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Ransom
Ransom GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/26/19 7:41 p.m.

That photo is absolutely fantastic, inspiring, and chock full of imminent fun. Looking forward to the rest.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/26/19 7:59 p.m.

In reply to Ransom :

It was so much fun. My buddy just sent me this picture of my progression through the day. 

Doing absolutely no riding for the past two decades has left me pliable from a technique standpoint. Tell me to do something and I give it a go. I'm very slow, but at least I look cool. 

759NRNG
759NRNG SuperDork
5/26/19 8:43 p.m.

Eddie Lawson would most definitely approve of this 'posture'

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UberDork
5/27/19 6:14 a.m.

That last picture looks pretty pro to me!  Amazing how the leathers let you just skid along and stand back up if you overdo it, right?  

How do they split the fast kids/adults with that group?  The NJ series has them on track at the same time, and it's always humbling to be feeling good, knee down, and have some 75lb kid pass you on the curbing like you're standing still.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/27/19 6:46 a.m.

I envisioned this thread as my journey to actual sanctioned wheel to wheel racing. For some reason I look at cars as works of mechanical art, but motorcycles as tools. This is about building a racer, not a race bike even though I'll get into some of that. 

Yesterday was my first track day with a group that does open lapping on the kart track that's 7 miles from my house. When I say open lapping, that's exactly what it is. $50 pre-sale gets you four hours of time to go out, do laps, get tired, come in, rest, go back out, rinse and repeat. The tires for my XR100 disappeared into a warehouse in Houston four days ago so Derek brought out his KX65 on stiffer suspension and sticky tires. I did 6 or 7 session that were 10-15 minutes long and Derek did 4 or 5 longer ones. Mentally it was hard to do more than about 10 laps before my brain overloaded and I needed to come in and clear my head. It was both incredibly easy and very hard. 

I've ridden basically none in the past 25 years. I did a couple hundred miles on my scooter about 10 years ago, and I get 20 minutes on my in-laws mini-bikes every couple of years when there isn't any snow at Christmas. Most of what I was doing was based off muscle memory from riding dirt bikes on trails in high school in the 90's.

Running with this group was interesting coming from cars. There was not meeting. No safety check, no nothing. They opened the track and people started running. I asked a guy what to do and he said to just go out, be predictable, and have fun. All right then. That's what did. The oddest thing about bikes is actually the lack of mirrors. It's your job to ride a nice predictable line and it's the job of the guy behind you to figure out how to pass safely. Even on a narrow kart track like we were riding, there is SO much room that passing isn't a problem. Or in my case, getting passed. Except for one time when a fast rider put a dodgey move on a slower rider and clipped his rear wheel. The faster rider when down hard. The slower rider was me. I went over and talked to him and he said that it was 100% his fault and not to worry about it. A bit more talking revealed that I looked over my shoulder just before he passed and when I did that I slowed just a bit. He was expecting to be able to move from my left to my right and his plan was to come across just inches from me right at the moment I slowed. Talking to him and my friend that was absolutely not the right thing to do with this group, a group with VERY mixed abilities, but I also need to work on not looking over my shoulder and trusting the people behind me. Hard habit to break, I'm working on it. 

I did low side once at about the slowest part of the track. The rear came around on me. the leathers and hard plastic bits worked as advertised and I hopped right up and kept going. The bike had no damage other than adding some additional scraping to one foot peg. This was in stark contrast the the Grom that bumped me about half an hour later. There is something to be said for bikes that crash well. 

Body position is huge. Spent the whole time trying to learn to move on the bike, coming in, getting pointers, and going back out. We all know this, but changing your body position changes how the bike grips and turns. That is the part that is most unlike cars. Take a corner at the same speed twice in a row but alter how you're hanging off the bike and you change everything. More than once I got my body position sort of right only to find that the bike wanted to turn much more than the previous lap. I needed to stand the bike up a bit to keep from going off the inside of the corner. That was weird. It's going to take a while to learn how to move on the bike and how to build speed and I'm doing that. Derek was running consistent 1:20's with his faster laps getting down as low as a mid 1:16. He timed me and I was running 1:28's with dips down to 1:26. Derek wasn't one of the fast guys, so to say I'm slow is a screaming understatement. And I still crashed. I need to look up more, I need to work on smooth throttle inputs in corners, I need to continue to work on moving around on the bike. I need to learn a LOT. It's the next morning now and I feel like someone beat me all over with a ball peen hammer. That's not from falling down, it's just from the riding. A phenomenally physical activity. 

