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Hotfoot

Race Bike Maintenance

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Hotfoot    48

So this weekend I got out for a short ride on my little dual-sport bike, and it struck me... I don't think I have EVER changed the brake pads on this bike, and the brakes still feel new. It's a 2003. So, I've had the darn thing almost 13 years and NEVER changed the brake pads. And it never wears out tires, either. Yet on my race bike... tires every race weekend and brakes pads a couple of times a year, at least.

 

I had no clue when I started racing the amount of wear and tear and maintenance involved in the whole enterprise, or the difference in the riding intensity.

 

I'm guessing Yellowduck knows what I'm talking about - I thought of your awesome blog posts last night as we were trying to fit a new set of fairings (drilling the mounting holes, etc.) in the toyhauler, working half by flashlight and half by the weak toyhauler interior lights, getting very cold and hoping the neighbors weren't upset at us running a drill after 11pm. :)

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drioannis    0

I also see the difference even in the same bike that now is 99% trackbike. Before my bike transformed in trackbike the tires lasted for thousand of km and not for 3 days in the track. Brake pads in the past lasted for years but now a year max. The fluids has been changed a bit sooner than its recommend in the manual but still not every 2-3 trackdays... Track is a very very expensive hobby to do.

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Jaybird180    30

 

 

 

 

 

I remember an article I read some years ago where the author said he was so broke he made a game out of trying to get a set of tires to last an entire season. I wonder who wrote that.... :ph34r:

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tmckeen    1

This isn't really limited to motorcycles, everything wears out, the rate at which it wears out depends on usage. A 60 gallon air compressor might last the average home owner that does his own wrenching a lifetime, but it might only last your local tire shop a year or 2. If you use your bike to visit the local Starbucks on Sundays all its assorted consumable items will last for years, use it to commute to work every day and they will last months. If Hotfoot decides to take up racing Hair Scrambles or Enduros, the wear and tear on her Dual-sport will increase significantly and the brakes and tire usage will reflect. ( also dirt tire wear is very sneaky and you don't notice it until you compare it to a fresh tire )

 

To get some discussion on the topic going I pose the question:

 

What added Preventative Maintenance do you do on your Track / Race bike to offset the extreme nature of its use ??

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Hotfoot    48

 

 

What added Preventative Maintenance do you do on your Track / Race bike to offset the extreme nature of its use ??

 

Good question! Before every race weekend we do oil changes, clean calipers, clean carbs on the items that have them (including the pit bike), drain and replace any older fuel, change tires on the S1000rrs and check the tires on the lightweight bikes. We safety wire EVERYTHING, change brake pads often (at least a few times a year), service the suspension once a year. Check valve clearances about once a year. We use race-grade brake fluid and change it once or year, or sooner if it starts getting darker in color or the brakes fade or feel mushy. We carry spare battery and spark plug and some plastic fuel line, and oil and brake fluid. I'm sure there is more, that is a list off the top of my head.

 

I also do a lot more preventative maintenance on my tow vehicle and trailer, and generator, to avoid any problems getting to/from race weekends (learned that the hard way, of course). Tires, brakes, battery, oil changes, etc. are handled at first hint of a problem OR when or before scheduled maintenance is recommended, and everything gets a good looking over a week or two before an upcoming event - this week it was batteries for the toy hauler and in working on those I found that the stabilizer bar attachments on the hitch had rotated slightly (they are designed to move around some) and the propane tanks had slid back some and a metal hitch mount part was rubbing on a propane tank as we were driving down the road. Eek, that seems dangerous! So I spent some time moving things around and adding some isolation to prevent that from happening again.

 

I will say that racing has positively catapulted me into becoming a lot more mechanical. Before racing I sent everything to a shop to be done, but I have been forced to learn to do a ton of stuff myself, partly because of time constraints and necessity of fixing something on the spot, but also because of numerous occasions where a shop or mechanic left something undone, half done, or improperly done. I used to think it was much safer and smarter to "leave it to the professionals" but now I am not so sure. :/

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Jaybird180    30

 

 

 

What added Preventative Maintenance do you do on your Track / Race bike to offset the extreme nature of its use ??

 

Good question! Before every race weekend we do oil changes, clean calipers, clean carbs on the items that have them (including the pit bike), drain and replace any older fuel, change tires on the S1000rrs and check the tires on the lightweight bikes. We safety wire EVERYTHING, change brake pads often (at least a few times a year), service the suspension once a year. Check valve clearances about once a year. We use race-grade brake fluid and change it once or year, or sooner if it starts getting darker in color or the brakes fade or feel mushy. We carry spare battery and spark plug and some plastic fuel line, and oil and brake fluid. I'm sure there is more, that is a list off the top of my head.

