• First ride of 2016? GT thinks otherwise!

    It’s been coming for a while now, that combination of good weather, free time, and a desire to get back on two wheels and ride again. I’d been watching the forecast for days. Fridays 17C and sun had turned into somewhat less than expected, but Saturday was looking good, and after completing some gardening tasks in the morning I thought I deserved a run out.

    The first inkling things might not be quite right came when I decided to top up the tank from the spare can I had in the garage. Despite putting 5 litres in the tank, the fuel gauge stayed resolutely locked at the same level and showing the same distance to empty as it had done before being topped up. Thoughts started to cross my mind of the known BMW fuel strip issues, and how problems seem to surface when these BM’s aren’t ridden for a while, and how after 3 months of sitting on its stand in the garage maybe I was going to start to find problems surfacing?

    Next I adjusted the clock, but it wouldn’t let me change the intensity of the dashboard lighting nor let me even access the screen to do so. I wasn’t too concerned as at least the bike had started several times and run ok, so chivvying the wife along to get ready, we put our bike gear on for our first run out of 2016.

    Next came the realisation that despite us having fully charged the Sena intercoms after our last ride they weren’t charged now. Never mind, just have to have a quiet ride, not a problem. So there we are, dressed and ready to go and then, nothing! As in push the start button and nothing. Sue’s stood there looking at me with inquisitive eyes, and I’m cursing 285kg of Germanys finest, that for some reason known best to itself no longer wants to fire up and be ridden.  I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the switchgear which has got hot, as I’d had that problem before, albeit in much much warmer temperatures, todays 16C shouldn’t be causing problems.

    I checked the battery and all was fine, but it was clear that we weren’t going anywhere. I wheeled the bike back into the garage in the hope that putting it back in the shade might somehow allow the switchgear to cool down (if that was even the problem), and if that doesn’t cure it, it will be on a trailer and into the dealer, who will doubtless charge an arm and a leg to fix it. What a crap way to start the year on two wheels!


  • A biking CV

    self

    In the dating world everyone posts up their profiles and looks for a match. I’m not doing that here, but as bikers we all do lots of interesting stuff; ride great roads, visit great places, have on circuit experience or attend race meetings, so I thought it might be interesting to list up what I’ve done over the years in the form of a CV so others can benchmark their biking experiences, it was fun listing it!. How does yours compare?

    AlpineBiker CV

     

    Age-                                 Heading towards 60

    Current bikes-                   BMW K1300GT (road) , Yamaha R1 (track)

    Riding since–                     1976

    Number of miles ridden-    287,000kms / 179,000 miles

    Countries ridden in-         England, Scotland, Wales, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra, Luxembourg, Monaco, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia& Herzegovenia, Isle of Man, South Africa.

    Circuits ridden- Donington Park, Oulton Park, Silverstone, Catalunya, Aragon, Parc Motor Castelolli, Anneau du Rhin, Bresse, Dijon, Magny Cours GP & Club, Ledenon, Paul Ricard, Hockenheim

    Qualification-                  IAM test pass

    Circuit training-             Ron Haslam School x6 plus coaching with

                                           Simon Crafar (Motovudu)

    Number of different bikes ridden- 67

    Aprilia*1, Benelli*1, BMW*11, Ducati* 6, Honda* 20, Kawasaki* 5, Laverda* 1, Moto Guzzi* 2, MV Agusta* 1, Suzuki* 6 Triumph* 3, Yamaha* 10

    Number of bikes owned- 15

    HONDA LOGO

    CB125T, Superdream 250N, Superdream CB400N                VFR800, CBR1100XX Super Blackbird (2), RVF750 RC45

    Suzuki_logo

    GSXR1000K2

     

    YAMAHA TUNING FORK LOGO

    RD250, R1

     

    LAVERDA LOGO

    750S

     

    bmw-logo

     K1200GT, K1300GT

     

