Thursday, March 22, 2007

Most Extreme Elimination Tire

So here are the first two items of
The Hall Of Shame. One's a front tire, one's a rear tire. Both tires actually lost air through the threads of the belt. I won't mention any names. Let's suffice it to say that both of them were products of trying to save money.

Both of these tires, had they blown up while riding, would have made the owner crash and would have cost them a lot more money then that tire. It could have just suddenly disintegrated -poof, magic, where did that black stuff around my rim go???

Looking at a tire like that makes me think of the TV show The Most Painful Extreme Elimination Challenge - in do-it-yourself mode. Pretty funny- except when it actually happens to you...

One worst case scenario: I had a customer once that had a damaged tire not as bad as this one, and despite warning, he really, really needed to go home on the freeway. He blew the tire and spent the next 3 months in the hospital.

Even if there is a little rubber still covering the belt the tire tread becomes so flexible that it sort of wraps itself around any nail in its path -xoxoxo dear nail, you want to come home with me?- and picks it up like Velcro...

So play the Can You See The Whole Head On A Lincoln Penny instead: stick a penny into the treads of the tire and if you can still see the whole head, it's time to replace your tires.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Trackday! My season is officially open!

So I did my first track day of the season, up at Thunderhill, organized by one of our suppliers, namely Tucker Rocky. They are one reason why we have a good time here at the shop, their service to us (and ultimately to our customers) is great.

But it wasn't just a track day for me. This time I made it a test-and-tune: I took my old trusty 2001 Suzuki GSX-R750 up there to dial in the suspension. It's something that is most easily done on the track.

Think about it: you can go the same speed around the same corners of the same track after every change, and you can feel every change and dial the bike in to suit you needs.

It's a good idea to note down the base settings before you start turning the dials. Find out from your manual which adjustment is what, and find the base setting by counting the clicks screwing the adjuster in, or turns if it doesn't have clicks, then turn it out to the exact number that you counted. Don't forget that step, it's easy to count, note it down, and move to the next step without resetting it. That will make for unpleasant surprises when you get back out there.

Then, note down the change, and when you come back, note down what the bike did, like "more bumpy now, will go back the other direction by 2 clicks" or something to that effect. Also, never make more than one change at a time, or do too many clicks, 1 or 2 is enough, otherwise you fool yourself into wrong conclusions. Good notes are very important: trust me, you WILL forget...

And most important: When doing this, go around the track at no more than maybe 60-70% of your regular speed, so if the bike does something erratic you will still be able to stand the bike up and get it around the turn, and not be fully leaned over without room for error. Remember, it's a test-and-tune. It's sometimes hard to let your friends blaze-by-ya, but eventually you blaze by them, since your suspension now works just great and you will have full confidence that the motorcycle is doing exactly what you want it to do when you throw it into the turn.

So have fun on the track, play with your suspension, hold your line, rubber side down and sunny side up!

Might see you out there one of these days...


P.S. In case you are wondering about the picture: when I went to try out my new camera to make pictures in turn 14 somebody crashed (didn't get hurt) and the session got red-flagged, and no bikes were on track. So I took the opportunity to photograph the cool checkered-flag-wrapped trashcan with the pretty flowers around it...not too often you see green at Thunderhill...