. What can I say? I’m a woman and women have to clean while we’re “in there”. I really can’t help myself either. I’m too anal to skip it. I suppose that’s why it always takes me forever to do stuff on my bike. I either get sidetracked or I need to clean something. Speaking of which, I also cleaned all the other parts that I had disassembled and made liberal use of anti-seize when I put all the stuff back together. Then I cleaned yet again. *sigh*
There is no way I could go up one tooth from stock in the front. There is no room, unless one gets rid of the internal chain guard, but then there’s a huge risk of ending up with a hole in the engine case should the chain ever break. No thanks, I think I’ll pass. I definitely could go down one more tooth though, to 15T.The safety washer that keeps the pinion nut from backing out is a pain in the arse to remove! First you have to somehow bend the thing down, away from the nut without scratching or bending or breaking something else, so that you may spin the nut off and remove the annoying washer and the sprocket; and when you’re all done, you have to bend the silly thing back against two of the six flat sides of the pinion nut. I’ll have to add this thing to my regular shopping list of consumable items, which already contains such things as oil drain gaskets, fairing screws and washers, lock nuts, spring clips, and rubber grommets. Once I finally bent the dreaded safety washer flat, I put the bike in gear, sat on it, and used the rear brake to hold the wheel in place while I loosened the nut enough with my breaker bar enough so I could spin it off the rest of the way with my regular ratchet.
The rear wheel is familiar territory to me, not that I ever took the actual sprocket off its carrier, but taking the wheel off doesn’t take me all that long anymore, I’ve done it so many times. Same with adjusting chain tension and alignment. I’m even starting to remember the fastener sizes and the torque values. The new 47T aluminum sprocket fit just fine. It looks like there could be clearance for running a sprocket all the way up to maybe a size 49T, maybe even bigger if I ditch the plastic chain guard. But this assumption can be easily verified with a few measurements, now that I have seen the final drive in its entirety and how the different parts relate to each other.
Today was definitely a day of firsts. I broke my first chain with the chain breaker kit I had gotten from Cycle Gear on Black Friday.
I also riveted my first chain, which was a little more difficult, since the instructions were a bit unclear and I had extra parts that they didn’t mention. But I figured it out by thinking my way through it. I verified that I actually made the pins spread once they were through the link, by measuring them with my digital calipers. They are comparable in size to the other pins in the chain, so I think I might be able to trust my handy work. The master link is stiffer than the others, but it does not kink, I checked that, too.
But it does have me a little worried. Same worry I went through with my first tire change. Same worry I had with my first stem valve removal and install. Riding and checking the new part(s) often has proven that I did the job properly; well, that the result of my work was proper anyway. If the tire hasn’t fallen off its rim in 3,000 miles, I think it’s safe to assume that “I used enough rim glue”. If the tire pressure hasn’t dropped in over a week after switching to angled aluminum racing valves, it’s definitely got the air of a proper install about it.
I also calculated my own gearing and decided on the final drive ratio I am going to run at the Nashville Superspeedway. I relied solely on what I had learned from Ed Bargy at his racing school and used a gearing calculator to see how the change would affect things, at least in theory.
I better get a pair of angled pliers so I can get that blasted pinion nut safety washer off and back on in less than 30 minutes. Further, whereas the rear axle nut has a tightening torque of 100Nm, the pinion nut has a tightening torque of 125Nm. Which means, I’m in the market for yet another tool: A slightly more robust torque wrench, since mine only goes up to 102.8Nm. So, for now the proper torquing procedure is as follows: Tighten the fastener until you hear a click and then give it a little extra after. I also noticed I have lost my 18mm hex socket or never had one. I have a 17mm and a 19mm, but no 18? Have to score one of those bad boys before I leave for Nashville on Friday, so I can properly torque down my rear sprocket nuts before the race.
I geared up for a test ride. I was a somewhat anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I did know what to expect in theory. Real world application is usually a little different, however; and the interpretation thereof is highly subjective. I knew that I would be seeing higher RPMs for any given speed than I was used to. I assumed that my speedo would be even more inaccurate than it already was due to running a 190/50 rear tire instead of the stock size of 190/55.
On a side note: The stock 2010 BMW S1000RR does not have the high inaccuracy percentages in speedometer readings that plague all the Japanese bikes; for example my 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa was reading fast by over 9%. The difference between the Pirate in stock form and my GPS was about 1%.
I also knew that I had traded top end speed for some low end grunt and that the midrange would probably be torquier, too.
I decided to go ahead and do some preliminary road testing of my new throat mic and the universal Finger Grip RAM mount for my Droid X, since I needed a GPS to verify my actual road speed anyway. But that is for another post at another time. As it turned out, the speedo reading wasn’t affected at all, at least not where I could tell the difference. This observation leads me to venture a guess and assume that the ABS’s rear wheel speed sensor is used to calculate road speed and mileage. That the only reason why my speedo is off by about 5 miles or so at cruising speeds is that by using a differently sized tire I changed a constant in the formula and that this constant can be reprogrammed to actually match a differently sized tire. I had thought about asking my BMW dealer about this before. But why bother? I only have one Hayabusa-sized rear tire left, and I’ll burn that one up in one race weekend. Then the problem will take care of itself. =D
As I dropped down the curb and turned out of my driveway into the street, I realized when I came to the stop sign, that I had already forgotten the main reason I was going for a ride: the gearing change. Oops… I just peeled out of there like I usually do. Controllable, then; I’d say. Looks like I won’t have any worries after all.
