Coach’s Motorcycle Tips
Finally we have started to fill this page with interesting tips and help from us- Superbike-Coach, to you. We just want you to enjoy your hobby even more. We will come up with a bunch of tricks and do’s ‘n’ don’t s, which we are making sense. What we’re showing here is based on decades of riding motorcycles- professional racing on a high level- and years and years of coaching thousands of riders. Here we go… but please be advised that you do this all yourself and we are not responsible for any damage or injuries.
Mostly the rules are equally the same from one track day organizer to another, though they are slightly different in the detail- so check on this before you sign up. Since our track days are more track beginner orientated, you might check on what we are require and recommend to get prepared:
Signing up for a group
That’s pretty much your first challenge, isn’t it?! But don’t ya worry, we have plenty of options to make a confident pick. These are our recommendations and policies towards your level and bike you want to bring. Also to look at each group rules and restrictions gives you an idea where you personally feel most comfortable in:
D group (if applicable): First time on the track- or touring bikes. Passing only on straightaways (7 feet buffer)
C group : Intermediate riders- or street and sport bikes. Passing OK (6 feet buffer)
B group: Inter/Advanced riders- or street and sport bikes. Passing OK (4 feet buffer)
B+ group: Adv/Experienced street and track riders- sport and track bikes. Passing inside OK (3 feet buffer)
A group (if applicable): Very experienced track riders and racers- sport, track and race bikes. Power wheelies tolerated. No passing restrictions
Check your Bike
You don’t need to be a mechanic to check these things on your bike- but we do recommend to have it checked by your garage or dealership early enough:
- Check for oil moist or leaks under the bike and see oil filter and drain bolt are tight with a proper wrench. Consider to make a oil change before your track day anyway, and go with the best…
- Check your chain slag and set it right according to your manual
- Check your brake pads (no go for 50% off lifetime) and worn rotors. Also consider the age of your braking fluid
- Check rest life of your tires (no go for 60% off lifetime). If you are worried about your tires: GO CHANGE THEM BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT (we have no tire service in the paddock). Besides knobby tires, we allow all tire types, because you should know best what they and you are capable of. Inform yourself for recommended tire pressures, because we don’t know.
- Bring rain- or street bike tires if it supposed to rain. All track day events and organizers are- like ours- rain or shine!
- Tape over all glass and lights AND tape over the speedometer. You do not need the speedometer on the racetrack. It is an unsafe distraction
- Suspension setup: Don’t waste time and money on this too much. A better rider would make 10-20 seconds less on your bike with the same setup. Come out and have fun!
- Safety wire your action cameras to not hurt somebody else!
Check your Gear
It is time to consider your PROTECTION under the motto… the more the better! Nobody else is responsible for the road rash you’re getting. In case you need to add some gear- once you’ve registered with Superbike-Coach- you’ll have access to great discounts by our sponsors. Take advantage of it!:
- You don’t need to have racing gear necessarily, and of course i can tell you our definition of street riding gear below in an article. let me know if you need gear, and I can get you a 40% off discount on Axo USA gear. We accept leather OR textile as long pants and jacket are zip-able. If not zip-able, we would ask you to have a back protector, but be aware that the Thunderhill staffs might take you out (this is not on us!). Nobody else but you is responsible for the road rash you’re getting. No chaps. Axo USA holds a 40% off discount for our riders on an entire purchase, so check on their safety gear and let us know what you want in sizes and colors. Check for recommended Back Protectors with Axo as well
- Leather boots or race approved boots (8 inches tall). Cordura hiking boots or some ankle boots are not acceptable. Forma Boots USA holds a 20% off discount for our riders. Makes it to a no-brainer!
- Gloves must be in a good condition, gauntlet style with closures are required. We can highly recommend to consider racing gloves for several reasons.
- Earplugs are making riding more enjoyable and makes it easier to concentrate
- Helmet Requirements: Snell, BSI, DOT, or ECE R22.05 approved helmet (high impact tested) less than 5 years old. The production date will be located inside the helmet. Helmets with any visible crash damage will be rejected. If your helmet does not pass tech, you will not be allowed to ride and will not be given a refund. We highly recommend to go with the best helmets money can buy… Arai Helmets!
I personally recommend NOT to look for videos to learn the track. Even if you find good once (I never did), you are on your own on the track, and the ‘video’ got lost in your brain anyway. Also do not ask ‘specialists’ for the line… I do after you warmed up with the track and know where the asphalt band goes so far. Also skip on ‘suspension specialists’. Your bike has resources you don’t know, and you have much more important things to think of… to ride the damn thang and to have fun! All of these things are just making you nuts and you can’t sleep anymore… stay away of it!
How to load and what to bring
The day finally has come, and you are ready to go. There are more ways to get your stuff to the track. Yes, riding your bike to the track will be fair enough to see if this is a hobby for you or not, but please check your options here as well:
- To bring everything you need to the track has to be organized. A pickup truck or a trailer does the job. A U-Haul rental can help out maybe, because in case your bike brakes down- what then?! How to load a pick up truck and what it needs has been described in the article below. BikeMaster has everything you need to make it perfect
- Bring water, drinks & snacks to keep yourself hydrated and your energy up throughout the day. A ice chest is like a good friend too
- Bring the bike with a full gas tank but bring a extra fuel can. Fuel pumps are available at the track if needed, but pretty expensive. We also recommend to use 91 octane and to have a clean- or to replace your air filter. They are not that expensive and helping to give your bike a better throttle response
- A little canopy gives you some shade between your track sessions, and to have a camping chair helps to relax. Take your boots off, or even change completely helps me to re-center when I put my armor back on. Try it!
