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Inside Motorcycles Magazine

older | 1 | .... | 4 | 5 | (Page 6)

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    Aftermarket bodywork and frame sliders are basically all that was needed to turn this CBR into a track-ready bike

    After making the decision to head to the track this season, my attention quickly turned to determining what bike I should take with me. While momentary consideration was given to acquiring a bike specifically for track days and club racing, there was never really any doubt that it would be anything other than my trusted 2006 Honda CBR600RR taking this new adventure with me.

    Aside from solving the challenge of already limited garage space and staying within my planned budget, the best thing about using this bike will be that it is familiar. After nearly a decade of riding it, every aspect of this motorcycle is second nature, which will allow me to focus on learning new skills instead of mastering a new bike.

    Next up was ensuring that the motorcycle would be compliant with the technical requirements of the organizations that run the events I plan on attending. For track days, a discussion with Rob Darlington of HardNox Track Dayz confirmed the reality that very little modification is actually required. In addition to ensuring that you arrive at the track with a mechanically sound motorcycle that has lots of tire tread and brakes remaining, the only other requirement is to tape up or remove any glass parts, which on most modern bikes is limited to the mirrors. Now, that is the minimum, but based on my intentions to spend some serious time on the track, there were other considerations.

    No matter whom I spoke with, the first modification they suggested for track days was upgrading the braking with braided steel lines and sintered brake pads to ensure adequate stopping power. Secondly was bodywork. Hopefully I will never find myself lying on the track surface, but if this situation does materialize, I will be thankful that I opted to purchase a second-hand (but never used) set of race bodywork for a price that is less than replacing even a single piece of the original OEM plastics.

    The final consideration was whether or not to install a set of frame sliders. I have to admit to being surprised how divided people were on this subject. On one hand there are the definite benefits of protecting the bike from the racing surface in the event of a fall. Conversely there are many who are firmly against them due to the risk that a frame slider digging into soft ground beside the track can send a bike cartwheeling skyward. After considering all the available advice, I decided that the added protection of frame sliders was worth the risk.

    While these modifications go far beyond the minimum requirements for a track day, they provide the opportunity to return the bike to its stock format when I am done on the track. They also take care of the majority of the requirements for the next step in my summer plans. By putting these items in place, the bike is not only set up as an effective track day machine, but it will only require a few more items such as safety wiring, switching out the coolant, removal of the side stand, and installation of clutch and brake guards when I am ready to take the next step and compete in a club race.

    Stay tuned for more of this adventure. Next time I will review riding gear for the track as well as other equipment and tools you should plan to take with you.

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    The Transfiormers machine uses an alternative front suspension system based on that used by Claude Fior in the eighties

    Last month, Spanish rider Ricard Cardus won an FIM CEV (Campionato Espagnolo Velocita, a European Championship) Moto2 race at Catalunya in Spain. That in itself is not overly surprising; Cardus has been racing in the Moto2 World Championship for several years with a handful of top-10 finishes to his credit. What's more noteworthy is the motorcycle he was aboard: Transfiormers.

    Yes, that's spelled correctly; the bike, constructed in France, uses an alternative front suspension similar to that used in Grand Prix racing in the eighties by Claude Fior (hence the Fior in TransFIORmers). It's a refreshing change from the standard fare seen in the class at both the CEV and World Championship levels.

    The TransFIORmer was designed by Christian Boudinot, a former 250 Grand Prix rider that rode for Claude Fior in the class at one point, and his Team Promoto Sport. The Fior front end utilizes two A-arms attached to the frame, with a lightweight upright holding the front wheel. The upright connects to the A-arms with ball joints, allowing it to turn as the A-arms rise and fall. A fairly standard shock absorber is connected to the bottom A-arm, completely disconnecting the suspension from the steering (i.e. the shock does not move with the steering, only with the A-arms). This potentially gives lighter steering than with a traditional telescopic fork, and the upright can be made very stiff for braking but less so laterally for better cornering performance.

    Another benefit of the Fior setup is that rake, trail and anti-dive characteristics can be designed into the layout and made easily adjustable. For example, trail can be made more constant over the suspension's travel than inherently decreasing as it does with a telescopic fork. A specific amount of anti-dive can be designed in, with more at the bottom of the travel than at the top - just where you want it. On the downside, the separation of suspension and steering does give rise to bump-steer, an issue that causes the steering angle to change over the suspension's travel, even if the bars are held in the same position.