After I turn onto the main road I verify that the DTC is in ‘Race’ mode, as it should be, and then I lay into the throttle a little. She’s definitely more ferocious sounding! Of course, that’s to be expected, the poor girl is now screaming along at higher RPMs than what she’s been asked to do before. I know I’m going to pay for this shift toward badassery in the Pirate’s attitude with plenty o’ Rum. I have a feeling she’s going to be a lot thirstier than she used to be. She’s a loudmouth now, too. Also a definite side effect of the higher RPMs required.
I like the way the new race chain transfers power. The feedback transmitted through the frame seems slightly different. Smoother. Less pronounced, maybe? Seems that shifting is even a little easier. But maybe I’m just in my groove tonight.
I had also decided in favor of the 520 conversion. From the factory, the S1000RR sports a size 525 118-link o-ring chain that runs on a 17-tooth countershaft sprocket and a 44-tooth rear sprocket. My bike’s stock chain was made by Regina. I don’t know if this is true for all 2010 S bikes, but if it is like the OEM tires, then there might be different brand chains, too.
Another superfluous side note: There are at least two different pairs of shoes that an S1000RR could be wearing on the showroom floor, at least to my personal knowledge. I lucked out and mine came with a set of Metzelers RaceTec Interact K3. I liked those tires, but I just can’t afford them. The other option that I spotted were Conti Attacks, but I can’t remember the exact model nor the compound.
I never liked the stock chain. The first time it rained, it rusted and after trying a few things to polish the oxidation back out, I finally gave up. It also stretched way too much, way too soon. I constantly had to adjust the tension. This behavior eventually dropped off to infrequent, though. The chain also feels jerky and loose in the upper adjustment range (around 40mm), it definitely seems to perform better on the tight end of the scale (around 30mm). I still don’t like it. I already like the RK chain tons better, and I adjusted it to about 39mm, which is looser than I would normally prefer.
Maybe the 520 conversion has something to do with the different feedback I’m getting from “down below”? The 520’s links are not as wide and the rear sprocket is aluminum, so I know the entire setup is lighter than the stock components, but I couldn’t tell you how significant the weight reduction is. I’ll weigh the stuff when I revert back to my street setup, just for curiosity’s sake.
My persistent worry of changing my bike into an uncontrollable rear-tire-smoking wheelie-machine was also grossly unfounded. I managed to ride her just fine, it looks as though I have learned a little throttle control along the way after all. I couldn’t bring myself to do a full-throttle run, though. It was dark and, although pretty late for a Monday, there was still too much traffic on the road for me. I do know that acceleration is much more aggressive with the new setup. Whereas before she blew your socks off, now you better hang the fugg on!
I think I’m going to like the setup I chose for the Nashville Superspeedway. It will make the track easier to run, that’s for sure. It may even help with my lap times. I did a few corner-entry exercises while I was out there on my 12-mile test ride from about a ton or so down to 50. This will work in my favor, definitely. I think this will also help me to stay in the proper RPM range, it feels better “up there” now. For whatever reason, I’m also not as nervous about downshifting… sometimes, for fear I won’t be able to complete my downshift before I have to turn-in, I just say screw it and don’t and then end up lugging through my silly ass through the turn, because now I definitely don’t want to downshift. LOL I know that this is related to my tendency of starting my corner-entry way too early and then taking my sweet time to slow down, so that I can shift and throw it over. Maybe it’s because I want to do one thing at a time. Maybe it is a holdover kink I had acquired when momentarily losing the rear on that blasted CBR600RR during a badly executed downshift with no slipper-clutch to save me from myself. Up until that point I didn’t even know what a slipper clutch was supposed to prevent. *moan*
I don’t know. I’m working on it, am slowly getting better at it. I will get this under control, but it’ll take a few more baby steps before I’m happy with my corner entry. I practiced doing all of it a little quicker and a little less sequential, if you will, because for some odd reason the new gearing makes me more confident… I really don’t get it. Oh well, why question it? It’s good. So it shall be until the next kink has to be worked out. This has got to be worth a second or two at least. 🙂 We’ll see later this year at JenningsGP. I want to get below 1:30. That’s five seconds. Can I do it???
Just a quick update on the Pirate’s new skirts: The S1000RR’s Armour Bodies race bodywork. The five-piece fairings are supposed to be fitted before applying paint, but I had to work with the weather and my schedule, hence I’m fitting them after the color-keyed base coat. Of course, I scratched the paint and chipped it in places, but I had no hopes of this turning out like a professional looking paint job to begin with, given that I have neither the right equipment nor a good place to paint. I have not the patience required either. All I can hope for is that nobody gets too close. =D
A few tweaks are needed. I have to cut out a little section on the belly pan, since it is touching the pipes underneath, which I am assuming isn’t really a good thing. The cutout for the windshield on the right needs to be made a little larger, so the mounting hole on that side will line up correctly. I’m also still trying to figure out why the lowers and the uppers don’t line up any closer. They are aligned perfectly on the horizontal plane, but not vertically. There seems to be too large a gap, and since the DZUS fasteners are the clip-on style, I really don’t want to have too much tension on them, for fear they may work loose eventually.
