For the 2010 roadracing season I decided it was time to upgrade my racebike from the current 2006 GSXR 1000 to something a bit more advanced in design. As much as I've enjoyed racing the GSXR, after three years of faithful service I concluded that some of the shortcomings I've dealt with would best be addressed with a new base platform altogether. Something lighter, more mass centralized and with a stock braking system I could use in supersport-based classes without seeing Elvis every other turn. In other words, the 2008 Honda CBR1000rr.
The switch to go from a Suzuki to a Honda wasn't taken lightly; I've owned Suzukis as trackbikes for almost fifteen years now, and always felt they came with an excellent motor and chassis straight out of the crate. But on the showroom floor the latest generation GSXR liter bike appeared to be more sport-tourer then sport, and I knew it would be quite expensive to transform it into the type of bike I wanted to race.
Conversely, just sitting on the Honda CBR1000rr revealed several aspects that no reasonable amount of money thrown at the Suzuki could address; the chassis felt '600' class small, and the bike as a whole felt about 50 lbs lighter then the GSXR - even with full street gear. Furthermore, some of the key components such as front brake master cylinder immediately felt better.
Another reason for changing over was that 2010 was Honda's third straight year of production for this design, something uncommon amongst Japanese manufacturers who routinely change entire motorcycles every two years in an effort to stay ahead of the competition. A third year of production meant concerns such as spare parts availability would be less of an issue, which isn't a minor consideration when building a racebike.
Finally, with the giveaway price Honda was offering on 2008 leftovers, the decision to go with the CBR1000rr was a no-brainer. As a result, on October 12, 2009 I took delivery of a brand-spanking new 2008 CBR1000rr in the classic black and silver finish.
This webpage will show how the bike is transformed from the showroom fresh model you see below to a (hopefully) competitive club racing machine.
And here she is, the day after I took delivery. When the 2008 model was first released, I honestly didn't care too much for the aesthetics of the bike due in part to a front end that looked like it had been punched in the nose. However, having seen racing CBRs turned into incredible looking machines I knew that the appearance could easily be addressed with some decent race bodywork and paint.
A look over the bike reveals a number of positive design traits, including a cockpit that is sensibly laid out and controls that automatically feel correct in their positioning along with a large, centrally-mounted tachometer.
The stock exhaust system shows the lengths Honda went through to achieve a maximum level of mass centralization. Even better will be the weight savings and power increase to come from something constructed of titanium without a catalyzer clogging up the works (for closed-course use only, I promise : )
Here's one selection of components that no level of flashy marketing can mask if they're substandard: the front braking system. Nowadays bikes either come with quality brakes straight from the manufacturer, or they don't. The Honda brakes feel solid at the lever....the Suzuki's do not. Tokico mono-bloc calipers and the latest design Nissin radial master cylinder equate to much a better braking system straight out the box - a critical concern for me and a vast improvement over what I've used in the past.
NOVEMBER 3, 2009
While patiently awaiting the arrival of several key parts for the build I rode the CBR on the street for about 100 break-in miles. Several things I noticed right away were the nimble handling and lightweight feel, both of which were exceptional for a liter-class sportsbike. The power in stock form felt good, though not as strong as my GSXR had been. I could also feel differences in the power delivery through various parts of the rev range based upon what the exhaust system valves were doing, which was an interesting sensation but one that seemed designed more for sound control then power delivery.
After receiving an Ohlins FGK 140 fork cartridge kit it was time to begin disassembling the bike to remove the stock forks and ship them off to Ohlins USA to have the kit installed.
One lesson I quickly learned was that the CBR has some of the trickiest to disassemble stock bodywork I've ever worked with. In an effort to save weight Honda engineered very thin and lightweight body panels which were designed with tabs that fold together like origami. It took a good hour to figure out how to dismantle everything in order to remove the stock bodywork without breaking any of the connecting tabs.
On the plus side the upper cowling/headlight assembly is a one piece unit and was easy to remove with all of the key components staying together once the mirrors were taken off.
This is just one example of the type of small panels Honda used in the design of the stock bodywork.
Sidepanels off, lowers removed and front brake calipers disconnected.