    There have been several iterations of this type of front end over the years. Norman Hossack is generally credited with the original use in the late seventies, basing the design on his work in car racing - the layout is very similar to a car's front suspension turned sideways. Claude Fior campaigned Yamaha TZ-250 and Honda RS500 racers in the eighties with the "wishbone" front ends (and obviously is the inspiration for Boudinot and his team). John Britten used the layout on this V1000 racer. And BMW's Duolever is based on the concept.

    The Transfiormers team is bringing other new technology to the class as well. The top wishbone of the bike's suspension is 3D printed in titanium, which the team considers to be the first use of 3D metal printing for a functional, structural component in the Moto2 class. The single titanium part weighs just 40 percent of the assembly it replaced, which was machined and welded from 12 individual aluminum components.

    It is great to see someone like Boudinot and the Transfiormers crew try something different and succeed. With production-based racing becoming dominant practically the world over, Moto2 - even with production-based engines - is one of the few remaining classes where independent teams and "tinkerers" can showcase their ingenuity. Despite this, at the world level Moto2 has become close to a complete spec class, with almost all of the teams using Kalex chassis this year. This is not overly surprising: In any race class, riders and teams typically gravitate toward what works, be it a bike (like the Yamaha YZF-R6 in MotoAmerica Supersport and Superstock racing), suspension and brakes (Ohlins and Brembo respectively in MotoGP) or tires (Dunlop in pre-spec AMA road racing). It's hard to break from any of this de-facto spec racing when everyone uses the same kit; over time, a huge knowledge base and support system builds up, with a resulting increased pace of development that outsiders and small teams have difficulty matching. So, for example, if you were going to race an R6 in CSBK Pro Sport Bike, a few well-placed phone calls would net you a front-running machine ready to go, requiring little in the way of development. Start with an MV Agusta F3, however, and it's a totally different story.

    This is why we haven't seen anything like the Elf or Fior racers of the eighties in MotoGP for a long time. Nor are we likely to see the entire World Championship Moto2 or MotoGP grids switch over to alternative front suspension systems any time soon, despite the success - and potential - of the Transfiormers. That said, if the team's success continues, other teams and the factories will have to take note and we may begin to see more variety on the grids

    For more information about the Transfiormers bike and team, visit

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    Proper prep will make your day at the track as enjoyable as you'd hoped it would be.

    Your bike is all ready and it's time to head to the track. Not so fast. Preparing the bike is just one step of many, and inadvertently skipping even one item has the potential to ruin your time at the track before it even begins. With this in mind, here are a few items to consider.

    Firstly, the bike needs to get to the track. While there are a few individuals who will ride to the track, run a full track day and then ride home, this hardcore approach may not work for anyone who has to travel any distance to the track. Not only does it limit your ability to bring items such as extra fuel, but at the end of a long day at the track you will likely appreciate the comfort of travelling on four wheels. If you don’t own a truck or trailer, one of the easiest and most affordable solutions is to visit your local U-Haul store, where they rent trailers specifically designed to transport motorcycles for as little as $14 a day. One final piece of transportation advice: if you are planning on transporting your bike in the back of your pickup truck, plan on bringing two ramps: one for the bike and one for you to walk on while moving the bike. This is another thing you will appreciate when you are exhausted at the end of the day.

    Next up, some basic tools. While your initial foray to the track shouldn't need generators, tire warmers, bike lifts or air compressors, a basic kit including wrenches, sockets, pliers, screwdrivers and lots of duct tape has the potential to salvage a day at the track. In addition, a tire pressure gauge and a simple bicycle pump will allow you to maintain pressures that are correct for the track and keep you safe. Another item to consider for your initial track kit is a rear stand, which will allow you to undertake some basic maintenance such as lubricating and adjusting your chain.

    Of course, you will need the correct riding gear. The requirements will typically reflect the anticipated level of speed and associated potential for accidents. This will range from a certified/track-approved helmet, gloves which cover your wrist, motorcycle boots that cover your ankles and a one- or two-piece leather or textile riding suit that includes protective armour for a novice track day group up to the very specific and high standards enforced during technical inspection at a racing event. The good news is that the website of the organization hosting your track day or race will usually have all the information you need to prepare. This is an important step, as failure to comply will likely mean you are not riding that day.