I also forgot to order mirror block-offs to secure the one-piece uppers to the bike’s fairing stay. Doh! And I’m debating as to wether or not to get a dark smoke windscreen. I’m thinking about it. It would look awesome on the Pirate when she’s wearing her “street clothes”. I’m sticking with OEM though, I really am not going to mess with the aerodynamics of the bike. I like the way it is performing and I’m not taking any chances with aftermarket parts, even if they say they are identical to the OEM windscreen. Besides, I’m still not over the way the Zero Gravity windscreen shattered when I crashed my ‘Busa. Zero Gravity does not hide that fact. They tell you that their screens are neither DOT approved, nor for street use; but knowing and seeing are two different things. I’ll stick to OEM this time and pay the premium BMW demands.
Since pictures are worth a thousand or so of my distracted words, here are a few for your viewing pleasure…
This is a slow moving process. My allergies are making me comatose shortly after I step outside, I am starting to have difficulty breathing, my chest feels so tight, I can’t seem to get enough oxygen; and I am really starting to get worried that I might not get everything done in time for my first race weekend in Nashville.
Mr. Slow also has informed me that he may not get the day off he had requested, so I’m again looking at going by myself. I am desperately hoping that I’ll luck out again, as I did with the weekend at JenningsGP. I don’t know if I have the testicular fortitude to go it alone. I’m ok once I’m on the track doing my thing. Everything before the green flag, however, is scary; and if that isn’t backwards, I don’t know what is. I’m a freak. A freak, I tell ya!
Because this girl won’t know if she can go the distance…
Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
Engines pumping and thumping in time.
The green light flashes, the flags go up.
Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.
They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank. (<~ @MsXXFastRR =D)
Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.
Their prowess is potent and secretly stern.
As they speed through the finish, the flags go down.
The fans get up and they get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can.
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
And long ago somebody left with the cup.
But he’s driving and striving and hugging the turns.
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns.
He’s going the distance.
He’s going for speed.
She’s all alone
All alone in her time of need.
Because he’s racing and pacing and plotting the course,
He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse,
He’s going the distance.
No trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine,
He’s haunted by something he cannot define.
Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse,
Assail him, impale him with monster-truck force.
In his mind, he’s still driving, still making the grade.
She’s hoping in time that her memories will fade.
‘Cause he’s racing and pacing and plotting the course,
He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse.
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
And long ago somebody left with the cup.
But he’s striving and driving and hugging the turns.
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns.
‘Cause he’s going the distance.
He’s going for speed.
She’s all alone
All alone in her time of need.
Because he’s racing and pacing and plotting the course,
He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse.
He’s racing and pacing and plotting the course,
He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse.
He’s going the distance.
He’s going for speed.
He’s going the distance.
The Distance by Cake
…be covered in a mysterious dust. I have learned that when you hold the sprayer too far away from the substrate to be pain(t)fully adorned and the stuff dries on the way from the nozzle to said substrate, it creates a nuisance called “finishing dust”, and it settles as a fine powder EVERYWHERE. I have been fairy dusted sans sparkles. I went from having the paint run and sag (yes, another term I picked up along the way) to drying prematurely. Damned be the Venturi principle and evaporation. But I am getting better at this, I think.
There may be hope for me yet.
As you can tell from the picture in the previous post concerning Project Six-Foot-Paint-Job, you can see that the grey primer made the semi-translucent white paint appear silver. After numerous more coats, the result is yet a lighter shade of the same. I already scraped on the amount of paint I bought and cannot afford to continue layering until I have the desired result. Off to Advance Auto to buy some rattle cans to take care of the problem. I come home with one can of Duplicolor Perfect Match in Oxford White for Ford (because it was on clearance) and two cans of the stuff in red. I had the foresight (for once) to expect the same problem with the uppers, which are to be Kandy Apple Red, in addition to worrying about not having enough of the good, expensive paint to finish the job. The loot came with a price adjustment (for the clearance item, which wasn’t on clearance after all) and a 10% store discount. I suppose the young kid behind the counter was fairly impressed with Momma Busa (ugh!) laying down some paint on a set of race glass on her “race bike”.
I come home and apply the first coat. Awesome. This stuff is actually easier to control than those blasted Preval sprayers. And it’s dry to the touch in 15 minutes. Awesome. I apply another coat and promptly run out of paint before the desired coverage is achieved. Argh! Now what?
Back to the store. One more can acquired; I walk out, shove the thing down the front of my riding jacket and hop back on the bike. Back at home, I manage to run out again. WTH?!? Didn’t it say 12 square feet of coverage per can somewhere?!? Crapola! This stuff is almost $7 per can, and it’s not even a full-sized rattler. Now I’m up $25 in the project budget. This puts me over the $200 mark. I need a new game plan.
I get back into my gear and scoot on down I-20 to the Home Depot to score some better priced rattle cans in bigger sizes. I grab four 11-ounce cans of glossy Apple Red, one can of semi-gloss white, and four cans of Black Night Metallic for the bellypan, which originally I was going to paint the same color as the uppers. Another $33 gone. I actually had to show ID for the metallic paint. I guess that’s the Huffer’s Delight Special. The girl probably thought that’s what I was going to do with it, since I came strolling up with an armful of spray paint and when I tried to pay, my card was declined. Ooops… I pulled the wrong one. No money in that account. She was getting noticeably uncomfortable when she told me what was going on and asked if I had another form of payment. Sure I do! I whipped out an identical looking piece of plastic, flashed it, then swiped it through the machine. Bingo! The girl with the Hello Kitty hooded backpack, the dirty pink motorcycle jacket wearing skinny jeans and combat boots who dropped four credit cards when she tried to pull the correct one to pay for her aerosol arsenal is going home with some Huffer’s Choice in red, white, and (ID required, please) metallic black.
