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Discussion Starter #1
Wednesday 24 September 2003 I attended a track day at Pacific Raceways, Auburn, WA USA. Our host was Enumclaw Suzuki, Enumclaw, WA. My pal Jamin (2002 R1) accompanied me.

These are open track days, with very few rules. All the track time you can eat, $100 ($150 day of event). I’ve attended two. Caveat emptor, however: lack of structure is not everyone’s cup of tea. The trick seems to be staying ahead of trouble.

This is my third time out on the ’03 ZX636B. Total bike mileage: about 1,050. I did 87 laps, assuming the tripmeter’s correct.

This was Jamin’s fifth track day, third on the ’02 R1. Last time out he crashed, at Portland International Raceway, Portland, OR. He ran out of ground clearance and pivoted on a footpeg last time.

We swapped bikes four laps, each leading two. R1 observations:

- Significant power in every gear.

- Magic 3-way adjustable Ohlins shock (aftermarket). Stock forks good, too.

- Brakes good, but nowhere near ZX-caliber.

- Does not want to fall in as fast as the ZX: stability at cost of flickability.

The R1’s a great bike. Per most magazine tests, liter inlines like the R1 and Gixxer 1000 have a higher track performance “potential” than 600s. I continue to find them just a little too overbearing. On the street, I favor liter bikes. The track’s another story entirely.

ZX-6R impressions, third time out:

- I ran a Dunlop D208GP-A rear and Metzeler Rennsport RS1 front, both new. The Dunlop took a few laps to warm up. I like the Metzeler Rennsport (Pirelli Supercorsa) RS2 rear better. The Dunlop ran great once warm.

- Running different tread profiles caused minor issues, but nothing serious at my pace. Still, it probably isn’t a good idea.

- Brake pads about half-worn. I bled both calipers before the track day, to no affect. I moved the lever out one concentric adjustment during the trackday. That cured the issue. They feel as good as ever. One more track day, they’re done however.

- Speaking of laps, I used the lap timer a lot. Seems to work OK, though the switch can be cumbersome (right grip). I don’t like moving fingers around (away from throttle and brakes) on the track

- Herculiner bodywork drew a lot of comments: all curious, some interested and others smarmy. Draw your own conclusions.

- Ohlins damper calmed down the front end and paid for itself when the bike tried to do a tank slapper, then recovered with no further drama. I’m astounded I survived two previous track days without one.

- The harsh compression damping front and rear has to go, I’m tired of it. On a bumpy track like P.R., it causes a lot of drama. Jamin’s R1 ate up the bumps, mine jarred. The answer’s probably aftermarket, though I’ll try adjusting the stock suspension first.

- Seems extra-susceptible to gripping the bars too hard. I fought it repeatedly on the bumpy pavement (leaned over) exiting Turn 2 leading downhill to Turn 3, before realizing the issue. Relax, the bike steers itself. Probably an aggressive-geometry thing.

- Yet again, the ZX brakes deserve comment: I carried stupid speed into many corners, hard on the brakes and trailing all the way to the apex, with little to no drama. Try that on Jamin’s R1, it didn’t go nearly as well. They are brick-wall and by far the best brakes I’ve ever experienced on a bike.

- I don’t believe I’ve ever used the rear brake. I can’t see any reason for it.

Might go to another track day Monday 29 September at Portland. We’ll see how the Weather Gods treat us. The season's rapidly winding down in the Pacific Northwest.

-=DRB=-
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Mr. Moderator, I have laptimes for myself at Pacific Raceways (PR), as indicated above, riding my ’03.

My buddy Jamin was not in his best form that day. He wrecked at Portland in May, as indicated. His repair costs were $2,500. Granted, he prolly shouldn’t have ridden his pretty silver/black ’02 R1 on the track at a brisk pace, but call it an expensive lesson.

The next track day after wrecks, some weekend-warrior types like Jamin and yours truly need a little re-acclimation. Call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or similar. Been there, done it. Maybe you have, too. When Jamin’s “on” he’s as fast or faster. He spanked me on my Mille, since I wouldn’t/couldn’t ride it to full potential. But this day, he chose to keep it mellow and only turn it up a notch a little later. Even then, he rode my ZX and had to sit down and re-think the situation yet again.

Since I was a guest rider, I didn’t push super hard on his R1 though we chose a reasonable pace. I think I can answer your question, based on seat-of-pants impressions.

Everywhere the track opens up, the R1 spanked the ZX in the midrange. Third and fourth gear situations, it pulled away. Off the line, they’re equal until about roughly 80mph, then the liter bike walks.

Entering Turn 2 at PR shows the other side of the coin: Turn 1’s hardly a “turn” at all, much like Turn 1 at Laguna Seca: call it a kink. Just like Laguna, as soon as the turn’s crested, let off the gas because Turn 2’s on the way, real quick, a sweeping left-hander.

On the ZX, cresting Turn 1 I’m doing an indicated 145mph. I’ve seen liter bike guys blaze through at 160mph. I let the bike slow itself a second or two, then bang-bang-bang from sixth to third, still carrying a lot of speed, then plow on the front brakes HARD and smoke into the turn leaned as far left as humanly possible. The ZX eats this sort of thing for breakfast, with breathtaking stability. I could not do similar at comparable speed on the R1, due to: too much speed, not enough brakes, and slight unwillingness to flick into the turn.

I personally believe it is easier to carry mongo cornering speed on 600s. The phenomena’s probably real, based on racing results and acres of motorjournalist comments on dozens of bikes over dozens of years.

The areas where liter bikes shine at PR are: 1) front straight, thru Turn 1; and 2) exiting Turn 6 going “up the hill” into 7. That’s all, as far as I know, though guys who race there may have other ideas. Most other places on the track, blazing into turns and picking lines through traffic seem to be more advantageous for middleweights. I tentatively conclude after about 300 laps PR favors middleweights and especially 750s, bikes that balance power with maneuverability.

The lap record holder at PR, Mike Sullivan, set the mark on a Gixxer 1000. He’s an AMA rider, too. The rules change for top guys. Us talented mortals play by a lesser set of rules.

Personally, I’m 90% sure I can ride the ZX to quicker lap times than an R1 _at this time_. At no time am I “fighting” the ZX; the R1 needs to be muscled in, muscled out, and scares the crud out of guys hard on the horsepower at race-pace. That’s not fun, it’s work. I’m not at the track to work: I’ll take “fun.”

I have never, in my life, seen a motorcycle so willing to run to redline and stay there while handling with such crazy abandon as the ZX-6R. If that ain’t “fun,” I dunno what is!

Hope that helps!

-=DRB=-
 

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Originally posted by DRB NW WA State USA

Personally, I’m 90% sure I can ride the ZX to quicker lap times than an R1 _at this time_. At no time am I “fighting” the ZX; the R1 needs to be muscled in, muscled out, and scares the crud out of guys hard on the horsepower at race-pace. That’s not fun, it’s work. I’m not at the track to work: I’ll take “fun.”

I have never, in my life, seen a motorcycle so willing to run to redline and stay there while handling with such crazy abandon as the ZX-6R. If that ain’t “fun,” I dunno what is!
My sentiments EXACTLY. The liter bike guys call dancing through the gears constantly the way you need to on a middleweight "work"... I call it, like you do, FUN. And the fact that while you may not register as high a trap speed on the middleweight your lap times are better, is only all the more reason to ride one.
 
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