    Equally important as preparing for your time on the track is making sure you are comfortable in between sessions. Figure out how much water you think you will drink and bring twice as much. During a hot day you will drink at least one bottle after each session on the track. Having your favourite snacks will also keep you happy. Bring a folding chair and if you don’t have a shade canopy, the $90 it costs to purchase one at a department store will be money well spent preparing for the track. It keeps you cool in heat and provides shelter from the rain.

    Last, but definitely not least, bring the right attitude. Whether you are enjoying a track day with a group of friends or trying to beat the same people at a club race, things won’t always go your way. Frustrations may arise or you may just find yourself getting tired. Acknowledging to yourself that you need to cut a session short or sit the next one out so you can regain your focus will allow you to enjoy the balance of the day and help keep you safe. Remember this isn’t MotoGP and there aren’t millions of dollars at stake. The goal is to have fun, improve your skills and stay safe so you can keep coming back.

    - Patrick Lambie

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    On Track owner and instructor Justin Knapik shows technique to the assembled students.

    So you arrived the racetrack, unloaded your motorcycle, attended a riders meeting, jumped on the bike, and rode out onto to the track. And then, before you knew it, you were sitting in your pit reflecting on a day that feels like it flew by in an instant.

    More than likely, somewhere near the front of all the thoughts and emotions working through your mind, is one question: “How do I go faster?”

    One option is spend a bunch of time at the track and try to mimic the “fast” guys, but that's only good if they actually know what they are doing; otherwise, you are just learning a bunch of bad habits.

    If you are serious about exploring your full potential on the racetrack, a more practical and proven approach is to check out schools in your area. For me this involved a visit to the On Track Performance Riding School in Edmonton. Owned and operated by multi-time EMRA and Western Canadian Superbike Champion Justin Knapik, the school offers multiple classes including two levels of performance riding. On Track Performance also runs a dedicated race school designed to assist you in attaining the licence required to complete at events held by the EMRA and other road racing organizations.

    A goal of racing in 2016 led me to sign up for the race school, and I could not be more pleased that I did. During the classroom session Justin’s natural and effective teaching style delivered concisely laid-out information in a manner that conveyed his passion for racing, learning and safety. The following day the classroom gave way to on-track lessons where a ratio of only 2 students per instructor, all expert level racers themselves, provided the perfect learning environment. As the course drew to a close, not only did I feel prepared to race, but my overall riding skills had taken a quantum leap forward.

    So what did I learn? Over a two-day period Justin and his team covered so much information that it would be impossible to summarize it in this blog entry. What I can say is that after learning about items like throttle control, braking, visual cues, proper body position, and how to develop effective lines, my number one takeaway was the fact that before you can be fast, you first need to learn how to be smooth. Anyone with decent riding skills and no fear of crashing can hammer their way around the track, but if you want to be truly fast, you first need to master the fundamentals. Accomplishing this involves making the investment into proper training and then practicing everything you’ve learnt until it becomes second nature. During this time you will need to accept that the focus on skills will take precedence over being fast, but as you progress, the speed will materialize and you will realize your goals. While it may take longer and cost more than just thrashing your way around the track, the end result will definitely be worth it.

    I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank Justin Knapik for inviting me to participate in the 2016 On Track Performance Race Licensing School. It was an incredible experience, which I highly recommend.

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    Data shows just how much quicker Jeff Williams was on the Dunlop

    At the final rounds of this year's Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship series, held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Dunlop offered qualifying tires to the top 10 riders for a separate, 15-minute final qualifying session. This was new for many of the competitors, as qualifying tires have not been used since the series switched to a spec supplier in 2006. Jeff Williams was one of the riders in the top-10 session, and I was able to get some data from the Accelerated Technologies Honda CBR1000RR that he was riding for the weekend.

    The data, gathered using an AiM EVO4 GPS-based system, showed just what the advantages were from the sticky qualifying rubber.

    While many current watchers of the CSBK series may not be familiar with Jeff Williams, he was a top contender in the Sport Bike and Superbike classes 15 years ago, winning a Superbike national race at Calgary in 1999. While Jeff has been racing in the Pro Sport Bike class occasionally for the past year, this weekend was his first on the CBR1000RR, and his first time on a superbike in more than a decade.

    Jeff set a time of 1:23.007 in the first part of the qualifying session, using a standard rear tire, to make it into the final shootout. His plan for the 15-minute session was to complete three laps at the beginning, again on the standard tire, before fitting the qualifying tire for the final few minutes. Only a rear tire is offered in a qualifying compound, and a standard-compound front tire was used through the session. It was anticipated that the qualifying tire would only be good for one lap at speed on the four-kilometre CTMP road course.

