It’s Tool Time!

I’m patiently waiting on the Man in Brown to show up on my doorstep to drop off a load of (highly specialized) tools, so I can get this front suspension pain in my arse taken care of once and for all.

What did I actually put on the track at Road A? Let’s just say that I was way too trusting of a bike that my hubby had acquired for me from a dude who is a mechanic by trade and the bike in question had also been set up and raced by a local racing team.

I’m not complaining, mind you. As far as I am concerned hubby got a great deal on the R1. The added up cost of the performance upgrades alone would have set us back as much as we paid for the bike itself. I’m speaking retail cost here. When you’re sponsored you could find yourself getting these things for free. I’m sure both parties came out of this deal smiling. I know I did, and Skinny Dude with Similar Spring Rate even cut me a break and knocked another five bills off of it. But it goes to show that even though I had checked the bike over to the best of my ability, with the mechanical knowledge that I had gained thus far, some things do not become obvious until you put the beast on the track and give it as much hell as you dare. I did. At the last race of the season. Yes, the finals. I went testing at the Grand Nationals and then still entered the actual race (there are some freakishly fast dudes in A Superstock); knowing it was a really bad idea, but when did that sort of thing ever stop me? But that is a different story for a different time. Maybe I’m going to tell it someday… when I’m completely over the public humiliation I received that weekend, and deservedly so.

Candy's Fork(ed) Leg

But I digress.

Finding a rolled up piece of shop towel shoved in between the outer dust seal, the inner oil seal and the ring clip that holds the seal assembly in place was the last straw. (Somebody sneaking some leaky fork seals through Tech?) The last straw in a long line of other straws that made me say WTF!?! out loud. Every one of these straws presented me with the awesome opportunity to research and add yet another tiny increase to my MotoMech Skill. I need to develop an eye for these things, I’m starting to, but I’ve got a long way to go. Vic Fasola took one quick glance at my bike and muttered something along the lines of my suspension setup being totally fooked and my grips being a few degrees off from each other! Holy hell, I measured those clip-ons as best I could with my digital calipers, which isn’t the right tool for that job anyway. They looked even to me, hell they felt even when I was riding the bike.

Later disassembly of the front forks revealed that the preload between the two legs was differing by several millimeters between right and left, the compression damping differed by 25 clicks. Absolutely nothing was right about the front suspension setup. Not geometry, damping, preload, relative positioning, or fastening torques. Nothing. Those tubes were slid so far up the triple tree that they were in danger of giving you a nose bleed when in the race tuck. A twitchy proposition to say the least. And to facilitate this extreme lack of straight line stability it was necessary to have the upper triple tree clamp half on the skinny part and half on the fat part of the fork tube. I snapped off both pinch bolts on the right side in an attempt to loosen them. I wonder how close they were to snapping when the bike was on the race track? I don’t even want to think about that. I managed to release the left-side bolts without a snap, by backing them out alternatively a few turns at a time. The bolts showed signs of fatigue. They were bent and the threads were unevenly stretched.

No wonder the bike felt weird in the front and kind of strange in the back. No wonder I was as slow as a blob of molasses hanging out in a fridge. The bike was talking to me. I didn’t understand all this feedback I was getting through the chassis. I am slowly learning, but my lackadaisical attitude, a conditioned response to balance perfectionistic tendencies with and adventuresome spontaneity into a more sensible approach, sometimes gets in the way and slow natural progression.

I get in my own way. There. I’ve said it. I’m a brainiac klutz. Leave me to my own devices with too much time to think and too much room for self-doubt, and I’ll stumble over my own two feet and land on the mental equivalent of my JLo ass. But I own my solutions and failures. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have to own something to trust in it. I have to test a theory and be able to reproduce the promised results on my own to fully believe it. I don’t follow blindly, unless the source has repeatedly proven itself, and even then I can’t help but feel the gnaw of insecurity. I like my variables to be assigned beforehand. I like the equation’s result to be known. But this is the real world… and constants aren’t much fun anyway.