Once the upper cowling is removed you can see how neatly everything is packaged. With race glass installed servicing this bike will be a breeze.
I always take note of how the stock forks were originally installed before removing them for servicing. In this case they come from the factory with the bottom of the fork caps flush with the top triple clamp.
With the fairings off you can see motor in all its glory. I love working on new bikes simply because the motors are so clean. I can already see a number of areas that will have to be safety wired for racing, but on the plus side everything seems readily accessible.
Left side of the motor. Heavy duty case covers are required for racing - Woodcrafts are on the way.
Here the stock forks are removed from the bike and lined up next to the Ohlins cartridge kits that are going be installed; I highly recommend the cartridge kits for anyone looking to greatly improve the feel of their bike's suspension during track use. In this case the kit already comes with the upgraded 25mm valving, but will have to be resprung for my weight. They're on their way now to Ohlins USA in North Carolina to be resprung and installed in the stock forks.
As a change of pace I decided to look into a new company for race bodywork. Auctmarts is a Chinese manufacturer that has become well known for their aftermarket race-replica street bodywork kits made of injection molded plastic. Over the past several years the quality of their street bodywork is said to have improved greatly, and their sales are growing strong in the aftermarket segment. Lesser known is that Auctmarts recently started producing full-on fiberglass race bodywork; after several conversations with one of their representatives I was able to relay the paintscheme I wanted for next season, and Auctmarts was kind enough to provide several rough draft concepts (shown above). As a result of their help and commitment to providing quality raceglass for this project, I decided to give them a try. The bodywork is currently being produced, and I'm looking forward to seeing the final product.
Final draft concept for the CBR racebike.
NOVEMBER 8, 2009
What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon then dismantling a perfectly good motorcycle and making it more durable and performance oriented for racing. But before anything can be bolted on, the strip-down must continue...
With the cover taken off the fuel tank you can see the 'Honda Electronic Steering Damper' (HESD) unit below the headstock. This will eventually be replaced by a conventional damper to ensure consistent operation and reliability during racing. With the seat and tail section removed you can see how compact everything is packaged. The small black square labeled "YTZ7S" is actually the stock battery, with the fuse panel located below it and the exhaust valve servo control to the right. One aggravating part I quickly found was that the passenger footpegs were bolted to the inside of the subframe rails. Even better was that the battery box was molded in such a way that it would have to be taken out in order to access the footpeg bolts for removal. After considering different ways to dismantle the battery box I finally decided that the easiest way to do remove the pegs was to simply unbolt the subframe from the bike altogether to access them.
Once the subframe was unbolted the passenger footpegs came off easily enough. Now time to address the rider footpegs.
Honda took a pretty unique approach with their stock rearset design; as you can see, the shift lever is actually a completely separate unit from the footpeg bracket. Problem is, the footpeg has to be replaced with something sturdier and higher mounted to allow for additional ground clearance, and the shift lever is too suceptable to crash damage. As a result, the stock items will be replaced with a set of proven rearsets from Woodcraft Racing.
This is the back of the stock brake-side rearset unit. Note the return springs for the brake lever and rear brake switch - these will be removed altogether with the Woodcraft kit.
Other parts required for racing are heavy-duty engine covers. Stock engine covers are generally designed for aesthetics and light weight, which means they are thin and prone to grinding through or breaking open in even the slowest of lowside crashes. Heavy-duty engine covers allow the bike to slide on them without dumping oil from the motor onto the track. Like the rearsets, Woodcraft was chosen for the engine covers. I prefer Woodcraft mainly because they offer a two-piece cover design, which includes a separate replaceable 'slider' that bolts on from the inside of the cover. Here is a view of the back of the right side engine cover and slider.
On the left side, the stator cover also needs to be replaced with a heavy-duty item. When replacing this cover it's important to remember to put loctite on every bolt that will be used to transfer the stock electrical components to the Woodcraft cover.
Because the Woodcraft stator cover is narrower in design then the stock cover for additional clearance, Woodcraft includes a smaller replacement bolt and washer for the stator. The stock bolt is above on the left, with the Woodcraft replacement on the right. Every little bit of width counts!