    After a relatively slow warm-up lap (to avoid wearing the qualifying tire out too early), Jeff was immediately finding and taking advantage of the extra grip offered by the qualifying tire. In turn 1, he opened the throttle 13 metres earlier than his usual opening point, and likewise reached full throttle several metres earlier than usual. In turn 2, the difference was even greater, as Jeff opened the throttle more than 30 metres earlier than usual, and reached full throttle 50 metres earlier. This is repeated through the first half of the circuit, saving about a tenth of a second in each turn and succeeding straight.

    Looking at the use of the throttle over time, on Jeff's previous best lap he used full throttle for 11.6 seconds over the first half of the lap; with the qualifying tire that increased to 12.2 seconds. More importantly, his time at closed throttle decreased significantly, from 9.2 seconds to just 6.7 seconds. A similar pattern was evident in the second half of the lap, with more throttle, and earlier openings, in every turn.

    We can also look at slip and when the bike's Bazzaz traction control system is active for any differences between the tires. What's interesting here is that the data shows a bit more slip with the qualifying tire than without, and in the first part of the lap more activation of the traction control - a good indication that Jeff was up to speed and taking full advantage of the extra grip the tire offered right from turn 1.

    In terms of outright cornering speed, the data indicates that the qualifying tire does not offer much in this respect. Apex speeds in most of the corners are actually less with the qualifying tire than with the standard tire, with one anomaly in turn 2 - here, apex speed was considerably higher with the qualifying tire. As you'd expect from using only a rear tire with more grip, as opposed to both front and rear, the big advantages come on the corner exits as the rider is on the throttle, with more speed on each straight. Part of this discrepancy may be the way Jeff has changed his riding to better suit the qualifying tire, but the suspension data does indicate that some setup changes to account for the now-mismatched grip levels would help.

    Unfortunately, Jeff had a problem on the back straight and had to close the throttle momentarily, which hurt drive and lowered top speed from its usual peak of just over 275 km/h to 267 km/h. Ironically, suspension data shows that it was a big wheelie that forced Jeff to close the throttle, perhaps a side effect from the extra grip offered by the rear tire. In any event the miscue cost more than two tenths of a second.

    According to the official timing, Jeff's lap time with the qualifying tire was 1:22.399, an improvement of just more than .6 seconds; without the issue on the back straight, the gap would have been closer to .8 seconds. This is in line with the riders at the front of the field: the top three all improved their times from the first part of the session by .9 seconds. As expected, the tire's performance dropped off quickly, and Jeff was unable to go any quicker after that first flying lap.

    What's impressive about all this is that Jeff and the other riders, most with no experience with qualifying tires, were able to adapt so quickly to the different tire and take so much advantage of its extra grip right away in the lap. If the use of qualifying tires continues in the series for next year, it will be interesting to see just how the lap times shake out as the riders and crews gain more experience with the stickier tires.

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    From Street to Track: Track Days, Part 1

    There is nothing that can replace the one-of-a-kind adrenaline rush that accompanies pushing the limits of a modern motorcycle. Having accepted that the most appropriate setting in which to do so is in a controlled environment, I dedicated the 2016 season to the track. After investing time and resources into preparing the bike, accumulating gear and equipment, and completing a race school, the next step was all about getting seat time, and for me that means track days.

    The premise of a track day is really simple. For a fee you get to take your bike out onto the track and put in as many laps as the allotted time or your personal stamina allows. This particular type of adventure starts when you register for the session. For those who have never participated in a track day, the cost may seem steep, as much as $250 for the day, depending on the track and organization putting on the event. However, the math is really quite simple. If you get pulled over doing 160 km/h on the street you will, after a mandatory court appearance, incur fines that could reach a thousand dollars or more, plus legal fees. Conversely, when you hit 160 km/h, 200 km/h or even faster on the track, you get an ear-to-ear smile.

    The other thing that typically happens during the registration process is that you are asked about which group level you will be riding in, usually described as novice, intermediate or expert. Some organizations provide very specific criteria while others leave it to you to assess. Basic rule of thumb is to be honest. If you are new to the track and have never completed a high performance on track school, you need to be in the novice group. At the same time if you are an expert level racer with black number plates on your bike, lapping in anything other than the expert group will quickly become a frustrating experience.

