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May 2012

YZF600R NAKEDCAT Only the bare essentials for this 2007 Thundercat

Are you ready for the track? Extended 3 part Track Day column!

2012 IndyCar: New chassis. New engine. New game?


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editorial

Aaron Dalley–editor in chief Jesse Beeker—contributing editor

models

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Kate Dworsky-cover Levan Rex Wood-full leather scorpion attack Rider X-YZF600R NakedCat

accessories

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Aaron Dalley-cover, YZF parts, IndyCar Jesse Beeker-track, gear, safety wire April Parsons-YZF action

d i e r t

photographs

Rhea Ray–hooker shoes

Stripped Gears 666 You Wish Ln St. Petersburg, FL aarondalley007@gmail.com

Stripped Gears


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The Venue

Preparing for the Track 1—Jesse Beeker

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YZF600R NakedCat

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Cover Story—Aaron Dalley

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The Date

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The Machine

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Less is More

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Picking Up the Bike—Kate Dworsky

Preparing for the Track 2—Jesse Beeker

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New Regs for IndyCar—Aaron Dalley

The Rider

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Preparing for the Track 3—Jesse Beeker

Clolumns Track Day Extra Wheels

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Cover photo: Kate Dworsky and the 2007 Yamaha YZF600R, stripped.

May 2012


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TRACK DAY

A perfect day at Grattan Raceway in Michigan. The wide, grassy runoff before the wall means this is a motorcycle-friendly track.

Preparing for the Track Part 1: The Venue by Jesse Beeker

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here is not better reason to own a sportbike than to get on the racetrack. It is what they were designed to do. As an owner of a sportbike, the mere thought of being able to drag a knee and tuck your head behind the windscreen with the throttle pinned well past three digit speeds is the “why” that you cannot explain when your girlfriend asks you: “what did you get that for?” If the notion has crossed your mind to exercise your YZF, CBR, Ninja, Duc, or even BMW, on the racetrack, your first step is right here.

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While it is possible, the odds in you showing up at a racetrack with your streetbike and actually making it out on the track are closer to winning lottery numbers than having to pay taxes or meet the Grim Reaper. Fortunately, life is good and we have the internet today. Showing up at the track randomly might have been a reasonable thought when Norton was in business but, face it, it has been a while. This leads us to the first step to getting on the track, research. That may be a big let down for you, bit if it is, then you are not going to like the rest of this article. For the rest of us, we recognize that we are putting our lives at risk by

doing something as dangerous as riding a motorcycle and we want to make sure that the only way to balance the risk versus reward is to mitigate risk and enjoy the reward. The first step in your research is clear: find a “motorcycle” track. What is a motorcycle track? This is a great question to ask. More importantly, it should be understood why there there are motorcycle tracks. The answer is simple. Do you want to know what armco or concrete tastes like? Your family probably hopes not. Understanding what makes a racetrack motorcycle friendly is essentially runoff. Many great auto-


motive racetracks, Watkins Glen for example, are not set up for motorcycles and do not have the necessary distance between the track and a barrier to allow an off-track excursion to end peacefully. I am going to say it now to get it out of the way. Motorcycle crashes are real and on a per mile basis, they happen more often on a racetrack than on the street. The true reality is a crash on the racetrack is less likely to result in serious injury than on the road. This is also a good time to mention that many track day riders no longer ride on the road once they have experienced the safe environment of a motorcycle track day. Once you locate your new Mecca, two things need to happen. First, go there. Ideally, go there when motorcycles are there, which leads to the second item. Find out who runs the motorcycle track days at your closest track. If you’re lucky, these two pieces of the puzzle result in multiple opportunities of relatively equal distance and caliber of facilities and services. For the rest of us, there is probably be a clear choice, most likely based on distance. Don’t be afraid to call the track and track day operators to discuss any details, even if it is as simple as recommending food or hotels in the area. So why would you waste time in going to a motorcycle track day not intending to ride, especially when you have to drive hours to get there? Aside from having a good acquaintance that has many track days under his or her belt, which is a legitimate argument against, experiencing a day at the racetrack without going on the track proves your commitment while giving you the taste. It may sound like a waste of resources, time and money, but when you understand the full reality of riding on the track, you may want to trade in

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A novice heat prepares to go out on the track. Note the teachers in yellow jerseys, they are out there to set the pace and ensure safe riding. They are also a good source of feedback.