- If you have bring Duct tape, compressed air, bike stands, wrenches and other tools, tire gauge
When to go- Where to stay- What to do
Make your travel plans early with Google Maps so you know when to get there. You might also check for close by Hotels if your travel is long. However, be 15-30 minutes early to enter the gate, which opens at 7:00am with a long waiting line. Sign the track waiver and ask for Superbike-Coach- then find a sweet spot in the paddock to unload and setup your stuff during the track day. Chat later, and walk up to the Clubhouse right away (!) to make your CHECK IN with us to sign our waiver. Now you bring your bike (or two if you have) and helmet to our TECH INSPECTION where we look over what you should have done (above) in YOUR OWN INTEREST already. If you passed the inspection- our staff will put you a sticker on your bike(s) according to your group. You might have some time to chat now or to relax, but make sure you’ll be on time in the Clubhouse for the obligatory RIDERS MEETING. After this you should gear up and check your tire pressure (see above). Have our time schedule and to listen to the radio announcements helps not to miss your session. We are not responsible for this. Our schedule gives you an overview:
7:00am Gate opens, Clubhouse
7:15 – 8:00am Check In open
7:20 – 8:10am Tech Inspection open
8:15am Riders briefing
9:00am Track sessions begin in 20 minutes units with group B+, B, C, till lunch break
9:05am C-group and track newbie orientation
9:40am C-group and track newbie sightseeing track session
12:00 Lunch break
12:20pm Free Coach Seminar ‘Ideal Line West’, Clubhouse
1:00pm Track sessions continues in 20 minutes units with B+, B, C, till 5pm
5:00pm Track sessions end
5:30pm Gate closes
Download the Official time schedule, SBC track day here.
Your 1st session and tips
The time has come and you are rolling to our track entry. You stop by the tent and check the sign is showing your group. Our staff will check if you are wearing the required gear. Zip it up and check you helmet strap. Don’t sneak out without proper gear… we’ll get you anyway and your track day is over. Wait for instructions of our staff, who are letting only five riders at once out on the track in a 10 seconds frequency. And here are my tips to you directly!:
- Turn on your brain from the first time out and don’t do the ‘street sightseeing’ thing. I’ve seen riders clocking up the entire track. Don’t be the guy and keep the damn thing rolling
- Focus more to the FRONT and stay calculable for others on the throttle with both hands on the bar
- Don’t change lines rapidly and NEVER do zig-zags to warm up tires
- Don’t close the door on someone and do not release the brake… let the guy pass. You are not Marc Marquez!
- For ‘the faster guy in the wrong group’: Be patient and don’t get mad. Stuff like that happen all the time and everywhere else too. You are might be in the right group when all the others had some more time to find their rhythm. If not… come and talk to us after your 2nd session and we’ll help to get you into a more suitable group if possible
- For ‘the slower guy in the wrong group’: Be patient and don’t get mad. Stuff like that happen all the time and everywhere else too. You are might be in the right group when you get more familiar with everything and found your rhythm. If not… come and talk to us after your 2nd session and we’ll help to get you into a more suitable group if possible
- Find your own rhythm, and don’t try to copy someone else rhythm. Relax and keep breathing. Have fun!
For all racers and sport enthusiasts, the information in these two subjects should be ingrained in your brain. Know all the flags and the procedures that go with each one. Know the pit in and pit out procedures and how to properly signal. Don’t have any doubts about these before you get to the track.
NO STUFFING! Let’s say you make a pass around a rider and cut back in front of him/her entering a turn. You think it’s a safe pass but the rider you just passed is having to grab the front brake to keep from hitting your tail section. You just STUFFED the rider. OR you make a pass and the rider has to change his/her line entering the turn. Again, you just STUFFED the rider. In both cases, you are violating our rules and we pull you out!
AGGRESSIVE RIDING! Aggressive riding is strictly prohibited at all of our events. This includes all groups. Our schools and track day groups are for riders to learn and enjoy themselves on the racetrack. This is not a race day or a timed qualifying practice. Forget lap times. There will be times on track when you have to give way to slower riders. Remember, you are there to have fun, not set a new track record.
FLAGS AND SIGNALS! Look back before you enter the track and do not go on the ideal line until it’s clear. Check back before you close the throttle and give a permanent left hand signal if you decide to exit the track. This are the standard flags set you need to obey at all times:
Faster Riders and Racers! The slower rider OWNS the track. Take time and make a smart decision on a passing and allow buffer according to the group. Be a role model, not a jerk!
NO BIKE CONTACT! In the event you make a mistake and make contact with another rider, you are done for the day.
Superbike-Coach conclusion: Don’t make a big deal out of it. Riding on a track is overrated and pretty much the same concept as you were riding your bike on the street. Other organizers promising you will lean much more in one track day as in a year of street riding. This is BS, unless you have someone showing you the right things to do on the track. Most confusing will be the gigantic width of the track and to be worried whats going on behind you. Try to cut this out and give a little trust in others. Just relax and have some fun.
We had lots of fun with this video, and it will put you a smile on your face as well. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation like this though, so enjoy the video first to get something out of it, and then keep reading with our article, and watch the tip video we made, and read the little article below:
So here is how Pro’s doing it in a minute- without any damage and injuries. Let’s have a look on the equipment base you need to have to get the job all by yourself done.
- Pickup truck with at least space for one motorcycle in width and length, and at least for hooks to tie-down
- Long (reduces the ankle to the truck bed) fold-able bike ramp, which is very wide (walking path) as well
- One short tie-down to secure the ramp down to the truck
- Universal Roll-On Stand for single operation
- At least two heavy-duty buckle zip (ratchets were yesterday!) tie-downs with swivel hooks
- At least one rubber tie to transport and secure the bike ramp on the truck
The process in detail
Backup your truck towards the end of your drive way. The downgrade and the long/wide ramp makes less ankle, and your risk getting stuck up there decreases. Take measurements if you are not sure, or have someone check on it while you roll up the bike.
