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Everything posted by CoffeeFirst

  1. Thanks. It actually has a dual meaning. First, I do love a great cup of coffee and rarely start my day without one. Second, the phrase is a simple self reminder to slow down, ask good questions and listen when diving into problem-solving mode. It first started years ago with a very wise admin I worked with who use to say to me "remember, coffee first" when she knew I was headed into a meeting to deal with a complex problem. The phrase has been with me for several decades now and usually serves me well. Dave
  2. Hotfoot's question wasn't directed to me but I'd like to share how I've been able to perceive improvement in my track riding over the last year. First, I believe there are both "hard" and "soft" measures of improvement, and both are important to my development. Hard measures are truly quantifiable. The best and easiest examples are variations of lower lap times (e.g., lower best lap times, lower session average lap times, and lower spreads or standard deviation to my lap times within a session). But there are other quantifiable measures that provide insight into my level of riding "precision" such as how many corner apexes I hit in a single lap or over an entire session. Am I hitting my apexes 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of the time? From a "hard" measurement perspective my best and average lap times have been coming down, the spread of my lap times in a given session have been getting tighter, and I am hitting a higher percentage of corner apexes. So in short, lap times and precision getting better as I look over the last year. But while I am a data guy and love hard measures, it has actually been "soft" measures that have provided more insight about my progress. I think about "soft" measures (a better word may be "indicators") as things I feel and know in my brain while riding. Things like being more relaxed and having greater comfort on the bike at higher speeds and overall pace through better wide-vision; having smoother throttle roll-on and more nuanced throttle control to manage my line or control the rear wheel; smoother exit drives and getting the throttle pinned in sections of a track I couldn't before; smoother braking control and having a nice repeatable trail brake action in a particular corner lap after lap; and having one smooth steering action into and through a corner (so minimal correction). These are just a few. And you can add having fewer SR moments to the list! I also happen to be the type of person who takes notes after each track session throughout the day. Notes touch on things like what drills were worked on, what went well, what didn't, new issues that seem to be surfacing, questions I have that I need to find answers to, and areas I want to focus on in the future. Looking back over these notes I see progress through my comments on the "soft" indicators. As the saying goes "don't compare yourself to others, compare yourself to the person from yesterday". For me, having notes on "hard" and "soft" indicators of progress allows me to do this self comparison. More importantly, it helps me figure out where I need to focus in the coming days! It is not perfect but the approach seems to works for me. Cheers, Dave
  3. I'll take a swing as well. I may be misreading the question but I don't believe it is an "either or". I believe the answer is "yes" to both sides of the question. First, I think the vast majority of today's motorcycles are designed for their intended use. In the broadest sense think dedicated dirt bikes, trials bikes, track bikes, touring bikes, etc. Their frame and steering geometry, suspension set-up, basic rider ergonomics, engine choices, etc., are all designed with a purpose or specific rider use in mind. However they are also designed within the limitations of today's technology and materials science knowledge, plus the economic realities and limits of what consumers will pay for a given motorcycle's capabilities. With regard to "do we need to do something to keep a motorcycle in its operating envelop", my initial reaction is to say we do it every single time we ride when managing things like throttle and acceleration levels, braking force, lean angles and traction limits for the specific riding situation we happen to be in. And we all know what can happen when we exceed an operating envelop. Just an add-on thought to this. What I love about many of today's motorcycles is how technology (e.g. ABS, traction control, engine braking, wheelie control, slide control, various riding modes, etc.) is being leveraged to help us safely stay within a motorcycle's operating envelop, AND that we can adjust the parameters of the envelop for our various skills and capabilities. I can't even imagine where motorcycle tech will be in another 20 years, but I know it will be fantastic! I've heard people say we're in the golden age of tire tech, but we might even be able to say that about the software / sensors / ECU technologies of today's motorcycles. Dave
  4. Track riding is a relatively new endeavor for me so I've only made upgrades to one motorcycle for track use at this point. Upgrades included: (1) stiffer Ohlins front fork springs so preload could be set in the right range for my weight, (2) Brembo Z04 brake pads for more stopping mojo, (3) heavier EvoTech bar ends to reduce handlebar vibration, (4) EvoTech brake lever guard, (5) R&G frame sliders and GB Racing alternator / clutch covers just in case, (6) Stomp Grip tank pads for solid lock-on, and (7) changed out various bolts and oil filler cap with pre-drilled versions so they could be safety wired. Think that is it so far. Dave
  5. Hi Cobie. So I've been lurking here for awhile. This is as good a topic as any to dive in with a first post. For street bikes there are several upgrades I usually make. First I make sure the bike has the right spring rate set-up front and rear for my weight with gear. I ride a few different BMWs and Ducs and have found front springs in particular tend to be either one or two spring rate levels too soft. If so, then I'll swap out the springs. Will usually jump on a call with a suspension OEM's in-house expert to make sure I also have the right valving and oil level equation. Sometimes I will upgrade the entire front fork set-up, usually to a set of Ohlins R&Ts. Next are brakes. If a particular lever / master cylinder combination on a new bike has too much play at the hand controls and it can't be eliminated by simply adjusting lever distance, bleeding lines and changing brake fluid, or the brakes just tend to fade a tad too much during spirited rides (even after upgrading pads) then I'll put a quality Brembo or Magura setup on the bike. I'm always amazed at how much improvement one can get on a street bike by just dialing in the suspension and brakes so they truly work for you and how you ride. So these two "intelligent" bike upgrades would be the ones that really top the list for me. If I move down to what I would call second tier intelligent changes, next are lights. For road bikes I tend to add a set of Skene P3 rear LED brake / turn signal lights to the sides of the rear license plate frame. When you hit the brakes they have a very fast but short lived pulsing action that catches the attention of drivers behind you. The lights are small so they blend into the bike well visually. Over the last few years I've also been adding a set of small Clearwater lights as bright day-time running lights to the front of bikes I ride in heavy traffic. Atlanta traffic can be nuts at times and I've had situations in intersections where the Clearwater lights have caused a few drivers to think twice (you see a driver lurch their vehicle forward then stop) before pulling out, so they have definitely saved my butt. I usually add some simple crash protection to both side of the engine casing from the usual suspects - GB Racing, R&G, Gilles Tooling, Sato, Woodcraft, etc. I also like to use as a tank bag on my street bikes so I add a SW-Motech quick release tank ring as my preferred interface for attaching and moving tank bags from bike to bike. Sometimes I will upgrade rear sets if I find over time my leg position with the stock set-up needs some help. Although I do have to confess I have added some beautiful BMW HP rear sets to a few S1RRs and an S1XR for no good reason at all other than they looked great. Most of my road bikes also get a set of Tech-Spec tank pads. They not only help with leg lock-on in the twisties but also help protect the gas tank from scratches. If the bike will see more long distance travel I'll get a larger windscreen and change it out when I do multi-day rides. It is nice to get some relief from all the buffeting you get while highway riding. Last but not least, it is tough to do any distance riding without adding some kind of luggage. The majority of the time I use OEM bike-specific bags but have had great success with soft Wunderlisch, TourTech and Mosko-Moto bags. I'll add some thoughts about track bikes in a follow-on post. Carpe diem. See you in Sonoma. Dave
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