your 2012 Ducati Panigale 1199 that you are making payments on for a 2003 Japanese anything. While you are at this exploratory track day, the best thing you can do is find someone with a similar bike to yours. This makes breaking the ice with a random person easier as any biker is always ready to talk bikes, but even more so when there is a bike in common. Aside from this, you have a reference for implementing required modifications on your bike as well as any unique tips specific to your bike. Win. Win. And if you keep talking to people, you might find someone that lives near you that you can befriend and car pool with. Win again. Ok, hold on now. Before you start thinking that your new best friend is going to be the sales person from a race shop, let me be very clear on what the difference is from a street bike to a track bike. If you look at the core bike requirements for most track riding, it is surprisingly little. Most track day events have special sessions designed to make it easy to get on the track. This means you need to remove your mirrors, tape

up your lights, perform the specific safety wiring (if required), and have good brakes and tires. Is this the trim that will win the AMA Superbike Championship? No, that would be a true race bike and even if you had something of that caliber, you would get lapped by Valentino Rossi on a pit bike. A track bike is all you need unless you have already built a roadmap that includes WERA, AMA, and MOTO2 over the next three years. In that case you should probably get going on a true race bike and hire someone to read this article to you. Now that you have heard the scream and smelled the smoke, that is a motorcycle at full tilt, your fight or flight instinct should be kicking in. You should know right away if you this is in your blood, or you want to inject it into your blood. Either way will work and its time to get serious. There are three areas that require preparation: motorcycle, rider gear, and the rider. The last is often forgotten and only realized after a first day of track riding, which is too late.

May 2012


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yzf600r

2007 Yamaha ‘Thundercat’ gets a little streetfighter. by Aaron Dalley

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ne sunny September day, a boy asked a girl on a date but this was no ordinary date. The boy had found a wrecked YZF and the girl had a pickup truck. Maybe the girl thought she was just doing him a favor (likely) and maybe the boy was more concerned about the girl than the bike (also likely) but, either way, they brought the Yamaha home and there was a second date. This 2007 Yamaha YZF600R is the final iteration of a

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bike that was produced for 13 years beginning in 1994 and eventually replace by a tuned-down version of the more track-minded R6. Called the Thundercat in Europe, the 600R is carbureted and has a steel frame where the R6 is injected and aluminum. This latter feature, while adding weight, is what allowed for this particular bike’s resurrection. When someone pulled out in front of him, the previous owner went a little too heavy on the front break


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NakedCat

and flipped the bike end-over-end. He came away with some road rash on his shoulder and a dented helmet but the bike didn’t fare as well. The right clip-on was snapped almost completely off, right foot peg gone, and the plastic faring wasted. The framesliders did their job and protected most of the important stuff, minus a few scrapes on the clutch cover and the Vance & Hines pipe (now just an anonymous chrome muffler until you hear it). The rear subframe took a beating as well but steel is tough and the rest of the frame is straight and true, all the welds intact. And the price was right for a broke student in his final year at university.

Streetfighter

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ike many trends that eventually wind up absorbed in the mainstream and usurped by corporations, the streetfighter bike was born out of necessity. Legend says that streetfighter style began in the early ‘80s by young riders in the UK who couldn’t afford to keep replacing the plastic fairings on their Japanese sportbikes. Inspired by the café racers of the 50s and 60s, they stripped the bikes down to the bare essentials and pieced them back together with whatever parts would fit. The result is a more aggressive, industrial look