    Kawasaki LOGO ZZR600, ZX-10R

    Furthest miles in one day –  847kms / 529 miles 11hours 40 mins

    Longest tour-                      15 days, 4269kms / 2668 miles

    Highest pass ridden-        Col de Bonette 2702m or Iseran 2770 (if extra loop on  Bonette discounted)

    Total passes ridden over 2000m-        26

    Height ascended (of above) –       155,287m

    Fastest speed-                      285mph Honda SuperBlackbird (German autobahn)

    MotoGP’s attended-              Silverstone, Mugello

    WSBK   attended-                 Kyalami (S.Africa), Monza, San Marino     

    BSB attended –                    Mallory Park, Donington Park, Silverstone, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch

     


  • HM Quickshifter

    HM Quickshifter Logo2 (1)

    One of the upgrades I’d always fancied for my R1 track bike was a quickshifter. Not you understand for the milliseconds it saves per gearchange, although I’ll take anything that helps lop a little off my lap times, but mainly because they’re a cool add on, which along with a quick action throttle and stomp grips would complete my add-on shopping list.

    Some stars aligned recently, and I found myself in a position where a mint condiition HM Quickshifter Plus came winging it’s way through the post to me, and whilst I waited for it’s arrival, took the time to surf the net for videos of how to mount it.

    HM has a pretty good set of “How to” videos, and I assumed, incorrectly, that the coil caps to which the wiring loom needed to be attached would be underneath the airbox, as per their instruction video. I set about removing the bodywork, the tank cover, the airbox lid, the air filter, and the lower airbox housing, only to find a sealed metal floor housing the regulator rectifier. WTF?

    I went back to the HM “how to” video, and came to the obvious conclusion that my R1 has access to the coils in a different location than that shown in the GSXR demo bike film. Mystified as to how to progress, and with half the bike in pieces, eventually the phrase “the internet is your friend” rang in my head, so I went to the yamahar.com forum and posted the question, “how the hell do you attach a QS wiring loom to the coils if it’s not below the airbox?”

    Simple was the answer, “you’re approaching it from the wrong side”. Seems if I dropped the radiator, no need to remove it, just let it hang on its hoses, access to the coil tops is then available, DOH! With my new found knowledge and with just 3 bolts needing undoing, (other than the fairing panels), I was quickly able to plug in the new harness.

    I took advantage of having the bike in pieces to redo some cabling runs, so I hadn’t completely wasted my time, but once I’d reinstalled the radiator bolts and reassembled everything, I checked my handiwork and realised that I wasn’t happy with the way the cabling was hanging. Cue redoing the whole thing again, and then a third time as I wasn’t happy with the cable runs. Eventually I got it right, set the shifter unit to compression, tested it, and all seemed well.

    IMG_0747

    Then followed an exchange with Andy where he asked, “are you sure it’s compression and not extension you need for the setting?” I’d looked at the net prior to setting it, and to be fair the HM UK site wasn’t too exact in stating which setting it should be. The information I had been able to find on the HM Australia and KTM sites, both said if you have road shift then it should be set for compression, which is what I’d done, but now the seed of doubt was sown, and after sending Andy a video of the shifter in action, he again told me I’d set it incorrectly.

    Next, a call to HM, where the very helpful sales guy talked me through it. Listening to me tell him the rod was a through the frame road shift pattern, and then describing which way it moved when I shifted gear, led to the crushing news that it should be set for extension not compression, so now I needed to go back and remove all the bodywork again, as the wiring is hidden away underneath the tank.

    Determined not to have to remove anything else again, I made a final change to the cable routing so that I could access the unit from underneath the frame if necessary, re-set the unit to extension not compression, added 5 milliseconds to the kill time, and then spent 5 minutes mercilessly hammering the gears up and down the box, before finally deciding all was now ok to reassemble.

     

    IMG_0754

    I’m looking forward to seeing how it works in anger on track at Catalunya.

     

    Watch this space!


  • Website change

    NEW TODAY!!!

     

    I’m pleased to launch my revised website today.

