Traction! - Event Date: January/01/1900 - January/01/1900
Location: Dayton, OH
Online Status: Offline
Calendar Event: Traction!
Posted: January/21/2003 at 6:41pm
So this is journalism?!!
In my last column, I managed to offend:
1. The editor & crew of MCPerf with a comment I made about the pretend excitement and creative terminology some journalists contrive to "fluff up" an article in an attempt to keep an uninterested reader's attention. I will make the assumption that I have the attention of those who are interested or you would simply be reading something else -- expect minimal fluff.
2. A large percentage of the motorcycle drag race world that utilize wheelie bars (they should have seen my "The longer the bars, the shorter the taliwacker" T-shirts!) Of course, in a "better be able to take it like you give it" Shakespearean twist of cool yet cruel fate. In the time that has lapsed between my first and second columns, my sponsors and I have decided to campaign a 1999 fuel-injected, nitrous oxide-assisted GSX-R750 Suzuki in a class that has been dominated by Kawasaki since its introduction to AMA/ProStar Racing - Pro SuperBike. Pretty Cool. The cruel part falls in the term "Pro" meaning professional class, in which the "sissy sticks" are mandatory. I have already received plenty of flack and expect to receive more.
3. Other competitors wondering why I would possibly give out useful advice to anyone, since they may one day use it to defeat me, or more importantly them.
Oh well, they will all have to get used to it!
On another brief note, I have also been approached by various sources which would like me to endorse their products in my column. This is not a tough decision for me. I have made a conscious effort to keep the junk off my machines my entire motorcycle racing career! Just because I am writing a column, does not mean I am willing to change the rules. The competition is too tight to have to compensate for an inferior product.
I will be telling you about products and techniques that I have used successfully. I can't very well tell you what works and then not tell you where to find it. Believe me, every product I mention is the very best I have found, and no amount of money is worth placing unacceptable products on my machines. Here is an example: Last year I was approached by an up-and-coming oil company to try their new oil in my bikes. I tried the product and lost power. I rebuilt my engine and still could not get my power back. I finally had to replace the block and pistons to get back to where I was originally . I sent them, their products, and their money packing.
This brings me to my final point. I will not be denouncing any products in print. If you are interested in knowing what works for me, look at my bikes, trailer, sponsor list, web page, or ask me at the race track. These products work the best for me as far as I can tell. Of course, as technology changes and my testing verifies the improvements, the names will also change.
Now, with that said, let's get down to business.
The questions I am most frequently asked generally revolve around the Unlimited Street Bike Shoot-out Class. These topics are usually quite confusing to the presenter, as the traditional rule of three "L's" (making the bike Longer, Lower, and Lighter) to achieve better performance, do not apply the same to a D.O.T. tire streetbike as they do to a racing slick-equipped machine with a wheelie bar.
Undoubtedly, the single greatest concern for a shoot-out machine is traction! This class revolves around the ability to put the power to the ground. Most machines in the class have the ability to white-smoke the tire across the finish line. If it were merely a matter of adding more nitrous or boost, we would all be running in the sevens. When you look at the displacement rules for the class, they make most professional classes, even Pro-Mod, seem rather tame. My 1500 cc 4-valve nitrous-assisted Suzuki Bandit would have to carry approximately 45 lbs. of lead to make the legal weight break in Pro-Mod. This is the same machine that recently logged over 400 miles in the 1999 Daytona Bike Week traffic!
The definition of traction is slightly misleading in the streetbike world. A race bike such as a Pro-Mod has the luxury of an 11"-wide car tire combined with a wheelie bar for optimum surface adhesion and weight transfer. Traction in the street tire world has many variables: rear tire type and rim width, suspension, chassis configuration (involving weight bias, rake, wheelbase, and dynamic/static center of gravity), total horsepower and control of additional power, combined bike and rider weight, clutch, gearing, and, finally, rider skill with many small, yet important, detailed areas to be addressed in each of these broader areas. It would be impossible to cover any of these areas in detail within the constraints of this column, but a brief definition of the most important areas could at least point you in the right direction.
We will cover the mechanical aspects of these areas in what I consider to be the order of importance starting with tire type and rim width. The tire of choice for years, amongst racers in the know, has been the Yokohama R003 in many size and rim combinations. These tires are as extinct as noble politicians. The few that are still floating around are either guarded like Fort Knox or purchased by individuals who think Bill Gates has "done all right for himself." The next choice is the Michelin TX-25 Race Compound. Naturally, the race compound is not available any longer, but at least the street compound seems to work better than anything else readily available. This is assuming that you have an extremely wide (7.25"-7.75") rim with the new mandatory bead locks. The next glimpse of hope for the D.O.T. speed demons lies in the hands of Mickey Thompson Performance Tires. M/T has noticed that this extremely popular type of racing has a tire problem that could cross over into the street bike world. We could all end up very happy if they succeed.
The second most critical aspect is definitely suspension. This is a new term for most motorcycle drag racers, so I will be as detailed as possible. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until next time, which by the way, will be soon. My race program is up and running, and I am as anxious to provide information as you are to receive it.
Thank you for your patience. See you next time.
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