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Old 03-23-2009, 10:59 PM   #1
tomLSTD
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What does ~30hp extra do for the track?

I recently sold my beloved '03 Gixxer Sixxer. I'm not kidding, I loved that bike, it was set up juuuust right and I felt very confident on it. Unfortunately, the poor guy that bought it wadded it up on the first track day he attended. It happens, but I can't say that I didn't think to myself, ", that was a great bike...". I felt bad for the new owner, but I was thinking more of how a great bike was sacrificed to the track gods.

I ran some solid laps on that bike, and it worked well with the tires I liked and the suspension it rode; problem was that it was a bit shy on horsepower. For comparison, our SV endurance bike made only a few less hp than this bike and the SV engine was only slightly built- not a full on grenade engine like some of the SV superbikes are. The little Gix had a stock engine, I had some nice pieces bolted on to it, it was dyno'd well and the fuel/ spark was optimized for the best power output, but it was about as good as it was ever going to get without replacing it with a 750 engine.

I've always liked the front end on that genre' of 600 too- it's the same front end I used on my SV race bike. Standard forks, lightweight, but cartridge forks instead of damper rod forks like the stock SV forks, infinitely adjustable, and they were spaced wider with the triples too which gave the feeling of more leverage (which equals less "work" to maneuver). Much lighter than the USD GSXR forks, the sacrifice was that these standard forks were more prone to bending than the USD forks in a crash and the rake/ trail was a bit changed due to their length. You compensate for the geometry by jacking up the rear shock, which I liked like that anyway, so no issue for me there.

Anyway, that bike is gone, and I was moving on. My boy Gabe was going to find me a clean '06- newer Gix for a good price and I was going to start all over building it. My fear was that I would never get it to handle as well as my old one...

This past track day proved me wrong, or proved me pessimistic, one of the two. I was worried because I'd heard some of the people who raced them complaining that they "can't get it dialed in, it's just not a good setup, you have to throw a ton of money at it to get it to handle right...". Well, I'm a big guy and throughout my endurance racing time, I've had to ride bikes that weren't "right for me"; either the suspension was too soft or the ergonomics were set up for a rider that is much smaller than I, you get the point. Maybe I'm desensitized to specific suspension tuning, maybe I'm just not good enough to know the difference? I try to be a smooth rider, I have to because most of the people I race against are a lot smaller than I am, maybe I am a smooth rider and suspension doesn't affect me as much? I know when things do and don't work though, and that's usually something that is a problem for everyone who rides the bike and not just me.

So I do my first track day on the new bike with "new" horse power, "new" suspension that includes the first OEM shock I've ridden on the track ever (well, except that sweeeet azz '09 ZX6R :drool: ), different tires than I've ridden before, at my favorite track with beautiful weather. Timid? Pensive? A bit skerrrred? Perhaps all accurate descriptions of my feelings as I took the track to scrub my new skinz. I did "de-magnetize" the new paint though, so I was not very worried about tossing it away...

Once I touched my knee in the "Wagon Wheel" I knew the tires were starting to come together temperature-wise. I choose to run, and John tends to recommend for longer tire life for me, a harder compound tire set which requires more temperature to keep working right. That means that the bike rarely acts the way I want it to at slower speeds. Andy has built my suspension in such a way too that it works better the faster I ride too. Oh well, I guess I need to wick it up a bit so I can see if this thing's gonna work

Out of the "Wagon Wheel" and starting up the hill, using good reference points will put you on line for the "Ricochet" and the descent to the short straight that leads to "Little Bend" which is a deceptively fast right hander. It's always a bit wiggly for me there, I don't think my line of choice is that good of a choice sometimes. Other times it seems to work fine Anyway, it's a fast right hander and you accelerate through it to WOT at/ near the apex. Normally, this drifts you to the outside of the track in a controlled way which is good because it sets you up nicely for the next right hand corner to avoid those bumps. This time was different... the extra hp comes on very linearly rather than abruptly so it was strange for me to notice that the front tire was hoisting in such a fast high-gear corner. The really cool thing was the rear tire spinning a bit at the same time. , where are all the corner workers with cameras now? I just know that the 1-4" that my front tire was dancing and skirting above the pavement, the black lines coming from the back tire, and the look of shear "WTFFFFF?!?" on my face would have been worthy of a big internet screen shot.

Anyway, as I make the right at "Tombstone" and head up the hill past my photo-taking corner worker Clay, who should have been in "Little Bend" so he could snap a killer pic of me trying to look like Rossi... Anyway, on the gas and up the hill, taking the triple apex left and heading on to the front straight, again in some high gear at high speeds (I honestly don't know what gear I'm in, but I suspect 4th), the front wheel ever so gently drifts skyward (only inches, not a bit 'ol whooolie) and then settles as I reach the end of the power surge.

At the end of the front straight, I think in 5th or 6th, I still haven't learned if I'm entering this really fast corner too fast, too slow, or just right. "Big Bend" is a really wide and really fast corner with many lines through it. At the exit of the corner is a slight rise in pavement. Honestly, I don't think I've ever really noticed it until today! As I'm coming out of the corner, at full throttle, the front tire is definitely off the pavement now and I know it 'cause I'm sawing the left and right clip-ons back and forth. The first thought in my head? "Oh yeah, I forgot to order my steering damper, I don't think this stocker works too well..." That's when I noticed the rise in pavement.

