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Discussion Starter #1
Sorry, ghouls: _I_ did not wreck, my buddy did on his R1! K, small joke, though it ain’t too funny for my buddy: he landed in hospital. Perhaps you’ll enjoy my little report anyway. I doubt this particular R1 or my buddy will be spry enough to move for at least awhile.

The trackday occurred at Portland International Raceway (PIR), Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. Our gracious host was Moto Corsa of Portland, Oregon, who put on a well-organized, friendly track event for nominal cost ($150). Thanks, guys: this was my second event through M.C.; though both ended badly for my buddy I’ve had a great time.

The party ended for us at Noon, with his crash. I hear they ran hot-track until 5 PM (rats!). I ended my day at about thirty laps. Not much, but still entertaining, especially for the low cost. This track day was a lark, also, since I rode like a madman at Pacific Raceways less than a week earlier (see previous post).

There are many things to share with the group; hope you don’t mind the long post. Topics: 1) behavior of ’03 ZX-6R at a ‘fast’ track 2) How and why my buddy crashed 3) Op/Ed about safety gear. Hope you find all three useful.

Part I: 2003 ZX-6R at a ‘Fast’ Track

PIR favors literbikes, due to the sweeping turns, two fast straights, and great sightlines. I figured I’d have to work the ZX harder for horsepower at a “fast” track, and I did. You know the bike’s surprisingly fast, however, so this wasn’t a major concern. (Also, I’m not making “excuses” for being occasionally passed.)

Keep on the power, watch gearing carefully, try not to spool down too much, you’ll have a great time. The bike’s superior handling still permits selection of tighter lines, a good way to pass lumbering liter bikes. This was a track day, not a race, so I pulled a few sneaky-Pete passes but nothing to piss off the natives. Just having a little fun.

The pavement’s nice at PIR, too. I adjusted the ZX suspension based on Sport Rider suggestions (thanks to one of our forum moderators for posting the link). Those settings quieted both front and rear markedly from those I received the bike with. That’s my first crack at adjusting ZX suspension.

This was an Italian dealer track day, with plenty of Aprilias and Ducks on hand. As always, there were more than a few Gixxers, R1s, Kawis (ha!), and at least one Triumph, too. Most bikes seemed larger-displacement, though at least a half-dozen of us had middleweights.

Yesterday confirmed to me again middleweights are simply more fun in the tight stuff. You get the point, ‘nuff said.

My Rennsport RS1/Dunlop D208GP-A combo held up well, now at about 110 laps between two track days. The rear needed a few warmup laps, again. The Rennsport front heated up immediately. The RS1 front continues to feel very planted and I cannot stress enough how much I like that tire and compound, either the Pirelli or Metzeler flavor.

Otherwise my bike remains stock. I understand a PCIII and full system might make it faster; I’m trying to decide if I WANT to go faster, frankly. Suspension work can’t hurt, either, though moving forward I’ll consider all upgrades carefully. My Ohlins steering damper and front adjustments kept things planted just fine.

Part II: CRASH that R1!:

My buddy crashed at PIR in May, last session of the day. I commented on that last trackday report (just a few days ago).

Personally I’d have never taken a crashed and repaired R1 to the track again, especially one this pretty, but as mentioned earlier it really is a phenomenal motorcycle on both street and track.

Frankly this reinforces my decision to sell the “pretty” Aprilia Mille I owned prior to the ZX, before I exploded it during a track mishap. I could see it coming a mile away. I wish my R1 buddy had the same foresight.

The R1’s a siren-song for my buddy, I now believe, a guy right on the hairy edge of being very fast on the racetrack. What he didn’t or wouldn’t realize is the stakes increase when one crosses that invisible line between “just having fun” and “turning fast laps.” We went to this trackday to tame the “Portland Beast” for him, bury the bad mojo so to speak.

