Tag Archives: racing

2014 Yamaha R6: The Journey to a Dedicated Track Bike

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First: Why the R6?

There’s the simple answer, and then the slightly more in depth. The simple: I like Yamaha.  I used to go to the track on my 2009 Yamaha R1, but quickly learned that I wasn’t actually learning with all of that power.  It was simply too much to really get a good grasp on what makes a good track rider.  For instance, I could simply put the bike in 3rd gear for the entire track and run my maximum pace.  That’s great if you want to shoot down the straights and pretend you’re good, but I wanted something a bit more manageable.  Something that I could switch gears on throughout the track, that I could brake and accelerate, and that I could flick around a little more crazily…also, something that was a little lighter on consumables like tires, oil, brake pads, etc.

So I knew I wanted a 600.  My end-game is to race.  I may have even been a bit hasty with the 600 as there are plenty of 300-500 race classes that are more noob-friendly, but 600 is where I landed.  I am a long time Yamaha fan, so the R6 was the obvious choice for me personally.  The other 3 Japanese 600s are also great options of course, you can’t go wrong with any of them, but Yamaha holds a special spot in my heart.

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The First Track Day

I kind of surprised myself with how quickly the R6 route presented itself.  I signed up for a trackday in May 2015, but only got the bike in April.  So I was fully prepared to do one last trackday on the R1, even bought some new tires (which still sit in my guest room unused!).  Anyway, the Florida rain kicked in, like usual, and delayed the day until June.  This just happened to give me enough time to get my 600 mile service in, get my “New Bike Package” installed, including Core Moto stainless braided brake lines, Engine Ice coolant, Motul RBF600 brake fluid, and Motul 300V oil.  I was all set, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to replace the tires, so I used the stock Dunlop Qualifiers that came with it.

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It was mostly successful, I had to push a little harder to match my R1 lap times at JenningsGP, but I eventually did, and pushed those stock tires pretty hard (or so it seemed).  The big take-away was that I definitely made the right choice.  The R6 was a joy to ride at the track, and left room for improvement and also was forgiving enough to accompany some mistakes along the way without punishing me for some overuse of the throttle.

What’s Next? Stay Tuned!

I will be documenting the journey from showroom bike to track weapon as I progress on the R6.  Stay tuned and feel free to add any questions, suggestions, or input.  I’ll try to be a little more active from now on 😉

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Up next: Track day 2 on the Michelin Pilot Supersport Evos, and first time with tire warmers.

AIMExpo 2014 Race Bikes: Sykes, Hayes, and Rossi

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One of the greatest sights at any expo, convention, or race event is the opportunity to see the pure racing machines up close.  The ability to take in every nuance of the machines from any angle you want.  Not just restricted to the views given by TV and print coverage.  Especially the GP prototype bikes that you can’t simply go to a dealership or a track day to see a similar setup.

Though they may not be the machines that are currently being ridden by the associated riders, they are probably a previous year’s model or a very close replica.  Either way, you can still see the same exact parts that are on the track with the current running setups.

Valentino Rossi – Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP

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MotoGP bikes are impressive.  Basically the Formula1 equivalent for motorcycles, they are fast and ultra light.  Also, with prototype parts and electronics, they are also quite expensive (Honda’s RC213V gearbox is a million dollar unit alone!).  I’m always impressed seeing the massive amount of custom carbon fiber bits.  The rear sprockets are so thin that it’s incredible how they can withstand the 250+ horsepower over a race length.  Massive and thick carbon front brakes to bring them down from 210+mph to corner entry speeds.  Exposed dry clutches.  And of course, the best available suspension components from companies like Ohlins, and the Brembo brake calipers that can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Valentino Rossi

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The GP bikes are certainly a sight to behold for any race fan.

Josh Hayes – AMA Pro Superbike Champion – Monster Graves Yamaha YZF-R1

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Being an R1 owner myself, I personally love to see what modifications the teams make and what might be available to install on my own bike.  Unlike MotoGP, Superbike and Supersport series rules generally keep the motorcycles moderately close to the bike you can purchase from the showroom floor.  Of course they have a ton of development and fine tuning, but most components can be bought by anybody for the right price. Josh Hayes is a dominant force in American roadracing, so it’s always great to see what he is riding.

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Tom Sykes – FIM World Superbike Champion – Kawasaki ZX-10R

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Last but certainly not least, the Kawasaki ZX-10R of Tom Sykes, the reigning 2014 World Superbike champion.  World Superbike is the top series that still races homologated motorcycles that are based in the showroom customer models.

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As my favorite race series to watch due to the close and competitive nature of the teams, I was happily surprised to see the ZX-10R race bike on display.  Valentino Rossi is arguably the most popular motorcycle racer in history, so of course his bike is always a crowd pleaser.  And Josh Hayes is the current American series champion, so it is locally relevant.  But World Superbike is not as popular in the United States unfortunately.  Hopefully that will change soon because the races are certainly exciting, plus we have an American race at Laguna Seca in California to see them up close in person.

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Unfortunately that was the extent of the official race machinery at the AIMExpo this year, but it was a great improvement and increase in manufacturers over its inaugural year in 2013.

Whose bike would you like to see up close?  Let us know in the Comments below!

 

It’s A Great Time To Be A New Rider

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It is a great time to be a new rider, at least if sport bikes are your thing. When I started riding, the options were pretty slim.  There was the Ninja 250 and EX500, both of which were very unexciting when compared to the 600 and 1000cc brethren.  A few years later the Ninjas 250R got a pretty decent makeover and seemed much more sporty, but was still noticeably a small starter bike.

Some want the look of the bike to match their passion.  Starting out shouldn’t be penalized with boring and unattractive options.  Kawasaki finally nailed it with the Ninja 300.  At a quick glance, it’s hard to quickly point out the differences between it and the ZX-6R and ZX-10R.  They all share yearly color schemes and the general design shares an aggressive theme.  A new rider no longer needs to be upset at their lack of options.

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Recently Honda took notice and released the CBR250 and has the 300cc update coming soon.  Now Yamaha and KTM are following suit to compete in the entry sportbike market.  And the great news is that all of the bikes look modern and promise to offer great performance for the size.

Heck, even seasoned riders are finding themselves excited by the new small displacement sportbikes.  Not only do they look good, but they’re cheap and easy to handle for a blast at the track.  Plus they offer a great value as a daily commuter getting 60+ MPG easily.

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I recently had the chance to check out the new Yamaha R3 at the AIMExpo in Orlando and it is a great addition to the “R” lineup.  It will soon be overshadowed by the hinted R1 update for 2015, but is still a very exciting prospect for new riders.  It is comfortable and lightweight, and the less aggressive ergonomics should be welcoming to those looking to pick up their first sportbike. Plus, with the R6 and R1 inspired looks, they’ll also be able to blast around on a bike they can be truly proud to own.

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With all the great small displacement options, there’s been no better time to make the jump to two wheels and join in the madness!