    The old hosting company wanted 4 times the previous renewal charge, so I decided to move to another hosting company. Unfortunately as the old site was created with the previous hosts software, I wasn’t able to transfer it across in the previous format, so a few hours of grafting were involved in recreating it in the new format you find here today, hope you like it?

    The R1 is pretty much prepped and ready for Catalunya, has a new Zero Gravity Corsa tall race screen mounted, and is ready for it’s first track foray of 2016. The final touch will be making a final gearing change decision, which I’m struggling with despite having spent ages studying charts and discussing the relative merits of plus and minus sprockets on either front or rear end.

    We’ve been counting down the months and weeks since booking, and now with just 2 1/2 weeks to go, Mark , Andy and I are chomping at the bit to get out there.

    IMG_0753

    Andy surprised me yesterday by telling me he’s sold his RR, so will be coming with his R6 instead, unless he finds a replacement in the next 10 days? Perhaps he’ll buy the Aprilia he’s been hankering after for years?

    Mark is back on track for the first time after an 18 month gap after breaking his collarbone at Magny Cours at the end of 2014.

    The GT has been on the battery charger and still waits to turn a wheel, with it’s first ride out likely to be to the dealer to have the wheel carrier recall attended to. I’ll see if I can take the opportunity to blag a test ride on the new RS whilst it’s there for the three hours they need it.

    I’m looking to be running a tour in July with a group of 5 or 6 from Ireland which should be fun.

    Hopefully the weather is now changing for the better, the clocks go forward next weekend as we go into summer time, lighter nights are coming, and things start to look less gloomy. Fingers crossed for a great 2016.

     

    Cheers

     

    Paul

     

     


  • First post of 2016

    Belated New Year greetings to you all.

    It’s been a while. I’ve not posted a single word on here for months. In the general scheme of world order, that’s not a big deal. There will still be visitors to the site reading the older posts, and perhaps the odd few regular visitors might be wondering why it’s gone quiet on here, or maybe not?

    The reasons for not posting have been many, and mostly of a very personal nature, but life moves on and looking back, is something you shouldn’t do, they say ( who the hell are they?). For me last year was such a poor one on so many levels, that trying to take positives from it is hard. Members of the family died, my job situation changed, necessitating major living accommodation changes, but through all those difficult times I’ve had the support of some good friends and of course my wife and parents, all of whom have helped keep me on the straight and narrow and keep my spirits up.

    My circumstances changing have led me to question many things. One of them is to ask how an address change now means that insuring my 2005 Jaguar S type now costs more than my daughter pays for her 2005 Peugeot 206cc? She is a first year driver aged 30, I’m 57, go figure that one!

    I’ve come into contact with lots of recruiters, and whilst it’s the way of the world for companies to use them, I’m getting weary of regular weekly calls asking if I’m interested in such and such a position, and being led to believe I’m an ideal candidate for the latest position they have. It’s odd that I can be a hot property on a Tuesday, asked if I’m available for an interview on a Friday, and then never hear from them again. It sucks to be selected for an interview and then find the position is withdrawn, only to later find the company has a history of such tactics. The latest variation on a theme was to be sent for an “assessment” day, only to find there were 9 others there, and then to find I was unsuccessful because my experience wasn’t as relevant as others. Hardly surprising since I came from a totally different industry, so why bother wasting my time and money (no expenses paid) when the chance of success was always likely to be small? It would be nice if recruiters ever came back to you with updates on the position they were hawking and for which you were the ideal candidate, but they don’t. Why don’t they?, because they need to call another x number of people and tell them they are ideal candidates, and eventually one might be, but you’ll never know what happened because they don’t tell you.

    One of the things that has remained positive and for which I give thanks, are my riding buddies. I took a group of Americans on a tour back in 2011 and I’m still in touch with a couple of them, which is great. One of their group decided last year to hang up his boots, sell his gear, and concentrate on 4 wheels. Always a shame when that happens, but this group did something special. They held a “wake” for him. They organised a party, showed old pictures, played the last post as they presented him with the Swiss flag everyone on the tour had signed, and played him a video message they had asked me to send, and I’m delighted to say he loved it, as did the group. It was nice to be asked to be a small part of their celebrations, and shows to me the value of having a great group, of not only riding buddies, but “real” friends, and to the group, I salute you all, it was great riding with you then, and my memories of that tour are some of the best I have ever had.