- Secure the ramp down to the truck, so that you won’t push the ramp up or slide it away.
- Have at least 2 standard Tie-Downs fixed to the truck bed hooks already.
- Place the Universal Roll-On Stand in the center of the truck against the bed wall.
- Place your motorcycle front wheel towards the right or left (preference) side of the ramp, so that you have enough space to walk up next to the bike (right or left- preference).
- Start the engine and put in 1st gear.
- By covering the front brake lever with one finger- ease off the clutch slowly and smooth until you feel friction, and see if you might need to give it a little throttle.
- Ones the bike is rolling, walk with it up the ramp by keeping 3 tips in mind: 1) watch your steps on the ramp; 2) don’t hit the rear sets with your legs; 3) try to keep rolling continuously (easier to balance) until the bike rolls into the stand.
- Use the upper triple clamp to mount those tie downs (multiple ways to do that) and strap them down firm until the bike doesn’t move anymore when shaking on it. Two ties down the front are OK, but you can add two more on the rear if it makes you feel better.
- Get your ramp up that truck and secure it with a rubber tie. Adjust you speed accordingly!
Superbike-Coach conclusion: If you go to the track and have to transport bikes frequently, then this is the best investment in transport equipment. BikeMaster has all of it for very reasonable prices and they deliver real fast. Check out their full catalog here [….]
How To Make A M1 Motorcycle Drivers License
There are pretty much two ways how to make a M1 drivers License, and we want to show both:
- On your own with the DMV: Cheapest and quickest way, but it demands a solid riding skill already
- Certified riding school: Expensive and time consuming, but good for total beginners
So let’s through a light on doing it on your own first. Your local DMV has free Motorcycle drivers license brochures which you should read entirely. Make an appointment at your DMV to make a written exam, and use the time to test yourself here for a while. Pay $28 to pass the test :-)
For a pass- and being 21 years old, the DMV will hand you out a ‘Temporary Drivers License’ which expires after one year. Withing this particular year, you could try to make the required riding test twice if necessary. The test is known as ‘the keyhole’, and can be very tricky. The following video makes clear what to do:
Not crossing the white lines- and no foot down looks easier as it is, but going to the DMV after 5:00pm makes practicing the key hole possible. The rider in the video was lucky we believe, so here are some suggestions from Headcoach Can:
A sportbike is killing it, so use a Scooter or a little chopper. Don’t tense your arms up, and take a deep breath. Use first gear and the clutch on the friction. Idling the motor is enough, so NEVER use the throttle to adjust. Also NEVER use the front brake to adjust, since this will move weights back and forth and can throw you off balance. Instead, have your foot slightly on the rear brake friction for small adjustments. Never rush things and keep breathing. When you’re done… come and see me! :-)
Certified School for M1 license
Since Coach’s wife Marion Akkaya wanted to make a Motorcycle drivers license, we thought it will be an excellent opportunity to get a fresh impression of how those certified schools (by DMV) are doing. First of- it was funny to see some of their instructors again, after seeing them sitting in Coach’s seminars and attending classes, and we are happy to see that Superbike-Coach programs obviously had a ‘influence’ on their curriculum.
However, Marion got thought everything by ‘Coach husband’ and because she’s a fast learner she was able to ride over the Freeway with her fresh temporary drivers license:
Two weeks later she passed her riding test at a certified riding school in Sacramento, and she had lots of funny and shocking things to report about that experience. The 2 days course cost $280 and includes a Honda 250 bike. Riding in the California sun on a parking lot ain’t much of a fun, she mastered the counter steering and braking drills best, which is no big deal after working with Coach. So congratulations to her- but now it’s time to get into Can’s Cornering School Day program!
Superbike-Coach conclusion: We believe you can do this on your own- if you have the opportunity to practice. There is not much you are going to miss by not walking through a certified school. Ones you have your drivers license- go and get some ‘real live’ coaching! [….]
How To Setup A Motorcycle Suspension
There are lots of misunderstandings about how to setup a motorcycle suspension setup, and I’ve seen questionable work from even supposed specialists. Those specialists make riders believe that one click on the front rebound could lower lap times by 7 seconds… yep, I’ve really experienced this.
Stuff like this is totally off reality of course, especially as I still saw his bike bouncing around on Thunderhill Raceway- totally out of balance. In fact i believe that an intermediate to advanced rider don’t even feel the difference of even 15 clicks- especially not on a OEM suspension system.
If you would approach the setup with logic, you wouldn’t have to spend $50 bux to let an expert do some ‘big deal clicks’ on your stock rear shock, which are most of the time not even going nowhere. You don’t need to be nervous to do it yourself, because the range of an OEM suspension is just to small to make a significant change in terms of stability and safety of your bike.
To really make a significant change to match your riding style and purpose- you need to make rearrangements to the geometry of the bike, and then to match the suspension to this geometry… for example:
- Super tight track: You want to drop the front end or to raise the rear a little
- Long braking travels: You want to drop the rear right height to keep weights low
- Long acceleration periods: add a chain link to use up chain adjuster recourse for a longer swing arm.
Please Note All Following Points
- There is NO “perfect” suspension setup- only the’ best compromise. A setup grows with your rider level.
- So when someone says “I’ve clicked you the same suspension setup as I gave to Valentino Rossi”, then this is logically not going to work for you well.
- Use the potential of a OEM suspension first before you buy aftermarket stuff… then you really know what it is capable of.
