Let’s start with a little background and technical information on the Carrozzeria V Track wheels I tested.
The owner of Carrozzeria is a Japanese engineer that worked for both Kawasaki and Yamaha Japan then spent many years on the GP circuit for both companies doing both Motocross and Roadracing.
Carrozzeria is an offshoot of Carrozzeria Japan originally called Hi Point formed in 1995. Carrozzeria was the first company to manufacture forged aluminum one piece motorcycle wheels. Hi Point moved to the US in 2000 and became Carrozzeria USA.
The V-Track model model tested is now in its fourth generation and the 10 spoke design retail price is $1879 to include all bearings, spacers, rear disc carrier, cush drive and sprocket carrier installed (the carrier can be for their proprietary superbike rotor or your stock rotor – your choice!). You can also choose the race kit for the front wheel that changes the inner spacer and requires the use of Carrozzeria’s billet/anodized spacers (looks and functionally much better than using stock spacers).They are designed for road/track use and carry DOT and JWL certification.
Fully assembled with rotors and spacers, the wheels were 5lbs lighter then the stock R1 wheels. That to me seems like an enormous amount, but to others it may not seem like much. I can assure you than when you are mounting the wheels, the difference is tangible.
Part of that weight saving is the 6151-T6 aluminum material used but also the fact that the raw wheel is anodized rather than powder coated to save additional weight. I would be interested to see how much extra weight is added from powder coating as a process, and that may take some researching.
The wheel hubs are much smaller by comparison to stock wheels to again help with centralizing mass.
There’s attention to detail everywhere from the forged brake mount points, tiny cush drive, precision fit carrier studs and rubber bushings and perfectly placed decals and each wheel is built by hand.
I’ve never ridden aftermarket wheels on a 1000cc bike and have 12,000 miles on my R1 test mule with stock wheels. I had no doubt in my mind that the change would be profound when I got on track, so riding the bike would therefore require a very careful approach in creeping up on brakes, turn in, line correction, transitioning and acceleration.
To make sure the test was standardized, I used the Bridgestone slicks I am used to and the baseline chassis geometry and suspension settings developed with those tires. As the test progressed, settings should change, but how? That would all be based on how quickly I could get to grips with the drastically different handling on my R1. Live on track narration of my first experience with the Carrozzeria wheels at:Video link: http://youtu.be/yS9iW3Zyef4. With a better tangible understanding of how the Carrozzeria wheels affect the chassis dynamically, it was time to now decrease lap times slowly and see how that could be managed through a process of adaptation. I refuse to be over confident and throw the bike around, so it made sense to pick something and stick with it to see how my riding needed to change especially in regards to reference points.
The easiest line item to start with are brake markers and brake lever pressure. Therefore use the known brake markers and apply normal pressure and see what the net changes are. In this case, the bike stops faster with less reciprocating weight, so the brake marker can be moved up. Not only that, but there is less brake pressure needed, so the reference points are clearly going to change drastically. Then move to turn in point – if the brake markers are later, will be turn in points be equally as late? The answer on slow corners yes, on fast corners not quite the same.
I decided to stick with these three line items and really settle in to the session to figure out this part of the bike’s handling needs in old versus new. Braking is to me the most important part of lap times especially racing smaller bikes so this was a natural choice for me to make.
I did find it very difficult initially to find some level of consistency until I ensured that my arrival speeds into the braking areas were very consistent and on the same line. Once I could establish that control mechanism, progress wit braking became easier to ascertain and manage, as did turn in points. That being said, you cannot master the new chassis in 20 minutes and part of my evaluation also brought forth a list of changes to make to the chassis in order to tone down the turn in and flickability to give me a little more confidence and take away some indecision and concern.
In the end it is all about being comfortable, so putting the bike back to that part of the spectrum would accelerate my learning curve, but it would also give me an idea of bad to bad in terms of geometry to then fine tune that aspect of the bike and then move on to suspension.
Yes, in 20 minutes, that is a lot to plan for, actualize, assess, categorize, and then remember when you get back to the pits!
Video link: http://youtu.be/BHQ8muUplIA
The dial in process begins in earnest!