Back at home, in my makeshift paint booth, wearing my anti-huffing organic vapor respirator, blowing the evil stink out of the screened window via a floor fan faced outwards to suck instead of blow, I notice that I have all manner of little hairs sticking out of my paint job. Freaking cats… their fur gets everywhere. I also notice what looks to be carpet fibers, larger dust particles and some of my own hair stuck to my fairing pieces. Muthafff…..!!! If I don’t do something about this, and soon, my race fairings are going to look like the motorcycle version of the Mutt Cutts van in Dumb & Dumber.
I amuse myself for a while with a set of Mr. Slow’s tweezers, because I can’t find my stash of old ones. I thought I had them in my trusty tool box, but no deal. This doesn’t really work… I take one gloved finger and lightly rub the spot the hair has landed, and it promptly falls apart and turns into little tiny fragments which I can just brush off. Yeah, baby! It is as Joe has told me from his experience acquired during a short, but intense brush with automotive painting, your hand is a very finely gritted sanding tool. Works wonders when wet-sanding as a final smoothing of primer, before the first coat of color. It takes me a few minutes to give all three pieces their depilatory treatment, so I can continue painting.
Now I wait about 24 hours to lightly sand the pieces with 1000-grit sandpaper to smooth them out and then spray a few coats of the Pearlized White AutoAir color and hope that this time I’ll get the desired result. I suppose, through the act of cheating with rattlers, this has now turned into a four-stage paint job. Primer, color-keyed basecoat, midcoat pearlized effect, clearcoat.
Stay tuned for more updates live from Casa Busa, proudly hosting the House of Huff.
Later the same night…
Here are some progress piccies:
A little past the witching hour…
…the deed is done. Sealed in red. The basecoat for the candy color is drying. The pieces will be fit tomorrow and I’ll drill the holes for the windscreen and for the six DZUS fasteners that hold the bellypan to the uppers. A little touchup on both pieces and a clear coat later, the bellypan will be finished. One down. Four to go.
Yes, you are supposed to fit the pieces first, then drill the holes and after making sure everything fits just so with clearance all the way around, only then are you supposed to paint the stuff. However, I have to work around this crap weather we are currently enjoying in the fine state of Georgia and my work schedule, so we will just have to see how bad it really fouls things up to go not quite by the book.
I’m beginning to think that this might just turn out to be a three foot job, but with my luck something’s going to go south at some point in the near future and ruin my day. But it’s best not to think of it, lest I jinx the whole affair.
After wrestling for over a week with the question of what to do about my final drive ratio and what sprockets and chain to get, I have finally made a decision and pulled the trigger. I’m glad this is over. I’m always stressing over price/value and which way to go. Should I go cheap or should I go for quality? It is true what they say about getting what one is paying for, but trying to strike a balance between going all out and keeping it reasonable and less painful on the bank is what creates an elevated risk for an embolism in the grey matter.
First, there was the gearing to consider. I’ve never been to the Nashville Superspeedway. I couldn’t find a decent track map online and the scarce info that can be gleaned off of message boards and various web sites is suspect at best; at least to me. Then there is the slight hangup I have about owning my solution and a tendency of not listening to people whose credibility cannot be verified. Not to mention that there is a bunch of contradicting info out there. And I’d rather mess up of my own volition than play the victim without a clue to somebody else’s BS. In short, I can deal with my own mistakes and their consequences. Nobody to blame but myself. That’s the way it should be. Since I don’t know jack about gearing and cannot yet distinguish the utter crap from the useful information, I have to be very selective about my sources.
I’ve learned this much in racing school:
- Gearing is track specific.
- The vast majority of stock street bikes are geared wrong. It is very rare for stock gearing to be correct for the race track.
- Navigate the race track using the top half of the gearbox, meaning gears four through six; the gears are closer together there and hence RPM variances are less, making it easier to find the correct gear for any given corner.
- You should be able to hit red line in sixth gear somewhere on the track, usually at the end of the longest straight.
- Gear your bike to always be in the optimum power band.
With that said, I know I am missing essential information. How long is the longest straight at Nashville Superspeedway? Or at least what is the average top speed attained on a liter bike? I suppose I could leave well enough alone and go there with my stock setup. But I don’t work this way. Now that I have learned about this neat little morsel of racing info, I have to try and apply it. I’ve been doing fairly well lugging through some corners or screaming around in others or on the straights. Yes, I’m lazy. My shift light rapidly blinks to inform me it’s time and all I can think of? “I’m almost there… almost… I can make it… I don’t want to upshift just now, because ah… right here I would have had to downshift.” Most of the time, I street shift anyway… I am nowhere near the power band… I tool around the track in fuel saving mode. That tendency has to stop. No wonder I suck at going fast in a straight line. By the time I get the Pirate into her sweet spot where she pulls hard, it’s time to get on the binders again and stuff her into the next corner, where I –yet again– get to go around all those people who just passed me in the straights. I would like to get to a point in my riding where I only pass people ONCE. Less work that way. Unless I’m lapping them… then twice would be good. 😉
And why am I always catching up with them in the corners? Seems to me that I shouldn’t be… but that is a different blog post altogether.