OK, the link below will open an additional page which you can print out to bring it to the track. It’s just hat this page is too much for this section here, because it throws a light on how to set it up right, and how to trouble shoot. Enjoy:
Superbike-Coach conclusion: Don’t be blind and use logic to see the reality. Even totally overrated suspension guru’s can change much on OEM shocks and forks. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Just make sure the preload settings are right, and bring it in a balance as close as possible. If the OEM springs are way too soft… exchange them it more harder ones. If you want to have it ‘real good’… you’re looking at 4-5 grand… easily! [….]
Finding the right motorcycle glove can be time consuming, but I believe it’s worth it. I think most riders choosing the glove because of their looks. But design or even colors should be just a secondary thought. A high quality glove has its price, and yes I do understand that money is maybe a factor for you… but this goes kinda the same way you should pick a helmet, because a natural protective instinct makes us bringing our hands out to catch the fall, so you will crash in 90% assuredly right on your hands. Here is what a bad glove choice can do to us:
- Needles and pins (uncomfortable, slow reaction time)
- Bad quality (short life, leather cracks, bad protection)
- Bad protectors (weak, wrong placed, open wrists = big time injuries)
- Bad size choice (too small: slow reaction time. Too big: interferes with throttle and levers)
- Bad features (sweating hands, uncomfortable, slow reaction time)
Axo USA is one of a few manufacturers I found who are delivering the full package. Their website offers sizing charts and lots of intermediate sizes to pick from.
Also their category description gives a good insight before you rush and take a purchase too easy. Spend your money wisely.
Our little video tutorial should below gives you a good idea what to look for in a glove, and how important it is to also set the levers to your needs.
How to adjust your levers the right way
Most riders are leaving the levers the way they are set from the factory, but I highly recommend to readjust them to your needs. I demonstrated in the second part of the video tutorial above, how essential especially the brake lever position can be. I actually forgot to mention that this even puts your hands and arms in a better angle to catch up G-forces under hard braking. Here is what we give away with wrong lever positions:
- Too high: slow braking procedure, bad feeling for the braking
- Too low: hard to reach when doing hanging off
- Interferes fingers/levers
As mentioned- you’ll probably can’t just loose the bolts and simply twist each perch because most manufacturers having a pin set to avoid that for liability reasons of course. You need to remove each pin which is not a big deal at all. Have the right tools handy and be patient with your work. Set the levers in a straight line to your arms/fingers, and tighten up all bolts properly. You’ll find a much more relaxed riding position after spending some time with this.
Superbike-Coach conclusion: Lots of good things coming along the right glove and lever adjustments. My favorite… safety! The speed you can reach to the brake lever can decide for you between dead- or alive. Just this is worth the extra money and time is well spend to figure the best lever positions for you! [….]
Motorcycle Tire Pressure for the Track
One of the most commonly asked questions you see on the net is “what tire pressures should I run for and with the emphasis that’s put on having the correct pressures both at and away from the track it’s no wonder.
Having the right pressure for rider, bike and tire combination is very important to getting the most out of your tires both in terms of performance and longevity. As I’m sure you know tires are very expensive, so making sure we get the most out of them by having the correct pressure and therefore avoiding bad wear should be a priority for all track day riders.
The trouble is there is no one magical pressure for one type of motorcycle or type of tire, and as you’re about to find out there are times when you would even use different pressures for the same tire on the same bike!
So to help you understand what actually goes into determining the best pressure here’s a look at some of the things that affect tire pressure.
Things that Affect Tire Pressure
Weight –Someone heavier is going to create a larger contact patch on the ground which could overheat it and cause nasty wear. And vice versa, the lighter rider using the heavier rider’s pressures won’t have a contact patch big enough, so they won’t get enough heat into the tire and again you’ll see another sort of nasty wear. This problem is made worse if your suspension isn’t properly set up for your weight.
Tire Construction – Some tires have harder carcasses and sidewalls which mean they don’t need to run as high a pressure as a tire with a soft carcass.
Ambient Temperature – The outside temperature is going to affect how your tires heat up. Setting your rear to 30psi on a cold day isn’t going to give you the same performance as setting it at the same pressure on a baking hot day, because on a hot day the tire will heat up quicker and by more.
Some of the fast riders and racers actually change their pressures throughout the day to compensate for the change in temperature so they can maximize the performance of their tires.
Hot and Cold Pressures – If you set your pressure to 30psi when the tire is cold, this isn’t going to be the same as setting them to 30psi when the tire is hot. A cold tire will gain around 2-6psi (depending on your pace) through use on the track because it will heat up and so will the air inside, meaning the pressure will increase.
Road vs Track Tires – Road tires are typically designed to run at higher pressures than track tires because they are not expected to heat up as much.
As you can see, there are many factors that come into finding the best tire pressure for your bike and tire combination. Right now you may be wondering how on earth you get the right pressures, and I wouldn’t blame you, so here we go.
How can I find my best pressure?
What you want first is a good baseline pressure which you should be able to get from any of the below sources.
Manufacturer – Go direct to the manufacturer and get the pressures they recommend, you can usually find them on their website. If not, email them and ask what they would recommend setting tire ‘X’ to for use on the track. They’re usually pretty helpful with stuff like this.
Tire Expert – Speak to the tire supplier at the track, or talk to someone you know who deals with tires and setting up bikes for the track. They would have experienced many tire and bike combinations, so they know their stuff.
Other riders – See what other riders with similar setups are doing with the same tires. They too would have gone through the same process to find the best pressures for themselves, so they should be able to set you off close to where you need to be.
Test and Monitor
Once you have your base pressure, try it out and see how you get on. Did you notice any unsavory reactions from the tire that wasn’t there before? Or the more common issue, is the tire showing any signs of unnatural wear? If you answer yes to these questions then it could well be that your pressure is not quite correct.
