Post Posted: Tue May 17, 2011 11:25 am
 Subject: My second track day (Willow Springs 5/13)

After the track day in March, I knew there were some things I needed to change, like pronto. The first fix being the clutch that was slipping when shifting above 10k RPM. The second fix was the grips. Not wanting to spend the $$ for new grips when I first built the track bike, I repurposed some old foam and faux chrome cruiser grips I had lying around. These proved to be too fat to get a proper grip on the bars. Coupled with that was the full gauntlet gloves I had, which I could not get to fit right in conjunction with the leather jacket. Between these two things, just hanging on to the bars was a real struggle and left me feeling like I had very little control of the bike. So I gripped the bars extremely hard, making my hands go numb within a few turns of starting each session. The final thing was I wanted was to get the plastics painted and back on the bike for better air flow.

Fast forward to now. Full plastics on the bike, new grips (well, an old pair of stock grips anyway), some different gloves, and a low mileage clutch and she?s ready to work. Loaded up the bike, packed up the wife and kid, and we made a family vacation day of it.

My first session, I lined up and got ready to go. I was admittedly nervous, but more of an excited nervous as opposed to an anxious one. We get the green flag and off we go. Of course, being C group, we had to do the 2 sighting laps, running through the hot pits after each. Once that was done, it was full tilt boogie ? no looking back. Surprisingly enough, everything I learned last time out came right back, and all the moves felt more natural. I think a lot of that was from the changes I had made in my glove and grip selection. I felt more in control of the bike. By the end of the session, I was in the groove. I was focusing on being smoother and having tighter lines, and found myself running faster without really trying (except turn 3, which still kicks my ass).

For the second session, I decided it was time to run my video camera. First 2 laps went fantastic, and I even passed a guy. I was burning it up, and headed into the turn 8 (sweeper) / turn 9 (decreasing radius) area, and just as I apexed through 9, I managed to run right off the track at full speed. I had a split second to decide if I was going to try and save the lap and stay on track or stand it up and run full speed through the hot pits. So I stood her up and ran it through the pits. (Did I mention that I was videotaping this session?) You know, sometimes, it?s hard to shake it off when I make a bad move and have one of those ?pucker factor 10? moments, but I managed to leave that behind as I continued the session and ended it pretty well.

The rest of the day was just as good. I even had one of the control riders work with me for a bit because of my turn 3 issues. Turns out that that?s the slowest part of the track anyway, and a LOT of people lose it there trying to burn through there faster. It also turns out that I have issues with taking left handers in that I am not as comfortable with them as I am with the right handers. And after watching some other riders who had passed me on the straight between 2 and 3, I also realized that I am running through there almost as fast as they are, despite me being on the 250, and them being on ?bigger? bikes. Hell, at one point, I even passed a guy who would gun it in the straights (but not WFO) but crawl through the turns. I managed to pass him going through turn 2, and made it stick. Of course, Karma being a cold bitch and wanting to check my male ego, I got passed by a female rider on a yellow Gixxer. Repeatedly. Throughout the day. And in the last session of my day, I even got passed by a girl on a new gen 250. I know my bike is faster than hers, but she weighed maybe 95 pounds soaking wet, and girl had skills! Way better form than me, and she was hanging off like there was no tomorrow. How could I be mad at that? (Come to think of it, there were a LOT of female riders, especially in the A and B groups. I thought that was kinda cool.)

Overall I had a blast, and I think that going off track early in the second session made me shake off any fear of crashing (in front of my wife and kid, who would undoubtedly and rightfully freak the f--k out). There were a couple of crashes, including one right in front of me going into turn 4, guy low sided (red bike) from right to left all the way across the track to the dirt on the other side. Guy was OK though. Another guy crashed going into turn 1 and was very slow getting up. I think he was eventually OK though.

One thing that the control rider told me was that I do not need to use the brakes, not on my bike. So I tried it, taking it on faith that I could do it, and I?ll be damned if he wasn?t right. It?s gonna be hard to make that stick though. Another thing I learned from looking at the pics is that I am not leaned over nearly as far as it feels like I am. In my mind, it feels like I?m just a couple of inches off the pavement. The pics show that I am indeed only inches off, just a lot MORE than a couple. Fortunately, I?m not obsessed with getting my knee down ? I?m just happy to be in a position to let it hang out there with no risk of a LEO or some idiot cager ending my fun prematurely.

