Battle of the Brands

At Serious-Racing, naturally we’re competitive and we’re interested in motorsport data, but mostly we’re just curious. Curious about which bikes are fastest in the real world.

So we took a look at our data set and tried to figure out how we could find that out. We decided to take the ten most popular tracks, and look at the fastest ten people on each. We then gave ten points to the fastest, nine to the second fastest all the way down to one point for the tenth fastest. We grouped them by the brand of bike they were on to come up with a list of the fastest bike brands.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here’s the graph showing the fastest brands of bikes on the ten most popular tracks on serious-racing.com

We’re already thinking about how we can improve the accuracy, what other ways we should be looking at the data, and what to look at next. Let us know what you’d like to see.

Serious-Racing One Year Anniversary

One year ago today, the first code for Serious-Racing was written. But really, things started a few months before that…

In November of 2012, I went to Almeria, in Spain for a four day track holiday. It was an eventful week for a lot of reasons (first time on track with my new bike and more rain than there should be in Spain’s driest area), but it was mostly eventful because it was the first time I tried out RaceChrono.

My friend Tony had suggested we give it a try, and it instantly appealed to my technical side. We were both blown away by the data available to us through RaceChrono – being able to see your speed at any point on the track was a revelation. 12 months before I’d gladly paid £10 for just the lap times from another trip to Almeria, and now with a free Android app we were getting full GPS lap times.

But the thing we found ourselves doing the most with this data, was comparing with each other. We’d hold our phones side by side and look at fastest points on the straights and slowest points on the corners. We learned a lot about our different riding techniques from this, and I’m sorry to say we learned that Tony was actually quicker through the corners on his GSX-R 750 than I was on my RSV4, and it was only because I was obviously faster on the straights that I had a faster lap time than him.

We didn’t have a very good Internet connection out there in Spain, but we naturally thought “wouldn’t it be great to be able to compare these on a big screen when we get home?” However, after quite a lot of searching once we were back in the UK, I wasn’t able to find a website that did this. So I had a thought. And that thought is what eventually became Serious-Racing.com.

Fast forward to July 23rd 2013, and the site is now up and running, but in closed beta. Up until this point, it’s just been myself and my trackday friends that have been testing the site. It’s time to see what the wider world thinks of it. I placed a post on the Trackday Riders forum calling out for beta testers, and got an overwhelming response. The guys were fantastically patient, enthusiastic, and helpful in bringing the site along, and getting us to the stage of being able to open the site up for public use, with support for not just RaceChrono, but AIM, QStarz and Harry’s Laptimer as well.

On September 8th the site was opened up for anyone to sign up, and since then we’ve grown to have users from 19 countries and we now have 6.5k laps in the system.

So what’s next? We’re really excited about where the site goes from here. We have big plans for how we can make Serious-Racing more involving, more useful and more fun. We hope you’ll stick with us to find out how far we can go, and bring some more friends along for the ride.

Risk vs. Reward?

This week I had a rare treat – a sunny day at Brands Hatch GP for a trackday at the tail end of summer. Bike Magazine were running a “Road Bike only” trackday with MSVT, and we were blessed with one of the best days imaginable. We woke up to a heavy dew with foggy visors obscuring our vision on the way down to the track, but as we came up the hill towards the entrance to the track on the A20 suddenly hints of blue sky were visible above our heads, and a yellow disk hung partially visible in the mist. It was going to be a good day.

And so it was. There was some standing water on Graham Hill Bend for the first two sessions of the day, but by the third it was perfect conditions. I was there with friends, and although two of the six of us crashed (not seriously) everyone was okay, and all in all it was a great day. For me personally I was able to improve my laptime by 1.7 seconds while adjusting to new tyres (Pirelli Supercorsa BSBs from Dunlop GP Racers) which was great. It’s kept my record of improving my laptime every time I go back to a track I’ve been to (and kept
times for) before. But it left me wondering – am I improving times because I’m getting better, or because I’m taking more risks?

Am I drifting closer and closer to the likelihood of crashing as I get faster and faster, and am I only getting faster because I’m more familiar with the experience of speed, or am I actually improving my technique? Unfortunately risk and technique are very hard things to measure – certainly harder than laptimes.

A Seriously New Year

It’s that time of year when I feel the need to sit down, put my feet up, grab a snifter of whisky, and look with a whistful eye to the year gone by, and the year to come. In a biking sense obviously.

The highlight (with some tribulations of its own) of the unaccounted for year on the Serious Racing blog was the Almeria trip. It was mixed in a lot of ways – partly because two of the three of us had gear nicked and are currently trying to work with the insurance people to get compensated for it, partly because the weather was so poor, for Almeria, which meant not so much dry track time, and partly because I felt like although I improved relative to my pace last year on the Daytona, I didn’t feel like I improved as much as I was hoping I was. The reason for this was mostly because I’m comparing myself to Tea Monster who was officially “on it” in Almeria, and posted better sector times (more on that later) in the first two sectors than me. Made me come away feeling like I didn’t really get the most out of the RSV4.