May 2012


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open gave access to this spot and, once the bottom was connected, the top was a piece of cake. The pin that secures the stock foot pegs was the perfect size to hold the throttle, once I cut it out. Stock pegs on this model are attached with a welded pin, easily removed with a Dremel, and can be replaced by bolt-ons without removing the rearsets. Step 3: the rest. Probably the biggest challenge with a streetfighter build is where to put the important stuff that was mounted in the plastic, the gages and headlight. The latter of these has slightly more options. There are many fork-mount headlight kits out there just a click away. I opted for the Dominator dual rounds in matte black and a chrome fork mount. While I wasn’t Zip-ties abound on testing day. Once everthing is looking for chrome, this mount is operational, hiding the loose ends can be challenging well built and fit my 41mm forks. The Dominator headlights are that often includes a lot of zip-ties. case, the right clip-on and foot peg. standard 12v 60/55 watt with The modern interpretation of a One good thing about modern a three prong that plugged streetfighter typically includes large sportbikes is that many parts, right in to the stock wiring. round headlights (often dual), up- including the clipThe gages presented a conright motocross style handlebars, and ons, are made for siderably bigger challenge short, loud exhaust. But the essence easy replacement. than the headlight.. of streetfighter remains the same: Luckily, the brake There are many gage optake your wrecked sportbike and lever was still tions out there, Koso make it street legal as cheaply as pos- functional so makes some badass sible. Sounds good. after that was ones for $350 but off, it was just a that’s almost half matter of loosthe cost of the ening the colbike. Some builders lar and disopt for ATV gages, he first step to building a c o n n e c t i n g some for bicycle gages; streetfighter is to get rid of ev- the cable from I decided to make the erything you don’t need and, the throttle stock ones work. Stickin this case, everything that’s bro- control. Reing with stock clip-on ken. First to go, the fairing. Cracked, connecting the handlebars rather than scratched and twisted, removing throttle cables was changing to high-rise something that you have no inten- a little trickier. was simpler but also left tion of replacing is relatively easy, just The throttle conme with less mounting make sure the part you’re removing is trol is tightly mounted between options. the only thing attached to that bolt, the middle two carbs and the botWith limited funds and tom mount is, well, on the bottom. clip or screw. zero welding skills, I took Step 2: fix the broken stuff. In this I found that wedging the throttle

The Build

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“CUSTOM” PARTS

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Go to your local hardware store and find some materials that you can work with. Cutting and drilling are usually easier than welding and bending but if you have a torch, have at it.

Bolts, lockwashers, and locktite are your freinds. Stainless may cost a few more dimes but it’s worth it. Spacers (washers) for alignment. Measure twice, cut once. Geometry is your friend.

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Doing it yourself is half the fun. Just don’t die.

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Double check those nuts, and yours. Take it for a ride. See what falls off.

May 2012


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a trip to Home Depot to explore my options. After examining everything they sold made of stainless steel and aluminum, I chose some lengths of aluminum and stainless cabinet corner braces (see: “Custom” parts inset on previous page). Some measuring, cutting and drilling got me a triangular shaped mount that bolted to the top and bottom fork mount brackets on each side (two mounts per side was another reason I opted for the chrome ones). One of the lengths of aluminum was 90 degree angled along the length to give it lateral support. Now the problem was attaching the 10 inch wide gage cluster with downwardpointing bolts to the 8.5 inch wide

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structure with holes on the sides. Enter the corner braces. These handy little guys are made for strengthing the inside of wooden cabinets or connecting any other sort of wooden box. They are flat pieces of steel, bent along the face, with holes in them. The nice little beveled holes are so your screws mount flush but a little grinding with

the Dremel makes them perfect for bolts. A handful of lock washers later, the gages are floating solidly about 2 inches ahead of the triple tree. After that the rest is just details. Bar-end mirrors (probably), front turn signals (maybe) and a flat gray paint job in the future. Resurrected and saved from any ridiculous paint jobs and neon-lights, this YZF was made in true streetfighter fasion: on the cheap in a tiny garage. And the girl? Not only did she stick around but had some words of motivation that went something like “when are you going to finish that thing so we can ride it?”


The Date by Kate Dworsky

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ou want to borrow me and my truck to pick up a motor cycle?...sure, where?? …sure, Saturday? I woke up at 9am to drive to BFE for some bike with a guy from my office that I barely knew...But he was a pretty cute guy from the office that I barely knew. He was such a gentlemen, he bought me breakfast, a Blueberry Crunch Cliff bar and a Starbucks Double Shot. How sweet. We were off to Valrico, a drive that took way too fucking long...but strategic on his part, plenty of time to talk and get to know each other. I was actually really enjoying the ride, we hit it off pretty well....if only I knew on the way there what the day had in store for us. We arrived at the house. I stood there in the screened-in porch where the bike was and tried my best to look interested and not like I had no idea what they were talking about (which I didn’t). They negotiated a little; Aaron poked and pulled and started the bike, but didn’t decide on a price, so we just left. I was disappointed, not because I really liked the bike at the time, but because I felt like driving was a huge waste of time and we couldn’t come home empty handed. But as we were pulling away, Aaron said the guy would call before they got to the end of the block. We made it to the gas station on the corner and the seller called us. He countered with exactly what Aaron was hoping for, then dropped another $50 (gotta love a man who can negotiate). We went to Home Depot and bought a couple of 2x8s to roll the bike into the bed of my truck. At this point I just stood back and watched

10 them struggle to get the bike up our make-shift ramp. Once it was tied down, we headed back to St. Pete to bring the bike to a storage unit until Aaron moved in to a place with a garage at the end of the month. We got back around 5pm and Aaron tried to find someone to help unload it but we were on our own. I said I had no problem helping him unload the bike…How hard can it be? If a man can do it, I can to o…In my white flowy skirt a n d all.