Last Few Tire Pressure Points Worth Mentioning
When should you set your pressures? – If you have tire warmers then set them once they have been in the warmers for a good 45 minutes or so (from stone cold). If you don’t have warmers then set them cold first thing in the morning, but remember that your tires will gain a few psi so try to take that into account. Once you’ve done a couple of sessions you’ll be able to see how much psi you’re really gaining and whether or not you are near where you want to me.
Just keep an eye on the tires. If they’re showing any sort of unnatural wear then you will need to adjust your settings.
Is your pressure gauge calibrated? – You probably shrugged your shoulders at this one, but it’s not that hard to do. Just ask the tire expert at the track to set your tires to a given pressure using their compressor, then use your gauge to check it reads the pressure they just set it to. You can also check it against one or two other rider’s gauges to see if they give the same readings. If you can, change the dial to show the compensation, if you can’t (more likely) just make a note so you remember the difference.
Wet weather riding – You want to make sure you’re pressures aren’t too low for wet weather riding, be it proper race wets or road tires. If the pressure gets too low then the tread will compress which means it can’t clear water effectively.
Lastly, don’t overdo it. I know I mentioned some of the factors that come into play with getting the best tire pressure, but this was to demonstrate that there’s not a one size fits all pressure. Don’t get too hung up on trying to get the pressure perfect.
Unless you’re pushing on at the higher end of the fast group then you probably wouldn’t notice the small differences that come from things like changes in temperature throughout the day or the way you set your pressures initially. If you feel grip and you’re not showing any ugly wear patterns then that’s all you really need to worry about.
Thanks to Dan Netting for this excellent line up.
How to customize a Motorcycle
Most riders are too afraid to turn some wrenches on their bikes themselves, but since we know that there is a potential to adjust levers etc to a riders advantage (see previous articles), we could more or less easily semi-project our bikes and make them ‘ours’ on a bigger scale. I have such a fun doing this as soon as I have a new bike, that I am willing to share the process with you. You might get a taste of one or another upgrade, and try it on your own motorcycle. All the things I am doing are going under the motto… finding performance (power and grip) resources, reducing weight (general and rotating masses), and last but not least- the look of it. All of this as affordable as possible! It all begins with the actual motorcycle and its raw numbers, so here is our ‘example’:
This is a pretty darn good bike already, so we don’t want to mess around much with geometries and electronics. The picture shows a absolute stock 1199 which comes up with these facts:
- 195 HP at 132 Nm of Torque
- 525 chain, 15/41 sprockets, gear ratio 1.77
- Weight of 165 Kg (363.8 pounds)
- Power/weight ratio: 1.1818 HP/kg
Let’s see where these numbers- and the appearance of “Cleopatra” is going…
Summarize- A necessary strategy
To just sit down with pen and paper and to make notes in which direction you want to move forward makes sense already, but to also set upgrade limits per month and in logic installation phases even more. This makes you staying in control of costs and fall-out time. Plain said… if you just go by feel, then you probably start working on something which takes too much time- or to have parts ordered which you can not use at a certain time on the project. What happen is that you can’t use the bike at all in between. So spend your money wisely and order parts logically. Start only working on it when the parts arrived, and skip on the frustrations.
Ducati Upgrade 1
I got a custom paint job on the way (the boring Ferrari image red dress gotta go!). Till it comes in, I’ve made some mods to the bike which 1) look better (for my taste), and 2) saving weight. I absolutely HATED that high/black windshield and…
Ducati Upgrade 2
Unfortunately it needs a license plate to run this bike on some public roads, cuz’ I’ll use it to teach Road Skill 1on1 students. So, since the ugly and way to heavy holder is out… I’ve build my own fender eliminator with a few simple things: The license plate…
Ducati Upgrade 3
Some stuff around the swing arm and rear sets has been done. A carbon cover for the looks (the tire huger goes soon), and the toe protector makes truly sense. Rear shock pos changed to ‘flat’, and preload adjusted (gotta get familiar …
Ducati Upgrade 4
Ducati Upgrade 6
I did some cosmetics… put fancy rim stickers on. Yea really… in gold. Shut up and just take it, cuz’ I love them. Wait until you see the entire thang. I got a brand new Lithium battery from BikeMaster, and I couldn’t wait to show you what difference…
Ducati Upgrade 7
I’m hitting the finish line with the updates which I wanted to get done for the Superbike-Coach track day at Thunderhill West Raceway on 8/5/- so next Saturday. First off… I am not willing to spend AT LEAST $4000 for a full exhaust system- nor…
Ducati Upgrade 7b
…couldn’t wait any longer to let you guys hear ‘Cleopatra’. After all the mods to the exhaust system (stage 7a) has been done- I moved forward and installed everything. Now… the video doesn’t really reflect what was going on in that garage. The microphone can not catch all those octaves and the pressure wave this thing is pushing out. I can’t wait to get it on the track on 8/5/ (where I still have some spots left btw: https://www.superbike-coach.com/…/track-day-thunderhill-wes…). Come and feel it yourselves…
Ducati Upgrade 8
I thought this is something I should add, because it’s important as the upgrades itself, and this is to adjust it all right. You might think that the position of the damn clutch lever ain’t that important, but guess what… it add’s up. At my Superbike-Coach…
Ducati Upgrade 9
Ducati Upgrade 10
Ducati Upgrade 11
After doing an ECU flash (upgrade 9), I was still very unhappy withe the “city” riding abilities a Panigale comes up with. Disappointing, but that’s maybe the difference a customized map via dyno runs can make. But since even this …
Ducati Upgrade 12
Finally the race fairings have arrived, and I am highly impressed by the quality and paint job they did to it- exactly as I put it down to paper about one month ago. A fully customized paint job- clear coated on ABS plastics, including …
Ducati Upgrade 13
It was time to put ‘Cleopatra’ into her new War dress, but I was quite nervous about the fit. Back in Europe, I’ve installed a aftermarket fairing kit ones to a R1, and some of those mounting holes were half an inch away from its destination. That…
Ducati Upgrade 14
The new paint job was done and it was time to go into the details, such as to integrate the Ducati gas tank into the design. It was planned from the beginning, that we don’t want to mess with the beautiful design of the stock 1199R tank. The brushed…
Ducati Upgrade 15
Protecting the gas tank with some kind of pads makes sense in multiple ways. Let’s just name scratch protection, resale value, or upgrading looks. For me, and that goes for decades of riding on and off race tracks- the main reason is to…
Ducati Upgrade 16
I can tell ya… the Ducati Panigale is a beast, and truly a challenge to your balls- also in regard heat! The 1199R is a race bike- period. People are surprised how hard to ride it actually is. The faster you go- the better it is, but the slower you go- the more…
How to pick the right helmet size
If you are not a professional MotoGP racer, you probably won’t get much attention of a helmet factory. While these boys getting spoiled beyond the actual design- they also have customized shells and liner/pads to give the perfect fit- while you have to deal with standardized sizing.
