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How Important Is "servicing" And Suspension For A Newbie


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Background:
A newbie on the track( only 3 done so far !) and now addicted. To add, all i do in my free time is read on how I can be a better rider. Also, I've realized on the track: text knowledge: 10% and learning with a coach is 90%. I have not attended the superbike school as I live in the Chicago-land area where I ride 6 months out of the year and 95% on the track.

 

Issue:

From what I gather, the fundamentals of your bike setup are: brakes, suspension and tires.

I was advised by a tech inspector at the track (also a mechanic) that I should not worry about anything on my bike except tires and brakes till I get smooth, predictable and good on the track. Don't get braided brake lines, super expensive slicks, fairings, suspension, short shifter, dainese suits till I get good as a novice. He mentioned that he was running advanced on a stock bike after which he decided to mod his bike and honestly I have seen some folks on stock bikes at the track in Advanced.

My issue is that after I analyzed myself after the third track day I was not able to lean my bike as confidently as I would have liked. I just felt like it should be smooth like other novice riders i see perform better than me. I just got stuck in some zone where no matter how hard I tried to go in faster that the slightest drop in throttle just wanted me off the bike.

The voice in my head my last track day before every turn where I track : "As a novice turn at marker 1 on all turns,hold throttle, half butt off, balls of feet on pegs, counter steer, look at where you want to go, then roll on the throttle by the apex"

I tried at least 3 sessions in the afternoon but I have NO clue why.... was I scared? was it my bike? am I scared to wipe out?

my bike is a 2006 cbrr with 11,000 and never been serviced except yearly oil changes. its a bike i dedicated to track and I probably ride 10 miles a year in my neighborhood.



Questions:

For a newbie like myself, is servicing my bike really going to improve my riding and confidence and will I feel it?

Can someone break down for me the work breakdown of what is included in "servicing" your bike?


I sincerely appreciates everyones response in advance.

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In my humble opinion, you absolutely should ensure your suspension is working with you and not against you. Having your suspension serviced - meaning properly adjusted to settings which fit you, if necessary ensuring you have adequate springs, fluid etc. - is perhaps the single most important thing you could do to your bike, especially as a beginner. Look up "Dave Moss" on youtube and watch some of his videos just to get some background on how important it is to have a well-functioning, setup suspension. (You do not need to buy full Ohlins components to have a well-serviced suspension). Just because you can manage a track day with a totally stock (i.e. "factory") suspension settings does not mean it is in your best interest.

 

By way of example, I was riding track days with a stock suspension with factory settings (had never adjusted a thing) on my Triumph. I had the privilege to work with Dave at a track day and he immediately made a whole bunch of adjustments. I never knew I was having problems until I felt the difference based on his changes. Everything felt cleaner, sharper, more confidence inspiring, etc. Again, I thought the bike was great, but it then worked so much better after simple adjustments I could hardly believe it was the same bike. That was unequivocally the best $40 I've ever spent on a motorcycle.

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Your brake fluid should be changed every 2 years, it's IMO more important to change than engine oil every year. Your front suspension fluid should be changed yearly or every 6000 miles, whatever comes first. Preferably, the fork should be stripped and cleaned internally every 6000 miles as particles will collect on the shim stack and reduce the overall performance. The rear shock will last longer, especially if you are not going very, very fast. But once you have reached a high level, getting your suspension valved and sprung to your preferences and requirements will definitely pay off.

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Servicing the suspension is important, but even more important is to have it set up as good as you can with what you have.

 

As stated above, particulate matter, mostly metal from the springs rubbing on the interior of the fork tube, collect and can change how your valving stack will work or not work. So disassembly and cleaning and fresh oil atleast once a season is highly recommended. Many racers do it far more often, personally I do mine twice a year.

You may not feel the slow progression of the components working less effectively, but they are. And chasing a moving target isn't ideal.

 

Servicing the rest of the bike is equally important, and @ 11k it is certainly close enough to the 16k oe recommended service for getting the valves adjusted and everything listed in the service manual. It has been my long time experience as a mechanic that the valves move the most early on in the engines life, so the first couple adjustments are the most critical where there is the most movement from the most valves. I always recommend having that first service done before the 10k mark.

Once you reach past 35,000 or 40,000 miles they seem to settle in and move far less (street bike)

 

On a virtually track only bike I would adjust them once per season or every 3000 miles of track use, you may be suprised how much they move.

 

Other items like throttle cable free play, TPS adjustment, throttle body sync, air filter cleanliness, changing the oil/filter, adjusting and lubing the chain, amking sure your wheels are truly straight, checking brake pads regularly, lubing and adjusting the cables and pivot bushings, making sure the steering head bearings, swingarm bearings and wheel bearings are all full of grease and in good condition. Those bushings tend to wear prematurely becasue the factories use precious little grease on initial assembly. Then of course flushing the brakes atleast once per season are all very important to have the bike work as it should

You also need to make sure the levers, shifter pedal, brake pedal etc are ideally set up for your rding position and size. All of these are adjustable on all bikes.

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I would agree that upgrades like braided steel brake lines, race slick tires, quickshifter, etc. are probably not so important at this stage for basic riding performance. (You mentioned fairings - those might make sense, since usually the idea behind those is to pack away your stock bodywork for safekeeping to protect it from racetrack abuse.)

 

However, getting your existing suspension set up properly is an excellent idea. At a minimum, make sure to set the sag correctly for your weight. If you are doing track days there might be a suspension expert available there to make basic adjustments for you for a low fee - typically around $40-$50; they can set the sag for you and give you a good starting point on your adjustments, and it can make a big difference in how the bike feels. Also they can usually spot any obvious problems with your current suspension (binding, etc.) and let you know if your bike is WAY too hard or soft to be practical for your size and/or the riding you are doing.