Aaron stood on the left side of the bike to balance it while I worked the rear break on the right side because the right handlebar (and apparently the brake that we were supposed to be using) was broken. It was an intense hour. I didn’t realize it at the time, thank god, but Aaron was apparently terrified of smooshing me into the asphalt because, he told me later, it was pretty tough balancing the bike with one broken handle bar and not being able to control the brake himself…but he didn’t. In fact, he says it went “flawlessly” and he couldn’t have done it better with three men. We were successful and wound down the longest first date ever with a jump in the pool and dinner…it was pretty adorable.

May 2012


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TRACK DAY

Preparing for the Track Part 2: The Machine by Jesse Beeker

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etting the bike ready is relatively simple. There is a list of technical requirements that must be met to ride on a track. Find these on the website of the track day organizer, understand them, and execute. Typically as track day is broken into three groups of riders, each with a slightly different levels of technical requirements. With your first track day on the horizon, these will be the base requirements and easy to fulfill if you have a sound bike. If you don’t have a mechanically sound bike, you should probably evaluate your situation and come back later when

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this is not an issue. Regardless, it is a good idea to walk around your bike and hunt for loose bolts and give key ones some extra wrenching. No matter how hard you think you have ridden on the street, this does not compare to the mechanical stresses your bike will face on the track. The important parts to pay attention to are anything that keeps liquids in or keeps the rider on. Your tires and brakes need to be in good shape and have greater than 50% life left. Also on the topic of tires, it is a good idea to find out what a good tire pressure is for your brand and model of tires. At the very least, be prepared to

monitor and change your tire pressure as you get more information at the track. Additionally, a fundamental requirement is to remove mirrors and tape up any lenses for the lights. This boils down to things that are easy to break and hard to clean up. In some cases it may be required to disconnect the rear brake light and remove remove the license plate. These are good ideas even if not required as they can be very distracting items to other riders. One other element for the motorcycle’s preparation is safety wire. While not broadly required, it is a good idea to understand what it is and how to apply it. The concept is simple. Bolts come loose no matter how much attention you pay to them. Certain ones just cannot fall out or bad things happen. By safety wiring these bolts, if they do come loose, they cannot fall out. If you choose to do any safety wiring, do your oil drain plug and filter. This does two things for you: you have probably met the next level of technical requirements and your oil drain plug and filter are safety wired! This may sound excessive or even dumb but this is a very problematic area and you will be surprised how often dumb things happen. One of the simplest mistakes you can make is associate your experiences on the street with those of the track. To say it never fell out before is primed for a Murphy’s Law no contest ruling. Any oil on your rear tire when going through a corner is going to ruin much more than your day, probably about 50 others’ as well. Play it safe or at the very least, keep this in mind the next time you change your oil as this is the best time to drill the


12 Safety wiring multiple parts together saves from drilling unnecessary holes. Anything that contains fluids like the oil drain plug (left) and fill plug (below) are necessities. Front and rear stands are key if you plan to use multiple sets of tires or you’re just ready to lose the kickstand. (far left) drain plug. Also on the subject of oil, don’t wait until after your track day to change the oil. Make sure the oil is fresh and the level is full. To summarize the mechanical requirements for motorcycle, the overriding concepts are: attention and wear. Pay attention anything that holds fluid and check anything that wears. The bottom line, you are going to the track, while it doesn’t have to be pretty, the bike must be in great shape. A mechanical failure or failing a technical inspection makes for a very bad day.