 

I also do a lot more preventative maintenance on my tow vehicle and trailer, and generator, to avoid any problems getting to/from race weekends (learned that the hard way, of course). Tires, brakes, battery, oil changes, etc. are handled at first hint of a problem OR when or before scheduled maintenance is recommended, and everything gets a good looking over a week or two before an upcoming event - this week it was batteries for the toy hauler and in working on those I found that the stabilizer bar attachments on the hitch had rotated slightly (they are designed to move around some) and the propane tanks had slid back some and a metal hitch mount part was rubbing on a propane tank as we were driving down the road. Eek, that seems dangerous! So I spent some time moving things around and adding some isolation to prevent that from happening again.

 

I will say that racing has positively catapulted me into becoming a lot more mechanical. Before racing I sent everything to a shop to be done, but I have been forced to learn to do a ton of stuff myself, partly because of time constraints and necessity of fixing something on the spot, but also because of numerous occasions where a shop or mechanic left something undone, half done, or improperly done. I used to think it was much safer and smarter to "leave it to the professionals" but now I am not so sure. :/

 

 

I'm reluctantly getting back into wrenching too. My bike needs a valve and spark plug check. I've never done valves before. Spark plugs...how hard can that be? Except getting my big hands in there!

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Kevin Kane    0

 

I will say that racing has positively catapulted me into becoming a lot more mechanical. Before racing I sent everything to a shop to be done, but I have been forced to learn to do a ton of stuff myself, partly because of time constraints and necessity of fixing something on the spot, but also because of numerous occasions where a shop or mechanic left something undone, half done, or improperly done. I used to think it was much safer and smarter to "leave it to the professionals" but now I am not so sure. :/

 

Hottie;

I came to the same conclusion (the closest Ducati dealership was more than 2 hours away). Once you get comfortable repairing your own bike, it takes a BIG issue (blown motor) to pay someone else to fix it.

 

Kevin

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khp    2

 

 

I used to think it was much safer and smarter to "leave it to the professionals" but now I am not so sure. :/

 

 

I came to the same conclusion (the closest Ducati dealership was more than 2 hours away). Once you get comfortable repairing your own bike, it takes a BIG issue (blown motor) to pay someone else to fix it.

 

Ah, more that have discovered the old adage: "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself!"

 

Applies to a lot of things beyond motorcycle maintenance.

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rchase    5

Bodywork installation is never simple especially track stuff. I removed the windshield on my BMW at the track once and had to get professional help to get it back on. Gotta love those tolerances on the track bodywork. Especially freshly painted carbon fibre stuff you are terrified of scratching. Those famous last words "oh yea I can just pull the windshield in less than 5 minutes". Yea right! :)

 

Personally I don't like wrenching on my stuff at the track. Most of the time I bring a spare bike with me.

 

In fact I'm not really a fan of the idea of wrenching on my stuff at all. When I'm riding at high speeds I don't want to think about that bolt that did not quite feel perfect when I torqued it. I don't want to think about the other parts that were acceptable but not "perfect". A mechanic doing this work for me lets me offload all of those worries. When I pick up the bike I know it's absolutely perfect and someone way more knowledgeable and anal than I am has checked and rechecked everything. I'm sure he had some of those same problems I might have run into but ignorance is bliss. :)

 

I'm probably burned out though by working on my former FZR track bike. It was a 400/600 hybrid so you had to understand what came from where in order to be able to work on it. That usually meant me and even then I often ordered the wrong parts. :)

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YellowDuck    0

Honestly I service the bike pretty thoroughly during the off-season (valve adjustment, timing belt replacement or adjust, go through the suspension (complete service every two years; the shock I have to send out), change the brake fluid and brake pads if warranted and of course change the motor oil. And properly fix any little thing that just got a farm fix during the season (you'd be surprised how much of a motorcycle you can hold together with zip ties).

 

Then during the season it is pretty much "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Sometimes I pay for that - there is LOTS of trackside wrenching in my pits. But honestly most of that is related to the fact that Ducatis are fundamentally neurotic and break randomly to create humor in the universe, not because my neglect caused me to miss something that I might otherwise have caught. How about a stuck fuel injector on the first corner of the first practice lap of the first round, filling an entire cylinder and the whole exhaust system with raw fuel? Ha ha, so funny..really, I just laughed and laughed.

 

Oh, and of course the mad dashes to try to get the bike track-ready again after a crash, before the next qualifying race or whatever. I'm fortunate that my brother, an engineer, is always there, and has a creative solution to pretty much every problem, usually implemented without my knowledge while I am still storming around the pits angry with either myself or some other rider who assisted with my trip onto the grass.

 

But yeah, race bikes (at least in club acing) always seem to be in a state of being sort of half broken and poorly repaired. You catch up when you can but the problems sure accumulate fast. Especially if they were designed and assembled in Borgo Panigale.

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