But it was still a cracking trip. Good laugh as always, the rain wasn’t entirely dampening in respect of our spirits (we did quite a good job polishing off a litre of whisky to dampen with spirits ourselves), and four days on track can really never be bad, however bad it is.

Here are a few videos to amuse you…


Just left me with some things to focus on for next year, which brings me to… my resolutions for 2013
– Focus on corner entry speed. I feel like I’m very slow coming into corners, from a combination of the bike being so fast that I’m getting freaked out and slowing too much, and that I’m also aware that I can just fire it down the straights and catch up, and this seems to sit like a bug in my head, slowing me down.
– Don’t focus on knee down. I can get my knee down pretty much any time I want if the conditions are right. But I find I slow down slightly to do so, oddly. Slow down and increase the lean. Don’t do either – carry more corner speed, don’t focus on knee down, and wait for it to come again as a result of going faster rather than “because I want to”.
– Learn how to take off the wheels and change brake pads. I’m tired of paying for someone else to do these basic things that I could (and should) do myself. It stops here.

Intense

Well that was an intense 24 hours. Woke up at 6am to get a flight to San Francisco, did the whole airport commute, airport wait, plane ride, customs rigmarole, and found myself 16 hours later in sunny San Francisco. And this time it really was sunny. Because it wasn’t really San Francisco. I’m staying with friends in Burlingame, just south of the winter micro-climate that often is San Francisco itself, and the weather here was just perfect. Coming from London at the moment, that means a lot.

Within a few hours, I was sitting on the back of a Triumph Tiger XC 800 soaking up the sunshine on my way to pick up my ride for the week. We pulled up outside Armando’s house to see a pristine R6 with a fully adjustable shock, custom shorty end can, gold rearsets and gold levers being washed and prepped for me by my good friend Armando. It really doesn’t get much better than this. Except it does, because after chatting for a while and catching up, gawping at the bike for about 30 minutes or so, toweling down the bike and lubing the chain, Mario and I headed off for what would be one of the most intense motorbiking experiences of recent memory. Almost four hours on totally varying roads – a bit of city riding to get us out of San Francisco, some freeway to get us south of the city, then twisties of all descriptions from there onwards. Bumpy on and off camber B-road type twisties, tight, nadgery, narrow twisties on “goat track” tarmac, and finally sweeping smooth tarmac snaking its way with perfect switchback curves from the coast up to the ridge at Alice’s Restaurant. Wow.

A quick burger (what else, this is Merika, folks) and then a quick night ride back to Burlingame. And let’s just cap it all off with a beer in Mario’s garden looking at the stars, shall we? Lovely jubblies.

Three weeks in the life of an RSV4 owner

It’s been a mixture of elation and frustration. Elation because the bike is, and always feels, special. Every time I get on it it’s a joy, even if it’s just to go a few miles around town. Why? The look of the bike. The sound of it – having replaced the standard can with an Akrapovic slip on exhaust, I’d initially not been able to tell the difference, but now I can, and love it. The punch of power it delivers everywhere – hitting about 10k revs once on it felt like a freight train. And surprisingly, the flickability of it – for the first time ever on a bike, I really feel like I can steer it with pressure from my feet on the pegs, whereas before it always felt like I *should* be doing that, but really wasn’t.
And frustration because I know I have so much to learn about this bike, and the weather seems to be conspiring to prevent me from really enjoying it. I’ve essentially had three (proper) rides on the bike, two in pretty cold but bright conditions, and one with some short rain showers. Since I’ve been running it in, I’ve never really had the revs above 7k, except for very quick bursts, but to be honest, I don’t know if I could ever get above 7k on the road without endangering my life or my license or both. This really is a bike that belongs on track. I’m pretty fearful of how it’s going to behave on the track. I suspect the top end of the rev range is close to terrifying. All I can hope is that one day I’m able to do it justice on the track…
In any case, more immediately, I have now got past the 600 mile mark, and will hopefully be getting the first service out of the way pretty soon. At which point I think I’m allowed up to 9.5k revs for the next 400 miles or so. As if…

It’s about to get serious

Well, things at Serious Racing really are about to get serious. I’ve just bought myself an Aprilia RSV4-R APRC. It’s the 2011 model, but is brand new, and since it’s unchanged for 2012, I think I’ve ended up with a bit of a bargain, given the price. And I’ve also ended up with a very serious motorcycling machine. Most obviously, it’s a thousand. Then there’s the whole V4 thing. Eight stage traction control, anti-wheel, launch control, three engine mappings, a 200 section rear tyre, Brembo monobloc calipers, and power to weight ratio that quite frankly scares the crap out of me. And just because, I’ve thrown an Akrapovic slip-on exhaust into the mix. Will be picking up during the week.

I haven’t taken one for a test ride. I haven’t even heard one running. Am I ready for it? We’ll see.

Intimidated

Saw this video from Mr. Neeves on MCN, and I have to say, I was intimidated:

I know I shouldn’t be put off, but seeing someone who knows what they’re doing on a bike I’m thinking about on a track I’ve ridden and comparing the speeds makes me think “wow, how far off am I?”. I know I shouldn’t let that cloud things, but it’s hard not to sometimes.