 

Typically a stock street bike suspension is designed around a rider approximately 160 lbs or so. If you are anywhere close to that, suspension mods may be wait until you are riding in about the middle of the intermediate group before they will make a significant difference for you, but if you are way outside that range you might want to look sooner for springs/valves that are sized more appropriately.

 

Keep in mind, many - OK, most - bike handling problems are created by the rider. Simply being tense in your arms or holding the bars tightly through a turn will make the bike handle poorly, no matter how good your suspension components are; ditto for poor throttle control. Riding technique should definitely be looked at before spending hundreds of dollars on suspension upgrades.

 

In your post, you mentioned you are telling yourself to "hold the throttle" as you approach a turn. What exactly do you mean by that?

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For what it's worth, my R6S is still mostly stock and I ride in the expert group. I've only upgraded it when things wear out. Above all, it is important to keep your bike properly serviced. I've always gone by the owners manual although it never said anything about fork servicing. I learned about that from my trusted mechanic and it made a noticeable difference (at about 11K miles). With proper servicing and having the suspension set up properly for your weight, you can take a stock bike a long way. The key to getting that good performance from your bike is in learning to ride it properly. Do you think you'd be much faster if you jumped on a Moto GP bike right now? I wouldn't be. On most tracks, I run similar lap times to my R6S on the school's S1000RR (long straights excepted... the Bimmer has a monster motor). It's still my skills and bravery that are the limit to my lap times & not the bike(s). Your money will be much better spent on training at this stage than on upgrades. Training will make a MUCH bigger difference in your lap times. Besides... its more fun to pass fast guys when you're on a stock bike. I enjoy seeing their reaction when they come up to you in the pits and learn your bike is stock (& cost you half as much). Go get trained by a quality school. Shop around but I think you'll find most people think CSS is the best. Check their schedule and I think you'll find one within driving distance (VIR, maybe?). I've learned the CSS way from the beginning and I've had a lot of their training. I can't recommend it highly enough.

 

I would only recommend two upgrades to you at this point:

1) Steel braded front brake lines. They can take hits from debris better than stock lines. It's a safety thing to ensure they always work when you need them but you will like the brake feel more as well. (About $100-150 plus installation.)

2) Track fairings to save the cost of your OEM plastics should something go wrong. Although, If you don't care how they look and don't intend to ride that bike again on the street, you can hold off until something happens to them and replace them with aftermarket fairings. (About $600-800 plus paint if you have them professionally painted. You can install them yourself. They may pay for themselves in a crash.)

 

Welcome to the forum and good luck.

 

Benny

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1) Steel braded front brake lines. They can take hits from debris better than stock lines. It's a safety thing to ensure they always work when you need them but you will like the brake feel more as well. (About $100-150 plus installation.)

 

 

Benny

Oh, this is new to me, I thought the braided steel lines were just to reduce expansion of the brake lines to give a better and more accurate feel on the brakes. Thanks for posting that.

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1) Steel braded front brake lines. They can take hits from debris better than stock lines. It's a safety thing to ensure they always work when you need them but you will like the brake feel more as well. (About $100-150 plus installation.)

 

 

Benny

Oh, this is new to me, I thought the braided steel lines were just to reduce expansion of the brake lines to give a better and more accurate feel on the brakes. Thanks for posting that.

 

 

I can't prove it... but, I've seen a stock line cut by debris on a friends street bike. There's not a whole lot of structure/reinforcement in stock lines. Fortunately it didn't result in a crash, only an overshot stopsign at the end of the off-ramp. I personally would change the front lines on any bike I own whether they're street or track bikes for that reason but I really do like the gain in performance and feel you get with them as well. Besides, they are relatively inexpensive so I can't find a reason not to do it on the front. I rarely use the rear and it is better protected so I don't consider that necessary.

 

Benny

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1) Steel braded front brake lines. They can take hits from debris better than stock lines. It's a safety thing to ensure they always work when you need them but you will like the brake feel more as well. (About $100-150 plus installation.)

 

 

Benny

Oh, this is new to me, I thought the braided steel lines were just to reduce expansion of the brake lines to give a better and more accurate feel on the brakes. Thanks for posting that.

 

 

I can't prove it... but, I've seen a stock line cut by debris on a friends street bike. There's not a whole lot of structure/reinforcement in stock lines. Fortunately it didn't result in a crash, only an overshot stopsign at the end of the off-ramp. I personally would change the front lines on any bike I own whether they're street or track bikes for that reason but I really do like the gain in performance and feel you get with them as well. Besides, they are relatively inexpensive so I can't find a reason not to do it on the front. I rarely use the rear and it is better protected so I don't consider that necessary.

 

Benny

 

 

A brake vendor came yesterday to the shop where i frequent and I saw translucent "rubber" encased steel briad brake hoses ... could you say double trhe protection?? :D

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A brake vendor came yesterday to the shop where i frequent and I saw translucent "rubber" encased steel briad brake hoses ... could you say double trhe protection?? :D

 

 

The outer plastic is mostly for cosmetics - the steel braiding will pick up a lot of difficult-to-remove dirt without the outer tube.

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"A brake vendor came yesterday to the shop where i frequent and I saw translucent "rubber" encased steel briad brake hoses ... could you say double trhe protection?? :D"

 

 

That outer layer also helps keep your painted parts from being so rubbed, along with the radiator in some cases, then of course your hands when handling them, especially after they have seen extended use.

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