With the slight rise, going in to the wind now, with more hp that wants to lift the front end anyway, I'm solidly riding a little whoolie. Well, as solidly as one can with a stock damper that works as well as an over cooked noodle would. It was a cool feeling, and I did achieve wood I'm sure.

So, what does an extra 30hp get you? Cool stuff, cool feelings, and the ability to work less in order to achieve the same results.

I'm still not an advocate of liter bike riders for track days; I think that most of the owners of liter bikes have them because they're lacking something else in their ability and compensate by buying the horsepower to make it up. Not that I'm poo-poo'ing liter bike owners, well, maybe a little bit, but it's more that there are very few folks that can actually use and ride a liter bike as it's intended. That's why I can feel good about myself and my 750

I like the new bike, it handles just as my 600 did... a bit better perhaps actually. I love the new power too, now when I blow a corner or make a mistake, I don't have to work as hard to make it up. In a race you never really "make it up", but at a track day riding with your friends or working with students you can.

I love the new tires, I really love the new suspension- I can't tell the difference between some of my previous high-dollar shocks and the stocker that Andy massaged. I'm diggin' the way it's falling together, and I think TWS (Texas World Speedway) in a couple weeks is going to be the best!

I just felt like writing. It won't happen again...
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:13 PM   #2
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Nice write up
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:14 PM   #3
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My friend also made a switch/upgrade from an 01 gsxr750 to the 06 gsxr600 and loved it. He was at Msrc as well on his first ride on it.

As for liter bike owner, we need all the advantage we could get in lack of skill in other areas.
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Old 03-24-2009, 12:30 AM   #4
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What a very nice read!! Thank you. I would have loved to see the front end off the ground while spinning the rear wheel. Woo hoo!!!

Now, about that part regarding liter bike owners....
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Old 03-24-2009, 12:51 AM   #5
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What a very nice read!! Thank you. I would have loved to see the front end off the ground while spinning the rear wheel. Woo hoo!!!

Now, about that part regarding liter bike owners....
Easy big guy, what I meant to say was how debonair and sophisticated the liter bike owners are...

Now regarding the wheel air and the spinning, I would have love to have seen it too... actually, probably not. I'm sure it was a lot less amazing than the pucker it inspired! I think in order to catch it one would have to have had a high speed special camera that you could slow down to frame-by-frame to actually see it! It was just one of those moments when you notice the front wheel's off the ground a bit and you feel a bit of slip in the back tire. The way I wrote it sounds a lot more dramatic than reality I think!
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:25 AM   #6
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lol i figured you would like the 750
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:55 AM   #7
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I'm still fascinated when exiting a turn, still in a lean, and the wheel comes up. That's plenty of excitement for me.
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Old 03-24-2009, 04:39 AM   #8
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30 hp at a track like oak hill mabe not much but at TWS (Texas World Speedway) mabe alot. I go faster everywhere on my R1 vs my gix 6 cause Ive got so much more exp on it, and I think thats what counts is the seat time on a particular bike that YOU like.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:14 AM   #9
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30 hp at a track like oak hill mabe not much but at TWS (Texas World Speedway) mabe alot. I go faster everywhere on my R1 vs my gix 6 cause Ive got so much more exp on it, and I think thats what counts is the seat time on a particular bike that YOU like.
scott
I don't know about not making a difference at the smaller tracks- it sure made a difference at Cresson; but yeah, I think TWS (Texas World Speedway) is going to be really eye-opening. I'm going to find new reference points for turn one where Jesus lives....

And Chris, you're right, I do love the bike, but I live that '09 ZX6R even more I think. I'm still actually debating if I'm going to keep this one or not. The Gix is a pretty bike and it's well built, but that ZX6 can come straight from the factory and hit the track IMHO. Since it seems so good, there must be something wrong with it though! We'll wait to see if the tranny and other important internals hold together with it.
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:44 AM   #10
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I don't know about not making a difference at the smaller tracks- it sure made a difference at Cresson; but yeah, I think TWS (Texas World Speedway) is going to be really eye-opening. I'm going to find new reference points for turn one where Jesus lives....
And Chris, you're right, I do love the bike, but I live that '09 ZX6R even more I think. I'm still actually debating if I'm going to keep this one or not. The Gix is a pretty bike and it's well built, but that ZX6 can come straight from the factory and hit the track IMHO. Since it seems so good, there must be something wrong with it though! We'll wait to see if the tranny and other important internals hold together with it.
I'm certain he's still there......but I hope to bring my ZX10 and see what it feels like on the track.
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:56 AM   #11
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Nice write up Tom....

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I'm certain he's still there......but I hope to bring my ZX10 and see what it feels like on the track.
I HOPE to see you at the track some this season big fella.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:02 AM   #12
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Nice write up Tom....



I HOPE to see you at the track some this season big fella.
Next month.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:07 AM   #13
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good write up... My 10 pulls the front up out of big bend every time if i'm not gentle on the throttle...

glad you're liking the new bike. Cant wait to see you out there on it in person since pictures never do justice..
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:14 AM   #14
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