Once the components have been transferred over the Woodcraft cover is given a thin coat of gasket sealer and bolted on. The red piece in the center is the replaceable slider.
Next item to replace: the stock shock absorber. Properly setup quality suspension is a key component for any racebike. In this case the stock unit is being replaced with the latest generation Ohlins TTX racing shock absorber. One observation about the CBR right away is that the stock shock absorber is packaged incredibly tight between the swingarm and engine. The photo to the right shows the stock shock linkage arrangement.
With the stock shock removed you can see how the swingarm is literally designed around the shock absorber.
Here you can see the external differences between the stock shock absorber and the Ohlins unit on the left. I initally wondered if the Ohlins shock would even fit in the limited space given its dimensions. From eyelet to eyelet, the stock shock length is 302mm; the Ohlins will be set at the same until some track time reveals what if any changes are necessary.
The remote spring preload adjuster knob and mounting bracket should be be unbolted from the reservoir for installation. Note the separate compression and rebound damping adjuster knobs under the reservoir - cool.
After spending some time trying to figure out how to fit the Ohlins shock absorber I was able to do so with a little elbow grease. I can tell already that making trackside rebound and compression adjustments is going to be a complete pain in the butt, as will ride height adjustments.
After installing the shock absorber it was time to replace the stock exhaust system with something lighter that also offered less restricted exhaust gas flow. Because I've been told the stock Honda headers are pretty well designed, I decided to go with just a slip-on exhaust system in order to exploit Honda's header design and save some money. One of my primary concerns was to have an exhaust system with a bung incorporated for adding an A/F sensor later on. After doing some research I decided to try out the KR tuned system, which has been well receieved by other riders. Above is a comparison of the KR Tuned exhaust system and the stock exhaust.
One nice thing about the KR Tuned exhaust is the quality of construction. Notice the actual carbon fiber embossed end cap!
I was happy to find the KR Tuned exhaust bolted straight on with no fitment issues whatsoever. Notice the bung for the A/F sensor; this will com in handy when a Bazzaz Fuel management/Traction control unit gets installed at a later date.
A final look at an afternoon's work. Rearsets, engine covers, shock absorber and exhaust system installed, and the side stand and unused wiring removed. It's starting to come along nicely...
NOVEMBER 19, 2009
Continuing with the build, the front sprocket was changed over from the stock 16 tooth to an aftermarket 15 tooth sprocket. Note the rubber damping ring on either side of the stock sprocket. Although nice to have, it's not a necessity by any means. The sprocket itself is held on by a simple bolt that only needs 40 ft lbs of torque to re-install. Although I have a 520 size chain kit for the bike, I'm going to use the stock 530 chain for awhile simply because it's brand new and would be a waste to get rid of. Initially the final gearing will be set at 15/44 (stock is 16/42), with the rear sprocket size changed as needed depending on the track.
With parts of the Bazzaz FI/Traction Control system starting to roll in, it's time to prepare for the wiring. Here the O2 sensor is installed in the KR Tuned exhaust pipe. This will eventually be connected to a Bazzaz Air-Fuel Mapping unit.
This photo shows the engine and airbox with the fuel tank removed. Circle #1 references the connector for the left handlebar switch pod; one nice feature of the CBR is that you can remove the entire switchpod without any issues other then having to start the bike in 'neutral'. On the GSXR if the clutch interlock switch wasn't connected the ECU would object. Circle #2 references where the vacuum hose leading from the air intake flapper valves leads to. If disabling the intake flappers (or removing them altogether as I'm doing) you can lose the long hose leading from the upper cowl to this location; more on this later. Circle #3 references where the TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) is located. A Bazzaz 'Z-Bomb' will be installed there shortly to ensure full power at high RPMs, as the stock ignition is retarded by the factory in the upper rev range.
Here's a view of the left switchpod connecter and stock steering damper.
A comparison of the stock left handlebar to the Woodcraft clip-on that will replace it. Note that the stock clutch perch has already been transferred to the Woodcraft handlebar. The switchpod and heavy bar-end weight will no longer be used.