Supplies

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ithout a doubt, the top of your list of things to take to the track should be someone else. While not always possible, your next two items are food and tools. Food supplies should include excess water, healthy snacks, a lunch solution, and fruit. It should be said that track food is track food and if you think you are going to sneak off to get some fast food or something else during a lunch break, guess again. The majority of racetracks are in the middle

May 2012


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An enclosed trailer becomes essential if you make a habit of this track day thing (above). Track days can be hot, shade is your friend (below). nowhere. That means your best option may be grass clippings dipped in chain lube unless you prepared ahead of time. Tools are a necessary evil to bring to the track, even when its your first time. The last thing you want is to have the most basic mechanical issue, loose chain for example, keep

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you off of the track. Yes 9.9 out of 10 people will help you at the track, but when you have to ask to borrow a tool and have not put up any good faith of your own, it might not be the best way to operate. Keep your list of tools short unless you are pulling a Taj Mahal behind you. If possible bring what is necessary to

adjust your chain, check and change tire pressure, remove the tires, bleed the brakes, remove the body work, change the oil, and tighten the majority of the various allen and hex bolts. This should be about a dozen or so tools. While the OEM kit that came with your bike may cover this, it is best to have actual tools. Fuel is an interesting topic for items to bring to the track. At the very least, your bike should have a full tank to start the day. The need for more gas will be highly dependent on how your performance progresses on the track. It is highly advisable to bring a separate 5 gallon container full of fuel to the track in addition to a full tank. Most tracks do have gas available, but it is at a premium price. Borrowing or buying gas from a someone else at the track is probably a desperate proposition as there is no reason to bring more than what you need. Here are a couple of items that should be considered, especially when you consider that the motorcycle riding season is int the summer. It will probably be hot and hopefully sunny. This means that out on the track, a tinted visor or sunglasses would be all but required. Sunblock is a personal choice, so make the right one. Shade is another hot commodity at the track. Some tracks have garages you can rent. That may or may not be in your budget but it typically is cheaper than buying a portable canopy, which is a very common item people bring. Electricity is a premium at the track. You will quickly learn about tire warmers and generators as you complain about the noise and wonder why you cannot see someones tires. This will shortly be followed with many more questions as your quest for speed continues.


May 2012


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EXTRA WHEELS

Part of the new 2012 regulations is including drivers in the weight limit. Takuma Sato, pictured here in the number 15 car, had to add about 53 pounds of ballast weight in order to reach the minimum of 1,565 lbs for the road course car. A few drivers will be racing on the hefty side

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because there is no compensation for heavier drivers who push the gross weight over without any ballast. Dallara has designed in two places on the new chassis for this ballast. There is a spot on the fron side of the pedal bulkhead for about 10 pounds and another in

a compartment behind the driver’s seat for the rest. The ballast is added by bolting steel or tungsten plates in these designated spots in order to get as close to the 1,565 pound limit as possible without going over.


New regs for IndyCar: Less is More

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by Aaron Dalley

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hen it comes to minimal cars, Indy cars lead the pack. Weighing in at a limitset minimum of 1,565 lbs. (for the road course car), including the driver, these are bare-bones speed on four wheels. That’s about half the weight of a 2012 Fiat 500 and seven times the horsepower. With the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season kickoff in St. Petersburg, FL, come some new specs and new rules. The biggest change for 2012 is the chassis by Dallara, the IndyCar Safety Cell. This is a rolling chassis so the driver cage and suspension are built by Dallara and standard for all teams. The new chassis has been renamed the DW12 in honor of Dan Wheldon, a longtime St. Petersburg native, who was killed last year. Wheldon won the Indy 500 in 2011 and was testing the new chassis for Dallara just two days before he died in a Las Vegas race. The teams will use the same aero package on the new chassis in 2012 but are open to choose from several differ-

ent manufacturers in 2013. The cassis will cost $349,000 and, when the option is available, there will be a $70,000 cap on aero kits. Two of the 2012 engine suppliers, Chevy and Lotus, have also committed to design aero kits for 2013. The third supplier for the new spec engines is Honda who is also the primary sponsor of the St. Petersburg race and the sole engine manufacturer last year. The new engine regulations include a maximum displacement of 2.2 liters and output from 550 to 700 horsepower. The new engines will be allowed to have up to six cylinders and turbocharged, a marked change from the previous eight-cylinder, naturally aspirated engines. The less-is-more move has proved successful for Chevy’s return. Their 2.2 liter, twin-turbo V6 powerplant has propelled Team Penske to tow straight wins to open the season, St. Petersburg by Helio Castroneves and Barber in Alabama by Will Power.