The good news- at least the prime helmet manufacturers have a highly strategically selection of standard sizes for their lids which covers the demand very well. In case if not, then a big verity of lining and cheek pads can make the difference. Again… I know that at least the Helmet Top-Guns like Arai and Shorei has this on their portfolio.
So, based on these facts you should not have problem to find a decent size for your noodle, if it’s not extremely out of shape. The problems are mostly the riders themselves when purchasing a new lid- or, sometimes untrained motorcycle gear staffs who often seem to pick a size for their customers to reduce stock.
No, I’m not pulling this out of the blue… I’m seeing almost every day that especially brand new riders (which are mostly depending on size suggestions of that kind) who are coming to Superbike-Coach classes or 1on1- that their helmets dangling around on their heads or even bouncing down to their noses. Don’t laugh, that is really happening.
Let’s have a look at how important it is to pick the right helmet size in general, so here is my logic:
- a too big helmet is louder
- bounces into sight
- can cause more injury as necessary
- can even fly off your head as you crash
- shaking can cause distraction
- might feels OK in the store, but not comfy on the ride
How do I know?!… I’ve been there. I am a burned child, because my helmet flew off my head at my first ever crash. Of course it was all closed, but the quality back then compared to today- oh gee… my Arai Corsair is like a Ferrari around my head today. I’ve picked that helmet back then myself too, and I didn’t spend much of a attention to it as well. So here are two things I’ve learned, how a helmet has to be in the first place:
- Damn expensive
- Snug as hell
Let me explain point one. The price of a helmet displays its quality and that includes the test procedures a product like this underlays, materials, safety features, functionality, aerodynamics and tests, design, testing staff (racers often included). All of this becomes handy for you when crashing. At that point I should remind that you have only that one head which hosts your most valuable organ, and that should be prioritized over some fancy rear sets.
Point two is easy to put. I have my lids sitting so snug that I barley get in and out. I witnessed it ones, that a girl at a retailer chose a helmet she got easier in/out with. Horrible! It got to sit so snug that there is no way that you could move it around on your head- or to wiggle your head and to slide the sit of the helmet. I think of ‘as snug as possible’. It might doesn’t feel right in the store, but you’ll appreciate it as soon the wind starts playing with it.
So how to start this out?!
Have a friend measuring your head to evaluate the base size of your lid (Arai chart above). That will be also THE MAXIMAL BIGGEST SIZE YOU’LL PICK. Try now the next smaller one and see how much pain you can take :-)
With each size you try this: Shake, wiggle, try pulling it off (closed strap), if your ears are not squeezed, if your nose doesn’t touch the chin guard. The moment where your skin and scalp sticks with the lining… you’re good. Any additional movement shouldn’t be tolerated. If you hang between sizes- invest in different pads to make the helmet yours. You’ll get use to it as long your nose and ears have some clearance in there. I personally use size M for my Arai Corsairs and add a pad on top of my head because I like it sits slight higher, but let me explain that in my little video below:
Headcoach Can Akkaya Video Blog
DIY Motorcycle Tire Change
We at Superbike-Coach have quite a bit of tires to change during a year and we use to let local dealerships do this job, but a recent price raise to flip and balance tires on rims by about 80% is unacceptable. Well, at least for us. So BikeMaster gave us their ‘Tire Change Stand‘ which allows to mount the rim, to break the bed off the rim, and to un- and install tires within 15 to 30 minutes.
I know, this kind of work is not for everyone, and neither I like it… but after all you might find out it ain’t that bad. So here they are… brand new Bridgestone rubbers for our rental bike and my beloved Supermotard. Those Battlax are solid tires with lots of grip and last for the money, so off we go…
What you’ll need besides the tire changer is:
The total is about $100 in tools, which means it pays off at the first tire change you do. Besides… a regular Sportbike street rider probably has to change tires twice per riding season. You make the math.
I just swapped tire on a rim within 15 minutes, and that was the first one I’ve ever done. Having the right tools helps, and it went much better on the second tire. OK, a helping hand was necessary along the mounting part, but with the saving got us a nice steak and a beer :-)
So if you like working on your bike and if you are tired of price raises of astronomical dimensions, then this is the way to go. Step up your game riders! :-)
Headcoach Can Akkaya, Superbike-Coach Corp
The truth about motorcycle riding gear
We’ve been all 18 years old ones. Lacking on reasonable decision making big time, and the only thing slowing us down was the size of balls. Back then, when I started riding on the street, I was not thinking in terms of protection, and it actually didn’t seem anyone would care, really. Also I didn’t freeze money to be able to buy riding gear along with that motorcycle. A ridiculously cheap helmet and a not even real leather jacket should do the job. Guess what… I’ve learned it the hard way.
