Brain Dump - November 2018

This is not the normal State of the Garage, this is more of a brain dump. A bit of insight into how my mind, ‘works’?

It’s November, and I need to figure out what I’m doing for 2019. I have the following prospects:

- Mistake is mostly ready to go for another year of supermoto. I’d like to get better wheel spacers made up as a quality of life improvement but the current setup is usable. I enjoy the hell out of sumo, although running a full season in conjunction with LRRS can be a bit… much.  Other than in a specialty class, odds are low of bringing home any titles on this bike, but I did make improvements this year.

- Facade is in need of new tires for 2019, really should get dyno tuned and mapped, but otherwise is a gas and go bike. A bike that is entertaining on a one off basis, great for track day duty, but not one that I see myself racing solo for the season. I prefer lighter bikes, and I’m not up for trying to significantly reduce the 600’s weight. I have a line on a slipper clutch which would help my comfort level on the bike, but even kitted out, I’m going to be a permanent back marker on this machine.

- A-ko is down, and I don’t anticipate putting her on track in 2019. Too many parts that require outside involvement, some from sources that are not good at punctual production runs that I can’t pin my plans on the FZR for next year. That said, I do want to put the FZR back together; it’s no longer a class killer anywhere but can still put up a fight in ULSB, LWSB, etc. On the flip side, the bike is aging out, as noted in the prior state of the garage the list of reasons why I should give up on the bike is fairly long. So the rebuild process is going to be tempered by the understanding that the FZR is not worth sinking large sums of money into going forward. I’ll do what I can for reasonable cost, and if I hit a roadblock, that may signal the end of the line for the little rocket.

So, with what I’ve got in the stable I’m not looking good for contesting LRRS next year. And I do want to run LRRS, badly, road racing scratches an itch that supermoto doesn’t. I took a year off the last time I crashed, and that sucked. It took me longer to get back up to speed, it drove me batty knowing racing was going on and I wasn’t participating, it just wasn’t fun. I can suck it up and run the 600 but as stated, I prefer lightweights, this season really drove that home as I got seat time on a Ninja 300 and 400 in addition to the FZR and R6. There is an argument to be made for going for the 300 or 500 class, low cost of entry, modern bikes that shouldn’t require excess TLC, fun times right?

The counter argument is those bikes at best have one bump class to kinda be competitive, the 400s are one class wonders. Add in the trend of the MFGs still trying to one up each other in this segment meaning new class killers are almost guaranteed every couple of years it makes buying in that much more difficult. I’d also have to leave the bikes in supersport trim to get maximum viable race time out of them and… well… that takes a chunk of the fun out of racing for me. I like to tweak things, even if ultimately that’s counter productive for me overall.

If 300s / 500s are out, I’ve veto’d the R6, FZR won’t be ready but I’m insisting on running LRRS what do I do? Looking at the final results for the year the obvious answer would be buy a Kramer. My wallet just sealed itself shut at mention of that idea. The idea of racing a bike I’d have to finance, and could potentially leave in a dumpster at the track following a get off while still making payments just doesn’t work for me. No, I don’t want an SV either, I just don’t care for them after racing them a couple times. Yup, I’m weird and picky, certain bikes that should be right up my wheelhouse, lightweight, lots of interesting build possibilities, and they just don’t get MY motor turning. If the bike doesn’t interest me, I’m not going to put time into it.

This is where my warped mind gets me into trouble. I’ve set myself up with a perfectly engineered logic trap that says I have to think a better solution. All my current options are non-starters, so how do I work what resources I do have to get back in the game? (Those that know me are screaming “We’ve seen this before!” This is the same logic game, explain away the obvious, proven options first, then create criteria to justify a boondoggle ala A-ko, Mistake, etc… For those that don’t know me, welcome to the madness.)

My solution has to meet the following criteria:

- Low cost of entry, large lump sums aren’t going to happen but I’m ok buying bits and pieces over time.

- Lightweight, I’ve well established this is what I prefer.

- Class compatible with the FZR would be nice, the bikes can then back up each other, so I could have an A and B setup for a change. It also needs to at least match the FZR in performance, if not exceed it.

- Somewhat modern, core parts should be easier to source?

- Gets my gears spinning, if I’m going to pursue a build over time it has to be one that keeps me interested.

- Be unique. Let’s face it, I like to be different, plus from a practical perspective being unusual helps stand out when trying to get outside assistance.