    It wasn’t all doom and gloom last year on the riding front though, as I managed to get to the Isle of Man for the first time, for TT practice week, with my new group of UK riding friends, Jon, Dog, Roo, Jim, and Kev. I also managed to get some track days in, with five at Donington and one at Oulton, where my French licence wasn’t initially accepted, because it had been transferred from a Swiss one, and the girl checking it thought there was an endorsement on it, although if riders with endorsements weren’t allowed on track, numbers would be much more limited I’m sure!

    Other than the IOM trip the GT went largely unridden, something which I need to rectify this year.

    So what will this year bring? Hopefully, health wealth and happiness. I don’t suppose I’ll get rich by winning the lottery as I don’t buy tickets, but there are some things coming up this year to look forward to. My daughters wedding, a visit to parents overseas, a euro trackday (or two), and meeting up with my Euro riding buddies Mark and Andy for some good company and track time, where we’ll chew the fat, tell tall tales, compare lap times, and generally put the world to rights, so although 2015 was pretty crap, hopefully 2016 will be better, and I’ll be back to posting more regularly.

     

    Ta ra for now

     

    Paul


  • Oulton Park

     

    4.24

    4.24 in the morning!

    It’s an ungodly hour, and hardly worth having been to bed for so few hours sleep, but needs must, and I need to be up and out to get to Oulton Park this morning. It’s a two hour drive and I want a space in a garage, so I’d planned to leave at 05.00 and arrive at 07.00 in plenty of time.

    My planning was perfect. Leaving at 04.57, I arrived almost exactly two hours later, having been sent down some tiny backroads and around the circuit boundry walls before popping out at the entry, which is literally in the middle of nowhere, and was clouded in early morning mist.

    !

     

     

     

    I started to set up in garage 17, only to find Nick was already there waiting for me and set up in garage 21. Dressed in what looked like a white bio hazard suit, his OW01 was already on it’s stand, and he was actually outside trying to call me when I spotted him. 5 minutes later and I’d decamped and moved into no. 22.

    Below Nicks OW01 which garnered a lot of appreciating looks and comments throughout the day.

    Sign on started at 07.30, and normally these things are a formality, hand over the disclaimer and let them check your licence, and jobs a goodun, except this morning it wasn’t! I have a French driving licence which was exchanged from a Swiss one, which in turn I had swopped my English one for back in 1999 when I moved to Switzerland. Trouble is the French licence, although showing full entitlement for bikes, has a notation against it, which if you read the notes section on the back, indicates it was exchanged from a Swiss licence and the date, but it’s in French, and to the girl doing the documentation perceived it to be an endorsement. Despite my explanation, she insisted she would have to check it out and refused to give me a wristband, telling me to come back after the briefing. My protest that I was in the first group out after the briefing fell on deaf ears. This was hassle I didn’t need, even if it was an endorsement, so what? I’m guessing there must be dozens if not hundreds of riders who have endorsements on their licences, but I had no choice other than to wait, so it was off to have a bacon buttie before the briefing and hope they would sort it out quickly.

    Donington trackdays I’ve been to  have all been done under the auspices of the organiser Focused Events who use laptimes to sort their groups, MSV, todays organiser, doesn’t allow laptiming as they claim it invalidates their insurance, and if they see people even using phones on the pitlane wall to time, you you’ll be ejected! After a very formal briefing I went back to the sign on desk, to be told I had to go to the Race Centre to check the situation with my licence. All was OK when I got there but I needed to give them the indemnity form, which I thought I’d done already?  Time was marching by and my first session was due to go on track within 15 minutes. Running the length of 21 garages and back again with the damn form, I got my licence back, got a blue wristband fitted, and dashed back to the garage to get kitted up, except I’m rushing now and the zip doesn’t want to play ball. The locking section isn’t engaged, I can’t do it up, and now its too late to get out for the sighting laps. If I can’t fix it, I won’t be out at all today!