My buddy started to really warm up after the first couple sessions, gradually clearing the mental cobwebs from his last mishap and starting to really speed up again. Last Wednesday, at PR, he took a medium pace and had a great day. That set him up for this day, and led to his crash. Read on.

Not long before lunch, our B Group session ended. I pitted and relaxed, my buddy right behind. We talked a bit and he mentioned “scraping pegs” again on various Portland turns. This concerned him, for obvious reasons.

Now I must admit I don’t understand the scraping pegs issue he’s reported. The R1 has roughly similar seating geometry to the ZX. I personally do not have a highly “physical” riding style and only hang off moderately, yet maintain a brisk pace. I’ve seldom scraped a peg on the ZX (perhaps the really fast guys do; I’m not sure).

My buddy claims to scrape pegs, however, suggesting perhaps he isn’t hanging off enough and fulcrums the bike instead of using his knees and bodyweight to change direction. My objective’s always to keep the bike as upright as feasible, maximizing tire contact patch. I’ll lever myself off the seat, leaning into a turn but keeping the bike as upright as feasible. Seems like basic “racing strategy,” right out of any credible article on the subject. Most of you guys know what I mean.

We decided to crash the C Group (bad pun), me following a couple laps to see if I could spot riding form issues. We entered the hot track, about 10 min into the C Group session, between a large gap in traffic. Turn 1 is at the end of the front straight, opposite the track entrance. My buddy took a medium line through the (right) turn, after the long straight. He then took another medium line through Turn 2, another right. To this point I didn't observe him riding overly conservatively or aggressively.

I refocused on my form through Turn 2, to not ride off the track myself! I’d watched his feet and body placement through the first two turns, going a bit offline myself in the process. Not a big deal but best to stay focused on the track, obviously.

Now we approached Turn 3, the only serious left-hander at PIR. Turn 3 takes guys out frequently due to cold tires: it’s the first place the left sidewall’s used, after starting a race or event. You see what’s coming: my buddy entered the turn on a medium line, at what I believed an aggressive lean.

As I refocused on his bike and set my own line, I had time to think “whoa! A Valentino Rossi lean angle!” Half-second later, his bike just kept on going over and down he went right at the apex. He and the bike slid across the pavement into the dirt, in a fairly spectacular ass-over-teakettle fashion. I refocused on the apex and completed the lap: no stopping on the track, lest I become a casualty too.

Bottom line: he over-rode the tires, Metzeler M1 Sportecs. What I interpreted as "aggressive lean" was in fact both tires sliding and catastrophically losing traction. By all reports, they are great tires for street-sport riding and C Group-pace trackdays. Like all street tires, however, they have very finite limits. My buddy blasted those limits on tires that couldn’t warm up fast enough. My Rennsport/Dunlop race tires had no issues, but let’s be clear: DOT race rubber vs. street/trackday tires is no comparison at all.

The R1 ended up in a bad way, with almost all the plastic plus tank damaged, though does not appear totaled (no structural damage to major subsystems, on cursory inspection). I think he’s out another two to three grand in repairs. Yikes.

Last Topic: Safety Gear

My buddy twisted his right ankle in the wreck. The ambulance dropped him in our pit, after triage, and propped him in a chair with right foot elevated and iced. The ambulance taped it, but I knew we’d best go to the hospital eventually. He felt good (all things considered), but like I said this guy’s one cool customer. We felt it OK to transport him to Seattle from Portland, to be near his home in a hospital he knows.

I rode one more session (half-hour) while he rested in a quiet spot, then packed all our stuff and loaded him in the truck. The ankle did not look good, growing slightly worse by the hour. Emergency room for him, at University of Washington Medical Center (downtown Seattle).

Bottom line is he almost certainly has one fracture, possibly two: results weren’t in by the time he sent me home from the hospital yesterday evening. Definitely a nasty sprain, as well. Not life-threatening, but still rather serious. His girlfriend arrived and I handed off care in the evening. I’m no doctor but looking at the ankle late afternoon a fracture of some sort seemed likely. Again, my buddy took this in stride and kept in decent spirits, despite some pain. Good man. He had no issues with me stealing one last session before we fled the track, which I thought quite sporting.