Time to start looking at the data. My current preferred machine is 330lbs, 70hp+. I don’t want the new machine to weigh more than that, and it needs to at least match the power to weight ratio. In comparison the Kramers are 280lbs, 80hp to 90hp, so if I can match THAT power to weight ratio I’m advancing the game significantly. Class wise, in CCS singles get pretty much free reign build wise and can run and contest multiple classes, so what other singles are there? The KTM Duke is the basis for the Kramer, it’s a possibility, as is a Husky 701SM, but I’d be literally cloning the Kramer, not interested. Honda’s competitor is the XR650L, heavy out of the crate and researching the motor says it can’t make the power needed reliably so it’s out. Prior to the 690 being popular there were some successful XR650 into 250GP conversions, problem is those chassis are getting hard to find now too.

Going down the supermoto rabbit hole, the snowbike guys are punching out 450s and getting 70+ HP out of them in a package that is under 250lbs ready to rock. The downside, like a road raced 450 they have a limited lifespan, and I’ve already got a supermoto. There is another new single on the scene though, the BRC 500. A full conversion, cases on up for a KTM 250 or 300 two stroke that leaves you with a 500cc counterbalanced monster that is already putting down 72hp at the rear wheel with a first guess at a MX exhaust, there is lots of room on the table for more. Because it’s using the standard KTM transmission, 5 and 6 speed gear sets with lots of gearing options are available to dial in the shift points. But it’s still a supermoto.

Road racing a MX bike is not a new idea, Larry Hanlon had a CR500 conversion to road racer he campaigned back in the day, and a few years back the hot idea was a ‘Formula 450’ class based on light conversions of dirt bikes into 250GP style machines without cutting up the frame. Roland Sands, GPTech LLC, Beon, Airtech Streamlining, Race Tech and many individuals got in on the act. Conversions ranged from simple clipons and shortened forks to full body kits, custom front ends, etc. Beon has gone so far as putting out a full framer based around a YZ450 motor, and it’s in Kramer’s cost range, but it’s sooo gorgeous. On paper these bikes shouldn’t work, the geometry is all wrong, the frames are designed for a completely different usage flex wise, the only reason they saw any development past the what if stage is the abundance of cheap donor bikes to experiment with. Unfortunately they never took off in the US, I don’t know if the rise of popularity of bikes like the Ninja 250 being even cheaper to setup stole their thunder or other orgs didn’t have rules as favorable to singles?

So, going over the two stroke MX conversion theory, on paper we’ve got a 220lb machine that can hold a 72hp power plant, with potential for more power on tap as the machine gets developed. BRC is supporting their motor with repeated production runs, plus the bulk of the parts are modern KTM. It should crash like a supermoto, aka cosmetic damage only unless you REALLY SCREW UP. Much of the running gear is standard supermoto kit, and that big single being a smoker makes it easy to work on. (Rebuilds at the track, ok.) The negatives make for a long list:

- Geometry numbers are completely wrong for road racing.

- Brackets, rear sets, etc are one offs or low volume items.

- Completely unproven, it could be great, the odds are it’ll be a joke.

- It needs to be assembled, and to do that parts need to be found first, the odds of being ready for 2019 are just as low as the odds of it working well on the first try.

- It’s not cheap, need a bike, the motor kit, wheels, suspension work, brackets and bodywork, last I checked I still haven’t been able to modify a tree’s DNA to allow it to grow this stuff for me in the back yard.

Sounds like my kind of project. Many of these issues apply to Mistake as well, and for awhile it looked like that project wasn’t going to pan out but slowly it’s turned into a good machine. A project I can pick at over time with delusions of grandiose performance down the line is just the kind of thing to keep me in the game.

This brings me back to LRRS 2019, I haven’t sorted that problem yet, but if I’ve got a project in the works that may be the distraction I need to get by while not racing a full season. The plan will be to run one or two events on the 600 to keep my license alive and my feel for the track somewhat fresh and hopefully hit up one or more away events in the new hauler for bonus fun. In the mean time I’ll get more seat time on the sumo running that for a full season while picking away at A-ko and hopefully the new project. If there is enough interest I’ll try to make a video series showing the research, design, assembly and eventually track development and racing the new project? If you haven’t guessed already, I’ve done more than just googling around and have gotten positive information saying this could work… time to find a donor bike!