    A screwdriver became my new best friend. I forced the zip open and then forced it locked shut again over the zip, whilst Nick forced through a small zip tie to ensure if couldn’t roll back beyond the point where I’d managed to make a join. Trouble was the zip was now starting to break nearer the top too, so once I’d got the suit on, I was going to have to  stay inside for practically the whole day to ensure it didn’t come undone.

    So, after the initial drama and stress, I’m out for the first proper session of the morning, but without a clue which way the track goes, not ideal!  Nick led me round for a couple of laps until a) he got bored because I was too slow or b) he wanted to enjoy himself and figured two laps was enough for me to figure out the way the track went. I had a couple of moments where I misread the turn points which were a bit hairy, and at the end of the session it was clear how slow I was going as Nick came flying past. How humiliating, being lapped!

    The next session was better, I didn’t get lapped, but it was clear there are some major corners where others were carrying  much more speed than I am, Islands and Druids being the main ones. I need to grow a pair because speed diferentials are high, but it’s still early days. Shame then that an early oil spill at Knickerbrook has slowed everyone down and very wary of the cement dust on the racing line.

     

    One of Nicks friends Alex dropped by to see him, and looking at my bike ( he has the same model), reckoned my chain was too tight. I slackened it off a little and saw an improvement in acceleration, so thanks for that tip. In the last but one session I came in and double checked the wheel nut as the back seemed to be a little loose, but the answer revealed itself when the yellow low fuel warning light came on, the balance was being affected by the lack of weight of any fuel, once topped up, normal service was resumed.

    The last session was ended after one lap when someone crashed badly enough at Cascades to need an air ambulance to hospital, so that was it, game over. Thoughts? Well I wanted a change from Donington and got it. Oulton is a pretty physical circuit but also very enjoyable. I am finding the bike much better handling since the suspension upgrade and am starting to learn what I can do with it. I’m thinking a change of gearing might be on the cards soon, but we had a great day, the weather was good, the bike and I are in one piece, result. Now do I do one more to end the year on????


  • Bitubo shock and TW Suspension Tech set up- update

    A lot of the fun in life is searching for things you want then getting them, this I’ve found especially true with bikes or bike parts, and so it was with the Bitubo suspension I’d had fitted to my R1. Having identified what I wanted, I bought it, had it fitted and a full suspension set-up done, and all that remained was to go out and test it.

    No apologies for showing this image again, lovely isn’t it?

    I booked a trackday at Donington, my 4th this year, and impatiently waited for the fortnight to pass before the date arrived, but with the weather having embarked upon a seemingly long term wet and windy downturn I was worried it would mess up my days testing. The forecast seemed to change daily and even hourly in the days before and things weren’t looking great for the day.

    Like every event I’ve gone to this year it had rained the night before, and sure enough it was today too. Setting off at 6.15 in pouring rain, I resigned myself to the fact that that if it didn’t stop I wouldn’t turn a wheel all day as I’ve only got slicks.

    Donington was, you guessed it, wet. Installed in the garage at 07.15 the rain I looked forlornly outside at the grey skies and driving rain which finally abated at around 08.20 in time for the riders briefing, but with a soaking wet track I didn’t ride either the sighting laps or the first two sessions. Thankfully the rain held off, the sun made a welcome appearance, and by the time the third session of the day came round the combination of sun and strong breeze had dried the track enough to allow me to go out.  So how did I fare? Read on.

    First impression came immediately exiting the pit lane, accelerating hard on warmed slicks it struck me that the ride was “plush”. This was the first word that sprung to mind. No drama, no bite and go, just pure drive. The first lap was one of acclimatisation so not that fast, but after that one lap I was able to push and was immediately rewarded with a turn in that I’d not had on the original OE shock.