In the end I have nobody to blame but myself; which is the preferable scenario to me. When the blame falls squarely on my shoulders I can spare myself the annoyance of being upset with someone else.

I should have done the research beforehand, educated myself on the things I was unclear on or was ignorant of and check all fasteners. Set the suspension up for myself instead of trusting “it must be right, because the guy is my height and approximately my weight and he raced it.”

However, too much theoretical knowledge without any real world experience makes my head hurt, it gets me frustrated by information overload and I end up winging it half of the time for lack of patience, time constraints, not having the proper tools, or simply by saying: “Ah, screw this, it’ll be alright.” After all, I don’t want to wrench. I want to ride!

I own it or am owned by it.

Sometimes I do find myself getting a little jealous of some of my friends who can call upon the experience of trusted others to help them along their way. I do most everything myself, and I fall down a lot. Occasionally, this gets a little old and I feel like quitting. Fortunately, I have Mr. Slow to kick me square in the leather pants when I start uttering such nonsense as wanting to quit racing because it’s such a pain in the ass in between. Hubby is EXTREMELY supportive of my racing endeavors. He is my rock. His is the hand that reaches out to help me up. He is the one who puts up with all my girly insecurities and the shit I dish out when I’m stressing, smiles and says: “I don’t care how slow you think you are, baby. I still am damned proud of you for getting out there. You are doing it. You just need to do it more. That’s all.”

He’s right. I know that on an intellectual level. Sometimes it is just hard to hold on to that emotionally when you’re down, but not out. I wish he could also be a master mechanic and a pro racer instead of just playing the role of my psychologist. 😉

My stuff is here, I’ve got to go!

17 days until race day.


Paint it… a Brighter Shade of Yellow

Apparently I rode it until the paint peeled off. Faster than a speeding ticket? No. Faster than a top coat with just a hint of polyurethane? Yes. And here I thought I wasn’t going fast enough. I can’t leave it alone, I have to at least make it look good from a fair distance, let’s say 12 feet or so. The motion blur will take care of the rest. I needed to fix my competition numbers on the tail section anyway, and Tech informed me that I needed to get the front number fixed before the next race, they want them straight across. Well, I suppose they’re letting a ton of people slide repeatedly on that one, since I’ve seen plenty of race bikes with number plates that aren’t quite regulation. I don’t want any shit from Tech, so I’m not going to fight them on something as simple as a number plate. I really don’t need the white glove treatment before I had my first cup of Joe, I’m not a morning person and my mouth will just get me in trouble.

I’m not spending any more money on damn paint and the tools to get it from the can to the substrate. I already spent way too much of my racing cash on my textured special FX primer cover. I should have just went to Maaco and had them apply some shitty-ass one-step automotive coat, I just don’t have the patience for applying paint properly. A girl’s gotta know her limitations.

Enough already. It’s just a tail piece… I don’t even know why I bother to post this up… because it’s one of those little aggravations that come with racing. This is starting to look as though I do have masochistic tendencies… good grief. Somebody should have told me…

Tail Redone

NOT ART!


Going The Distance

Race Report (Part 1 of 3)

Miss Busa’s Inaugural WERA Race:
The Day Before

The Garage At The Nashville Superspeedway

The Nashville Superspeedway has an excellent pit area. Nice clean floors and power outlets. No genny needed. If only they'd installed some garage doors. The thing is like a wind tunnel when the wind is blowing outside. No showers, but large enough restrooms if you want to change or take a cat bath, just have a friend stand guard at the door.

I was running terribly late as usual. There are two factors that I always seem to forget about when “planning” these sort of time-sensitive undertakings:

1. I am a Master Procrastinator, and
2. Everything always takes me way longer than I think.

Correction. Make that three factors:

3. Murphy is my co-pilot. He rides pillion wherever I go, and he backseat drives, too. That bum!

As luck… Murphy would have it, my husband finally gets the OK from his boss to take the weekend off to come with me to Nashville, it seems that some managers do not believe that us mere mortals have a life outside of slaving for the Man, hence ample notice seems of no import to them. But who cares, Mr. Slow is coming along, although I would not have been going alone anyway.