The next event I can make isn't until after I get back from summer away with the kids, but when I do get back they also have open track nights at the kart track where $75 gets you time until it closes. If there are karts there you trade time with them, 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. The track is open until 9:00 or 10:00 depending on the day, so I could still get in some quality time. The other option is to buy a $1200 membership and then you just run any time it's open. I'm working on the math to see if that makes sense. I feels like it does. I could get a lot of seat time it and everyone knows that seat time is key. For anyone local to Houston, that all applies to karts too. $1200, a reliable kart and some free time could easily get you a couple hundred hours of seat time in a year. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/27/19 6:51 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

That last picture looks pretty pro to me!  Amazing how the leathers let you just skid along and stand back up if you overdo it, right?  

How do they split the fast kids/adults with that group?  The NJ series has them on track at the same time, and it's always humbling to be feeling good, knee down, and have some 75lb kid pass you on the curbing like you're standing still.

The leathers were phenomenal. I didn't even stall the bike. I just stood up, grabbed the clutch, stood the bike up and hopped back on. It was more gentle than any dirt fall I've taken. 

The group I was with didn't segregate at all. There were some seriously fast people out there with us. Coming from a background of running NASA TTF and having TTU cars pass me at absurd closing speeds, that didn't actually bother met. For the most part the fast guys were very willing to hold up a second and make nice wide clean passes to keep every one comfortable. There was one particular group of four guys that were riding very tight, very fast, and passing each other a lot. They were fun to watch. When they would come around a slower rider they would string into a line and come around politely before reforming as a group on the other side. All in all a very polite group. I think part of that is a testament to the fact that there was no racing going on. The whole time was just for fun. A couple of people I talked to said that the "warm up" sessions on race weekends can be fairly intense in comparison. This seemed like the best place possible to start this sort of nonsense. 

spacecadet
spacecadet GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/27/19 12:49 p.m.

i looked into this more when you linked the website the other day.. turns out north texas karters is also a venue.. 
 

Glad you're enjoying it and the risk level is where you thought it would be. 

looking forward to seeing more of this after the summer. 

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/27/19 1:07 p.m.

Sounds like a great first outing! This has some wheels turning in my head...laugh

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/27/19 2:18 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet :

I may or may not have scoped out the tracks on the schedule and noticed that your house would be a convenient place to stay. laugh

In reply to ae86andkp61 :

It was a great first outing. The barrier to entry for this is quite a lot higher than autocross or even HPDE which I think keeps a lot of people from trying. I spent about $1500 on safety gear which is quite a lot more than absolutely NEEDED especialy if you ride and already have a helmet that in in spec. 

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
5/27/19 2:37 p.m.

The cost of the safety gear poses a pretty big hurdle for me, despite wanting to end up doing a different style of riding.  Even buying used quality gear adds up quickly.  And then there’s me never having ridden a motorcycle before...

Aside from that, I seem to be stuck between the 20 year old side of my brain and the 45 year old side.  The younger one says “just do it!”, but the older one is asking “can you do it physically?”, and “what will your family do if you hurt yourself and can’t provide anymore?”

I can relate to your measured risk approach, and am learning from it.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/27/19 3:17 p.m.

In reply to paranoid_android :

When it comes to hobbies/sports like this I've developed a theory on age. When you're very young you're either one of the kids with an early start or you're not. Most of the professionals in motorsports are at least participating at this stage. The next stage is early adulthood where you get a chance to work hard and participate yourself. Just about everyone looks around and secretly hopes that they can beat all the older faster guys and somehow do this for a living. Then you have the meat of amateur motorsports, middle age. People take this too seriously and not seriously and go fast or slow. This is where a lot of us and our peers are right now. Then you have the old guys. Some come into it late but most of the ones I know have been at it a while. Nearly every one will admit that their fastest years are behind them. 