    As each lap passed I found myself able to turn harder, pick and choose lines, and accelerate harder and earlier, but most importantly, do it all feeling 100% secure in what the bike was doing.

    A strange by product was that I found myself entering the Melbourne loop and onto the Wheatcroft Straight in first gear. I never use first gear! Entering the straight I was able to hold a line to the left of the track having turned in tightly, stand it up and accelerate early, instead of drifting out wide to the right.

    Carving down Craner Curves as if on rails I found myself able to exit from Old Hall under harder acceleration up to McLeans.

    The rise on Starkeys Straight which used to lift the front was despatched as if it wasn’t there, and although normally I’m in 3rd here, now I was grabbing 4th.

    The Esses were more flowing, and I had a crazy tight line into Melbourne loop as the bike just instilled confidence everywhere.

    Teut (TW Suspension Tech) had also changed the settings at the front, and both braking and turn in were superb, the whole bike now functioning as one unit rather than the poor rear following the front ride I’d had with the old shock.

    I’ve no real idea of times as somehow I’d managed to switch the lap timer onto an incorrect program, but my wife was timing me on the iphone and she saw 1.57, which was my best there last year, so clearly the bike was handling well, which I have to say is a huge understatement! Although a little disappointed not to be able to say I’d carved seconds off my times, the feeling the shock and set-up gave me were superb, and makes me wonder why the hell I didn’t make the changes earlier? I have no doubt once I get 100% used to this new found improved handling my times will improve, but even if they don’t the riding experience it’s given me has been well worth it. The shock was amazing, and the set up too. I’d tried to contact Teut at TW Suspension to let him know how things were going but he was busy when I called, so I left him a garbled message telling him how pleased I was. To my surprise he rang me the next day to discuss how I’d found things in detail, how many companies will give you that level of service?

    A huge thanks to Teut then, and here’s one rider totally converted to the fact that an investment in suspension is the best place you can spend your money!


  • TW Suspension Tech / Bitubo XXF31V2

    When it comes to spending money on my bikes, mountain or motor, I generally know EXACTLY what I want. I research  the market, read lots of reviews, compare prices on the net, decide what I want and then spend my money with those I believe will offer a good service. I take my time to decide what those parts will be, and part of the process is in justifying the expenditure to myself. With the price of the shock running to hundreds of pounds and with a requirement for high performance, my research had taken a few days.

    Most of my friends had bought Ohlins and I nearly went down that route, but having “missed” a couple of used Ohlins shocks on ebay at the start of the season which were around the £600 mark, I was now looking in a different direction. Given that any used Ohlins would likely need to be serviced and perhaps also resprung to my weight, the initial purchase cost while “reasonable” would likely end up at a figure closer to £1000, so I decided to forego the bling of a gold spring and sticker on the bike and buy something else.

    With a budget that certainly wasn’t running to 4 figures, the direction I was going to take would mean not following the crowd. There’s a lot to be said for individuality, but I didn’t want cheap and cheerful either, so after lots of reading and google searches I’d got my considered choice down to 3 options, Nitron, Bitubo or Wilbers.

    I discounted the Wilbers, and then  it was a simple choice of the least expensive option, the Nitron, or the Bitubo, which is an Italian marque and priced in euros. The current favourable exchange rate to GBP meant it represented excellent value but I needed to get validation of my choice. My Google research had landed me at the site of TW Suspension Tech who were offering most major brands, and as it’s run by an ex BSB suspension technician Teut Wiehn, I figured he would certainly be able to point me in the right direction.

    My initial enquiry for prices to him via email was responded to almost immediately, a business trait I always like, and he was extremely helpful when I rang him to discuss the options and ask which he would recommend. After understanding my riding level and expectations and listening to his advice I quickly settled on the Bitubo, with one of the positive points being it would be sprung to my weight.  Teut then had a couple of questions about my weight and that of the bike. He wanted to know whether it was a pure track bike or had any road paraphanalia such as lights still fitted, and also the weight balance front to rear? I had no idea on the bike weight question so I had to make a quick trip to Argos for some cheap mechanical scales, which revealed a 52% front 48% rear split which was deemed ok. My weight including riding gear was noted, and even the fact I’d had the front springs changed went into the mix to create a full picture. Once the pro forma was received and money transferred, I just had to wait a week or two for delivery. The only downside being that as it was coming from Italy, and the country famously shuts for the month of August, the end of month trackday at Donington I’d hoped to take looked like it might not happen.