    Upon arriving at the track it is time to focus on unloading and setting up your bike, gear and equipment. For those of us who transport our bikes in the back of a pickup truck, unloading and loading can be a challenge. The good news is that motorcyclists being motorcyclists, there are always multiple people ready and offering to help. If it is your first track day or a new track, one piece of advice is to ask for a pit area close by the organizer's tent or booth, and let them know. Their business model is built around you becoming a repeat customer, so they will definitely want you nearby where they can make sure you are having a good time and finding everything you need.

    Once you are setup and have signed in, the next item on the agenda is the rider's meeting. This is the time when the organizers will welcome you, tell you what to expect during the day, review current track conditions and cover procedures and safety protocols. It doesn't matter where you are or how much experience you have, these meetings are not only mandatory but they are important. Not every group or track has the same rules, and something as universal as a red flag can have different implications for riders on the track at the time of the incident.

    With all of the formalities out of the way, take some time to walk around the pit area to say hi to old friends and make some new ones. Then head back to your pit, get into your riding gear and warm up your bike. Before you know it they will be calling your group and it will be your turn to head out in the track, which is where we will pick up next time.

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    A group at UBC has created an actuator that brings electromagnetic valve actuation closer to production.

    While variable valve timing has been a hot topic over the last few weeks with the introduction of the updated GSX-R1000 featuring Suzuki's innovative mechanical VVT system, many companies are working toward the next step in this area: eliminating camshafts completely and controlling the valves directly using electromagnetic actuators. There are many stumbling blocks to electromagnetic valve actuation (EVA), but a research group in the Control and Automation Laboratory of the University of British Columbia has created a new type of actuator that may make EVA a very realistic option in the not-too-distant future.

     There are many advantages to using a "camless" design with EVA as this gives complete freedom and control of valve lift and timing. Increased power and fuel economy along with reduced emissions are the main benefits, and many parts are eliminated - no camshaft or cam drive system, and no throttle butterfly as the intake can be controlled solely using the intake valve. While several versions of EVA have been shown in various prototype stages, there are several obstacles to its use in a production car or motorcycle just yet. Those obstacles include electrical power consumption, precise control at higher engine rpm, reliability and cost.

    The system being developed at UBC is unique in that it addresses many of the drawbacks of traditional EVA used in an automotive application. Detailed in a paper submitted by engineering student Bradley Reinholz under the supervision of associate professor Rudolf Seethaler, the actuator utilizes a "cogging-torque-assisted motor drive" to control each valve. Cogging torque refers to the design of an electric motor that results in an interaction between the rotor and stator when there is no current applied - like how the motor in a radio-controlled car feels notchy when you turn the wheels.

    Typically cogging torque is undesirable as it makes the motor less smooth at low speeds, but in this application it is put to use for energy recovery as the valve closes; traditional EVA systems retain mechanical springs for this purpose, but the UBC design eliminates the springs and improves efficiency even further over a typical EVA setup. According to the paper, the design potentially reduces losses by more than 40 percent compared with other electromechanical valve actuators, and more than 70 percent compared to a conventional camshaft drive. Other advantages of the system outlined in the paper are a compact size comparable to current mechanical camshaft operation, minimal impact on a vehicle's electrical system to power the actuators, and very little heat produced.

    In the video shown here, Seethaler notes that electromagnetic systems are steadily replacing mechanical/hydraulic systems in automobile use, pointing to the use of electric-assist power steering in some vehicles as an example. Braking systems are likely next, with valve control also in the future. Seethaler's research additionally includes replacing traditional fuel injectors with a similar actuator, an application that requires smaller motions than for valve control but even higher speeds.

    The cogging-torque-assisted motor drive valve control system is unique compared to other electromagnetic systems in that it is cost effective and reliable, overcoming two of the major hurdles to its use in a production setting. The cogging-motor EVA is in the simulation phase for now, and in that setting has shown improvements in efficiency and emissions. The next step is to properly test the system and present it to engine manufacturers for their consideration.

    Read the paper "A Cogging-Torque-Assisted Motor Drive for Internal Combustion Engine Valves" here:

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    Patrick rides his track-prepped Honda CBR600RR street bike during a track day session.

    To be totally honest, my first track day of 2016 started out as a complete disappointment. I arrived at Castrol Raceway's road course confident and ready to ride, having just successfully completed Justin Knapik's On Track Performance Race School less than 24 hours earlier. In seemingly no time at all, my intermediate group received a five-minute warning, and in the time that it takes to start your bike, put on your helmet and gloves and line up, I was out on the track.