Review of the bike after 2 track days:

Tires ? I?m running MT75s and love them. My first track day I was running 30/30 at the recommendation of the Pirelli guy. Looking at the numbers though, I was seeing about a 20% increase in tire pressure from cold to just after each session. This time out I ran 32/32 and felt like the bike had fantastic grip all day, no slipping, no issues.

Suspension ? Willow is a bumpy track, as anyone who?s been there can attest. Up front I?m running stock springs with 15W oil at the highest level in the FAQ (don?t recall the number, but it?s the more oil/less air). In the rear I have an 07 GSX-R shock. Overall, the bike felt planted, and I never felt the front go soft or the rear get too stiff. It?s no substitute for an actual upgraded aftermarket setup, but it felt good as is.

Engine ? I?m running the K&N single pod with a chopped Muzzy pipe. 112 mains, 2 shims under the needles, and mix screws out at 3 turns. Bike runs fantastically well. The PO said that the PO before him had some head work done, but didn?t have specifics. I can say that this bike has a stronger acceleration profile than any of the other 250s I?ve ridden, including my street bike, which was set up exactly the same when I had my Muzzy on there. As stated, I burned up my clutch at my last track day, and felt some bit of slipping early on with the replacement. However, by the end of my day, I wasn?t noticing any slippage. I may upgrade to stiffer springs, but not yet (if it ain?t broke, why fix it). The CCT makes one helluva racket at idle up to about 2250 RPM, but once it gets over that it?s quiet. I?ll keep an eye on it, but for now am not worried.

The bike ? Everything that is unnecessary is gone, including anything on the wiring harness that doesn?t go to a critical system. For the controls, I?m using levers from an 07 Ninja 650 (had to change the clutch perch of course, same one as the 500), stock grips, stock bar ends, stock bars. Footpeg stays are stock, but the pegs are anodized aluminum, picked up on Amazon for cheap. Gas cap is anodized aluminum keyless. Although I have full body work, I skipped a windscreen, and I really didn?t feel that it made much of a difference on the straights. I dumped the ignition in favor of a hot wire setup (see the write up I did late last year / early this year for deets). The upper fairing was already converted from a street fairing into a track one with all the holes patched over, which made life easy. The paint job looks pretty good IMO, and is just a rattle can job. You can tell close up, but I don?t really care ? it?s a track bike.
Post Posted: Tue May 17, 2011 11:28 am
 Subject: Pics

Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:41 am
 Subject: The video

Here's a video clip from my second session. I edited it down to 3 minutes. Starts with a beautiful pass and ends where I nearly had my off.

Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:41 pm
 Subject: Awesome!

Looks like tons of fun. Also looks like you still packed your whole garage Wink What tires are those in the back of the truck? The tread doesn't look familiar at all. Let me know the next time you go - I'm itching to take my Duc out to play Very Happy

What happened in turn 9? Did you just come in too fast? It looked like you were on a good line, if you would have been able to push a little bit farther over, you would have been fine.
Post Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 11:25 am
 Subject: I took way less this time

It just looks busy.

THe tires in the truck are for my 650 - I had to swap the front tire and was lazy. The guy at the track did it for $15.

As for my little episode, I had a great line, and was carrying more corner speed than normal. But right at the apex my attention shifted for a split second. I had a choice of trying to save it or standing her up. I think I made the right call. A guy in a later session tried to save his in the same spot and went down. You can see that I'm leaned over until just before I hit the dit when the bike goes upright. In my estimation, there wasn't enough room/time to lean further without ending up on dirt leaned over. The next track day is not going to be until after the summer. I don't deal well with heat. I'm trying to get CCSteve to go, and I'm thinking of bringing my 650 along too.

And when did you get a Duc? I don't remember seeing that post!!
Post Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 3:05 pm
 Subject: About a month ago now

http://forums.ninja250.org/viewtopic.php?t=84670 Very Happy

That corner was quite tricky - glad you were able to save it!

The way the weather is going (up here at least), it's going to be highs of 80 in June, and maybe 90 in July...
Post Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 4:32 pm
 Subject: Nice writeup

I assumed the tires were radials from your 650.