    Two weeks is a long time when you’re waiting for something but Teut kept me updated on likely delivery time and sure enough 16 days after placing the order Teut contacted me to say it had arrived. One of the things TW offer is a full ride in ride out suspension set-up, and he had recommended I do this once the shock was fitted, but as it’s a four and a half hour round trip for me to his base in Preston, I asked if it were possible for him to fit the shock there and then do the set up afterwards. Luckily he had a time slot available, and so the bike was loaded onto the trailer and I headed off to Preston.

    First impressions are good. Teut is a really nice guy, gave a great welcome, and took me into his workshop to show me the box below containing my new shock. It’s a Bitubo XXF31V2 with hydraulic preload adjustment, rebound, high and low rebound compression, and shock length adjuster. It had looked good in the pics on the internet but is even better in the flesh!

     

    I was offered a cup of coffee and then work started on removing the old shock, then the new one was fettled and made ready to be installed. Here Teut is about to add 3mm to the shock length vs standard, as one of the things I always felt the R1 needed was a higher rear end to promote faster turn in.

    As he worked his phone rang a few times as racers and track day riders called in to ask advice on changes to make or give updates on performance, with one guy over the moon he’d dropped 5 seconds off his lap times!  Teut has worked with the like of Buildbase in BSB and is a mine of information, and recounted countless stories of riders he has worked with and their successes, and the more time I spent listening, the more certain I was that I’d brought my bike to the right place.

    Before the old shock was removed he had checked the overall set up and wasn’t too impressed. The rear wasn’t putting enough heat into the tyre, the spring was confirmed as being way too soft, and even the front wasn’t felt to be great, with too much compression and too little rebound leading him to ask if I’d really been riding it this way?!

    Above and beyond the call of duty I thought, here Teut is cleaning off my old shock so I can refit if required when I have the new shock serviced.

    Teuts wife kept a flow of coffee coming and even provided a bacon sandwich as it’s lunchtime now. Many thanks, what a service!

    Once fitted and the technical bits start. Teut religiously measures and notes all the settings, but surprisingly doesn’t take any rider sag settings. Knowing that both front and rear have the correct weight springs means it’s not necessary, so he concentrates on setting the static sag instead. A little more preload is added and then the bike is bounced to check rebound settings. Again tiny adjustments are made until he’s happy with the feel. Then he makes a couple of small changes to the front too to make the balance between front and rear correct. The beauty of this set-up is that he provides a spec sheet showing all the settings which can be used a baseline. He doesn’t expect that I’d need to change the preload setting but suggests as I get used to things I might want to make some small changes to either the compression or rebound, but not to worry I’ll mess things up as I can call him anytime when on track, explain what I’m feeling from the bike, and he’ll advise what changes to make. He does say that perhaps in time I may start to find that the front is now not performing to the same level as the rear, and that ultimately the spring change won’t be sufficient and that a cartridge kit for the forks will be the way to go, but for the meantime he recommends I stick with the slicks I have on now, go back to a track I know, and see how it feels.

     

    So now it’s mounted I have no excuses and am about to book my next trackday. I have to give a big shout out to Teut and TW Suspension Tech. It’s great to find genuinely knowledgeable people with such a passion for their work, and a real nice guy to boot. It was a pleasure to meet him, the job was done efficiently, every detail explained and nothing was too much trouble. Add -in coffee and bacon sandwiches and what more could you ask? I’m really looking forward to seeing what difference the set up makes, but knowing there is a back up just a call away is a big plus.

    Thanks to Teut, and watch this space to see how I get on!

