Getting The ZX9R On Track

Getting The ZX9R On Track

I’ve always hired bikes for trackdays.  The way I see it, although it is quite expensive, is that you’re getting the use of a dogs bollocks expertly set up and prepared race bike with super-sticky tyres, brakes that pop your eyeballs out every time you touch them, and generally an ability much better than you’ll have as the rider.

I’d highly recommend trying Lady Snoots for hire bikes from a great bloke, and also Smallboy and Pattracking I had no faults with whatsoever.  The Focused Events trackbikes of a few years ago were shitters.  They did the job, but they were blatantly cutting all the corners they could by using (old) sports-touring tyres and maintaining them like your average ped rider.  Things do seem to have changed, but they’re still expensive…  The biggest pisser is that you HAVE to use their own hire bikes on Focused Events days…

Anyway, my main reason for hiring was that my bike was my only transport.  This has now changed now I have a license and car, and if I dropped the ZX9R and it was off the road for a while for repairs it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

So with funding nowhere near what it was after my redundancy, it makes sense to cut the costs by getting the 9r out on track this year.

It will still be a compromise, but I want to do it for as little cost as possible.

Ideally, I’d want: Full race fairing, race compound brake pads, aftermarket rearsets (I scrape my pegs in normal road riding!), some kind of protection for my engine covers, and sticky race tyres – possibly even a spare set of wheels.

The reality is that this would cost as much as it would to hire bikes for a couple of trackdays…

So, after scouring Ebay for race fairings (£340 from China!), I’ve decided that I’m just going to go for it with the bike in standard trim.  If I do come a cropper, THEN I can buy a new fairing and replace the parts.  I’ll just have to try my best not to come a cropper!  But thinking about it I was well within my limits on the hire bikes, as I didn’t want to be liable for paying out the crash deposit!

What’s left to worry about?

Tyres.  I use Pirelli Angel ST’s on the road, because they give a combination of awesome grip from cold, massive mileage, and just do everything better than any other road tyre.  On track I’m sure they will overheat and slide around a bit – but am I capable/willing to push them that hard for them to become a problem?  I shall just have to try it and see…

Ground clearance could be an issue, as I’m not afraid of leaning the bike over even on the roads.  Someone from ZX-9R.net came up with an ingenious solution of taping a 5p coin in the hinge of the footpeg to raise them and give a few degrees more ground clearance, and so I may well try that.

Whatever – I can hear the call of the racetrack again, and I need to get back out there SOON!

Plus it would be great to have a few photographs of me on track riding my own bike!

Watch this space!

Tank Mounting The Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+

Tank Mounting The Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+

One problem I’ve been having with my Veho HD10 camera is with the sound.  It seems that the microphone is very sensitive, and will even pick up sounds such as vibrations and movement through the casing if you tape it to anything, like I do.

The way to get around most of the sound issues is to either use the mounts supplied by Veho, or to make your own.  I decided to try using one of the ‘official’ Veho mounts.

This one has a strong sticky pad that I stuck onto the tank.  The glue is very strong and even just plonking it on there in the cold it stayed put confidently.  Ideally, you want to make sure it’s set by sticking it on and leaving it overnight to set properly.  There are several of these types supplied.

The camera and mount attaches to this with a velcro pad.  I chose this for easy removal, but as it turns out the extra ‘give’ of the velcro meant the camera has far too much free movement!  The actual mount itself has two connecting joints (you can add more or remove them as required) – make sure these are screwed in as tight as possible, as they do work loose so the camera position moves!

My petrol tank does move a little with engine vibrations, and this didn’t help matters.  Before I’d screwed the joints up REALLY hard, I found the camera started to lean backwards under acceleration so it was filming the sky, and went forwards under hard braking and over harsh bumps.  My advice is to use as few of the joints as you possibly can for maximum stability.

I have no interest whatsoever in filming my speedometer – I don’t use cameras to show off or prove anything, so I’m not a major fan of this set-up!  You may well love it, and it could be good on track.

To eliminate the excess movement you may also want to stick the camera mount directly to the tank, and not use the velcro pad like I did.  If you do this you can still remove the mount and camera quickly and easily, as they all slide and click in securely anyway.

Oh, and the camera itself screws into the mount nicely, with no need for tape, padding, or anything else.