I have finally decided to just wing it and go with theoretical values and bring my top speed down to my personal best, which somewhat coincides with values flung around online.
Now, where exactly would my shift points be on the S1000RR? That’s determined by the power band. To be scientific about it, I would have to get the bike on a dyno and see where she’s got what. I don’t have the money for that, nor do I know where to find one of those around here. Lastly, I just don’t feel up to finding out at the moment. My bike is stock, properly broken in, and dyno figures are a look at estimated real-world performance. Dyno figures do not translate directly. Not that simple. I just make it easy on myself and look at a few stock dyno charts. 9.5 – 13K. Good, that kind of meshes with my subjective experience and perception. The red line is at 14.5K and the front wants to come up around 11K. Further, BMW suggests to bring the revs up to 9K for a proper race start. Good enough. Now, I have a range.
I plug in some values into an online tool called the Gearing Commander and am torn between running 16/46 or 16/47, which would be -1/+2 and -1/+3 from stock respectively. I don’t like even/even distribution on teeth, so I opt for the 16/47 choice which seems better on overall wear and gets me a theoretical 4 MPH closer to that red-line moment I’m supposed to have at some point.
But it isn’t over quite yet. Should I stick with the stock 525 setup or go with a 520 conversion? 520 is obviously lighter since it isn’t as wide. The first number denotes pitch, which is the distance between two pins; the second number is the width of the chain. After sitting on the fence for another day, not being able to make up my mind one way or the other, the deciding factor came in the form of my LSR meet at the Maxton Mile in May. Weight matters there, never mind that I’m not going to be running these sprockets, but I want to keep everything the same size, so I can swap stuff at the track if I really need to. Another monetary consideration, definitely.
I’m not fast enough yet to even consider tweaks such as weight reduction to the point of measuring my fuel, ripping unnecessary parts off my bike, or to be concerned about the minute differences in chain acceleration, tension, and sprocket sizes. I’ll get to that when it is necessary. Right now I have other concerns. 520 it is. Cheaper also, less materials involved. And most of the good price/value ratios can be found in that size, too.
After checking that I have the necessary adjustment room on the rear axle and hoping that I have the clearance required to actually run a 47-tooth rear, it is time to order two sprockets and a chain. Two more days are spent wrestling with compromise between price and value and I finally decide on the following and pull the trigger before I can change my mind three more times:
- Vortex Racing 520 16T countershaft sprocket
- Vortex Racing 520 47T rear sprocket
- RK 520 GXW XW-Ring chain (118 links, I will need to cut one)
This will give me a final drive ratio of 2.94 as supposed to the stock ratio of 2.59.
The theoretical top speed would be 159 MPH as opposed to 181 MPH with stock gearing.
Theoretical shifting speeds at 9,500 RPM: 56, 70, 85, 98, 108, 117 through the six gears.
Yeah, I’m going to have to wear a diaper to stay in the top three gears. =D But it should be an improvement over the stock gearing. Now, wish me luck so I don’t wad that shit.
My work here is done. Come what may. I will own it.
Mr. Slow, who is my personal PR manager (he brags about his wife behind her back) and track photographer (he takes pictures wherever he is, just so happens he found himself at a race track with a camera in his paws and bored out of his mind), has finally uploaded some pics to his site.
When he sent me the link, the first words out of my mouth were: “Just 43? You’re not done yet, I see.” His reply was: “No, baby. I am done. That’s the cream of the crop.” I beg to differ, but he has standards, whereas I do not. A serial killer puts more thought into choosing a memento than I do with track shots. As long as it isn’t blurry, I’m hanging onto it.
I paid $40 for the official track photographer’s CD, and it only had 22 photos on it. I purchased it for two reasons: I am a photo whore and I wanted to compare the quality between the track photographer’s shots and Papa Razzi’s. Papa Razzi won hands down. Where the track photographer had to divide their attention between everybody on the track, my husband only concentrated on me and later on also included a friend I had made at the school. Isn’t he sweet?
He said it basically came down to equipment rather than skill of the photographer. They used an older body but a $10K telephoto lens. Papa Razzi can’t afford pricey glass like that, because he has a high-performance woman on his bank roll, so he made up for the lack of optical zoom in resolution. He probably will tell me I have it wrong, but that’s how I understood it.
At any rate, check out Papa Razzi’s photos from the Ed Bargy Racing School and track day weekend at JenningsGP in Jennings, Florida. Tell him what you think. I think they’re awesome and competitive with some of the other photographers out there. But I’m about as biased about the quality of his photos as Mr. Slow is objective on the subject of how fine my rear end looks when it is hanging off the bike.
Ed Bargy vs. Kevin Schwantz
As I walked into the classroom, Ed Bargy, after getting my name, greeted me with: “So, you are the Kevin Schwantz graduate. Forget everything he’s taught you. I will teach you some stuff you can actually use.”
Ba-dam-CHING! Sounds like I had paid two extra large to spend a weekend at the track and hang out with a World Champion. Well, crap!