Margie, whom I met at the Ed Bargy Racing School in February, read on my blog that I was planning on going to my first race alone and she wouldn’t have it. She emailed me with the offer to pit for me. Of course, I was elated. Hell yeah, woman! I’ll take you up on that. We hit it off at JenningsGP, the fastest (pun entirely intended) friend I’ve ever made outside of the military, and this would be an awesome opportunity to get to know her better and I knew we would have a blast hanging out together between races.

Hubby has to take a power nap since he’s been up all night, so I busy myself with packing and loading the truck. The Pirate is pretty much race prepped and ready to go. Since I was running behind schedule (nothing new there), I decided that slapping the sponsor stickers and my competition numbers on her newly painted (and hopefully sufficiently cured) race bodywork could wait until we were at the track; ditto for the safety wiring.

What happens next I duly blame on the eight or so hours of sleep I had in the past three days. I ride the bike from her “pit” in my backyard through the gate in our privacy fence into the driveway. I’m getting pretty good at this, since I have to open and close the gate while I’m on the bike or holding onto it, or else I risk the cats making their well-timed fatty-catty escape. They are getting used to the sound of the Beemer and this strategy may not work for very much longer.

I slowly ease the Pirate over the curb and ride into the street, fully intent on making a u-turn to park her behind the Sponsor’s truck on our side of the street. Suddenly, I feel myself going left. What the f…? I try to correct, but quickly find that I can’t. The handlebars are not moving, stuck in place; as if the steering lock has engaged. A hundred errant thoughts run through my mind, not comprehending why this is happening. I know what is happening, it just doesn’t make any sense. While I am preoccupied with the “why”, I completely forget about the “what”. Stuck in a terminal left turn, I bounce over the far-side curb, onto the neighbor’s front lawn and notice that I am on an intercept course with one of the (as of yet) skinny trees they’ve planted in all of our yards. “Shit!” Still not comprehending what is happening, I throw the bike down and execute an awesome-feeling backwards tuck ‘n roll over my left shoulder. I land on my feet and find myself half-crouched in a classic defensive stance with my hands up at the ready. And whose ass am I going to kick?!? Good to know that some things still come naturally, even though I haven’t been to Karate class in over six years. Feeling like a total douche, I right myself, then slap the engine switch to the OFF position and turn the ignition off.

[And why in the hell didn’t I just drag rear brake and come to a nicely executed, ladylike stop???]

This is great! Just great! I guess I’m not going to Nashville after all. What in the hell?!? I’m trying to figure out what in the world I screwed up now. But I didn’t do any front end work. I didn’t touch the triple tree or the fork legs. I just throw my hands up in dismay. Murphy, you fucking bastard! You ever-loving asshole. I hate you!

I squat down to pick up the bike; I see Water Wetter enhanced distilled water trickling out from somewhere. Never mind that now. I’m still in a daze and I need to know what in the devil’s name happened here. I crawl all over the bike, checking it out. I can see absolutely nothing wrong. Am I embarrassed? No. I realize that I don’t even give a crap anymore what people think. So what? My race bike has buried itself up to its frame sliders in the neighbor’s yard. Yup, you got it. Looks like girl can’t ride… whatever. Don’t care. For some odd reason that thought is quite refreshing; It seems that I am starting to lose that annoying fear of public embarrassment one little mishap at a time. Good.

I decide to try the technique I’ve learned from the Ride Like A Pro V DVD. It doesn’t work for me. I cannot budge the thing. I toss my arms up in the air in defeat one last time, then calmly saunter off to get hubby out of bed to come help me get my crotch rocket off the neighbor’s lawn before anybody is the wiser or the Harley dudes look out their windows (whichever comes first).