Overall, the mounts are all very good and very easy to use, plus they’re quite adaptable.  They’re well thought out, but you need to have a think yourself about where best to put them and which to use.

So what’s next?  I didn’t like the tank mounted option because there’s just too much movement on my bike.  I think next I will stick one of the pads onto my top yoke and see how that goes.  I’m also tempted to get the suction mount and put that on the inside of the windscreen… I’m not sure on a bike there’ll be anywhere on the screen flat enough to get good purchase, though?

And I finally got around to putting the supplied CD-ROM into my laptop – there’s nothing special on it apart from an electronic copy of the user manual, so those who can’t get it to load aren’t missing anything here!

I’ll get more pics and video of my next run…

First Knee-Down Of 2011

First Knee-Down Of 2011


I can’t even remember if this is earlier or later than usual, but today was the first day of the year that I heard that distinctive scrape of plastic kneeslider on tarmac!

It’s still only around 8 degree Celsius here, and the roads are colder than a polar bears winkie – but the sun had been shining all day and so it was on with the Buffy neck warmer and away.

I’m still playing with mounting options for the Veho HDd10.  Sound is a major issue, because not only is it picking up far too much wind noise and high end sound, but it seems to pick up vibrations through the casing itself when taped to anything vaguely vibratey.  Yes, that is a word.  Today I used one of the Veho clip mounts, and taped this to my brake reservoir, rather than putting any tape on the actual camera directly.  Sound seems a lot better, but the very loose mounting point meant the camera was a bit wobbly.

It’s looking like a custom mount will be the way to go – possibly similar to the one I made for the micro cams, where you just slot the camera into some foam.

The bikers all over the UK seem to have woken up today, so I’m sure I’m not the first to scrape my knee today!

I was still worried about cold tyres and the mud still on the sides of mine, but I know the Pirelli Angel ST tyres have excellent grip from cold, so it’s more in my head after getting used to looking out for ice patches all Winter.  Just because the sun’s out doesn’t mean the road conditions are good and grippy…

My riding felt a bit off.  Speeds I’d normally think nothing of were feeling fast to me today – most likely thanks to driving a slow-assed car around so I’m more used to that than bikes now.  Consequently I was taking it relatively easy, because I just didn’t feel very comfortable when cornering.

Despite this, on a few roundabouts I put the feelers out and cranked the old ZX9R over enough to scrape the footpegs, and if you can scrape the pegs you can scrape your knees!

I followed someone on a grey BMW GS with hard paniers for a while before overtaking nice and safely when the opportunity arose.  He turned off on a roundabout, and so I was a bit surprised to see him in my mirrors again shortly afterwards.

Coincidence?  Maybe… but he then followed me everywhere I went.  This is a red flag because the Police do like these bikes, and it’s easy to conceal cameras and blue lights in those hard paniers.

As I’ve said, today I was riding sensibly, so this was even more strange… unless maybe he saw my camera as he turned off?  He certainly had a few opportunities when he followed me to get a good view of it, so perhaps he was watching to see me do something stupid for the camera.

I didn’t.

I rode nicely, pretending I hadn’t seen him, and headed towards a favourite place to see if I could get my knee down without much effort.

He followed me all the way, so I turned off early onto some more fast flowing curves.

Most people are surprised at how well a big BMW GS can move compared to a sportsbike, but when it comes to smooth, fast curves NOTHING beats a sportsbike.  It’s the reason for their whole existence.

Even at legal speeds I pulled out a gap, and then as a switchback curve obscured his view of me I tightened my line around a left-hander, shifting my weight over to the left as I gripped between the footpeg and the side of the petrol tank with my right leg.

Reaching out a little with my left knee was all it took for the slider to touch down.

Ahh, that beautiful, addictive sound!

And literally in front of the police?  Could be…


Putting ‘BIKER’ On The Census As Your Religion

Putting ‘BIKER’ On The Census As Your Religion

It’s coming around again soon – the Gubbinment will be sending you a load of questions at great expense to the taxpayers so that… umm… they know more stuff about us?

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Whatever.

The important thing this time around is that when they ask me what religion I am, I am going to say it loud and proud that I am A Biker.

The road is my God, and the pathway there, too.

When I ride my bike it is a spiritual experience.  It’s a comfort to me when I feel lost or down.