Time to remove the PAIR (Pulsed Secondary Air Injection) system. The purpose of the PAIR system is to inject fresh air into the exhaust header to promote a complete burning off all exhaust gases. One problem though is that with the PAIR system installed it's difficult to get an accurate A/F reading from the exhaust system, and the PAIR system itself is a pain to deal with when working in the engine compartment. Since this motorcycle will be used as a closed-course machine only, off it goes! The photo on the left shows the top of the airbox cover. Unclip the three wire connectors on top of the airbox, remove the eight screws around the perimeter, unclip the upper fuel rail connector, flip the airbox lid back and voila! The inside of the airbox is revealed. Notice the metal screen atop the stock airfilter - a good way to gain a little power is by removing the screen altogether. Just grind/cut off the four black plastic nubs holding it on and the screen pops off.
With the airfilter and velocity stacks removed you can see the bottom half of the airbox. Remove the bottom half and you can see the PAIR system and related hoses. Everything lined in red in the right-hand photo is going to be removed; the hose sticking up in the center is the crankcase breather and has to remain in place.
Removing the PAIR system is easy. Just remove both the aluminum squares on top of the valve cover held with the 8mm bolts. Underneath you'll find a pair of reed valves and cages - remove both pieces. I normally take the reed valves apart completely and retain just reed valve frames with the rubber gaskets in order to ensure a proper seal with the replacement covers. Re-install the reed valve frames and place pre-cut blocker plates over the holes. Reinstall the stock bolts with some washers, torque them to 9 ft lbs, and give the leftover hoses and aluminum squares away as Christmas stocking stuffers - kids love 'em!
A GRP V4 steering damper is on its way, so its time to remove the stock damper. Remove the bolts, unclip the wires and damper, and admire the uncluttered steering head.
Ohlins USA was kind enough to return my forks with the cartridge kits resprung and installed. A quick five minutes and the fork legs and clip-ons are put on the bike.
This is the vacuum connector I was referring to earlier that connects to the long rubber hose that runs along the left side of the bike and leads to the airduct intake flapper valves; the intake ducts are being replaced altogether with one-piece carbon fiber units, so there's no need to retain this hose connection. Remove the hose from the brass vacuum connector shown above and plug the connector with a suitable rubber plug.
NOVEMBER 21, 2009
It's always cool to come home from a hard day of work and find a big brown box left by a bigger brown truck at your doorstep. In this case the box contained something I'd been patiently waiting for; the race bodywork for the CBR. Upon opening the box I was pleasantly surprised to find that the packing job Auctmarts did was phenomenal, with each piece individually wrapped in both foam sheets and bubble wrap. Taking each fiberglass piece out one by one I inspected them to find a paintjob that was better then I'd ever anticipated. The quality of the paintwork was excellent - almost too nice for a racebike!
Before installing the bodywork I decided to get the front brakes sorted. First job is to remove the braking system completely from the motorcycle and prepare the calipers for safety wiring. Here a drill press is being used to drill through the caliper body and into the top of the brake pad retaining pin; this will allow the pin to be safety wired later on. Also drilled were the bolts for securing the calipers to the fork legs and the banjo bolts for new brake lines that are going to be installed.
After drilling the bolts the stock brake lines were removed and a set of Goodridge 'Superbike' Kevlar lines were installed. I like that Goodridge uses a single line from the master cylinder versus the traditional dual-line aftermarket setup. Note that the photo above shows a 'rough-fit' of the brake lines - I eventually installed them with the shortest line attached to the master cylinder.
There are a couple of benefits to changing brake lines; the first and foremost is that the stock brake lines are made of a rubber material that expands under repeated heavy braking which causes the brakes to fade considerably. This, as you may have guessed, is no good on a racetrack where repeated heavy brake use can be the norm. Another benefit is that the stock brake lines are a bit heavier and more complex in design compared to quality aftermarket lines.
After prepping the brakes and bolting the calipers on it was time to perform a 'dry-run' install of the Auctmarts bodywork to see how well everything lined up and determine what would have to be modified to make it fit properly. Starting with the tailsection I found that the leading edge of the Auctmarts piece did not clear the rear lip of the battery tray. A couple of minutes with a Dremel tool and the battery tray was modified to allow the Auctmarts tailsection to slide on perfectly. I have to say I don't consider this to be a problem at all, as I have yet to find any raceglass that fits perfectly without a least some minor modifications to the stock components.
