The Mean Green Machine

The Mean Green Machine

Bikes are fast.

The Kawasaki GPZ500s I’ve been riding around on over the Winter wasn’t as much of a let-down as I’d expected, compared to my Kawasaki ZX9R.  It’ll still do 0-60 in about 4 seconds – which is plenty to beat most stuff on the road, and top end of around 110mph will also match your average car.

GPZ500s

This weekend I finally got around to stripping the wiring loom of my ZX9R, and with a bit of bodged soldering (some of it on wiring and not just my -ing thumb!!!), I got it all back together and pushed the started button.

…And nothing happened.

I angrily glared at all the beautifully re-wrapped wiring for a while, Stanley knife in hand, before coming to the conclusion that the battery was probably too flat to even turn the starter motor.  I plugged the charger in and left it overnight.

I actually lost sleep in anticipation of getting up early to take it out for a shakedown run (if it started), and bounded into the garage with confidence in my mechanicing, held the starter button down and revelled in the roar of the Leo Vince Moto GP exhaust!

Even climbing onto the ZX9R it feels so much more serious than the little old GPZ.  The seat is higher, bars are miles away and lower, and then you have to try three times to lift your feet up high enough to put them onto the footpegs!

ZX9R Cleehill

This was like going from my very first TZR125 onto my first ‘big bike’ (a ZXR400).  Rolling down the driveway the taught suspension was immediately apparent.

I’d done this on a rare snowless day a couple of months ago, letting the clutch out the same as I would on the GPZ and feeling the back end snaking all over like a happy dog.  That was trying to kill me.  So I let the clutch out far more carefully this time…

Wow.

I know I’ve blogged before about how great superbikes are.  About how they are so mind-bendingly fast they really – no, REALLY – shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the public roads.

God was now in my right hand, and I’d have thanked Him if I wasn’t trying my best not to giggle like a schoolgirl.

Half expecting the electrics to cut out at a critical moment, I opened the throttle and instantly saw silly speed.  Even after the GPZ this is like a whole new level of relentless, penis-shrinking power!

I didn’t even give it everything, because I didn’t want to end up on my back with the bike on top of me.

The familiar part of my brain was still there reminding me how last Summer I used to pin that throttle open and be a bit bored waiting for stuff to happen.  It’s amazing how quickly your brain adapts, and soon wants another 100hp.

Going back to a smaller bike was a lot of fun.  It was like back to the roots.

But then going from that and back to a full-on beast of a ZX9R?

It’s not just fun – it’s like tasting Heaven!

Now I just have to remember how to use it around the corners…

ZX9R Rockingham

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Braindead Car Drivers With Aids

Braindead Car Drivers With Aids

I went out for a good long ride the other day along the scenic and fun roads around Shropshire, but almost didn’t make it that far because of this incident just a few minutes into my journey:

Now, firstly I need to stress to you how important it is to make sure you’re ‘switched on’ whenever you’re on the bike.  It’s easy to get complacent when you’re only just setting out, and even more so when you’re close to home on your return.

In the video, you see the car ahead of me is positioned over to the right hand side of the road approaching the roundabout.  He is actually up against the right hand curb as he’s going around the roundabout, before suddenly and without indicating he cuts across to take the left exit.  Almost taking me out.

His road positioning and percieved intention to turn right is exagerated even more because the car ahead of him took the correct positioning and line, making his actions even more deceptive.

I had plenty of room to go around the left hand side of the car, but to be honest I was expecting such a stupid move, so hung back.  You could say my Spidey Sense was tingling, and it saved me.

You’ll notice that afterwards I overtake the car.  There are several reasons for this – firstly what you can’t see is that I was gesticulating to the driver as I was alongside.  When I pulled in front I was switching my indicators on and off and pointing at them.  Do you think he learnt anything?  Doubtful.

Secondly, I believe that it’s better to have the idiots as far behind you as possible, where they can’t cause you any damage.  If they’re still in front they’re still dangerous, as they can brake and reverse or do other mental stuff.

What exactly are we doing to educate drivers?  Other than the million to one chance of them getting caught being Nobbers by the Police, we’re creating hundreds of driver aids to make the cars safer.

Sorry?

We’re making the CARS safer, taking even more responsibility away from the driver?!  Meaning they have even less need to concentrate, because the cars will brake, stabilise themselves, keep within the road markings and protect the dumbass occupants when they do end up upside down in a ditch?

Maybe we should be taking all the driver aids away and surrounding the driver with sharpened metal spikes facing inwards, so they might start to learn that their pissing about behind the wheel has CONSEQUENCES.

Winter Friggin’ Winter

Winter Friggin’ Winter

“What did you do in The Great War, Nasty Evil Ninja?”