Riding ‘in the zone’ is like a form of meditation.  It’s Zanshin – total awareness – as I try to see my surroundings before they happen, listening to every roar and click from my bike and trying my best to make sure as I execute my religion that nobody else is adversely affected by it.

We even have Priests – the mechanics who will fix up our trusty steeds and get us back on track.

A lot of us even just ride on Sundays!  And we have those living Gods amongst us:

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And think of the benefits or getting our religion recognised!

Would a petrol station be allowed to force us to remove our helmet if it’s religious clothing?

Could they continue forcing us to pay such high tax on petrol – essentially taxing our religion?

It is my form of worship.  Being a Biker means I enjoy life, and get more out of it because of my choices.

We’re family out there – nodding a greeting as we pass total strangers simply because they’re on a bike.  Sure, there are different faction within the Biking religion – the Sportbikers have some hostility towards Harley Davidson riders, and everyone dislikes Scooter riders.  Motard riders are just thugs.  We’re not going to go to war over it, though, and many of us treat everyone under the Biker banner equally, as it’s something that unifies us all.

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If you ride a bike, I bet you’ve put more effort into that than you have the made-up-deity, war-causing, only-when-it-suits-you religion that someone decided they’d choose for you before you were out of nappies!

It’s got to be done!

It is the time to show the World what we REALLY believe in!

Just put that single word as your religion: Biker.

—-

***EDIT***: There is now a Facebook group for this, so get theeself joined and spread the word: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_169227299791835

Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Full Review After Onboard Test

Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Full Review After Onboard Test


See this blog for my initial review of what you get and some tech specs: INITIAL REVIEW

The Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ comes with millions of mountings and attachments.  By far the best option for a sportsbike is to stick it near the front of the tank where it will have an excellent view of the clocks and through the screen.  Mounting it on the tailpiece would be quick and simple, too.  In fact, for a track bike there are loads of options!

For the road, however, I soon realised my options were far more limited.  I don’t want to film my speedo.  That’s far too easy to incriminate yourself when you’re pulled over doing 75mph and the Police view the footage.

My other big consideration is for a bit of stealth – and the HD10 just doesn’t allow this anywhere near as well as the smaller cams such as the Veho Muvi Pro or MD80.  Plus there’s the 1.5″ video screen which draws attention at the traffic lights.

In the end, I went back to duct tape and sponge, mounting the HD10 on the front of the brake reservoir in the same place I favoured for smaller cams.

This still isn’t ideal for fast installment and removal – such as when you stop for petrol and don’t want some Scrote grabbing your camera off the bike whilst you’re inside paying.  This is something I will work on.

The velcro strips are very useful for mounting and as extra ‘security’ measures in case the cam does fly off at 190mph.

I used a simple piece of foam between the cam and the brake reservoir, and vibrations were minimal.  The footage doesn’t go wavy at high revs or over bumps.  There is some jolting, but footage is still continuous and it seems good.

More of a problem is the sound.  I think it’s more sensitive than the smaller cams, which means it does pick up more, but the crisper sound also picks up a lot of wind noise.  I think the hole on the front cover is for the mic, and I will try and dampen it next time by putting some tape across and see how that helps.  It has potential.

The time/date stamp is still there, although smaller on the HD10 it’s still a totally unnecessary pisser.  It is easier to set and can be altered through the menu options at any time – but I don’t want it there at all!  For one it’s unsightly, and secondly it goes back to incriminating yourself by showing the exact time and date the footage was filmed.  It could work in your favour or very much against it, so I randomise any stamps on my cams.  PLEASE GET RID OF IT, VEHO!!!

To be honest, I wasn’t  as impressed with the video quality as I was expecting to be.  It is better than a Veho Muvi Pro, but not by much… that is until you watch it on a full-size TV, where the difference really shows!  It’s still a bit grainy – especially in poor light conditions (see my test video) but the widescreen is good.

The 160 degree fisheye-type lens isn’t as terrible as I thought it might be, and doesn’t distort the footage in ways that make it look weird and unwatchable.  It’s just about right.

Playback on a TV directly from the DH10 is very impressive.  There is no broken footage or waiting around for it to play.  I’ve only tested this with the USB cable into my Xbox, but I should imagine the HDMI connection is just as flawless.