I rode motorcycles when I was a teen. I wanted to race. I couldn't. I wanted to race again in my 20's. For a variety of reasons (mostly money and access to the sport before the internet) I didnt. In my 30's I didnt even try though I did buy a scooter. Now I'm sitting here in my 40's and it's clear that it's never going to be easier than it is today. There is risk with these little bikes on small tracks. Is it more than with street cars on big tracks? More than stage rally? 

I don't know how long people have been riding little bikes on kart tracks here in the US. I only learned about it in the last few years and only saw it in person about a year and a half ago. It's a thing I can do, right now, that I may not be able to do in 20 or 10 or 5 years. Five years ago was yesterday. Ten the day before. Time is passing absurdly quickly right now, so I'm grabbing this and seeing where it goes. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/28/19 1:44 p.m.

A few pictures from the weekend. The bike is a KX65 of some vintage with some modifications including snazzy paint. The suspension is stiffer, the tires sticky. It will spit you off in second if you dare use full throttle and will wheelie in third if you're not forward on the bike. It wants to hurt you a little. It's awesome. 

This is what I look like riding it. I'm not a big guy. An inch or so under six feet and maybe 150lbs. The bike is very small, but it's also VERY light which makes is a joy to ride. 

I did not drag a knee, but my friend did. He's cooler than me. 

Probably the coolest bike there was this Ohvale. It's tiny and a proper race bike. I want one so bad. 

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/28/19 2:14 p.m.

Are you worried the KX65 may have ruined the XR100 for you? It'll be interesting to see how they compare to the car world where you have lots of experience in momentum and power cars and how that affects your learning curve on these.

Adam

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/28/19 2:32 p.m.

In reply to adam525i :

It's a concern. The tires for the XR100 that were in Houston last Tuesday showed up on tracking in Jacksonville Fl this morning. They're supposed to back in Houston tomorrow and at my house by Thursday. The plan is to get them on the bike and then take it out for an evening session on Friday to see what I think. It will be physically slower and less grippy but I'm not sure how that will translate to actual riding and learning. My Miata on crappy tires is a MUCH better teaching tool than it is on good tires. Will that translate to bikes or will I just fall over? No idea. In the end it will be a better bike for my kids to learn on (two of them are interested) and a better bike to hand off to friends who want to try. I can also throw the knobbies back on and go trail riding with the kids once I pick up another bike as they want to give that a go as well. The Ohvale above is a race bike. I know that I want one and it would probably be cheaper than buying a Grom and converting it in the long run. I think it would be like stepping into a shifter kart at 12 years old having never driven anything other than a riding lawn mower. I need some practice. The KX65 is somewhere between the XR100 and the Ohvale.

spacecadet
spacecadet GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/28/19 11:20 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

In reply to paranoid_android :

 There is risk with these little bikes on small tracks. Is it more than with street cars on big tracks? More than stage rally? 

there is a higher risk of a smaller injury... IMHO broken bone, dislocation.. yada yada.. 

there's a much lower risk of major injury if the speeds are where i expect they are.. 

that's not to say i don't think you're insane.. and i have no interest in following you on this one.. 

but your logic to do it seems sound to me.. 

 

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
5/29/19 8:47 a.m.

I don't know if Texas minigp allows it in their stock class, but an xr80 front wheel is a direct fit and will let you run 16" front and rear tires for much better turn in.  And then you can leave the knobby on the 19" front wheel for backyard shenanigans.  I really enjoy the stock 100 class.  The modified classes around me tend to turn into an arms race.

 

motoidiot
motoidiot New Reader
5/29/19 11:19 a.m.

I'm a huge fan of riding/ racing little bikes. Just about the most fun you can have on two wheels.

It sounds like you're already getting some quality coaching. The main points at this stage are being smooth on the throttle, predictable (and consistent!) in your lines and and getting your eyes up to look through the corner. Oh, and you will hardly need the brakes. Guarantee you're using them too much. :) Every lesson learned on these little bikes translates directly to larger, faster ones.