I was knocked out and woke up on the lap of a Dutch lady who gave me water. Even though I hit that guardrail pretty hard, it seemed I got away without fractures. To give you a measure… the chassis of my bike broke in three pieces. My helmet flew off my head even though the strap was closed. My ‘alibi leather’ jacket ripped apart on the left side, as well as my jeans and sneakers. Positive aspect… that EMT didn’t had to cut much to get me out of the rest of my clothes. The pain of 3rd degree burns is something you’ll never forget, and the treatment is is a journey. Nurses pulling asphalt pieces with pin setts and literally washing your wounds with iodine. I’m sure today you’ll get a partially anesthetization and a trophy just for attending… I got a wood stick to bite on back then. Then they patch your open wounds up, which gets renewed every day. Done that ones?! Well, at least there the hair ain’t grow anymore.
Needless to mention that my interest for proper riding gear was triggered immensity. Since then, the quality and efficiency of my riding gear has priority and is top notch. I actually can look back through decades of development of riding gear and to be somewhat part of it when I got into racing. One of my early sponsors developed my racing suits in an impressive speed, and upon lots of fan requests they made a street rider version, the ‘Akkaya Replica’, which turned to be a bestseller for MJK Leathers in Europe. It was quite a pleasure to autograph fan suits in the paddocks :-)
But enough of me, so let’s see what’s suppose to be “real” motorcycle riding protection here. Let’s see what I can give you on the way here from what I’ve learned with all this, and with the things I still get to see with about 1500 students per year. First off… when do you need the best riding gear possible? How about during the time when your riding level is not that good- or if your balls are bigger than your ability to judge ‘distance and speed’?! That’s when you’ll need it the most. Don’t ya?! Now where are you at? How do you see yourself leveled objectively when you take ego out of equation? That seems to be impossible for the most, so how about we don’t put the gear question based on level and prioritize this.
I’m guessing you are not a professional rider, so you do a regular job. You have Mondays to do- a family to feed. Someone is waiting for you at home and you want to be safe as possible. Now what is the safest motorcycle riding gear… real leather! Tight sitting and sweat tearing leather- from the neck down to your feet. At this point it doesn’t matter if it’s a one-piece or two-piece leather suit as long as you can zip them together. Why leather over textile? If you watch MotoGP, then you see them getting up 90% at a time, and sometimes running back to the garage to keep going with the session… in the suit they just crashed with. I’ve seen riders crashing in textile on a parking lot which made that stuff useless. Just this comparison should ring the alert bell.
Even if your textile gear sits some kind of snug- the flex in there and the fact that it burns through (so things come lose then) doesn’t keep all your protectors in place. They turn away at first contact with the asphalt and so your knee, elbow or shoulder is receiving full impact. Non of the textile like materials can deliver the strength, flex and heat resistance leather can give you. I’ve seen riders actually getting injured by the protection. He was in kevlar jeans. The ‘alibi’ knee protector slid away- he broke his knee cap, and the protector cut so deep into his flesh so that his leg bone was exposed. Yea, no shit!
Snug leather is more sexy anyway, isn’t it? Yup, I know it’s hot- I know it’s more expensive, but you guys need to finally understand to add another 1500 onto this subject… your health over horsepower.
Headcoach Can Akkaya, Superbike-Coach Corp
Performance with Dynojet Power Commander
Painfully, I remember the outcome of my first top 10 race as a semi-professional in St. Wendel Germany in 1992. That was one of a bad ass half track half street tracks you don’t get to see these days anymore. I came of from 3rd row in qualifying and made my way up and kept 9th position till the last lap. I didn’t make any mistakes until exiting the last turn onto the straight. One single miss-shift, and three guys passed me. I was heartbroken. A year later the first quick shifters came out and when I tested it, I remembered that devastating mistake and I wished I would have one back then.
But a quick shifter doesn’t only help to reduce miss-shifts. In racing it reduces energy loss on two levels- forward momentum and physical input. That and a certain mental relief opens reserves. Today, most high-end street legal bikes are coming with a quick shifter, and if you don’t have one… go get one. Dynojet Research, one of the pioneers in regard fuel management systems for the aftermarket offers those for a variety of motorcycles and universals. Their famous Power commander adds their quick shifter in no time plug and play.
Now let me first explain what a Power commander can do for ya. Besides a gain of power with the right map (fuel/air management), you can determine every percentage of throttle position so that weak spots can be reduced- like an harsh throttle response for example. Ergo, drive-ability and general performance. If you’ve changed your exhaust and air filter, you might have to have a ECU flash done. That is not just pretty expensive, it is also imperfect if its data are not developed on a roller. On top of this- a flash is a one time thing, so any change would require another expensive flash. The Power commander is adjustable anytime.
Dynojet also offers an AutoTune, which optimizes fuel/air ratios on the fly, and a Ignition Module which can make the difference on the track. All of it can be connected to a network and fine adjusted on a computer, just like in a MotoGP garage. Additionally, the Quick Shifter Sensor. We just recently installed a PC-V and a Quick Shifter to one of our school bikes. The instructions are clear- nothing has to be spliced- and a matching map is a download away. The quick shifter need to be activated, and that’s it. The bike shifts through the gears as smooth as it can get.
These Dynojet systems are a big upgrade you can do to your bike.
