06/10/14

2014 AFM Round 3 Race Report

After missing the last three rounds (my engine leaking oil from the cases at Round 7 last year, an electrical issue for round 1 and an injury sidelining me for round 2), I was desperate to finally get back out on track. I literally hadn’t been on a motorcycle since October of last year and I felt like a heroin addict in withdrawal. There was of course the small issue of a severed tendon in my left middle finger which had me sidelined last round. I remember having the following conversation with my physical therapist just a few days days before round 3:

Me: So when do you think I can start moving my finger and start racing? I have a race in little over a week.
PT: Racing? Like a marathon? Oh, no you can’t do that, far too dangerous! You might trip and fall and hurt your finger!
Me: Actually I was talking about bike racing.
PT: Oh, no, that’s far worse… people crash in bicycle racing all the time and you might re-injure your finger!
Me: Uhm… not bicycle racing, motorcycle racing…

At this point I got that look motorcycle racers have been getting from “normal” people since the beginning of time. You know the one- it’s where you suddenly you feel the need to touch your shoulder just to make sure that you don’t have a second head growing out of it. Clearly I wasn’t going to the answer I was looking from the physical therapist! She did however say that the final decision on these matters would be up to my doctor: Dr. Ting.

As luck would have it, I had a follow up with Dr. Ting on Tuesday the 27th and he cleared me to start moving the finger for the first time in 7 weeks and said it was OK to ride if I wrapped my finger to help support it. Two days later I had the truck loaded up and I was driving up to Thunderhill Raceway! Continue reading

05/9/14

2014 Racing Season Preview

This year looked like it was going to really start out on the right foot. Gregg Spears of Spears Enterprises finished building my new motor in early January- well in advance of the race season.  I really can’t express just how impressed I am with Gregg’s professionalism and attention to detail. He took the time to answer all my questions, create a detailed line item quote and took pictures of the build along the way so I could see how everything came together. I know I really shouldn’t be impressed when someone does the job right the first time, but it was a breath of fresh air after all the motor troubles I’ve had recently.

I was also able to work out a deal with John Stark of Stark Fabrication to redesign and build a new improved motor mount.  The original prototype had a number of problems with its design that I wanted to fix and they were able to resolve all those issues and in the end I received a new mount which looked like it came off a factory race bike!

Motor Mount #2 mount #2
Finished motor mount mount2
Stator side install Clutch side install

Building the new motor mount took longer then we expected due to some fitment issues related to my custom exhaust, but John and Ed at Stark Fabrication took the time to make sure it was done right which was fine by me. While that was going on, I had new Speedymoto rear set mounts welded onto the frame by the great guys at Pega Precision. I then took the time to cut/grind off various tabs on the frame which are no longer needed so it looks really clean. Finally, I had the entire frame powder coated yellow to better match the paint scheme of the bodywork and I installed new steering head races and went through the bike cleaning and properly lubricating everything. Whew!

2014 Livery

Of course, I made sure to get my suspension serviced by Catalyst Reaction, installed new Woodcraft rear sets, Galfer brake pads and lines- including a custom line for my new rear thumb brake:

Hudson Performance Thumb Brake

I ended up going with a thumb brake this year because when I switched to the Woodcraft rear sets I lost the rear brake (due to how the brake lever & master cylinder are mounted on the Ducati). As you may remember, I had clearance issues with my old “custom” rear sets & brake lever, so this combination solves my problems and looks great too!

Finally, just before the first round of the AFM season, I was able to get everything assembled and ready to tune the motor on Spears’ dyno. Unfortunately, we didn’t count on electrical problems with throttle bodies causing the motor to not run properly and Gregg wasn’t comfortable trying to tune it while it was in this funky state. I ended up taking the bike home to diagnose the issue and determined I had a bad Power Commander. Unfortunately, by the time I got a new Power Commander, it was too late to tune the bike for Round 1. :(

Fast forward a month and bike has been tuned and it’s ready to go for Round 2 at Sonoma Raceway which is also a Pro-Am event run with John Ulrich’s Superbike Shootout! Sadly, while I attended the event, the closest I got to the action was the grandstands and hanging out with my friends in the pits. I learned just a few days before the races from Dr. Ting that an injury I sustained a few weeks ago to my left hand had not yet healed and riding would likely cause further damage and increase the time it takes to fully heal. I talked it over with a number of my sponsors and I’m happy to say that they all fully supported me taking the time to get healthy before jumping back out on track. Even though I was sidelined, it was an amazing weekend with lots of great racing, a large crowd and tons of vendors who came out for the event. The paddock was literally packed full of racers and vendors!

My hand just after tearing the tendon in my middle finger:
Torn tendon

So while I’m beyond disappointed that I’ve missed the first two rounds again this year, I still can’t help but be optimistic about the rest of the year. At this point last year, my motor had blown up three times on the dyno and so I’m far ahead of the curve. While I haven’t been able to ride yet this year, I’m still training with Integrate Performance and working on my fitness so I’ll be ready to go once my hand heals up. At this point, things are looking good for me to be ready for Round 3 at then end of the month and I can’t wait!

10/20/13

The 2013 AFM Season in Review

So I had planned on doing regular reports after each and every AFM round during the 2013 season. But after missing the first three rounds due to mechanical problems and then a constant struggle to not just develop a new bike, but make it reliable enough so I could just concentrate on my riding, I ended up having a really hard time talking about the project in the kind of positive manner that I wanted to.

Not to say I figured this year would be easy- building a one-off custom race bike is of course going to be fraught with lots of challenges, but frankly, the problems I ended up having left me exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was share them with the world.

In the end though, I wanted to make sure to have a record of 2013 and take the time to thank my sponsors and everyone who helped me if for no other reason so that when things go better next year we’ll be able to look just how far things have improved.

So, long story short, back in October 2012 we started off with this poor 2008 Ducati 1098S with less then 1,000 miles:

Doner bike

Continue reading

03/25/13

SV650 ECU Decoder Part 4: Third time is the charm?

Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.

So my v2.0 boards were a complete dud.  Turns out some how I messed up the design and ended up wiring up the connector to the wiring harness backwards so nothing works.  Wasn’t a complete disaster- I was going to have to do another revision of the board either way, but it does slow things down. Continue reading

02/11/13

SV650 ECU EFI warning decoder/dash replacement

So I finally finished the design of my very first PCB and placed an order with OSH Park to get some samples. The basic premise is I needed a way to decode the data stream from my 2nd gen SV650 ECU to know when there is a problem with the fuel injection system with the race bike. Also, ideally, I needed a way to know what the specific error codes are.

Normally you do this with the stock dash, but I wanted to use my GPX Pro dash and didn’t want two dashes on my race bike. Unfortunately, the PCB on the dash is just one large unit (including the tachometer) and so there wasn’t an easy way to just use the parts I needed (a red idiot light and the LCD which displays the error code).
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12/17/12

XT Racing GPX Pro Review

Note, this is a review of the first generation GPX Pro, not the current GPX Pro4/8 units- however, much of this review should apply to both units.

Overall, I’m in love with the GPX Pro- it’s a great cost effective solution for capturing and analyzing data while you are driving or riding (all my tests were done on my SV650 race bike). The unit is easy to install, use and surprisingly easy to read, even in strong sunlight- probably due to it’s use of a grey-scale LCD display rather then a color display that is used on laptops and iPads. The software “GPX Studio”, is also easy to use and has tons of great information, but unfortunately Windows only (no plans on a OSX or Linux port, but it works great under VMWare/Parallels). I really learn a lot by looking at my brake markers and corner speed.
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