    Coming out of the staging area in Edmonton, you quickly arrive at the "bus stop,” a quick left right manoeuvre specifically incorporated to slow motorcycles down in anticipation of the course's signature corner number 3, a long, banked right-hander.

    Midway trough the "bus stop," I realized, that for at least the moment, I apparently had not retained a single line that had been taught to me the day before. To make matters worse, immediately after corner 3, quicker bikes started passing me, leaving me both demoralized and anxious. I worked through the balance of the 15-minute session focusing on settling down and relaxing, filled with relief when the checkered flag came out indicating that it was time to head back into the pits.

    Fortunately within moments of taking my helmet off, my good friend Rob Darlington, one of the owners of HardNox Track Dayz and an expert level racer, stopped by to ask how my first session had gone. Upon hearing my frantic recounting that I had apparently all but forgotten how to ride a motorcycle, Rob gave me a few pieces of advice that were so timely and perfect that the best thing I can do is include them here verbatim.

    #1) "Dude," (yes he actually said dude) "you are at the race track riding a motorcycle. Relax, have some fun."

    #2) "Each session, pick one or two things and focus on them." There are literally unlimited things you can focus on at any point when you are riding, with key items of body position, line, visual cues, application of brake and throttle, all breaking down into infinite combinations. The reality is that over time some of these will become ingrained, but getting there involves practice, lots of practice. Especially when you are learning, whether you are new to the sport or to a specific track, human nature's limitations mandate that you take things one at a time, figure it out and then move onto the next.

    #3) "Don't hesitate to cut a session short or skip one entirely." Yes, participating in a track day costs money, and it is only natural to focus on getting maximum value for your hard-earned dollars, but sometimes you are better to sit it out for a few minutes. Whether you are feeling tired, distracted or frustrated, staying out on track when you are not 100% focused can have a disastrous outcome with potential physical and financial implications.

    Taking Rob's advice to heart, I was back on track for the next session and immediately felt better. As simple and, in hindsight, obvious as his comments were, they made the difference in my season on the track.

    As the Canadian season draws to a close, I have completed hundreds of laps on the Edmonton track and am working on plans to head south in search of some winter seat time before returning to Edmonton to participate in the 2017 EMRA season. That is a story for another day. Stay tuned!

    - Patrick Lambie

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    Injuries have kept Dan off a bike for most of 2016, but he remains in good spirits.

    It is hard to believe another race season is almost behind us. 2016 is definitely a year for me to forget in terms of racing. It started off strong back in January where I won an endurance race over in China. I was in good form and had a big year planned with both my BMW team on the roads in Europe and my Kawasaki Superbike team in Asia.

    In March I was testing in China and had an electrical issue on the bike in the wet. I high-sided and broke my back pretty bad - T2, T3 and T4 vertebrae, along with my foot, and suffered yet another concussion. It was a crash that would eventually end my season and have me contemplating retirement. My summer was rough as I was not very mobile and my wife basically had the two babies and me to take care of. My sister was supposed to move out of the country and delayed her trip six months so she could move in with us and take care of me as well. Thank goodness for family!

    I finally recovered enough to start training in early September but, as bad luck would have it, I ended up breaking my wrist in four places and woke up with a titanium plate and 10 screws in my wrist. It has since mostly healed but unfortunately, there is a further break on the other side of the wrist and it will need a single screw, which will further delay my full recovery. That surgery will take place in December.

    2016 China Race win January Endurance RaceKruger's year started off strong with an endurance race win in China.

    In September I invited top Japanese racer Masahiro Shinjo to China to race my Kawasaki Superbike in the final two rounds of the Pan Delta China Superbike Championship. We ended up have a great time together and he managed a 4th place in race 2 after overcoming a massive high-side in race 1, crashing out in his own oil due to a mechanical issue. It was tough watching someone else ride my bikes, especially on my home track, but it was pretty cool seeing my team working alongside the Japanese RS-Itoh team as they rebuilt my bike from scratch through the night.

    Also in September I was asked to run an advanced race school in China for BG Performance, the largest and longest-running race shop in Hong Kong/mainland China. BG was the company that initially gave me a ride in China six years ago. We have always remained friendly and they help me from time to time with parts and support when needed. I like teaching schools and it fit into my schedule, so I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, I had just had surgery on my wrist and had a cast on, so I asked a Japanese rider named Shinjo to stay behind after the races and do the riding for the school while I focused on the classroom lessons, track walk and analyzed each rider as they were on track. We had some nice dinners and good times. I agreed to be the lead rider at his January school, also in China, which should have a big turnout.