Castroneves’ winning car powered by the Chevrolet 2.2 liter, twin-turbo V6. A Honda powerplant drove Dixon to second place and Hunter-Reay ran another Chevy for third

May 2012


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TRACK DAY

Preparing for the Track Part 3: The Rider

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t the top of the list of safety equipment is a leather suit. It is often confused for a Power Ranger costume, but after trying one on, it is evident why this is the heart of safety for performance riding. Not far down the list is the helmet. Ideally, this is a no cost item as you already have one, but like the evaluation of the mechanical side, evaluating your existing helmet may be a good idea. Next up are gloves. Again this could be a no cost item, but if you bought those cool short gloves that are great in the summer, you might kick yourself now. The last piece is the boots. Although the rules typically give some vague reference to how high they must go, you should buy the right ones if you don’t have something resembling what an Astronaut would wear. When you are starting out, each piece of safety gear is a enigma. You want to be safe, but you don’t know how much you are going to use it. Worse yet, you have never had to use it so it does not have any real value to you! As a general starting point, $800 to $1000 should be a minimum total cost for your safety gear, with the majority of it going to your suit. One of the best options is to look for closeout items from racing specialty stores. This allows you to get gear that is significantly better than entry level while not risking it with used gear. Another great option is the track day organization. Many will offer suit rentals making it much more affordable to get on the track.


18 Date codes on helmets can be found on the chin strap (left). They had fancy graphics back in the ‘90s too so make sure what you but is modern, not just modern looking.

The racing suit itself has two options: one piece or two piece. There are only two reasons that a two piece suit makes sense. If you are a larger individual, a two piece may just be the better solution. If you are looking for a street cool jacket and it happens to have the option for a second piece, you can pull double duty and save some money. Regardless, always remember the fewer pieces is always the better solution. This extents to the suit construction itself. Spend some time looking at low end and high end suits and you will find one key difference. High end suits have less seams where the suit can be torn apart. Dig deeper and you will find some suits use screen printed color and graphics. This is all to maintain the integrity of the leather, or kangaroo in some cases, and protect the rider when the unfortunate happens. Another area to pay attention to is armor. Every suit should have some body armor in the contact points: shoulder, elbows, forearms, and knees. Dense memory type foam with a hard outer plastic has been the standard for sometime. In some cases the foam can be removed from

the liner. In others, the liner can be removed for cleaning. While these seem like attractive features, they should not be deal-breakers when selecting a suit. What is more important regarding armor, is the integration of a back protector or lack thereof. Keeping an eye to the next level, or even the beginner level, a back protector may be mandatory to ride on the track. Check the rules for your track day organization and potentially others. Remember a separate back protector is always acceptable, but an integrated one may not be. For a helmet, remember less is more, age that is. It is an interesting observation that the rules for some motorcycle racing clubs have an age limit on helmets. This protects the riders by making sure they are using state of the art helmets adhering to the latest safety laws. It also bounds the limits of the natural degradation of the materials inside the helmet. This is something to consider when you make your preparations. Just because you bought the best helmet money could buy 10 years ago, does not mean it is as safe today or that it compares with the safety of a helmet of today.

Helmet technology has progressed steadily through the years and today the number of legitimate helmet manufacturers has resulted in a market flooded with options. Meeting the latest safety regulations, DOT or SNELL, is a must have for riding on the track. From there, there is no measurable safety difference and it typically comes down to fitment. Experienced racers and track day veterans often speculate that a specific helmet may be

hard or soft based on a crash, but is there any realistic way to compare how your head felt from one crash to the next? At best, one might consider the big names as pioneering the technology. Using this philosophy combined with what the racers trust and wear can be a good approach, but will be costly. In this case, one can sacrifice a little style to end up with significant savings when choosing a solid color over the replica helmets. This can lead

May 2012


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Joints are the most vulnerable body parts during a crash. Limiting the physical moving in the wrong directions is the best defense. This takes robot like hardware that will not restrict normal movements and will bind when approaching potentially harmful limits (left)

to some middle ground between leading design and cost. Hand protection is one of the most widely varying pieces of safety gear. The requirement is simple: gauntlet style. That search yields options that are all over the map. For this it is best to progress from the top and work your way down to what works for you. State of the art gloves have hardened knuckles, multi-layer abrasion resistance palms, friction reducing contact zones, and boa laces. Often these types of gloves are made of kangaroo and incorporate very hard lizard skin and carbon fiber. Excessive? Not when you need them. Depending on the brand some offer numbered sizes that give you refined fitment beyond small, medium, and large. While we are on the topic of fitment, it is important to remember that most gloves will wear in and get larger, but not all. It is also important to consider the fitment when you are gripping the handle bars as good gloves are precurved to race position. If there is one area that top of the line safety technology is best kept until a future purchase, it is in the riding boots. With that said, safety is all about a solution and not prod-