Both he and I wear SIDI Vertebra boots. I bought mine used last year. After yesterday, I am very pissed off about those boots: they bent like wheat in the wind and did not help support my buddy’s ankle. I like the quality, I like the comfort, but they did not help as much as they should have, IMO. Before I do anything else next season, I’m replacing my damn boots with Daytona Security (fully armored).

Foot injuries suck. I had one in April 2002 after a low-speed Blackbird crash (freak accident). My injury would have been totally avoided by adequate ankle protection. Track accidents are not really accidents: they’re to be expected. I need to stack the deck more in my favor.

His Vanson two-piece held up great, with only light damage. Ditto his Held gloves and Arai helmet (small scratch). That’s the second medium-speed (50-70mph) crash for the Helds and Vansons. Never discount the value of good gear. Too bad he forgot the top-quality footwear. Now neither of us has an excuse. Ankles are a weak link in the chain, folks, and vulnerable in a crash.

Takeaways, various facets of the day:

-Adjusting the stock suspension will probably improve your experience. At least make the effort.

-Race tires are cheap insurance. Beware all tires on overcast days the first couple laps: they need warmup!

-Running street bikes on the track is a recipe for heartbreak (and a wallet-buster). I leave as much of the pretty stock parts hanging on a shelf in the garage as possible. Weigh the cost of aftermarket parts against OEM replacement.

-Highest-quality, fully-armored footwear is an often-overlooked safety item.

-Seldom do others “tell you” when you’ve overridden street tires or other equipment. Often the lesson’s immediate, painful, and expensive: witness my buddy’s second expensive crash of a pretty streetbike, a guy with genuine talent who wouldn’t or couldn’t realize he’d passed from “fast street guy” to “budding track-only guy.”

-I don’t see many fellow riders (not in an instructional capacity) forthcoming with that sort of information. I felt he rode “too fast” for equipment, expressed my opinion, but couldn’t “make” him or anyone else see the light. I'm not necessarily advocating more rider control, just more training. Yet training can't be forced, it must be sought.

-Wise budding racers hang out with very fast guys and shut mouth/open ears: study and emulate equipment, attitude, and methods. Tire warmers, slicks, top safety gear, all the things frequent track riders “should” be using.

Thanks for reading.

-=DRB=-
 

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Very good post! What do you think of the Oxtar T.C.S system on the Evo Ti's? The T.C.S (Torsion Control System) is supposed to stop your ankle/foot from bending in ways that will break it. These are supposedly the only boots that have C.E. approved armor too. Have you guys looked into these?
 

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That was good, thanks.
I've heard that ankle injury is especially probable with the R1, though I don't mean to belittle the danger on other bikes.

Your Takeaways were great.


Here is some more trackday stuff.

I've been "working" (i.e. cornerwork or something) for free tracktime for a non profit track day organizer this summer and I've been to around 25 track days (if I counted correctly[:M74]), some 3x20min, some 13x20min, this summer and thus I've seen the results and heard the causes of maybe 50-70 mistakes. What is preached before every event is that 50% of crashes happen during the first session for the person involved and 50% of those crashes happen during the first lap. This is why passing during the first lap is forbidden at our events. Worth to remember.
I think the best or rather worst case was one guy who got to ride maybe 50m that day, second turn and he slid into the railing.

Cold tire crashes are *very* common througout the day as well. Even a very seasoned racer who took his streetbike for a spin crashed exactly like your buddy, right in front of me in a 140-150km/h left, guess he was used to having tire warmers and forgot he didn't have them this time around.