For the XR100, make sure it is derestricted and jetted properly. There are som simple mods that can be done to the forks to stiffen them up (heavier oil, spacers for the springs, etc) and just crank the preload all the way down on the rear. The suggestion of 16" XR80 wheel is a good, inexpensive way to improve feel on asphalt. (The stock 19/16 combo works okay though...) Beyond that just leave it alone and ride the wee out of it. You can do more with more $$$ but for now just keep it cheap and simple.

Look forward to following along!

 

 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/29/19 2:10 p.m.

In reply to AdventurePiggy :

I still need to figure out the rules. The XR80 wheel has been suggested to me by a couple of people and I will be keeping my eyes open. I still need to attend an actual race and see what's what as far as classes. I suspect that my complete lack of skill will be the biggest factor no matter what bike I'm on. 

In reply to motoidiot :

We were talking suspsion on the KX. It's still fairly soft, but the owner is convinced that the softness is forgiving of mistakes for now. I'm 100% certain I'm using too much brake. I just have NO reference for speed. When you combine that with the fact that my bike position is always changing and I'm all over the map. The dynamics are crazy. Body position affects not only the ultimate grip potential of the bike (which I knew) , but also it's willingness to turn (which I did not know). More than once I had to stand the bike up a bit because I got my position better and then the bike wanted to turn off the inside of the corner. I was also told that maintenence throttle isn't really a thing with bikes. You are either slowing or accelerating and the weight transfer during both of those phases is super important to actually staying upright. So much to learn. So much fun. 
I've got a couple months coming up where I won't be in town to ride, but after that the plan is to try and ride once a week or so. Modify the bike just enough to work (suspension) and then work on fitness on the bike and doing laps to learn consistency and how to do this. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/31/19 7:39 a.m.

Tires FINALLY came. They went from California, to Texas, got lost for a week, popped up in Florida, back to Texas and were delivered yesterday along with some tire spoons. 

Old tires came off easy enough. 

Putting the new ones on was difficult. Not because it was actually difficult, but because I was pinching tubes. Hole in the origional tube. Hole in the two tubes I went and bought to replace that. 

At this point I admitted defeat (and I was out of tubes) and my buddy came over with two more tubes and tire lube. Greasing up the tires and rims allowed me to use WAY less pressure and not pinch stuff. It's good to learn stuff on your own, but it's also good to have friends. Bike is all ready and the plan is to get a ride in on track this evening. I think it looks kind of bad ass. 

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
5/31/19 7:55 a.m.

Yep, lube is your friend.

I put my first set of tires on dry. Fought the tires, pinched several tubes. Left a bad taste in my mouth.

Just changed my second set, years later. Little bit of soapy water on the bead and they practically mounted themselves.

That's a good looking little scoot.

bigeyedfish
bigeyedfish Reader
5/31/19 8:30 a.m.

Every time the topic of racing small bikes comes up I get really excited and want to dive in.  I'll be following along for sure.  The XR looks pretty sharp.  Anyone know of a place to do this in Missouri?

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
6/1/19 9:31 p.m.

For $75 you can run laps at my local kart track until you're sick of it. Alternate between bikes and cars, be nice, and it's cool. We ran somewhere between 80 and 90 laps this afternoon. Brought both bikes. 

No pictures of me on the bike because we were both riding at the same time right up until the end when I called it quits because I was tired and dehydrated and Derek grabbed the XR for a couple more laps. I got a couple pictures of him. 

Tires were actually nice and sticky. 

This is it for the summer, the kids and I are leaving in the morning. After running twice in this heat I'm fine with that, but when I get back I'm likely going to get a membership and go do laps once a week or so. It's fun in a way that I haven't had fun since I was telemark skiing in college. The dynamics of riding a bike on track are wonderful to me. I didn't realize how much I'd missed a sport with this much physicality. It will be interesting to see how, or if, bike time affects my driving when I get back to autocross in the fall. 

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 HalfDork
6/2/19 4:45 p.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :

You will hit cones on the right when you autocrosscheeky

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
6/18/19 8:55 p.m.

Mrs. Deuce is quite supportive of this whole ordeal. Part of that might be the yellow Honda in the picture. Deucekid#3 is tearing around my inlaws yard the same as her mom did when she was that age. My wife KNOWS that small motorcycles are a blast.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
6/18/19 10:20 p.m.

Your kids are excellent humans.  Good work 

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