Almeria Insights

Would be better punch out of the corners esp on to the long straight, but would benefit coming out of all corners; would give more engine braking into corners – less braking needed to apply manually.

OK, rather than watch Downton Abby on  Christmas Day, I watched my on-boards from the recent trip to Almeria, and compared them to Crafar’s Almeria vid to see where I was going wroing/could improve – here’s the findings.

1. Observation: I am in too high a gear in the infield – coming out of many of the corners I am in 6-8K rpm i.e. I am in 2nd or 3rd when I should be in 1st or 2nd (esp at the end of the long straight). Looking at Race-Chrono my speed on at the end of the long straight, through the chicane and on to the long straight warrants only being in first (40-50 mph). Maybe also the left turn onto the long up hill left hander.
What does Crafar do: He’s in high revs all the time, He comes down 4? gears at the end of the long straight.
Benefit: Would be better punch out of the corners esp on to the long straight, but would benefit coming out of all corners; would give more engine braking into corners – less braking needed to apply manually.
Plan: Try and use lower gears. Find out the top speed in all gears and use Race Chrono to plan the gear to use for each turn. Practice down-shifting under pressure – it has to be as second nature as up-shifting!
Danger: Going into 1st mean more chance of the rear locking up even with a slipper clutch. May have to give less throttle (or time its application better).
Wish List: A line of LEDs that indicate rpm that I could stick on my screen like a ZX-10R. Yellow 1 to 9K rpm, Green 9 to 12K rpm and red above. Down blipper ? :)

2. Observation: using too much engine braking it seems. The time spent decelerating (all be it at a very slow rate seems to long).
What does Crafar do: You can hear when he’s off the throttle but its for shorter periods.
Benefit: Longer spent on the throttle would mean higher speeds on all the straights.
Plan: If not accelerating, brake. Work with braking markers. Brake into turn in.
Danger: Too busy at turn in time; harder to judge speed; miss turn in point; run wide due to excess speed.
Wishlist: Data acquisition would show how much brakes I’m applying and for how long. How about a light that shows brake application on my screen?

3. Observation: Head too far away from inside bar – can look crossed up. No knee down so no I’m getting no indication of lean.
What does Crafar do: Sits high but looks good.
Benefit: Better weight distribution; less lean required; looks better in pictures 😛
Plan: Drop inside shoulder; put head closer to inside clip on, splay legs!
Danger: I’m not used to this, try clinging onto bike rather than sit on it, physically to hard.
Wishlist: Could rearsets make a difference? How about a higher seat?

4. Observation: Front forks don’t have the range of adjustment required. Although the shock seemed OK, everything on forks was wound up to about max. Bumps at Almeria were making the whole of the front end shake.
Plan: Upgrade springs, fork cartridges and oil to give the adjustment I need.
Danger:  Can’t get the bike to work on the road anymore.

Mallory – 16/6/12

Nearly two weeks after my visit to Snetterton I have a trackday at Mallory. Unfortunately the Summer of 2012 is the wettest for 100 years (we now know) and so I get to do my first wet trackday. The rain in the morning wasn’t to bad in the morning but by lunchtime it was full on deluge. Since I was on my Hornet I felt I had an advantage with ABS, and the grip wasn’t as bad I thought – it felt surprising going round the outside of people on Gerrards without falling off.

My thanks to Ryan Clare (a friend of Serious-Racing) for keeping me a space in the cow shed and providing the coffee. In return I was his pit bitch and helped fit the wets to the RSV4. No pictures of riding as there was probably not enough light or something. On the whole I think I prefer a dry track…

Snetterton – 13/5/12 – Group 1 (Novice).

Time for the second trackday of the year. This is back at Snetterton with Focused Events and it’s going to be popular as it’s one of the few available at the weekend. And thank the stars the suns’ out for my journey up and will be for the rest of the day, but boy is it cold to begin with. My first stop is for petrol at Newmarket but the main purpose is too put on two sets of petrol pump gloves under my Alpinestar gauntlets. This means I can concentrate on riding for the rest of the journey.

A Gentle Half An Hour On The R6

I’m still looking for the next great biking love of my life, specifically a bike I can use mainly if not completely on track. After chatting to people I know, and quite a lot I don’t via the flavour of disconnected awesomeness that is the internets I’ve decided to keep with a 600. But which one? We’ll I’ve owned a CBR600RR so would like to try some something else. The something else that is generally favoured by those who run a 600 on track is the ’06 onwards R6. Known for it’s lack of rice pudding skin bothering midrange, the top end is really great. Allegedly.

I have ridden one of these on track with the California SuperBike School, but the only thing I can only remember about that was the seat was really high (850mm) and the leathers they gave me were way too big. So that’s not a lot of help really –  I was just way to inexperienced to judge the bike properly on the day.

So it was time to take one for a ride at my local neighbour Yamaha dealer. They had a nice looking MY09 model for sale. Three years old at time of writing but still not cheap – it seems R6s really hold there money. Yamaha have raised the price of these a lot recently (like all the other Japanese manufacturers) so no doubt supply of used bikes is limited even before we factor in ejits like me throwing them down the track and writing them off. Anyway it looked nice in red and white but boy did it have a high mileage which I only discovered when it was fired up. Most late model R6’s only have a few thousand miles but this one had 13 thousand. Good on the last owner for actually using it.

So the ride: It was only a short one – after discovering the mileage I was never going to buy the bike (given it’s price – much better value ones are available else where). Plus after leaving the dealers I managed to find every 30 and 40 mph limited road in Suffolk. Grrr. Nevertheless, this ‘gutless’ bike had a reasonable midrange which turned into proper acceleration at about 8K on the rev counter – this is the point she lifted here skirts and became much more fun. It sounds lovely – I’ve never been on bike that pops and burbles on the overrun as much as this one,  and it howls on the upper reaches of the rpm band. My CBR600RR always droned and after fitting a race can it still droned only a lot louder.

The fit of the bike is fine for me – it’s certainly a lot more roomy than the CBR, and it feels like a more substantial bike. The clip-ons are somewhere between the CBR600 and a Daytona 675. Steering and control were also good, but it could hardly be bad on slow potter on the roads.

In conclusion it could certainly fit the bill.

Today’s the day I didn’t buy a Fireblade.

Today I didn’t buy a Fireblade. After what was a mostly enjoyable trackday at Snetterton (barring the Captain’s off) and watching some WSB on the telly I should have been gagging at the bit. But I changed my mind, shock the dealer by the hand and told him I didn’t want his 2010 almost new condition, low mileage and well priced bike. Why not – well I guess it fell in the Goldilocks zone of head over heart purchases,  not too expensive, not too crap – a good middle choice. But it didn’t look or sound as nice as the Capt’s new wheels (and almost certainly doesn’t thrill as much as well). It isn’t old or cheap enough to crash on track without a lot of regret and it’s still a big heap of money that could be used for more trackdays or trips. There are the internet stories of big oil consumption and woe. It’s colour is very orange. So even on the journey to the dealers to pick it up I was thinking about what I would replace it with in a couple of years, that doesn’t have it’s cylinders quite in a line, or how could I save up for a cheaper bike for the track, and that’s just not right.