Personally, I've had two lowsides, one from maybe 60km/h and one from maybe 70-80km/h, neither resulted in any injury. First one was my first time out and I crashed because I didn't know shit and got bitten by the go fast bug. Second one was my last time out (this season) and happened because I didn't know enough and got bitten by the go fast bug (I think it's been following me around). My thought process went something like this: Oh the rear is sliding a little bit, no matter it's been doing that all day, OH here comes the exit better give it some more gas.....pretty stupid huh. Only scratches on the fairing and pipe though, I spun on the ground holding on to the bike trying to keep it from getting damaged which succeded pretty well, but my leathers now have a hole in them. Got within 2secs of my pre-lowside times the next session though. This I could tell from the tankcam vid afterwards, timing is forbidden at our events.

Prices for track days elsewhere amaze me! We charge, on average, 40-50euros for a day (say 8hours with 8x20min riding time) or 60 for a weekend prepaid or maybe 50/day at the gate. And we have cornerworkers, track guides, ambulance on site unless there's a hospital 5min away and usually tires at a very reasonable price. 1euro is just over 1$.

Like I said, it's a non-profit organization but if 150$ is nominal cost for you what the hell is the usual cost?!? Non profit org means that it is registered as such and thus can not make profit and everything is volunteer based, or rather, the pay for workers is free track time and lodging if it's a distant location or several day event. Some tracks are cheap to rent and some are expensive, we charge the same and even out the costs. But how the hell do you justify prices of several hundred dollars/day? The track owner wants quadruple rent compared to here or something? Do you have anything like this? Why not?

My takeaways, lessons learned, sometimes the hard way. Especially for those with less track experience.

-everything DRB NW WA State USA said.

-when you feel you've got the hang of it, take a long brake or quit for the day, don't just continue and increase speed, you WILL go down.

-Don't pass anyone during the first lap, make sure your tires warm up first, increase speed *gradually*. Even seasoned racers can make this mistake, newbies make it *all* the time. And don't think just because you've done 1 lap your tires are warm, remember gradually.

-what they always say: There are no trophies at trackdays, take it easy, have fun, learn. Don't race and don't try to follow someone significantly faster than you. They always say it because it's true and it's so common to let eagerness get the best of you. Often you can pick out the ones probable to crash beforehand. If you tell them this then they're often hurt or insulted which makes warning them an unpleasant task, not usually successful either.

just my 2 cents (or ramblings, whichever:D)
 

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Oh, when you said Sidi vertebra did you mean exactly that or the Race version with the chrome leg-ankle-side-of-foot-then red-bit-then-black-toe ankle/foot protection/rigidity system?
Or the Vertebra2? Vertebra Tepor? Vertebra Rain?

pics
http://www.harpersraceshop.co.uk/itmidx19.htm

I've heard only good things about the race version and not so good things about the other versions. The Race boot is not waterproof either.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the boot idea, DEZ. I popped off with "Daytona Security" because I KNOW they work. There may be other options these days. I will research.

RedFinn: most excellent comments! I must say the "R1 ankle injury more common" idea is interesting. I'm rather skeptical, to be truthful, but don't want to start an argument.

You asked about trackday costs in the U.S. I am familiar with trackday costs in the U.S. California and Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon) only. The minimum I've paid is (U.S.) $100. Maximum, $350. The latter was for Reg Pridmore's C.L.A.S.S., with great instruction, meals, lots of instructors, etc. The former was totally open track day, as reported in an earlier post.

Occasionally guys will get together and rent a track, which sometimes brings cost below $100. I've never done it, but friends have. I rode with one guy just a week ago who rented Spokane Raceway (Spokane, WA) with less than ten other guys for low cost. I'd never in a million years do a trackday without an ambulance, regardless.

I 100% agree about ending the session when fatigue or "over-confidence" set in. I almost always cut short the last session of every track day for this reason. I'm in no hurry to crash.

About Sidi Vertebras: my pair is used and dates from 2001 or 2000. I believe they are the first Vertebra boot. They have partial armor on the rear (Achilles Tendon) area, but not a lot elsewhere. They did not stop left-right movement in my buddy's wreck. I'm not suggesting they made things worse, though. Perhaps no one implied or suggested they "would" protect ankles in a wrenching accident, but I expected better.