Yup, he’s a racer. I like this man already. It is going to be a fun-filled day of information overload and scattered knee dragging. Ed Bargy set a fast pace, off and on the track. He had a lot of material to cover and between the classroom lectures and the six on-track sessions, I spent the entire day running like a madwoman whose ass was on fire between three locations: classroom, pit, track, pit, classroom,… in my race boots! Mr. Slow had set up our pit in the Back Forty. In the GRASS!!!
The previous night, we pulled in seven minutes before the gate closed, dead tired but kept awake by generous amounts of caffeine, paid our gate fee and started looking for a spot to make our home for the weekend. I pointed to an empty paddock pad, two over from the hot pit entrance and close to the registration building and classrooms. Right up front!!! He says: “We don’t have a trailer, I’m not going to back in there.” Arrrrrgh! I was exhausted after having stayed up all night and most of the day prepping my bike. I had never been here and was completely clueless. Hell, maybe this place was run like the military, you didn’t get a concrete slab unless you… well, earned it. I didn’t argue, we parked the truck, unloaded the bike and set up our pit, pitched the truck tent we had acquired for just this purpose, inflated the truck bed air mattress, tossed our sleeping bags inside and pretty much fell into a coma as soon as the cords got pulled on the mummy hoods.
This Is Your Wake-Up Call
The morning got off to a cold start, when we were awakened by people talking while unloading their bikes, setting up and getting ready for the day. I still had no clue when I was expected to show up and where, but luckily they announced everything over the PA system. Mr. Slow met me in the registration building with a steaming cup of joe. The man knows me. There is no approaching me pre-coffee. I was relatively calm, I felt refreshed and ready to take my riding to the next level. Of course, I didn’t need to be there until tomorrow to register for my track day. The lady told me just to go ahead and go to the classrooms, Ed was already there.
First Things First: The Track Walk
Class began with a track walk. Of course, “walking” was done under power in first gear. We stopped at key points at the track and Ed Bargy talked about its features and how to use them to our advantage. Got it! This is the first thing every serious racer or rider should do. Walk the track. There is stuff you’ll notice you won’t be able to see at speed. Subtle but important things that will help greatly in line selection. The best line around the track is the fastest line, and that is not necessarily the shortest. And in order to be fast, you have get to know the lay of the land. Literally. JenningsGP, which was designed by Ed himself and is a motorcycle-only racetrack, is relatively flat. No extreme features, no elevation changes to speak of, some turns are slightly cambered or banked, and the entire 2-mile track is mostly wide open. It is definitely divided into a fast section and a tight section. Turns 3-9 are pretty tightly grouped together, then the track opens up again entering into Turn 10 and you can pretty much stay on the gas all the way through Turn 14, onto the front straight, slow down briefly for Turn 1 and then onto the gas again until you get back around to Turn 3. Repeat.
The track has no rhythm to me. It seems too narrow and claustrophobic in its wide open sprawl. There are no blind corners or hills to obscure your visibility. I don’t like this. For some reason it messes with my focus. I see too much too soon. I knew from studying the track map that I may not end up liking the way this particular track is laid out, but it was perfect for what I came here to do: Quit entering turns like an old biddy in her Oldsmobile and get my corner entry sorted. If hauling it down from 150+ to throw it into T3 doesn’t do it then I don’t know what will.
This Girl Can’t Ride
My first few sessions were barely keeping up. I was literally riding by the seat of my pants, and they still got away from me. What in the hell? Screw it! I started doing my own thing, since I did not like the way I was riding. Unorganized, frenzied, rushed, without method. I slowed a little and started turning laps without touching my brakes. This track indeed does not sing to me, like Barber did. I can’t find its rhythm, so I can’t dance. I’m picking my lines, experimenting with various options, but I like none of it. I feel out of my element. Like a wall flower at a beauty pageant. I’m getting a little despondent, but I try to concentrate on the material covered and execute. My focus is not there. Every once in a while a control rider passes me and taps the tail section of his bike with his left hand. “Follow me!” I did and found that I was doing better copying someone else’s rhythm. But again, eventually they left me and I was on my own yet again. I was torn between heeding the call of my competitive nature and keeping up with the boys and tearing it up and doing the smart, responsible thing and moderating my speed back to about 80% of my skill envelope so I could focus on technique. Crap! I’m not liking this at all! Disconnect. Major disconnect.
Say What?!? A Racer You Are Not!
What in the world have I done now? You can’t even keep up with the second slowest group of students and you want to do what exactly?!? Go racing? They’ll pull you off the field for being a safety hazard you’re so damned slow! Good gawd, woman! After three sessions, which progressively improved, it finally dawned on me. As we were heading out to the track I asked Mr. Bargy: “So the slowest of the four groups is to the right, the fastest on the outside?” He confirmed my suspicions. The drawing on the dry erase board was flipped upside down. Doh! I remember Ed even mentioning that and I still got it reversed in my head. This explains a few things! Definitely! No wonder I was feeling off. Instead of staging with the second slowest group, I got in line running in the second fastest. Ed just laughed when I smacked my forehead and said with a giggle: “Well, that would explain why I couldn’t keep up to save my life.” This would also explain why I had to ride by the seat of my pants. I had not the time to collect proper reference points for myself. Fortunately, I have always made it a point to teach myself “Riding by Reading” rather than “Riding by Repetition”. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry, it is a subject worthy of another blog post. But in essence, if you know how to “read” the road or track while you ride, you’ll be fast no matter where you go. If you are a “repetition rider” you’ll smoke your buddies on your home turf, but go elsewhere and you are as lost as a kitten in a litter of hungry puppies.