    In November I flew over to Hong Kong for a day to represent Kawasaki at the annual Hong Kong Motorcycle Show. In total, I flew 42 hours to be in Hong Kong for 24 hours. I spent about four hours at the show signing posters and meeting fans. I was cranked up on Starbucks to stay awake, but fought exhaustion the entire day. It was a great day as I really enjoy meeting everyone; they are great fans and big motorcycle enthusiasts.

    I am on a flight to Macau as I write this for the Macau Grand Prix. I have put Dan Hegarty from the UK on my Superbike for this race. He is having an amazing year and was top privateer this year at the Isle of Man TT. I have a feeling he will get on quite well with the challenging Macau circuit. Moto3 World Championship racer Danny Webb is also testing my bike, as we might form a team together for 2017 to take on the China Superbike Championship. I will also test a bike next week, and that will be a telling sign on how well my recovery is going and might shed some light as to my future.

    I am ready to hit the gym and have my trainer ready to put me through boot camp. Kawasaki has two new 2017 ZX-10RRs coming in for my team, and we will keep a 2016 bike as a spare. Hindle has already signed on for yet another year. In fact, all the team's sponsors have agreed to re-sign for 2017, which is proof that there is loyalty in racing (much to contrary belief). The big question now is if I will race or put someone else on the bikes. Only time will tell… I also need to finalize my plans, if any, with BMW for the roads in 2017.

    I've got lots to think about in the coming months, but the main focus is on getting fit again and spending as much time with my family as possible over the winter.

    Merry Christmas to everyone, thanks for reading my blogs, and I hope I am keeping the stories interesting for everyone. See you all in 2017.

    Dan #71

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     Cornering ABS combines basic ABS with a lean angle sensor or IMU, and a composite brake function that can distribute brake pressure electronically to the front or rear brake as necessary.

    One rider aid that is available on an increasing number of new motorcycles is cornering ABS, sometimes incorporated into a stability control package. In its basic form, a cornering ABS function takes into account the motorcycle's lean angle to adjust brake pressure, increasing the ABS effectiveness beyond a simple straight-line stop. However, as I outlined in a previous Inside Motorcycles article ("Smarter ABS," Dec. 2015), these systems offer much more than just improved ABS function.

    One basic handling characteristic of practically all motorcycles is the tendency to stand up when the front brake is applied in a corner. Due to the front-end geometry and the relationship between the front tire's contact patch and the steering axis, using the front brake when the motorcycle is leaned over causes the steering to turn further into the corner, inducing countersteer that stands the bike up and causes it to run wide. This, of course, is exactly what we don't want when we encounter a fallen tree limb or some similar hazard in the middle of the corner.

    The various cornering ABS functions, sometimes part of a stability control or cornering management feature, counter this by sensing that the motorcycle's lean angle is decreasing as the front brake is applied, and transferring brake pressure from the front brake to the rear. This reduces the induced countersteer but retains overall braking pressure, so the motorcycle still brakes as the rider wants but doesn't stand up.

    Noted tuner Kaz Yoshima uses the analogy of driving a car with a trailer when it comes to using a motorcycle's rear brake. Just as using the trailer brakes alone can stop a trailer from uncontrollably swaying side to side, using the rear brake on a motorcycle can add stability when entering a corner.

    On a road racing machine, riders brake so hard that the rear wheel is often in the air, and the rear brake has minimal effect through the majority of the braking zone. As the rider releases the front brake and arcs into the corner, load does transfer to the rear and more rear brake can be used during this brief transition. That said, this typically can be managed using engine braking, either through electronic controls or an adjustable slipper clutch, and many riders do not use the rear brake at all on track.

    The situation is much different for street riders, however. Data shows that even at a "spirited" pace for most riders, braking forces on the street are considerably less than those seen on the track. This means that there is typically much more load on the rear tire under braking, even in a straight line and especially entering a corner. This additional load can tolerate significantly more braking than the engine alone can provide, and now the rear brake is more effective. Using additional rear brake and less front brake will reduce the chance of the front tire locking up, and at the same time - using the trailer analogy - will add stability to the situation.