I keep telling you – I wasn’t in any -ing war!  Having said that, I was wounded in ‘Nam.

Birming’Nam.

Weirdly enough, from what I can work out, I’ve picked up a nasty knee injury by sitting on the couch, drinking Bud and eating cheese and chilli covered nachos whilst watching the Superbowl.  Either that or Lill Boo was practising her wrestling moves on me when I was asleep afterwards.

Either way I woke up with pain and ruptured synovial membrane.  Bah!

As the internet is down at work I figured I’d update you on random thoughts, and a bit about what’s going on in my life.

Not bloody much!  It’s Winter – so I haven’t been riding my bike.  It’s not how it used to be…  I mean, I did 10 or 11 Winters riding sportsbikes on the snow and ice!  Looking back at it now I have no idea how I ever survived?  I’m so glad I managed to capture a few rides on video, because who is going to believe that I rode a ZX9R through fairly deep snow in conditions so slippery that I actually started sliding backwards down a hill!  Well here is the proof:

Aside from being pretty damned sure I’d never try and repeat anything like that (I actually rode my VFR750 in much deeper snow and slid backwards down a different hill), I have to admit that there is a part of me that misses it.  I’m not sure if it was ‘fun’ exactly, but it’s probably more to do with how much of a thrill it was.  How extreme.  How unique.

But after 11 years of that I learned to drive a car just over a year ago, and find I also love driving.  Compared to being on a bike, if you get out of shape in a car, you have time to go and make a sandwich, have a quick look on Facebook, and THEN do something to stop you from crashing.  It’s easy as Hell!

Winter is pretty much dead time for me.  I can’t do trackdays or anything I want, and there isn’t even any motor racing on TV.  Apart from rallying – and that just doesn’t cut it compared to waiting to see the Moto 2 boys slugging it out with 20 bikes going for the lead!

So I’m on Facebook a lot.  Playing stupid games.  And if I can safely sneak it in without Lill Boo getting bored to death (no, this is not inuendo!), then I’ll get the Xbox 360 on.

I’m still waiting with bated breath for GTA 5 to come out, but that’s ages away.  I discovered the Dragon Age games a few months back, and sunk many hours into those, and have just started on Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

I think I still prefer Fallout for that type of game, but Elder Scolls is pretty damned good!  It should tide me over until the snow pisses off and I can get my kicks scraping my knees on the tarmac again!

What do you lot do to keep you amused through the Winter months?

As a side note to all this, I learnt the other day that one of my favourite people on YouTube for his hilarious bike vids, mask pranks, and other malarkey – Svengalie – has passed away…

He seemed like a really good bloke, and it appears it may have been a suicide.  It goes to show that you never really know what’s going on in someone’s Real World away from their online antics…  Such a shame.  He was only 30 and had kids.  My dearest thoughts go out to them and his friends and family.

I’ll leave you with the first ever vlog I saw of his (before I even knew what a vlog was) that made me laugh so much.  Hopefully it will do the same for you, and spare a thought for Steven Love:

Filthy Quick-Fingered Flashing Barskets!!!!

Filthy Quick-Fingered Flashing Barskets!!!!

So I’m riding along happily (probably too fast but that’s mere opinion), and dodging the masses of Numb-nuts who seem to have found a driving license lying around and adopted it as their own, and I decide to overtake someone.

I aim to ride on the roads without EVER causing anyone else to brake or swerve to avoid me, but, of course, we all make mistakes.

I open the throttle and just as I’m pulling alongside the car in front, another car appears going the opposite way.

“Oh gosh” thinks I, realising he’s coming a bit too fast for me to be able to complete my overtaking manuevre without having a head-on crash.

I have three choices:

1. Hit the car head on.
2. Pin the throttle and try and cut in front of the car I was overtaking, or
3. Slam on the anchors in a straight line then pull back in behind the car again.

I opt for number 3.

So the rear of the bike starts lifting as I’m desperately scrubbing speed off, and I’m using every ounce of concentration on using my brakes to maximum effect, and planning an ‘escape route’ to get out of trouble.

And then what happens?

The fucktard coming towards me starts flashing his headlights at me!

https://nastyevilninja.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/headlighthalos.jpg?w=300

Gee, thanks!  No fucking pressure or anything.  I already KNOW I’m holding my life in my hands, and now I’m fucking half blind to go along with it!!!

And how the Hell do these people, when they should be concerned about an imminent collision, manage to find the headlight flashing switch???

Is this what human reactions have evolved to????

I know if I’m preparing for avoiding action, the last fucking thing I’m thinking is “I’d better flash my lights and sound my horn!”