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Safety gear is about the only insurance you can buy for riding on the track. Here we see the results of using some of the best hand issurance on the market (below)

ucts. Buying the best of everything and going out on the track in flip flops is not a safe solution, unless you don’t value your feet. Going back to the state of the art example, advanced boots employ technology that physically limit the travel allowed by the ankle to all but eliminate common injuries. Before buying any boot, it is very important to understand if and how the boot you selected achieves this. Top of the line products will do this in a way that does not hamper normal movement, which also adds significant comfort. A more typical entry level track boot will be not much more than a mixture of padding and secure leather construction, which is acceptable in most cases. Stick with the the big names as the trickle down of technology over the years has only resulted in product enhancements throughout the product

lines. With the wallet slimming exercise of buying safety gear behind you, it is time to focus on the most important and overlooked aspect in the preparation for your first track day, the rider. No matter how much street riding you do, your first trip around a road course will make you feel like it like it is your first time riding a motorcycle. That is a double edge sword, just like your sportbike. On one hand, it is fast and nimble which is probably why you bought it. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, it is touchy and excessive. Your goal should be to prevent being these wrong hands. This will enable this first track experience to be all the thrill of your first shift, your first wheelie, or what ever. To do this, you need to move from the research phase to the planning


phase. Hopefully, by now you know the where and when for your first track day. Wait! We have not talked about that yet. This should without a doubt be apart of your plan. The big thing to consider is a school or a track day. Great news, most track day organizations have a beginner school that is required to get on the track. The bad news is that the quality of these schools can range wildly from enabling supreme confidence to a glorified procedure review. This is where the internet can make a big difference. The best instruction will come from track day organizations that have been around for greater than 5 years. These organizations are only able to stay around by building a reputation of success for their customers on the track. A dead giveaway of an organization that does not have an acceptable beginner program is the lack of information on who the riding coaches are. Without consistency in the track day crew, there is absolutely no way an effective school can be run. It would literally be rolling the dice as to what the quality of the instruction is. If you don’t like to take chances, remind yourself you ride a motorcycle, and instead plan on going to a school rather than a track day. This has unique environment of methodically teaching performance riding while simply being in the safe environment that is the race track. The first thing you should do after your reserve your spot at your first track day is print the track map. The second thing you should do is watch a video of someone on a motorcycle going around the track as you follow on the map. Repeat this at least three times for, before you go to the track. Learning the track will have immediate impact before you get on the track. First you will know what a good and bad pit space is

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Jesse Beeker (center) can testify that good preparation and the right equipment can save more than just your pride. Motorcycles are much easier to replace than body parts. and be able to get a good place that is a good compromise between the bathroom and the pit entrance. The real benefit is that you will already have a visual reference to what the track looks like from a first person perspective. Simply put, you know the track. That pays huge dividends when finally get out there. Your mind will have plenty of things to think about. Determining if the next turn is left or right does not need to be one of them. You next move should be to physically prepare. Riding a motorcycle on a track is one of the hardest things you will ever do. A lack of stamina will be a liability on the track and leave you disappointed. This can impact how much actual riding you do as well as the quality of riding. You will be tired as you riding on the track will engage some of your muscles for the first time. Make no mistake, this is not NASCAR and a typical motorcycle race at the top of

the game is only 25 or so laps for a reason, with rare exception. If you do nothing else, jogging at least 2 miles a couple of weeks ahead of the day is a good place to start. Making the decision to ride a motorcycle on the track is life altering choice. Ideally, the first time leads to many more track days in your future. Having the right mentality and preparation before you turn your first lap can make all the difference in the world. This can best be achieved by researching the race tracks and track day organizations, carefully choosing the right safety gear, and adequately preparing the motorcycle and the rider. The sooner you obtain comfort with these foundations for track riding, the easier the transition will be from street squid to track day hero.

May 2012


ABSOLUTE SOBER. When the only buzz you need is measured in octane not proof. Stripped Gears


Stripped Gears