With renewed confidence and motivation I went outside, suited up, took possession of the Pirate at the corner of the registration building where Mr. Slow waited for me. I think he started feeling a twinge of guilt about pitting his Baby in the grass in the waaaay back! Yeah, buddy! Walk a mile in my race boots…
More My Speed…
I got in line with the peeps who would be more my speed and was ready to get down to business. I had some catching up to do in skill development and corner entries to work on at a speed more conducive to improving my game. Baby steps, yes ma’am! I was rudely interrupted in my reverie when one of the control riders pointed at me, at himself, and then behind him. I followed the arc of his left hand and saw that he had Margie Lee on her silver Ducati in tow. It was obvious he wanted me to come with him. What the hell? I didn’t like this at all. You, my man, are disrupting my plans. Apparently Mr. Control Rider is a lady’s man. His lonesome studly self gathering about him all the women in the group?!? Can you be anymore blatantly obvious? He was on his way of making me dislike him. He had already pissed me off once, and this must be due punishment for not hanging on his every word and doing as I was told, “Yessir, may I have another!” I might be shy, but I can be very verbose when it comes to calling bullshit where I see it. Go ahead and try me, I have no tolerance for it. And if you do, you’ll be the one having to pop a Xanax in the after-action review. But this one’s also for another time and another story. And I will share! Fret not.
You! Come With Me!
I had to wait until my group was starting to pull out before I could get out of line, we were pretty much bunched up tire to tire. I cranked my upper body around to make sure that the rider behind me was aware of what I was doing and then slipped out of line and waited for Mr. Lady’s Man and Margie Lee to pull out and fell in behind them. Yawn! He was going so slow, I was wondering if I should drag rear brake to give the engine something to pull against. I dismissed my misgivings and took the opportunity to collect much needed reference points and reconsider line selection. Besides, my tires were still cold, so it’s all good. After another lap of this, I had enough. I eventually passed Margie Lee and at some point I must have passed him or he had just left us at one… I can’t recall, but “frankly mah dear, I don’t give a damn” where he was. I was doing my thing, finding my groove, at my own pace designed to maximize my learning process. Previously I was getting rather disgusted with myself and wondering if I would ever manage to carry enough speed into these turns to get my knee down; but it wasn’t before too long I was dragging some serious knee and passing people by taking it up their inside; or using the Pirate’s awesome power to my advantage by letting myself drift wide and then passing them on the outside. Plenty of times where someone showed me a wheel and I showed my pretty front end to someone else. I was passing. I was getting passed. It was glorious. I started feeling my competitive edge creeping back in and I got swept up in the moment. I was starting to really enjoy myself and I felt like I finally was learning something.
Starting Procedure Practice
At the end of the school we had a mock race, but Ed preferred to call it “Starting Procedure Practice”. Mr. Lady’s Man had told us that we will be gridded by our observed skill levels. Ed told us not to worry about grid position. The field will sort itself out, no matter what position you start in. The fast riders will be in front, the slower riders end up in the back and the intermediate group will duke it out in between. I bet some imaginary money on what position Mr. Lady’s Man assigned to me on the grid, but I lost the bet. I wasn’t dead last after all. There was one dude who was worse off than me. At least I had the inside line in the last row. I told him that we’re just going to have to roll this up from the rear. He laughed and agreed.
I made it a point to be there right after first call. I sat on the entrance to pit road and waited. Dan, who is Race Control, held his right hand up, all five fingers splayed out and yelled at us over idling engines: “See this? That is your FIVE BOARD. Go!” He stepped off to the side and let us enter pit road to take our warmup lap and assume our assigned grid positions. We were using the standard WERA staggered grid pattern of 3-2-3. From my position in the sixth row with only one rider behind me, I could see the entire field. I wasn’t nervous at all, which was strange. I happened to look at the Starter when the 3-Minute Board came up. Time to pay attention now. I lowered my face shield and put my bike in gear. I was ready. The 2-Minute Board was displayed fairly quickly thereafter. I exhaled when the Starter displayed the 1-Minute Board. Apparently I had forgotten to breathe. Sideways. I rev up the S1000RR to 9,000 RPM. My shiftlight illuminates at about the same time the green flag comes out and I smoothly ease the lever out in one quick, controlled movement. The Pirate responds and I find myself passing people on the grid. This is a far cry from the starts I laid down at the drag strip. It is the same thing, pretty much. I don’t know why I can’t be smooth at the strip. Never mind that now, Turn 1 is coming up. I have a clear shot on the inside, but decide to stay in the middle. for a better drive into Turn 2. I am not aware of the other riders. No, I am aware of them, but I don’t know who they are or where they came from on the grid. I know I now have people behind me, since I passed a few on the grid. But never mind this. My tires are still not up to temperature and I decide to concentrate on what I’m doing, not what everybody else is up to. All I know is that I’m always in second place. The guy in front of me? He needs passing. That’s all I worry about. I’m having a hoot. I am in my element. I thrive on this.