In my test the HD10 was recording at 1.28GB for every 30 minutes of footage – and again Veho needlessly split the footage every 30 minutes.  It does this quickly and does offer some protection if a file goes corrupt, but I doubt anyone likes it.  Sort it out, Veho.  And I got a shock editing my video in Windows Media Player, as this cam records as a .mov file and not a .avi.  This may not be an issue with other software, but WMP has to convert all the file before you can even snip a 30 second chunk out to edit.  Having said this, the .avi’s from the Muvi Pro and MD80 wouldn’t play from the cam through the Xbox or video player, whereas these files WILL.  And this is a Very Good Thing!

What is impressive is battery life.  All these cams make a claim that you can halve and then it’s getting closer to the truth.  Veho claim ‘4 hours recording time’ for the HD10 and for my test I left it recording for well over 3 hours before it switched itself off… and I later noticed that this was because the memory card was full!  Four hours of recording seems very realistic – and possibly more!

So overall the Veho Muvi HD10+ is damned good, but a bit of a let-down in parts, for me.  It’s just about perfect for filming trackdays – aside from it not being waterproof – or other more overt uses.

It IS a good camera, and for the price there isn’t much that compares.  The next one up is a £250 GoPro, and the next one down is probably a Veho Muvi Pro for around £60, so it does sit nicely in the gap.  Would I buy one again?  Well… unless my budget extended to the GoPro (which is even less covert and awkward to mount anywhere for everyday road use), then I would have to say that I would.

I was just hoping Veho would have sorted out things like the file-splitting and especially the time/date stamp.

You may disagree and think it’s amazing – I just think that they could have done better…

********

Click here for my review and comparison of: Keychain Spycam, MD80 and Veho Muvi Pro

VEHO VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Mini CamCorder – Initial Review

VEHO VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Mini CamCorder – Initial Review

I have a new cam!  I don’t know if it’s because it’s so new, but there is no information online about this yet that I can find?!

Anyway, Neru on my blog drew my attention to the fact that Veho have a new cam out – everyone seems to list the VCC-005-MUVI-HD7 but when I looked I could see a HD10 – with higher 1080 resolution – so I decided to pay the extra and get that one.

Most of you will have heard my high praises for the Veho Muvi Pro which I have used for around a year now.  There are some failings of this cam, but overall it’s better than the cheap MD80 copy, and for the price has never let me down.  Having used it there are features I’ve found I’ve needed, though, such as: ability to take an external mic (for narration whilst vlogging or overall better sound), GET RID OF THE -ING TIME/DATE STAMP, preview screen for alignment/playback, longer battery life, and higher resolution.

Well Veho have addressed some of these with a proper HD camera with (claimed) 4 hour (1400mah) battery life and a 1.5″ colour screen included!  In addition this had a remote control unit, digital 4x zoom, ability to take 32GB micro SD cards, 8MP still photographs (weirdly EVERY spec I’ve found says 5MP as per the HD7) and loads more!

I found one on Ebay for £129.99, and the temptation was too much.

First impression is that it comes as standard with loads of accessories – I’ve got 4x velcro straps, 2x stretchy straps, 2x flat mounting plates, 1 concave mounting plate, 1 velcro mounting plate, more sticky-backed velcro, and 3x different holder thingies!  More than what it says I should get, actually!

It also STILL HAS THE -ING TIME/DATE STAMP!!!  ARGHHH!!!  COME ON VEHO!!!

I was also a bit gutted to see it’s around four times bigger dimensionally than the Muvi – but I suppose that’s to be expected…  It just means crafting new mounting if I don’t get on with what’s supplied.

It looks well made.  I’m prodding it now and can’t tell if it’s case is metal or plastic because it’s coated in that grippy matt stuff.  I think it could be metal.  The touchscreen-type buttons on the rear are a bit too sensitive and easy to touch whilst it’s on.

This has full HD support with an HDMI out socket and AV out (untested) and the usual USB port for charging/data transfer.

An initial test run in the car showed it recorded for over 1 hour and the new battery level gauge was only exhausted by one third – so it seems reasonable to expect at least 3 hours.  This took over 3GB of memory from the 4GB card supplied, so a memory upgraded is highly recommended.  Recharge time (it also now tells you when the battery is fully charged by a flashing light which turns constant) seems to be an hour or less to replace the hour or so used.

