When this bike was unveiled in 2008, there was that emotional “oooooo” when looking at the bike for me internally. The design moved me. That turned into a very visceral experience when I set the demo bikes up for Marin BMW Aprilia and was cemented after a long test ride to get chassis geometry and ergonomics correct. It felt like my AMA TZ250 with nitrous and oh my how the front wheel loved to be pushed!
Pennies take a long time to propogate to $00,000 numerical amounts.
Here we are in 2014 and after a long wait I have my bike via one owner Szymon (thank you!) and 3,300 track/race miles under its belt. Szymon now has an 1199R.
Laguna Seca May 26th 2014
It was a lot of saving, starving, sacrifices to the beer gods and many many Indian curries that were never consumed. Patience has its virtue for sure, but then when you get the bike you’ve wanted for so long what do you do next? Well, the first thing is the initial meet and greet, setting sag and hydraulics and getting the ergo’s done. BTW: be careful of the clutch lever position as it will effect the ATC by hitting the -ve paddle control.
Then there’s the first ride to set some kind of bond.
First things first though – Tech Spec’s “The Lock” grip tape put in place for me to use. Dean’s product range is brilliant and I was very fortunate to be there with him at the very first track day he attended with his product and now it is sold world wide. The dumbbell is modified ala cut in half as the tank shape is very very wide. Yes Dean, it worked perfectly and did not peel away from the tank at all on the seat end.
I have to feel anchored into a bike if I’m going to push hard so that I can relax my upper body. I was going to be tense anyway with a bike I didn’t know, so f I can remove some of those emotional tension points, that’s all in the + column.
Fork height line # 3, preload 11 turns in, rebound 18 clicks out, compression 5 clicks outShock height +1mm, preload 5 threads showing, rebound 17 clicks out, compression 3 clicks out
The Video VBox was taped to the tank to record the laps with my audio so I could report “live” on how the bike felt. Bear in mind Laguna Seca requires the exhaust to be silent so the pipe was choked down severely with a DB killer so engine performance was rather stifled. To me the bike was a complete steel bar in the front end and I came in at lap 3. I took out 3 turns of preload and three clicks of compression in the forks. Half a lap later the feel was great but the weight transfer under braking was catastrophic to chassis balance.
I rode at 75% for 3 laps just to remove all tension from my body so that I could feel the bike move. After 5 laps I realized my arms and chest were getting sore. The VBox then decided to go into flight mode and I caught it with my left hand between T4 and T5 at 100+mph. Purely instinctive move! The sudden power loss corrupted the video file, but at least the unit was safe!
I know what that means to me when my body says it is tired – the engine is too low. The forks and shock were at stock placement (line 3 for the forks and +1mm of rear ride height in the shock). As an educated guess I changed the fork position to line 1.5 from the top at 8mm of change and added +4mm of shock ride height. The next on track test was going to be during the on track demonstration at the Novice School. Not an ideal environment to assess if going over Turn 1 the front would be too light and the bike would cartwheel at 140mph. Eek,…..
Photos: GotBlueMilk/Dito Milian
The first demonstration was in Turn 2 and that is a very high speed downhill area with a huge braking requirement both in skill and brake pressure management. Anxious? Oh %^&* yes I was!!! On the warm up lap the chassis felt magical. There’s always a false confidence with sudden euphoria so I tried the brakes on Turn 11. Very stable. The big question, would the front be unstable going over Turn 1? First pass at 120, next 130, next 135. Light? Yes, but not nervous.
Thoughts that occurred:-
– speed up rebound, soften preload, change fork position again. Hmmm…………
The next task was to fit the Bridgestone R10 test tires. Prior to taking to the track, I had to dive into the menu, select ‘calibration’ and then let the ECU do its thing with the new circumference tires. Sometimes technology can be wonderful and this is one of those moments when it works albeit after several attempts and persistent coaching from the Pro Italia team (Thanks John!). Once the calibration was complete, the ATC was turned back on and set to 3 with all other electronic settings at 2.