AJinNoHills (SoCal dude...) View all posts in this topic  
Tue May 17, 2011 11:25 am
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.

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