Tag Archives: Triumph

2.6 How I Spent My Summer Vacation

My first track day of the summer, a two-day bash over the Fourth of July weekend, got crashed by Hurricane Arthur. We drove down the night before through scattered rain after loading up the bikes in the dimming green light between showers. That night, we stayed at the suites above the pit garages at NJMP, and the heavy rain beat an ominous tattoo on the corrugated roof, while the grass tufts in the paddock formed bristly islands for a small army of hopping toads, out enjoying the weather.

toad

The morning wasn’t much better, with a light but steady rain and winds that made for a less than ideal environment for a couple of novice track-day riders out for the first time in nine months. But sessions began on time, with predictions for a clear afternoon. We sat out the morning and watched from our room as a scattered few folks threw up rooster tails of spray down the main straight.

the cooler king

Lunch break was early and, as predicted, the clouds cleared out by noon, leaving the track bone-dry by 1pm. We ran a few sessions with a beautifully clear track: most riders had just gone home or not showed at all with the weather looking so grim.

njmp july2014 the bridge

I’ve had a few sets of tires on the Triumph, and a few on the Ducati as well, but no tires I’ve ever fitted really gave me any “ah ha!” moments. However, the new Dunlop Q3’s I put on prior to the weekend were absolutely the best tires I’ve tried yet, and made an immediate difference in feel. Combined with strong, two-finger braking from my new Brembo RCS master cylinder and some suspension tweaks, my riding was much more confident and aggressive than last year.

njmp july2014 greg1

Saturday was gorgeous, with the sky swept clear of clouds. Riders were split into four, rather than the usual three, and Greg and I got a bump to the Yellow “experienced novice” group. The novice group we’ve decided has by far the most disparate skill levels, and that makes things a bit hairy for us as we progress: we’re by no means especially fast yet, but we’re working on it, and folks out there wobbling around the track for the first time are unpredictable and need to be approached with caution.

It’s not speed that kills, it’s the speed differential that gets you, and a rider wobbling across the track going 30mph less than you are is a recipe for disaster.

njmp july2014 daytona1

There were definitely some slower riders in our group, but everyone at least kept to a predictable line, which made passing them relatively simple.

I wanted to see what my body-position was like on-track, so I mounted my GoPro on the fairing, facing back towards me, and was pretty happy with how the video turned out.

For some reason, pointing the camera backwards really reduced wind noise, so you can actually hear the bike for a change, and can even hear my knee dragging a couple times. The bike had some major surgery to replace the charging system and, when I got it back, it had developed this annoying, part-throttle hesitation below 4k rpm. But that doesn’t matter at all at the track and it absolutely screams all the way to 14k, so I’m not going to mess with it for now…

njmp july2014 crashed cbr1

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2.1 Spontaneous Deceleration

When I made up my mind to finally buy a bike that would work on track, my desire to have something slightly unusual still won out: I bought a first generation Triumph Daytona 675.

It’s a beautiful charcoal grey machine, very subtle, and it came with through-the fairing frame-sliders, Woodcraft case guard, tank-protectors, a cool little shark-fin chain-guard, and suspension already set up for someone my weight.

It’s a great bike, with a hugely flexible motor that revs out happily to 13,000rpm. I’ve really done nothing to it except change the oil and tires.

But my track time is pointing up a weakness I didn’t expect: the brakes. They’re strong enough, but they lack feel, in spite of being bled and new pads fitted. This is especially disappointing because I found that I’m able to make up significant ground braking for corners versus faster liter bikes.

I’d been planning two upgrades for the bike: a set of Woodcraft rearsets since I found myself dragging  my toe in a couple corners at Pocono Raceway, and a new Brembo master cylinder to replace the stock Nissin to see if that might help.

My good friend and track riding buddy came through with the latter, and got me a completely gorgeous Brembo RCS adjustable master cylinder for a combined Christmas/birthday present. The adjustable ratio I’m especially excited about: my old, injured right hand gets pretty fatigued toward the end of a session and a more sensitive setting might be great on track.