The pursuit of speed and adventure…
I've been intrigued by several electric motorcycle projects, but to be honest most of the designs for the past few years I have seen are rather ugly.
Hard to make a green statement when the first thing out of onlookers mouth is - “Say is that a prototype, and when does the real thing come out?”
Hard to make excuses for some of these um... early designs...
Nice thing is these guys paved the way for much more advanced designs, and this includes STYLE !
Fast Forward to 2011, a new breed of electric motorcycles are showing up, like this one from Brammo.
And this one (for the supermoto lovers)
But the roadrace head in me suggests this a the ultimate track weapon...
And as such, this bike is now on my desktop background for me to froth over.
This is an exciting time to be a motorcyclist. Being obsessed with green couldn’t get any better !
Despite the sub zero cold here in the Midwest, I've got something else to lament over.
My race ride is suffering from some ailment, that I'm sure is going to rob me blind to get fixed.
Here's the last few minutes of racing video before it felt soggy then died. You'll be able to hear it lock up. I pulled the clutch in to keep the rear from locking and sticking me on my ass.
I had flashbacks from racing my NSR250, where this was a common occurrence !
Quick review in the pits told me that it locked up, most likely rear cylinder, due to inadequate oiling.
Now comes the task of tearing it down and seeing what the damage$ are...
Check out this overview...
You have got to love the all nighters in preparation for the track day, and my wife was certainly aware of my time in the garage. But as I went to bed, in the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t ready for this, and must have muttered that over and over in my sleep. But like any good racer, I awoke ready to hit the track.
My day started early, and my cohort Tim, was ready before the crack of dawn to put his CBR1000RR to the test, me... well, I was ready to break in a new motor in the SXV, and see what all the years updates to the bike were going to yield.
Someone was eager to get rolling, and we arrived at the track about an hour early, with day break looking to be absolutely perfect weather for being a two wheeled hooligan.
The plan: alternate with the cars for track time, get a quick tour of the place, get educated in a drivers meeting, where pre-track prep and flag education was provided by Francesco D'Avola (who was very cool), before getting the leathers on.
Back at the bikes, I mounted up the Vio POV video camera, added some gas, did a methodical vital fluid check, and with a tire pressure adjustment I was ready for the track.
Session 1 came and went without incident, getting the tires up to speed, the laptimer didn’t seem to be registering much of anything, (Gotta look into that) I felt comfy on the SXV550, and spent the first session listening to the motor through my new exhaust, and working the tires on the cool track surface to get them up to sticking temp.
Tim was quickly sorting out corners and getting the rear tire to hook up... You gotta love liter power, even from 200 yards back it was obvious that he was in for a day of fun.
I had been previously plagued with some crappy handling (see 2008 blogs) and with my broken foot last year, I never sorted the thing out. This year I came prepared with suspension adjustments front and back, and with the correct gearing I was able to drill the thing down the straight, with no headshake, tire hopping, or high speed weaving. It felt great to get this thing sorted out finally.
Session #2 same deal, I felt the tires getting sticky, the sun kept rising, for a while I was able to keep Tim in my sights while he absolutely powered away from me on the straights with that liter power. I remember saying to myself out loud, damn that 3rd gear of his is freaking insane !!!
I was mid corner when I realized my little Italian bike was not feeling well. The rear tire hopped while I was on the gas.. Hmm that’s weird.. I had been here before, it felt like I was running out of gas. I quickly stood the bike up mid corner, and just as I neared an upright position the bike died, and the rear tire started to lock.
Now it all came rushing back where I had this feeling from, Riding my NSR250, when it used to cold seize on me... Crap I pulled in the clutch coasted off the line (Which I was already well off of) looked down, expecting to see a bunch of fluid belching out, and saw nothing.
A quick dump of the clutch didn’t make it re-fire, so I shrugged it off and coasted to the nearest corner worker. Back at the pits I could not restart it, so I stuffed it back in the truck.
3rd session Tim let me ride his Honda VFR800. I had never been on this bike. It made nice smooth power, and the nice sticky rear Michelin hooked up well. The front (a slightly worn street compound) got greasy on me in a lap or two, so I played around pushing the bike until I found out another surprise.. ABS front brakes. Under really heavy braking the front would hop and shudder (typical ABS) and I have to tell you that is more than unsettling.
I realized that combination with a greasy front tire, meant keeping it at that pace would have awarded Tim some new body-work (at least), so I backed off of it, and worked on being smooth through the corners.
For a bike that checked in with about #150 pounds more than my SXV, it was an excellent handling bike, and very smooth. I thanked Tim for the use of his spare bike, and left the last session for Tim (He had the whole track to himself !!) while I took some pictures of him circulating.
On my way home, I kept thinking - what a perfect day, perfect weather, great time at an excellent facility - (Thanks Craig !) and thanks Tim for doing a track-day with me.
Even when I got home and found out the motor had seized, somehow it didn’t seem to ruin my day... Half a day at speed is still better than a full day at the office !
Besides making new friends (motorcycling does that you know) I got to see some great countryside in the south. In Illinois I get used to traffic and flat land.. neither of which I'm particularly fond of.
However, head about 300 miles south and everything gets interesting. Smooth roads, tight turns, greenery everywhere, little towns pop up here and there, with signs announcing your arrival, and in just a wink, one that thanks you for visiting...
You can get lost easily, but two things I have grown accustom to on the bike make it a day of greatness: Music in the intercom on the bike.. and a GPS that always gets me to my destination.
This particular trip however I learned another one... road curve predictability.. WIth the GPS zoomed in a bit I was able to get a glance of the upcoming turn just at the time I needed to input a shove to the handlebars.
Fidgeting with the zoom factor and altering my speed a bit, I was able to put down a few hundred smooth miles at speed.
The group I went with were predominantly Harley guys, and these guys surely had been next to me on the racing grid at some point, and I hadn't noticed. Man could they push the limits of their rides, despite some very unsettling looking chassis'.
Yes, I stayed in back of the 40 bike pack enough to see all kinds of guys honing their riding skills, and when the weather turned sour (And I do mean sour — like raining several inches in minutes — the southern clay doesn't absorb it like the dirt in the Midwest) few if any riders slowed the pace..
After getting comfortable, I moved my way up toward the front of the pack, and got yet another preview of riding at a different pace... My poor BMW didn't feel like doing the duty that I asked of it. Several times coming over a rise the front end got light (I over packed for a riding trip - go figure) and the head shake was interesting until the bike compressed at the base of the hill... in seconds it did it again and again, up and down hills, until we got back to flatter ground with sweeping turns.. I longed for the Aprilia SXV, thinking I could surely be touching knees in most places.. ahhh but where would I have put all the crap I packed.. Trade-offs filled my mind..
At the end of 1500 miles in about 5 days, I learned that I need new tires.. This trip wore out the stock Bridgestones.. and that I couldn't wait to do this trip again next year. Seems a friend at work got me into a club of 20+ years worth of annual trips to places where speed limit is relative, and fun is everywhere.
After that trip the only place to go to top it has to be the track ... the racebike has sat around a bit lately, getting some needed engine work done..
Up next, Track time at Autobahn.. or Blackhawk Farms...