    Take a step back from the sport bike realm, and the effect is even more noticeable. Standard bikes, sport touring bikes, and especially cruisers and touring bikes don't have the front-end bias of a sport bike, leaving plenty of load on the rear tire that can be put to good use for braking.

    The takeaway here is that while riders on the track may use little or even no rear brake, on the street it is a much more effective tool for not only increasing safety, but also influencing the handling of the machine. Cornering ABS and stability control functions use this to look after the safety aspect should you get into trouble some day, but using the same concept, pro-active use of the rear brake has both safety and performance benefits.

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    KTM's new EXC TPI engines for 2018 use transfer port fuel injection to overcome many of the emissions issues that two-strokes face 111 111 111 111

    KTM and Husqvarna recently announced that they will be producing two fuel-injected two-stroke models for 2018, as part of their respective enduro lineups. (The Husqvarnas will be essentially rebadged KTMs, as are most of the company's models.) While most manufacturers, including KTM and Husqvarna, offer a range of two-stroke dirt bikes, there have been few two-stroke street bikes of any note since the demise of the Yamaha RZ350 in the mid-nineties. The KTM and Husqvarna announcements, even though covering enduro models, could be the beginning of a trend that sees two-strokes making a comeback in the on/off-road market, and perhaps eventually street bikes.

    Two-strokes offer less weight, fewer moving parts, less friction and - of course - twice the number of power strokes than four-strokes, for substantially more performance in a given displacement. On the downside, however, emissions and fuel economy are significantly worse. There are two issues here: One is that in the two-stroke cycle, the transfer ports (that "transfer" the fuel/air mixture from the crankcase into the cylinder) are open at the same time as the exhaust port, and for a significant portion of the cycle. During this time, unburnt fuel can go directly out the exhaust, affecting emissions considerably. The second issue is that, because the fuel/air mixture in a conventional two-stroke passes through the crankcase, the lubricating oil for the big-end and main bearings ends up being burnt along with the fuel, also affecting emissions. The writing was on the wall for two-stroke street bikes in the early eighties, with increasingly strict emissions laws being more and more difficult for the manufacturers to comply with.

    In the mid-nineties, Bimota manufactured the V-Due, a 500 cc two-stroke V-twin street bike. The V-Due worked around the emissions issues by using fuel injection and forced lubrication for the bottom end. Ideally, a two-stroke would use direct fuel injection, where fuel is injected into the combustion chamber (rather than the throttle body) after the exhaust port is closed, to minimize emissions. This technology has issues of its own, however, and the V-Due used transfer port injection. While not an optimum solution, in this setup only air goes through the throttle body, into the crankcase and up the transfer ports; the fuel is finally injected in the transfer ports, where it can't pick up the lubricating oil. As well, the exhaust port can be almost closed when the fuel is introduced, minimizing how much goes directly out the exhaust unburnt.

    With a separate lubrication system for the V-Due's bottom end, and only air going through the crankcase, the amount of oil that made it to the combustion chamber was also minimized. While the bike did pass US emissions standards at the time, it had significant issues with rideability attributed to the fuel injection, and eventually the system was scrapped altogether in favour of carburetors. Even then the model had continuing issues, and was largely blamed for the company's bankruptcy.

    While little was revealed in the KTM and Husqvarna press releases, the KTM version did indicate that the new bikes use transfer port injection, like the V-Due. Certainly the technology has progressed significantly since the V-Due's time, and KTM promises "a completely new experience in terms of power delivery and rideability." KTM, and other manufacturers, have surely been working on two-stroke fuel injection for some time, and the technology is very common in the marine and snowmobile market. If the new KTMs deliver on those promises of rideability and power delivery, it may open the floodgates for the other manufacturers to follow suit.

    What will the holdup be for street bikes? The RZ350 and V-Due had a difficult time meeting the relatively relaxed emissions standards of their time, and the current Euro 4 standard is extremely difficult even for clean-burning four-strokes to meet. Load up a two-stroke with direct injection, an elaborate lubrication system, exhaust valves and other extras to meet today's standards, and cost, weight and complexity quickly approach the four-stroke realm. (Note on the image above all the extra equipment tacked onto the cylinder of the KTM engine.) Additionally, in the last 20 years since the V-Due, four-stroke technology has improved considerably and closed the gap to two-stroke performance.

    The media launches of the new KTM and Husqvarna models are mid-May, at which time we'll know more about the technology used and if it could potentially be applied to street bikes. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering how something like an up-to-date RZ500 would compare to a current four-stroke litrebike.

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