I can see why you don't need a windscreen. On my scooter, if I'm passing or need a little more speed, my chin is on the gauges. That'd be a little hard to do with that video camera where it is Smile

I do want to get some pictures of myself, as I'm sure I'm not leaning nearly as far as it feels like, just like you.

I agree that going into the gravel at lean would be bad. I originally thought as Matt did, that it looked like a little more lean would have made it, but motorcycling involves lots of instant decisions, and you can't really say what's best to do unless your in the rider's seat.

I'm always surprised at how straight the tracks in the US look. The roads I habitually ride have a lot more, and tighter, corners than those, but then I'm going at a lot slower speed. I suppose that for the average track speed of big bikes the corners still seem kinda tight.

I think I'd be scared to run w/o brakes, but I'm sure you could. Maybe, if you were always in the right gear, you'd be faster that way. It would take me a while to get confident enough to do that, though.

Makes me want to get the scooter out to the cart track. I'll have to swing down to the performance shop one of these days and see when they're going out again, so I can watch and see if it looks as scary as it did the last time I was there.
Post Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 7:04 pm
 Subject: Thanks!

The problem with the brakes is that the corners where I use them are all uphill, so the effect is very dramatic. As far as the video camera, it's actually on a RAM mount in the mirror hole on the left bar leaning forward. You can see it in some of the pics. With the off, I was completely fixated on the dirt off track, so no amount of lean would have saved it I think, since we all know the bike will go where you look. Even in retrospect it feels like it was the right choice, especially with the guy who off'd and crashed in the same spot.

There are a lot of straight portions on the "big track" as it's called. My next outing may be on "streets" which is more like a canyon. Here's the big track:

Post Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:02 pm
 Subject: World's happiest guy right there!

I'm glad that you're getting more comfortable out there on the track! A piece of advice that I was told, similarly to you, is that "brakes only slow you down." Putting that into action means use the same braking force just over a shorter time period. Ta da! magically you're faster now Smile
Post Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:01 pm
 Subject: Hey AJ, did you feel the lever are too high and pegs too low?

i just came back from Big Willow too, and felt I can push the bike further to its limit, but i myself is holding it back. Before I go on a shopping spree to justify my inability, i want to know do you have the same feeling that the bars or a bit too high and the pegs are too low....
Post Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:10 pm
 Subject: Not at all

I was much faster on my second track day becuase my bike was set up closer to the way my street bike is. The only weak link I found was me not having enough faith to really let it all hang out. And this was in spite of running faster than any canyon I've ever done on the street. The tire pics say it all - I was nowhere near any limits just yet. If anything, the one final change I might make is to swap out the front sprocket for a 15T. I think everything else is set just right.
Post Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:21 pm
 Subject: i ran different gear ratios....

I went there with stock gearing for the first time, i was red lining most of the time.

the next time I went with 15+39, the bike is more relax and not constantly hitting the rev limiter, but there is no noticeable top end / top speed gain... At the straightaway, it just doesn't have the same amount of juice to push from 80mph to 100, from say, from 50-80. So it is gaining rev very slowly after 80mph. I thought i would have a lot more top speed headroom with this gear step up, but I cannot even chase down another 250 (new gen) that was in front of me the whole time.
Post Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:20 pm
 Subject: I call that my "innate sense of my own mortality".

I don't see anything wrong with going 'slow' due to not feeling confident to go faster. I ride what I feel is a quick pace, but it's anything but fast.

Now that I'm here in N America for a couple weeks, everything feels so much quicker than what I'm used to. Road speeds in Taiwan are much lower than here. I can't imagine going down the freeway on a bike at 70 or so, much less riding in LA traffic. I'd be much too chicken to go track speeds. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy riding, and hats off to those of you who like going that fast.
Post Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:23 pm
 Subject: eh? you in LA?; wanna have a 250 meet? :)

Post Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:36 pm
 Subject: That was just an example. I'm a little bit north.

Post Posted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:48 am
 Subject: 39 might be too low.

There were a couple times I passed on the front straight with stock gearing. You may want to try going bigger in back. I went with the 15T on my street bike because I was always at the red line in the canyons, but it was too fast for a higher gear, while less RPM was too slow. Now it's "just right" for me, but I'm not going balls to the wall like at the track. I'm going to be trying the 15T on my next track day sometime in September.

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