-=DRB=-
 

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I did forget to mention the Daytonas. Those things are equivilant to a small fortress for your pedes. A bit pricey - $300 and up - but what would a new ankle cost?
 

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Originally posted by DRB NW WA State USA

I must say the "R1 ankle injury more common" idea is interesting. I'm rather skeptical, to be truthful, but don't want to start an argument.
Just what I've heard, actually from two R1 owners. Something about the compact build and the profile, looking down on the bike, doesn't leave much room for feet (or some such). I shouldn't have mentioned it since I have no real knowledge on the subject, just what some experienced R1 owners told me.

Originally posted by DRB NW WA State USA

You asked about trackday costs in the U.S. I am familiar with trackday costs in the U.S. California and Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon) only. The minimum I've paid is (U.S.) $100. Maximum, $350. The latter was for Reg Pridmore's C.L.A.S.S., with great instruction, meals, lots of instructors, etc. The former was totally open track day, as reported in an earlier post.

Occasionally guys will get together and rent a track, which sometimes brings cost below $100. I've never done it, but friends have. I rode with one guy just a week ago who rented Spokane Raceway (Spokane, WA) with less than ten other guys for low cost. I'd never in a million years do a trackday without an ambulance, regardless.
So the latter option is kind of like we do it here, except it's regular, organized, with ambulance and for 100+ bikes. Some of the track gurus or racers guide newbies and anyone in the slower groups around the track, show them the lines etc. but I wouldn't go as far as calling them instructors, since no lectures and limited feedback is usually given, unless specifically asked for.

Why am I rambling on about this? Because I think it's such a great way to bring down the cost of track days, easily to one third of what you pay now for what I understand to be comparable service. All it takes is some volunteer spirit or rather a group of people willing to work a little for free track time. Me, I'm poor, and resorted to selling my tv + other stuff and eating cheap to be able to afford tires, dealer service (warranty), insurance, gas, brake pads and other equipment. So I constantly think about where I could cut costs to be able to continue this awesome hobby.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
SB, I’ve read a fair bit of your words. You know of what you speak.

Let’s talk a little about crashes (war stories, though there’s a point I’ll make a little later).

I’ve crashed once on the track, hard, and run off three other times. None of the runoffs resulted in a true “crash,” though one (Thunderhill, Willows, CA) resulted in a “Randy Mamola Moment.”

My track crash landed me a mild concussion, two cracked ribs, and multiple contusions. My leathers and other gear took some scuffing, but held up. My feet were not involved, so to speak, with only a mild abrasion where I slid on the track (briefly) then the dirt (extensively).

On the street I guess I’ve crashed about 10 times in quite a few years, none particularly serious in terms of bike or personal damage. Couple more cracked ribs, contusions, minor road-rash, and one badly sprained left ankle with cracked big toe bone April 2002 (my last crash). That last was by far the worst.

Funny thing is, the ankle-buster crash was the “mildest” crash I can recall: the Blackbird’s cold tires washed in a heartbeat at 10-15mph, dropping me on the pavement. I had no idea what happened, remembering only being upright then barrel-rolling to a stop without the vaguest idea how I’d got there. Somehow my ankle ended up involved; I dunno how nor does it really matter.

That incident landed me on crutches, and took longer than expected to heal (didn’t ride for about six weeks, with most mobility restored after about eight weeks). I’m in good health and heal like an average person, I think. Today that toe aches a bit after strenuous workouts, and doesn’t have 100% up-down mobility compared to the other. I suspect it will continue to ache occasionally for years, maybe forever. That’s life.

The ankle sprain/break hurt like a MF. I was on codeine Tylenol about 4-5 days, to sleep, and I’m usually rather stoic about pain. I’m not bragging or comparing penis size, merely stating it really, really hurt for such an “innocuous” injury. Hell, when it happened I was talking and joking. The joke wore off by that evening.