Grrr……

https://i0.wp.com/images2.layoutsparks.com/1/145727/blind-reap-request-skull.gif

0-60mph in 2.5 Seconds!

0-60mph in 2.5 Seconds!

Acceleration is very addictive.

It’s one of those things that most people may never experience on a very extreme level.  Maybe the moment when an airplane starts its stampede down the runway will be familiar to most people.

I myself used to love that bit.  What a rush!

https://i0.wp.com/i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01880/human-cannonball_1880133i.jpg

And then I got into sportsbikes, and it’s all a bit ‘meh’ when it takes off now!

I even had a go on the ‘fastest accelerating rollercoaster in the Universe’ Rita Queen Of Speed at Alton Towers – and while it was pretty quick it wasn’t anything unusual to what I do commuting to work every day.

I’ve said before many times that unless you’ve been on a sportsbike you can’t even begin to imagine it.  The biggest mind-blower is how the damn things will pick up their petticoat and leg it with the slightest provocation.  It’s seriously unreal.

I saw a few YouTube videos where people were having a go at filming their 0-60mph times, and as I’ve already uploaded a video showing the top speed my bike does in first gear, I figured I’d have a go at this challenge myself.

First off, I found that it’s not as easy as you might think.  I mean, to go out and do this legally, you need a nice flat, uncambered road with masses of visibility behind (so you don’t get splattered), and obviously a speed limit of at least 60mph.  Even finding all this you then have to get lucky with traffic.

Then the realisation set in that I’ve never actually practised race starts on a bike before.  I know in theory you hold the revs high, drop the clutch, and then flip over backwards and die in a cloud of tyre smoke, flames, and excrement.  And almost certainly tear your pinafore.

Hence I just did this as I would pulling away from traffic lights – giving it a big handful and dropping the clutch as quickly as I could whilst trying to keep the front end down.

I’m under no illusions that someone with more skills couldn’t easily beat these times on my own bike.  I’m not a racer, the rear (Pirelli Angel ST) tyre wasn’t even spinning up, and the front hardly lifted.  Because that’s as far as I wanted to push it on public roads.  It is still well within the limits of the bike… Plus I had to roughly time this on a rickety old video editing package, as the ONE time the bloody time stamp on the camera would have been useful, it doesn’t show tenths of a second!  ARGH!

Life moves pretty fast when you can pull out 3 second 0-60 runs any time you want.

And do you know what?

You get used to it very quickly, and want it to do it twice that fast!

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

I always used to have a (possibly unfounded) hatred of Pirelli tyres.  It was probably more from having ancient tyres on my very first Yamaha TZR125 that had all the grip of a paranoid schizophrenic watching a bad Kubrick film.

Despite this, I was impressed by their claims and marketing when they brought out their brand spanking new Angel ST tyre – I was first aware of these in early 2009.  They promised more grip in the dry and wet, better cold performance, and claimed to see over 9000 miles from a rear tyre on a Hayabusa!

Oh, and they had a funky picture in the tread of an angel, that wore down to become the image of a demon.

I’ve used many tyres on many bikes, so am fully aware of just how far tyre technology advances in the space of a few short years, and so decided to take a chance on them being fitted to my trusty Kawasaki ZX9R C2.

I very quickly found that they met all these claims of more grip, and even when running them in (personally I think more like 10 miles to run new tyres in, rather than the idiot-proof 100 miles they recommend) they were well behaved and inspired confidence.

Over the next few years I found they offered at least all of the grip of other sports-touring tyres on the market, and can also confirm that where I got 3000 miles from a rear tyre such as an Avon AV56 or Bridgestone BT021, the Angels give me at least twice that, of very hard road riding all year round.

I even tested these tyres on snow and mud and ice.  They were crap, of course, but I didn’t fall off and tear my petticoat!

Recently, I had decided to do a trackday on my ZX9R, and not having the funds to switch to track tyres, decided to try out the Angels.

I thought that they would overheat and slide, or just fall apart at track temperatures, as they warm up so quickly on the roads.

I’m no Rossi on track, but usually run at the sharp end of Intermediate groups, laying down 2min laps around Oulton Park and around 1:03 at Mallory on 600cc hire bikes.

Well I can now confirm that at a super-abrasive Rockingham International circuit, they gave absolutely no problems, and I even put in a lap in the low 1:40s – with warped brake discs meaning I was making up the time through corner speed and very heavy trail braking up to the apex of corners!

They wore extremely well, with no tearing and just a bit of balling-up at the edge of the tyres.