First session in the morning with a cold track, cold air, cold brain and body. There’s no rush to get the bike up to pace in the first 2 laps and there’s a shock geometry change to assess. I will generally take 3 laps this time of year to warm up for the first session for obvious reasons as the metal in the forks stays at ambient air temps while the shock is heated by the engine. That means the front end feels pretty wooden until the fork oil heats up, so there’s a higher risk of the front tire sliding and a low side through lack of understanding or worse, arrogance.
Suspension changes – rear ride height down by 1.5 turns
A modern chassis will immediately manifest changes of 1mm or more to the rider, and in this case there was a knock on effect from the rear ride height change. The rear ride height change was not intended to affect rake and trail, but to put more weight on the back tire for better edge grip and evaluate the change. The initial turn in effort using the bars was very slightly increased, but the big difference was via chassis balance point change. Braking was not managed as much and could be executed with much more confidence.
– better braking with less weight on the front and consequent weight transfer
– marginally slower turn in response
– easier to manage peg waiting and bar pressure to initiate turn in
– still turning too fast, transitioning too fast
– managing turn in, not making it definitive
– braking better but still being managed with chassis pitch and weight transfer
In order to make changes, there has to be a rationale and plan for them to be made. I want to go from bad to bad and fortunately with a modern chassis that can be done very quickly. My real focus was on braking as after all, we all need to be able to brake hard without having to manage bar pressure or worse, actually manage excessive weight transfer and control a wayward rear end. Again when making changes, ideally you should make one at a time, but in this instance both changes were needed to accelerate the chassis optimization process as we only had 3 morning sessions to work with.
– soften compression as lighter wheels put less force into the suspension
– flush the forks out, raising the front by 4mm
Video link: http://youtu.be/8M6mSm9yOBQ
It was immediately obvious that the fork position change significantly improved braking to the point that I could hammer on the brakes and not worry about weight transfer too much or the rear of the bike lifting or moving unexpectedly.
Oooooo….. bad sign.
We need weight transfer to occur and reduce the forks overall length to assist with turn in. Too little weight transfer and the forks don’t collapse enough requiring a lot of additional bar input creating a lot of fatigue in the hands. My lap 4 I could felt he fatigue creep in and my hands start to protest. Clearly, 4mm was far too much for me and my needs out of the chassis, so I decided to half the distance to 2mm and lower the front again.
Shock damping felt excellent with the high and low speed compression change of 2 clicks softer on the Nitron shock making a profound difference to tire wear and fork damping in the control setting gave me no problems.
Video link: http://youtu.be/JVpSSXbZga4
It became obvious by the third lap that I missed the mark with fork positioning. I needed to lower it again but this time by 1mm to get the right blend of balance and stability during braking while accessing easier turn in and better flickability courtesy of the Carrozzeria wheels.
I have to say that the adaption process to the Carrozzeria wheels was not an easy one because it took a lot of careful thought and measured objective testing to really see how the chassis could benefit from this 5lb weight loss. So, five 20 minutes sessions (there are normally 7 in a 3 group day) gave me a chassis that I could really feel comfortable about pushing hard to get the lap times down.
Video link: http://youtu.be/ylRWmYA77_Y
The outer third of the wheel having less weight made a huge change in all aspects of riding:
– braking markers moved up significantly
– braking force reduced for much better lever feel and overall performance
– initial turn in required much less physical input
– line correction much easier to make
– significantly less effort to transition the bike
– much quicker acceleration off corners
I still believe that there would be another half day or perhaps more to focus on turn in points and acceleration to be assured that I was making the best use of the wheels with a completely optimized chassis. But – that’s me, striving for perfection and confidence based on a sound understanding of what I have and that I can trust it and let go to focus on skill execution.
Should you consider getting a set and is it a worthwhile investment? A resounding yes for many reasons:
– weight savings means better fuel economy on the street and these are street legal wheels
– anodizing saves more weight over powder coating
– you can keep your stock rear rotor or use their proprietary superibke rotor
– you can get the race kit spacer set for the front wheel (much better than stock spacers)
– all wheels are hand built with great attention to detail
– yes, you get your choice of colors and I think the gold color looks great on the R1 (matches the Nitron shock and Leo Vince Corsa exhaust!).