Coach Riding Tip: A better way to control throttle and brake
I see it so many times. 95% of all riders actually don’t have a decent throttle/brake technique. Furthermore, they actually live with the lever position their bikes coming with The outcome is actually shocking and it surprises me each time that they miss out on a conclusion themselves.
Most of the time the levers are sitting too high. Just that causes sleeping fingers, tired wrists and especially a hell of a delay. That delay is time you can’t effort to spend away in a tight situation. The video below covers not just this- it also teaches you a throttle/brake trick you need to learn. You’ll feel the benefit of it in the first minute, so get to it!
This Coach Tip is presented to you by Racer Gloves USA
Motorcycle Sprocket Job: More Power
You feel like your baby could use a little bit more punch? This article is going to help you to unlock an up to dramatic improve in regard torque character and ride-ability for about 150 bux!
That might sound like those endless advertisements which promising 10% more horsepower for a race air filter- or some shiny extra strong glowing hyper-kryptonite-supersphereographical spark
plugs, and you’ll get more for a extra fee :-)
Nope, this one is totally legit and easy to do yourselves. Let’s look into the slight sketchy background first.
All those motorcycle manufactures are selling their models mainly based on two numbers… horsepower and top speed. Yea, that’s how they get you, just admit it. While the horsepower is one thing- they are achieving those crazy top speed numbers mainly via primary ratio, gear box ratios and secondary ratios. Of course also the wheel sizes have and influence as well as the general weight and aerodynamics of your bike, but that’s something you kinda have to live with if you don’t want this to be your financial grave.
Let me just give a small overview what kind of weight this has for race teams, because racing is all about acceleration and only a fraction of time about top speed. We could set up every single gear in the transmission to match corner speed and RPM’s in a perfect torque range for turn exit performance. A “longer” (more top speed) 6th gear could gain passing chance coming out of a slipstream before late braking. The ratio was calculated on the mile exact to be fully rev’d out in 6th gear about one second before braking. Wind direction or a strategical aspect depending on- if you probably lead the race or if dog fights were predicted. All of this is a crucial part of racing. For you, we are looking at the secondary- also called the final drive. This is literally ‘outside’ the bike and can be done with regular tools and affordable parts. The influence can be surprisingly good.
So here is your scenario as the street rider or even track rider. The Germans have the Autobahn, giving their riders some top speeds we Americans on our Freeways won’t get to see ever. That might doesn’t include idiots here, but generally you are doing 70-80 miles per hour max, while your baby could do about 200 actually. That’s wasted energy if you ask me, sitting there literally never used. Another effect is, that the 1st gear is so damn long that you could do 70 with it already. The ratio makes this gear almost useless. So if we would change the final drive, it’ll also have a positive influence over the entire primary ratio for more ride-ability. Cool huh?!
The terms here are ‘longer’, for more top speed- and ‘shorter’ for more acceleration, and that’s what we want. The useful torque range will move by giving up on top speed. My Panigale 1199 is topping out at a 165. She doesn’t make 200 anymore, but the acceleration beats down the brand new V4, no kidding! So here is what I do, and that’s actually a good start out point for you as well…
I chose a specific ratio because this way, my ‘Cleopatra’ can still cruise at a 6800 rpm’s in 6th on the Freeway- while this ratio is still fair enough for the most race tracks I am going to to teach track riders. So no swapping drama here for me then. The general rule is:
Rear goes the opposite way:
- A bigger sprocket = shorter (more acceleration)
- A smaller sprocket = longer (more top speed)
Generally, I swap the sprockets this way: One tooth LESS on the front sprocket- and one tooth MORE on the rear sprocket. Rule of thumb is- one tooth more or less on the front sprocket is just like two and a half teeth on the rear. That is huge in terms of acceleration, drive-ability and responsiveness and you have no idea what you’ve been missing out here. So bare with me and get to it.
Go count front and rear sprocket teethes of your bike. Let’s say you have a 16 on the front- you go get a 15 for about $40. Now let’s say you count 45 teeth on the rear- you go get a 46 for about 80-100 bux. That small investment is the biggest ‘power upgrade’ you’ll ever get. Also no need to swap chain, because 1 down front/1 up rear needs the same chain length you already have- unless you also want to convert from your huge OEM chain to a 520 chain kit (I covered that in ‘Coach’s Motorcycle Bible‘)
Most of the needed parts are easy to get to at BikeMaster. They come affordable and fast. They also have chains if needed. if you want to go a slight different route with your sprocket choice, I’d suggest to see the ratio/speed differences ones you know the numbers of teeth your bike originally has, and compare it with the numbers you plan to go with here. If you are not sure about something- just drop a comment and I’ll see if I can help.
Please note though… if you make any changes in this regard- make sure all bolts are tight and take it easy riding it. Give it time to re-feel the new character of your bike. I’m not responsible for you bullshitting around, you hear me?! :-)
This Coach Tip is presented to you by BikeMaster
How to remove a destroyed bolt
There is ‘that one bolt’ which extends a simple job in regard time, dirt, and resources… ONE fuckin’ bolt. You know those?!
So I did a brake job on my Multistrada Enduro Pro, because ‘Indy’ was missing braking power, which is already restricted with those knobbie tires. The plan: New brake fluid and bleeding air- new pads and cleaning caliper pistons- and 2 new rotors. (Full article here)
How to clean a motorcycle in the most simple way
A little video about how to wash a motorcycle in the most simple way. A bucket of hot water with dish soap, a sponge and a hose does the job. The most important part is to dry the bike completely and quick. For that part we use a ‘Motorcycle Detailing Blow Dryer’ from BikeMaster.
Coming up next:
- What tires to buy (street and track riding)
- Rear set and lever adjustments
- Do minor services yourself (Oil change)
- How to cleaning a bike without water
- What gear to buy
Interesting Motorcycle Links
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