It has sliders again for on/off and voice activation which is great to stop false in-pocket activation, and seems to wake up and record in around a second from the remote control.  Shutter speed for still pics is pretty slow but quality is good at 8MP.

Oh, and the other thing putting me off buying this camera is that it has a 160 degree lens, and so a bit fish-eyed!  This seems to be less intrusive than I thought, but until I get it on the bike I won’t know for sure.

Performance in the dark seems a bit poor.  Probably the same as the Muvi Pro, I think.  Very grainy even under flourescent lights, but daytime seems like the promised improvement.  Vibration whilst taped to my cars rear view mirror wasn’t a factor, and I have to say it appeared to pick up ambient sounds much better than the Muvi Pro.  Where the Muvi Pro barely picked up in-car conversation and virtually none of the engine noise, this HD10 picked up both.  It remains to be seen how it copes with the 12,500rpm roar and vibrations of a Kawasaki ZX9R superbike…

Specifications as given on www.veho-uk.com

Resolution Full HD 1080p
Cmos lens 5 Mega pixel    (***Surely this is 8MP??***)
Memory included 4GB (Micro SD) Max 32GB
Frame rate 30fps
Battery 1400mah Lithion rechargable
Angle 160 degrees
Screen 1.5″ LCD – Bright colour
Record time up to 3 hours continous recording
Wireless remote range 5 metres
Weight 81g
Dimensions H 80mm x W 47mm x D 19mm

Book Snobs

Book Snobs

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Firstly, I’m thankful that you buggers can read at all, and even more so that you’re willing to.  That seems to be rare these days.

I read my first full length adult novel when I was eight years old – it was “The Jonah” by James Herbert.  I was always encouraged to read by my Mom, and it horrifies me that most kids these days either can’t or won’t!  You should teach your kids to read by pointing them at my blog.  I’m totally kid-friendly in my blogs.

Kind-of.

But what pisses me off almost as much as the proud illiterates, are the Book Snobs.

Sure, they read.  They’ve probably read all the shitty, out-dated, irrelevant ‘classics’ and think they’re better than you because of that.  It’s a bit like Shakespearean actors who believe you can’t act if you haven’t done The Bards plays.

And it’s total bollocks.  Shakespeare is dead.  Nobody thinks like that, nobody talks like that, and nobody looks like that (err… am I quoting “She Watch Channel Zero” by Public Enemy there?) and I couldn’t give a kippers dick about Shakespeare or your ‘classic’ novels.

Let’s take this back all the way to the very basics: It’s about the story.

Book Snobs forget about this and insist it HAS to be perfectly written to be ay good, and they miss out because of this.

Velentino Rossi’s autobiography, for example, is shocking badly written.  There was so much repitition that even I nearly gave up on it.  An even better example is the immortal (immoral?) Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read – an Australian criminal who spent more time in jail than out of it, and in his own words:

“Yeah, I know – and I can’t even bloody spell. What about those poor bloody academics, those college graduates, battling their guts out to write some airy-fairy piece of exaggerated artwork? And here’s a bloke, sitting in a cell, who can’t spell, and he’s written a best-seller. It’s sold two hundred and fifty thousand copies. And it’s still selling. And he’s writing another one. And I can’t even spell. I’m semi-bloody-illiterate.”

But he has awesome stories to tell!

We shouldn’t forget that this stuff started from people around campfires telling their story before anyone could read or write.  If they have a great story to tell then you have to bite it back and let them get on with it.

Not everyone is an academic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a story to tell.

A recent example of this is a book called “The Driver” by Alex Roy which I’ve been reading.  I knew nothing at all about it and took a chance when I saw it in a charity shop, and I have to say it’s fantastic despite pretty poor writing!  It’s about Alex’s quest to beat the fastest time across the US from New York to L.A. in 32hrs 07mins, and his participation in other underground car rallies like the Gumball 3000.

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Again it’s no work of literary genius, but his passion comes through and it’s a Hell of a story!  As is a lot of Choppers own stuff, as mentioned earlier.

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So what else is out there like this?  What have you read that was terribly written but an awesome story?

And if you say my blog then I will track you down and make you eat your own heels.