Instead of finding him asleep, he’s on the phone with his boss. He seems agitated. More confusion. As I walk back out the door, I hear him say something along the lines of “I haven’t left yet, I can come in if you need me to.” Great, looks like it’s back to just Margie and I. I shake my head. I give up. I walk across the street and pick the bike up in my usual fashion. One hand on the clip-on, one hand on the subframe, squat and pull. I have massive thighs, might as well use them. I right the Pirate and walk her back to my side of the street and park her behind the truck ready for loading. As I check her over once more, Mr. Slow is coming outside carrying two parts of the ramp. I tell him what had happened to me, he tells me that he might not have a job come Monday;  apparently his weekend vacation was not approved after all. I ask him if he needs to go to work, but his response is negative. I am baffled.  My only response to his obvious distress is: “Fuck that asshole, you did nothing wrong. Let’s go to Nashville and have some fun, you’re raining on my parade, dude.” We load up the bike and while we’re tossing all the various other junk into the truck, I notice that he’s distracted; if you can call it that. I’ve never seen him this way. The man never gets down or runs out of options. He takes life as it comes at him. He’s always knows a way out. At least that’s how he’s always handled himself. He is the strong one in this relationship. This is unusual.

We talk. Well, he does. I do the listening. Then he says: “Tell me that I haven’t done anything wrong.” I tell him as much. Several times.

Then I add, “Besides, if you do get canned, you have officially run out of excuses not to take your photography to any serious level. You finally have the time to do what you’ve always wanted to do and even make some money at it.”

He’s not convinced. “What about your racing?”

“What about it?”

“It will seriously change our life style.”

“Will it? Really? It’s just stuff, besides you have always found a job. We have never had to go without. So what if we lose the house… I wanted one with a garage for a long time anyway. We’ll recover, we always have. So what if I have to quit for a while. We’ve been through worse.”

Still not convinced, and not wanting to “regress the Status Quo” he asks me one more time: “Tell me that I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong! Now shut your trap, we have a great weekend ahead of us! We deal with whatever may come on Monday; but right now Team PLD has some racing to do.”

We finish packing and loading the truck and head east. It takes him a few miles on the Interstate, but before too long he is back to his usual silly, annoying self. Good. We pick up Margie at her exit and have a road-trippin’ good time all the way to Nashville. I get a nasty leg cramp on the way, and she takes care of me, makes me eat bananas and we consume our fair share of “various other electrolytes” commonly found in junk food. Life is good!

We are an awesome team

Margie is doing great at her first opportunity to wire up a race bike. Don (#69) gave her a quick "crash course" and with a few tips from the 'Wild Woman', she's got the stuff done in a hurry. Our work even passed Tech the first time around. =D

When we get to Nashville, it is cold, dark, rainy, and the wind is blowing at gusty speeds. I’m miserable when I’m cold. Add “wet” to that equation and I just want to crawl under a warm blanket and forget the world around me. Of course, against my better judgment and in the name of “packing light THIS time”, I didn’t bring any warm clothes nor a windbreaker. Margie and I start safety wiring the bike. I only have the thick 0.041″ wire, which is hard to work with but twists up nice and evenly. Fortunately Don, who is pitted next to us, tosses his spool at Margie and makes her use his, while he explains to her how to do it. Don’s wire is thinner and therefore is much more pliable then the stuff Margie was trying to wrangle. Margie pretty much did most of the wiring herself. She had never done it, so she was happy to learn something new. Meanwhile, I amuse myself by taking the kickstand off, checking the tightening torque on various nuts and bolts and tying up some other “loose ends.”

Miss Busa does her best work on her back ;)

I think I may have fallen asleep under there for a few minutes while I was trying to get the safety wire threaded through the hole in the oil drain plug...

Speaking of loose ends, I eventually figured out why I had the “unfortunate incident” earlier that day; and figuring out is what the situation called for, since I was not going to trust my bike until I did. How was I supposed to race on hardware I didn’t trust? I wasn’t going to do it… well, I probably would have done it, I am a stubborn German, after all; but it would have been a stupid thing to do. With that said, the cause for the Pirate’s dirt nap on the neighbor’s lawn was quite silly, really. When I took the OEM bodywork off, I had to unplug the headlamp connectors. I crossed the cables over each other and placed them on top of the steering head, on the little section of frame between the dash and the triple tree assembly, with the intent to secure them later with zip ties. This was overlooked. When I rode the bike down the curb, the bump must have knocked one of the cables off its perch and it dangled there until it got stuck between the lower triple clamp and the steering damper, causing the front end to lock in position. Later, I found my assumption to be true by seeing the slightly mangled connector on the end of the right-side cable when I zip-tied the cables to the fairing stay.