Point is, you’ve bailed four times at the track without foot injury. I’ve bailed ten times on the street and once on the track, with one ankle/foot injury. I had hiking boots on when my ankle went (yah, I know: not the right gear for the street. I’m usually a gear-nazi; this day I went “light” and paid the piper). I do not believe my foot gear had much to do with my other crashes, i.e. feet weren’t really involved.

Every once in awhile, though, our feet are tweaked badly in a wreck. Mick Doohan’s an extreme case. My buddy is another less-extreme case, though he’s ridden awhile and in fact walked away from a 70-mph getoff at Portland with nothing more than scuffed leathers and sheepish grin back in May. When I watched him crash the other day, I assumed he’d hop right up and start cursing. Well, he hopped up OK but then fell back down.

Track crashes are terribly random. Ask Wayne Rainey about that, or that poor Japanese racing star who bought it a few months ago. In Wayne’s crash, at Mugello in 1993 (fairly sure it was Mugello), lots of guys bailed on that particular turn without injury. Wayne’s getoff cost him very dearly, in contrast. Just bad luck, I believe, but “shit happens.”

I believe your Sidi Vertebra Race boots are a solid product. Looking at them on a website just now, they seem nice enough. I will in fact go look at them this weekend at my local Sidi dealer, 10 miles down the road. I am not, however, 100% convinced they’d save any of us in the “wrong” circumstances in a “typical” track crash with a trapped or tweaked ankle/foot. I’m looking to maximize the advantage, to not put too fine a point on it.

Yes, I know: the best gear won’t save anyone in the wrong set of circumstances. I’m no fool. But to be honest, I’m looking for “the best” foot protection after watching the mayhem Monday, and remembering my own crash April 2002.

Foot and ankle injuries really, really suck, and my injury last year was fairly mild all things considered. Walking is precious: while broken collarbones and arms are a bummer, life goes on with one arm for awhile. You can still at least get around, and likely drive a car (automatic transmission, anyway). With one foot, you ain’t going anywhere. Life’s basically on hold while it heals, trust me. In the summer, it really sucks, ‘cause we all want to be out riding. They hurt. They’re never 100% afterwards. There are lots of things in the ankles and feet we really don’t want damaged, bent, busted, etc.

Thx

-=DRB=-
 

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Lots of good info in this thread. I agree with everything everyone has said. I've been doing track days for the last 5 years and have some small comments to make.

1. If you go to the track you will crash. Dress appropriately. This comment is meant to inform you, not scare you off. Track riding is the most fun you can have on a bike.

2. A race bike on slicks will outrun the worlds greatest streetbike on the worlds greatest street tires. Don't try to follow a race bike through a turn if you're on a street bike.

3. Consider getting a track prepped bike, a used race bike will probably cost less than the repairs on a crashed street bike. A race bike with sliders and skinz can usually crash a few times before it needs to be repaired. The repairs will also cost less than a crashed street bike.

4. Consider taking classes. I've been to Keith Code level 1,2,3,4, and to Freddie Spencer SR-1 and will be going to SR-2 later this fall. Classes will make you a better rider. You will be able to go faster and safer at the same time.

I've had 1 high side at PPIR resulting in a totalled 929 and a bruised body. I was wearing a 1 piece Z Custom Leather suit, Arai helmet, Sidi Vertibrae boots, and Joe Rocket race gloves. The helmet was ruined (deep grooves on the side and chin), and the gloves were ruined (no holes, but outer layers were ripped and abraided). The leathers needed $250 in repairs and the boots came through fine.

The bike was completely trashed. The back end came out at 80-90 MPH, hooked up and pitched me into the air. The bike tumbled ever which way. The handle bar went through the frame, every piece of plastic was broken, the engine case broke in 2, many parts were swept up.

The good that came from the crash: a new 954 for the street, and a 2003 ZX6R for the track.
 
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