I have reached a new level in my braking technique. Trial by fire. I notice that a lot of these people like to park in the corners. When you have no brake lights to give you a clue, you have to be extremely aware of your immediate surroundings. If their nose is dipping it’s a telltale sign they are on the skids hard. And when your front end is almost stuffed up their tail pipe it’s high time to take some countermeasures to avoid collecting. I notice a front wheel in my peripheral vision and have to dismiss the awful thought that my continued success of keeping both my contact patches engaged is entirely at the mercy of the unknown variable behind me.
This is the exact reason why I don’t ride in groups on the street and when I do I hang in the back, because I trust in my own capabilities over those of others and rather keep the trouble up front where I can see it. Yet, here I am putting myself at the mercy of others at grossly higher speeds. Strange how I abhor something on the street and thrive on it on the track. There is a reason why they make us take our mirrors off; and it has nothing to do with safety or drag coefficient. I’m sure we’d have to change our diapers several times per race if we could see what exactly goes on directly behind us. Best not to think about it at all.
The Color Of Adrenaline
I have not a clue how I finished in the mock race. All I know is that I got passed and passed others… I do know that I rode harder than I ever had in my entire life. I started sliding the rear I accelerated so hard out of turns. I almost tucked the front on several occasions because I had to brake so hard while leaned over to avoid running up on someone in mid-corner. Ed Bargy wanted us to feel for these limitations of available traction. That is how you know how much you have left. We need to be able to control these without having to wipe our butts later or freaking the hell out and wadding it. The more I do it, the less anxious I am about front end tuck or rear end slides. I’m learning. Slowly. But baby steps is what it takes to improve without wrecking your shit. I’m ok with that. I have a few payments left on my BMW.
Don’t race what you can’t afford to wreck. That’s what they say. When have I ever let stuff like that stop me? Let me think… hmmm… nope, can’t come up with anything at the moment. I race what I have, run what I brung. But I race it sensibly. I aborted passes, didn’t take opportunities to pass, or let someone pass because the risk to do otherwise was too great. There was no money at the finish line. There were no points waiting for me at the checkered flag. There were no sponsorships at stake. My ego only drives my machine so far. This girl knows when to hold ’em and she definitely knows when to fold ’em. I race my own race. I have no testosterone-driven need to be a track day heroine. I have nothing to prove to anybody but to myself, and most of what I prove to myself has nothing at all to do with raw speed or position.
Check The Appropriate Box
After our mock race we pitted our bikes and went back to the classroom to take our written examination. The questions were multiple guess and all related to racing procedures. Ed said that this test was “closed book, but open can.” Those of us who were inclined to do so were invited to help themselves to an ice-cold can of brew with Ed while we were taking our test. I made a huge exception to my standing rule of zero-tolerance for alcohol and caffeine while participating in a race or track weekend. But I could not pass up an opportunity to have a beer with Mr. Bargy. Shortly after grading our tests we received our Provisional Novice shirts and Certificates of Completion. We also got to keep Ed Bargy’s book “Introduction To Motorcycle Roadracing”, a $50 tire discount coupon which I ended up using the following day; a coupon for a discounted track day which I couldn’t use because I had already registered and paid for Sunday; and a 10% off coupon for the chassis alignment and setup services of G.M.D. Computrack Atlanta.
This Was Fun! Can I Do It Again?
Overall I had a great time. I learned a ton, improved my lap times by 17 seconds over the span of six track sessions, gained a great deal of consistency in my riding and learned to trust my machine. I never had the S1000RR on a track. I trusted her on the street, but had no clue how I would get along with her on the track. I never ran Dunlop Sportmax Q2 tires on the track either. I still love these tires and will continue to run them, since they are priced moderately and perform their duties very well, street or track, wet or dry. Once I started trusting my tires and my bike at higher speeds and steeper lean angles, things started happening for me in a good way. I am happy with my progress, but still have lots to work on. Oh, before I forget: I did shorten my corner entry by a significant amount. When I first started, I initiated slowing down and then braking at the first brake marker. I carried an average of 60 mph into Turn 3, which was the turn I consciously measured my overall progress on, but it wasn’t the turn I did best in, as I would have expected. Turn 1 was the turn I did my best in as far as corner entry goes. By the end of the day I started braking halfway between brake marker 2 and 1, without rolling off the throttle prematurely and “sunday driving” it to my braking marker, and carried speeds of about 90 mph into the turn and had to actually downshift before stuffing the Pirate in and putting my knee on the ground.
Fun With Still Caps
I still could get more aggressive on my exits and get on the gas just a little harder. I have always had a tendency to get on the throttle as soon as I got to the apex of the turn, but I always finessed it rather than giving it a good, aggressive drive out. I’m nowhere near my traction limit at the apex, which is probably a good thing, considering that I constantly seem to find myself dealing with some slowasses backing up traffic mid-corner, which leaves me room for braking and “changing lanes”. At JenningsGP I shouldn’t have this problem. I can see them way ahead of time, but I end up putting my nose down for them anyway. I just can’t help myself. I should moderate my speed and anticipate the bunching-up effect, but I never do. I always think that I won’t be catching up with them, since they are the ones that got away from me in the straights.
Here’s a little educational something where Miss Busa demonstrates how NOT to do it. Enjoy! 🙂
*The thing got mangled during encoding by YouTube for some reason. It plays fine locally on Mr. Slow’s Mac, so I am not fixing it. The important stuff is there. I apologize.*