Margie is getting down with the safety wire

Margie was invaluable during the whole weekend, she helped me with my bike, took care of me physically and gave my brain what it needed to push on. Even if I was a little bit whiney on Saturday, she kept at me. Damn those professors, they got your number and won't let you slide. 😉

Tired, cold, and slightly damp we finally checked into our hotel at around midnight, after getting provisions at a nearby grocery store.  It took my brain a while to wind down, but I still didn’t get any restful sleep. I kept waking up freezing. The alarm crashed my PJ party way too soon. It was looking to be a caffeine fueled day. Caffeine fueled with a few shots of adrenaline thrown in. I hope the four energy drinks and the coffee we bought would get us through.

It seems I never get much sleep before track weekends. This must be the norm, why else would Red Bull and Monster sponsor our crazy asses?

Lesson learned: Do it as you go, and if you don’t, you better write down all the stuff you’ve skipped for one reason or another. Don’t expect to remember it all, even if you think you will. Better yet, take a page out of a pilot’s book. Make a pre-race checklist. Check all necessary items off after you complete them. Only then, do you know for certain you did not forget anything.

Another lesson learned: Be meticulously organized. If you spend any time hunting for tools and parts, you’ll take twice as long (if not longer) to complete your work. With that said, setting up your pit completely before you start wrenching on the bike helps a lot, too. Not that it matters at my level, but this is a habit which will be indispensable when you have to change the setup of your bike between races to stay competitive, like making gearing changes, tweaking your suspension, or changing your rubber. If you can’t find your shit, you’re gonna be late.

Track QuickStats:

Nashville Superspeedway (NSS)

4847-F McCrary Rd
Lebanon, TN 37090

(615) 547-7500

NSS Facility Map
Nashville Superspeedway Facility Map
  • Gate closes at 10:oo PM Eastern Time
  • Gate entry is $20 per person for the weekend
  • From the gate, follow the road around the grand stands to the left. Turn right, go through the tunnel (sing the Navy song, honk your horn), the garages will be a little ways down on your right. Drive all the way around the fence and turn right by the Press/Media Building and slip in through the side gate… or you might end up doing the “rat in a maze” thing. 😉
  • Covered pit area (the garages)
  • Power outlets are available in the garages, come Friday night to get a spot
  • WERA sets up Tech at the south end of the garages (signage outside reads “Inspection Station” if I remember correctly.
  • Restrooms are also at the south end of the garages, but you’ll have to walk around the outside of the building to access them.
  • WERA sets up Registration in the Press Building, which is the building next door, also to the south.
  • Pit Road (entry/exit to the track) is also to the south of the garages, between the Press/Media Building and the restrooms.
  • Vending machines are available in the Press/Media Building, but selection seems to be iffy
  • They have a “roach coach” set up during lunch hours (late morning to early afternoon), but the food is grossly overpriced and what I had sucked. If you are a vegetarian you’re out of luck save for the Nachos, but I wouldn’t recommend them: the chips were barely warm, the cheese looked and tasted like imitation cheese, however, the salsa was pretty decent. I can’t speak for their coffee (we brought our own, nor their hot dogs and burgers, none of us tried those)
  • Motorized pit bikes/ATVs and bicycles are allowed
  • Pets are allowed

Plenty of hotels/motels are also close by. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Southeast for $69.99/night and they had what we were after: Clean rooms, clean showers, and decent mattresses. It ain’t no Ritz, but it is affordable and clean. 🙂 They also have wireless Internet access and LAN cables in their rooms; a TV, microwave, fridge and coffee pot, hair dryer and ironing board are also provided. They serve a continental breakfast in the mornings and the staff is helpful and friendly. Don’t forget to get your login information at the front desk when you get your key card, so you can use their Internet. I think their password changes monthly. We booked them through hotels dot com on the way on an iPad and had no issues whatsoever.

