State of the Garage - Mar 2017

The 2017 season is about to start in a little under two months, and as usual I'm still scrambling to get ready. Fortunately this year I'm in better shape than year's past. A-ko is pretty much ready to rock, finally being a well sorted machine the only real work I'm doing is maint and some minor improvements in areas such as brake drag, etc.

A-ko partially torn down in a messy garage.

The cold weather we've reverted to in the past couple of weeks combined with a complete office migration at work have conspired to keep me out of the garage doing much of anything which isn't helping. I've also shot myself in the progress foot by picking up a new basket case project, a 2003 Yamaha R6, 'modern' by my standards but still nearly 15 years old. It's been abused, put away wet, partially revived, abused, forgotten, partially revived, crashed, partially revived, and then I bought it. So far I've rebuilt the front brake system from scratch including new lines, boiled out calipers and a 3rd generation R6 brake master. I've cleaned up the plumbing under the tank, tossed some emissions garbage that has no place on a race machine, replaced a busted front fairing stay, tossed the wrecked steering damper, installed slide stops, got the injectors cleaned and balanced, cleaned what I can only imagine was 4 year old gas out of the system, and just general clean up and reversion to proper assembly on various bits. It arrived as a basket case, it's currently mostly reassembled.

Unfortunately it's still fighting me. It doesn't want to accept large throttle openings. My initial diagnosis was a gummed up fuel system and a badly set up Power Commander throwing the fueling off into the weeds. I've cleaned it out, the PC is now on current firmware with a usable idea of what closed and full throttle looks like and... it's still not happy. At least now it'll accept some throttle which is a huge improvement over when I got it but something is still out to lunch. It's either the PC being garbage, or the fuel pump isn't up to the task. The PC I can yank for now to test, the fuel pump is $500+ to replace from Yamaha.

I'm not paying $500 on a guess, nor am I paying $400 to get the tools needed to verify the fuel rail pressure myself just yet. Instead I'm going to try the hack option, rebuild the pump myself. It turns out that there are multiple sources of pump 'innards' online selling the actual pump itself for $15 to $60 if you're not afraid of a little manual labor. It means I'll have to dissect the OEM pump assembly to replace the guts, but at $15 a try vs $500, I'll take that gamble.

The sumo has been a touch easier to work on as it's in the basement which stays warmer, but I've also been waiting on parts so it's sat for far longer than it should have. The good news is now it's just a matter of reassembling Humpty Dumpty and it'll be ready to go. It's sporting a new 300cc top end that will hopefully hold up for a full season at Boxshop.

Because I don't have enough tee shirts already, I bought one from Draik Beauchamp, aka The Draik 77. He's a young racer currently competing in the national Moto America KTM Cup series and was the prior owner of the R6. The R6 was sold to me as a way to raise money for this year's racing, and when I found out his number was 77... it just made sense. The kid is busting his ass doing to pay his own way which I really respect. I'll be rooting for him in Moto America this year, if you find you need more tee shirts and want to support a racer, buy some here.

One more thing!

The last bit I want to get out there is that I'm officially working with Todd McNabby at Heroic Racing Apparel this year. You may have noticed I have updated the site for 2017 and am proudly displaying a link to HRA as a 2017 supporter. Todd was part of my return to racing, starting with a road trip to New York City back in 2013. Net result was I made a new friend and got on the track sporting the best gloves I have ever worn from both a protection and more importantly comfort standpoint to date. I spend far too much time in front of a computer which means my wrists and hands are not happy with me. Combine that with my crash in 2008 and I just don't have massive hand strength. With my prior gloves I literally had to plan ahead for grabbing the clutch, just before I'd have to lift my hand off the bar, force my hand open and then CLAMP. It's not a strategy that allows you to be very smooth. I had to do that because my hands were tired after just the warm up lap from forcing my gloves to move. If I wanted to risk trashing my hand again I could have gone back to thin street junk but I already made that mistake once. Todd's gloves have a very unique finger construction that provides all the protection, but I don't lose any dexterity while in them, nor do they fatigue my hands to wear. In addition I finally tossed my inadequate Sidi street boots for a set of Forma Ice road racing boots that I'm still wearing. They are one of the few boots that will actually fit my uh... skinny physique?

I'm now working with Todd to perform the same magic trick his gloves did for my hands on my suit. I have a traditional 'bullet proof' Vanson that I never wore last year because it's too tiring. I can't be loose in something that weighs enough to be noticeable and takes effort to move in. Instead last year I reverted to my now 13 year old AGV entry level suit that is loose and flexible not by design but by having the snot beaten out of it over the years through multiple crashes. My poor brain is going to be overloaded enough as it is this year trying to come to terms with a much faster machine, the R6, as well as trying to apply what I learn on it to improve my times on the FZR. I don't need to also be either worried about the consequences of getting it wrong or preplanning my movement to make sure I have the muscle to do so at each spot in the track. I need to focus on my riding and a full Heroic suit is going to help me get there.

So, that said I'm declaring open season on pestering me about Heroic gear. It's fully documented that I have an opinion on everything and I'm not afraid to share, but in this case I'm preemptively putting the invite out there. Hit me up at the track, on Facebook, email, however works.

2017 is shaping up to be a good year, I'm looking forward to multiple weekends banging bars with my track family.