     


  • R1- Suspension issues

    Since the rebuild of my R1 after an off at Donington last year I’ve changed a lot of things, some out of necessity, others from a desire to upgrade. Suspension falls into both categories as it hadn’t been touched since I’d bought the bike 3 years ago.

    I’d  bought the bike  from a guy who weighed around 10kgs more than me, and contrary to a friend with an identical bike who had problems with bottoming his forks under hard braking, I’d never had any such issues, and had wondered whether the previous owner had swapped the springs for some uprated heavier ones?  My friend had fixed his issue by having his forks serviced and new springs fitted by an ex Tech3 mechanic, and in combination with changing his OEM shock to an Ohlins, had been very impressed with the improvement in handling and performance the changes brought, so when I told him I was thinking of having my forks overhauled he thoroughly recommended I do so.

    Looking round for somewhere to service the forks and check what springs were actually fitted, I found Revs Suspension in Halesowen, a local K-Tech service agent, and after some discussion I took the bike in and had the forks stripped, oil and seals replaced, and the OEM progressive springs replaced with 9.5 weight K-Tech linear ones.

    The springs that came out were checked and found to be very light weight 7.5 items, totally unsuitable for my weight, or the previous owners, and they reckoned the reason I’d not bottomed them was because of emulsification of the oil.

    Less than two weeks after the work was done I had a chance to check them out at a Donington track day. Unfortunately as so many other things on the bike had been changed, seat position, clip ons, slicks etc, the whole feeling of the bike felt alien and I couldn’t really figure out what aspect of the bike was changing what, and came away a little perplexed that there had been no “quantum leap” of improved feel. One thing I did do afterwards though was to read a load of articles on suspension, and it seems my dislike of front dive at the end of straights had led to me setting the forks up with close to full compression settings to limit this. In fact I’d changed Revs settings back to those I’d had on the old springs as I felt they were diving too much, but reading more about it, it became obvious that I’d made a mistake and that dive is good, so I changed the settings back to theirs, and lo and behold at the next track day the feel from the front, ease and speed of turn and feedback had improved, which led to the next problem………, the rear.

    The more I rode the bike the more I got the impression the front and rear weren’t quite working together, and knowing the forks were fine, attention turned to the rear OEM shock. I knew something was odd when I could only get correct sag settings with the rear preload on full, and although having it set that way allowed me to drop my times by two seconds a lap, clearly it’s not ideal having it set up so hard. My diagnosis that the rear spring was too soft for my weight was backed up after a chat with 100% Suspension at Donington. I described the handling issues I felt I was experiencing to them, and after the rear was bounced a few times and settings checked, it was confirmed that indeed it was too soft, and that Yamaha were known for putting soft springs on this model. I was advised replacing the spring only was pointless given the age of the shock, so armed with the knowledge that I needed to spend some money to fix the problem, it’s fast forward to the end of August, and I’m on my way up to  TW Suspension Tech in Preston to have a brand new Bitubo XXF31 shock fitted.

    STORY TO FOLLOW:-

     

     


  • Jaguars- old and new

    I posted some pictures from Coventry Motofest earlier this year. Here are some more, a fantastic assortment of Jaguars old and new.

    This one is advertising the Bloodhound SSC car Jaguar are building to try and smash the land speed record, their target, 1000 mph!!!

    Iconic Silk Cut livveried XJR-9 Le Mans winner

     

     

    I have to admit I’d never seen this model, the XJ13, but it was even better in the metal than shows in the photos

    Away from the sports section and some wonderful road versions

    This car had what seemed like the longest bonnet I have ever seen on a vehicle and was at least 6 feet long!

    Everyone remembers the famous Tom Walkinshaw race cars don’t they?

    Ending with probably the prettiest Jaguar there, sorry I don’t know which model it is.

    Maybe not a classic but this one is mine and I’m a proud Jaguar owner. Here is my S type resplendent after a few hours cleaning, waxing, claying, and polishing, super clean and gleaming