  • Oh, I almost forgot: The infield road course sucks. Watch out for potholes and loose gravel in some of the corners. The seams are slippery when wet and they have better roads in Glascock County. But you’ll get used to it.
  • Make sure you shift your weight to the rear and let the front end float over the transition at the end of the front straight, coming down from the banked NASCAR track onto the paved infield portion of the track, it will jolt you, but you’ll be fine.
  • Turn 1 is a peach when you come in hauling Mach 3 from the front straight and are  looking at making a u-turn.
  • Don’t fight your bike (this mother is one rough riding track in places) and stay off the damn wall. =D
This information is provided as is and was accurate at the time of this posting. I have provided it here to summarize the answers to the most commonly asked questions of people who are going to this particular track for the first time. Obviously, I cannot guarantee that this applies to other race organizations or track day clubs, stuff may change. You should call the facility and/or your racing/track day organization in advance if you have any questions.

-1+3=Weeee!

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.

Not quite…

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.

Pinion Nut

The 125Nm bastard of a sprocket nut in a size 32mm with a nuisance of a safety washer. And look at all that gunk! That will need some soaking in Kerosene and a thorough application of elbow grease.

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???


A Pirate’s Dress Rehearsal

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

AB (Left)

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


All Ye Who Enter Here…

…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.

Dumb & Dumber: The Mutt Cutts VanBack 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.

I guess now I know why paint booths have huge exhaust fans and air filtration systems: To avoid paint jobs ending up looking something like this:
Furry Crotch Rocket

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.

Fender and Tail Pieces

The fender and tail section pieces are ready for their real color: Pearlized White. A little light sanding with 1000 grit may just make this shit look good. Keep your fingers crossed.

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.

One-Piece Race Uppers

The one-piece race uppers painted in yet another Ford color by the name of Duplicolor Perfect Match Cardinal Red. It took both of my cans. I don't think I'll be needing the other four that I got at the hardware store. That'll put $16 back into my pocket.

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.


The Paint Peeled Off

Paint Booth

I don't think Mr. Slow is going to like what I've done with the home theater: Blackout curtain is gone, speakers disconnected, furniture moved and there's plastic everywhere, with the faint smell of automotive paint reducer in the air. OK, so my plastic job isn't as good as Dexter's, but it works.


…the fender. Literally. It’s cold and raining. Winter is back. The rain is normal for spring time in Georgia, but the cold? Brrrrr…. it’s not supposed to rain when it’s cold! And that’s final. I moved the paint operations into the theater room. Made myself a homemade “paint booth” and used half a roll of painters tape to keep the plastic stuck to the ceiling, for how long I do not know.

Of course I got the runs on my first round. Damn! Had to wait ’til the paint snot dried so I could sand the crap back flat. As I was finishing the paint started peeling off like dead skin on a beach bum’s three-day old sunburn. Curses! I have a feeling I might have to order some more paint, if my patience nor technique improve. I have half a mind to call around to get a quickie at a local auto body shop, but my tenacious tendency to not be beat by some silly setback prevents me to do that (just yet).

Plan B: Run the stock fender and lay down the line in primer grey on race weekend!

Fender Job

We are not going to talk about this any more. No. This is NOT ART... but this is ridiculous!

Now, while the paint is drying between coats I get to go play around in the cold and wet, putting my bike back into “no, I’m not racing this thing” shape, so there will be no silly questions asked tomorrow when she goes in for her 12K service 2,400 miles late. Probably should put the antifreeze back in, too. I’ve been running around with Water Wetter enhanced distilled water in the radiator since JenningsGP.

“What do you mean I have holes in a bunch of my fasteners?!?”
“Safety wiring? Racing? What?”
“No, sir. I don’t know how they got there. They were already there when I got it. I thought this funny, since I don’t remember ordering the pre-drilled model.”
“You mean you stick wires through those holes and your stuff doesn’t fall off? Genius! Leave it to the Germans…”

Pearlized White

Pearlized White: This is what it is SUPPOSED to look like when it's done. Yeah, good luck with that.