I heard from several people around 5 years ago that the sports-touring tyres of the time (before the Angels came out) had the equivalent grip of the best Grand Prix level race tyres of the late 1990’s.  Now, with that in mind, and considering they had a lot more to give when I tried them on track, then WHY exactly does anyone believe they need some super-sticky tyre for the road that only lasts 500 miles?

I think you could happily run in the fast group, and they would be enough for 90% of trackday riders – let alone road riders…

What Tyre Pressures Do You Run?

That’s an important question that I missed!  Everyone in the pub is an expert on tyre pressures.  Almost always these ‘experts’ will tell you to run low pressures for grip – probably because they heard it off a racer sometime.  Well, even if they are on a track, they’re probably wrong!

Generally, I’m a believer in the Universal Standard road tyre pressures of 36psi front and 42psi rear.    I may run a 40psi rear because I don’t take many pillions these days, so don’t need the extra psi.  Sort out your suspension and riding/body position first before touching your tyre pressures!  And here’s why…

I consulted a REAL tyre expert at Rockingham, and was advised to run pressures of 34 front and 32 rear on track.  The reason they’re not much lower (as I’d expected to be told) is that tyres like these aren’t designed to run lower pressures, and so by lowering them below that, you overstress their structures as they move beyond their intended limits, causing not just less grip but the potential for a total failure.  You don’t want this on a racetrack, and you definitely don’t want this on the road!

Rockingham International Trackday 21/05/11

Rockingham International Trackday 21/05/11

I was watching this for ages, and as soon as the weather looked good (just over a day before!) I booked my first trackday of the year and my first for almost a year!  With No Limits trackdays and as Intermediates was all booked I was in the Novice group with a mate…

I quite liked the International track when I did it before, and to be honest liked it a lot more this time.  Compared to circuits like Oulton it’s a bit soulless – but there’s no denying that in the dry it’s still a -ing great place!

This was also the first trackday I’ve done where I was using my road bike – a Kawasaki ZX9R Ninja C2 – rather than a fully tricked-out hire bike.

I figured I’d take it easy in the first session I’d just feel out my bike and then had options from there, as you may have seen in my last blog.  

I HATE sighting laps!  OK, I see their point, but FFS people don’t cruise around them – use them to get some heat in your tyres!  I didn’t have the luxury of tyre warmers this time, but already know my Pirelli Angel ST tyres are good for kneedown from cold (I did a video to prove it!), so unsurprisingly I was still flying past almost everyone on the warm-up laps.  That’s not because I’m great on cold tyres – it’s just because I know the limits and still leave a massive safety margin whilst getting a move on.

There were a fair few incidents, but considering most ‘hardcore’ trackday riders pick mid-week dates, this Saturday event didn’t seem to have any Nob-heads in the Novice group.  Sure, some were slow, but generally the pace was pretty quick and there were a few very fast riders – including my mate and a few from TrackDayRiders.co.uk who I met.  I couldn’t stay with them.

I got advice from the Tyre Guru to use pressures of 34psi front and 32psi rear.  After noting that my front tyre was screeching like a teen at her first fisting mitten session under heavy braking, instinct told me to drop the pressure even more, but the same Tyre Guru advised against it, and I had to admit what I already suspected…. That my front brake discs are warped.

Major issue, but I just had to brake early and try and ride around it.

My worries of ground clearance were unfounded, because on track I hang off so much more than the road that my foot pegs were clear.  The tyres were also much better than I thought, and although I could have pushed harder they never failed me.  Sports-touring tyres?  Well the videos will show me on full throttle, kneedown at 12,000rpm and 120mph all the way around the left-hander after the first chicane with not a single glitch!  Very impressive for tyres I honestly thought would overheat and try to spit me off!

I was a bit proud that my mate and I were representing 90s sportsbikes and how cheap trackdays can be done, with him on a 1996 Fireblade, and both of us riding around the outside of much more modern machinery.

Then, in the 5th session my mate lowsided it into the last chicane thanks to one of the TDR riders (only joking lol) – amazingly little damage, but unfortunately he broke a footrest hanger sliding over the curves so his day was over…

I found my fitness was a major problem, and I was proper gassing when I was on the pace.  And I was lapping around 1min 50 – which for a 12 year old ‘sports tourer’ on sports touring tyres and with warped front brake discs that I knew I couldn’t afford to crash – was very impressive!  And also seem to have got one lap in closer to 1m40!

Great day – good to meet all those who I did, and I should have a ‘highlight’ video uploaded soon… The professional photos should be sent out soon.

EDIT: There are 3 good laps through traffic then a load of mistakes, crash victims and other stuff at the end.  You can hear my front tyre screeching under hard braking if you listen closely – and also hear I was doing some serious trail-braking into some of the corners to compensate!