Next up was fitting the gas tank cover, upper fairing and front fender. I was very happy to find that all the pieces lined up very well, and I proceeded to drill holes and install the bolts needed to secure the bodywork. One thing I observed about the Auctmarts bodywork was that the fiberglass was thick and multi-layered; although it's a little bit heavier then some of the other bodywork sets available it appears to be pretty durable.
Next step was to modify the bodywork to accept frame sliders. In this case Woodcraft frame sliders were installed because they take a heck of a beating and don't stick out too far, which means there's less of a chance of the sliders catching on a curb or other object and causing the bike to flip or rip an engine mount apart during a crash.
The first step when preparing to install a frame slider is to mount the slider bracket and determine where it sits against the bodywork. Once done, take your time and pinpoint where the center of the frame slider is and then drill a pilot hole at that spot. The benefit of doing it this way is that you can inspect the pilot hole after drilling and determine if it is indeed centered to the frame slider mount; if not, drill another pilot hole where it will be centered. Then cover the area with duct tape - this will prevent the fiberglass and paint from chipping as you drill a hole in it. Next, center a 2" hole saw on the pilot hole and apply even pressure at a moderate speed with your drill while making the hole. Soon enough, you'll have a perfect opening in your bodywork that the frame slider will fit through with no problems!
Installing the windscreen was easy. The dimples in the bodywork lined up perfectly with the stock windscreen screw holes. Using a stepped drill bit, all I had to do was drill the four holes and use the stock screws to get the windshield installed.
The undertail is going to require some problem solving; although Auctmarts provided a cover for the opening, it's simply an external cover. I'll have to fabricate a panel to go between the frame rails for holding electronic components.
Here's where the first and only major problem with the bodywork installation came into play: the exhaust system. Not having owned this bike before I thought a slip-on would be adequate for racing, however because the connecting pipe is designed in a wound around manner to provide extra length for exhaust tuning it sits considerably lower then a full system. This depth would be fine with the stock bellypan, which is completely open on the bottom. However, with an enclosed bellypan (which is required in racing for fluid retention) the wound connecting pipe simply didn't fit. This is no fault of Auctmarts, but rather something I hadn't taken into consideration when selecting what parts to use. As a result, the KR Tuned exhaust is going to have to be replaced with an alternate system.
When I first started installing raceglass years ago it was an intimidating process; cutting holes into perfectly good panels is not something the average person wants to do simply because if you screw up, there's no turning back. One thing I've learned over the years is that by taking my time and dry-fitting everything in advance, then planning out how I wanted the panels to connect, I would end up with something that was functional and properly secured which looked professionally installed.
Nowadays I find it's a snap to install raceglass. Here I've used Dzus spring-loaded fasteners with riveted hardware to connect the upper cowling to the bellypan. The nice thing about using these fasteners is that they never leave the bodywork, so you don't have to worry about them falling off or getting lost.
And here's how the bike looks with all of the bodywork installed. I have to say I'm very happy with the Auctmarts kit and how it turned out.
After fitting the bodywork and positioning the front brake lines to make sure they don't rub against it, it's time to torque down the banjo bolts and bleed the brake system. Because I enjoy latebraking like a mofo with tail wagging in the air, I prefer running fluid with a high boiling point to help prevent fading; in this case I'm using Motul RBF (Racing Brake Fluid) 660 for the system. The RBF 660 is a race proven fluid, with higher wet and dry boiling points then even Motul's mainstay RBF 600 brake fluid.
NOVEMBER 25, 2009
Now it's time to change the levers; I prefer CRG shorty levers to stock simply because I usually clutch and brake with two fingers, and the CRG's make it easier to do so while providing a decent amount of adjustability and control. The quality of the machining is excellent as well, and because they're shorter then standard levers they rarely get ruined in a crash.
Next it's time to install a GPR steering damper. This is the GPR V4, a quality compact unit with a wide range of adjustability. The GPR comes with nicely CNC machined brackets for both the damper body and pivot arm bracket; in the lower left photo you can see how the pivot arm bracket installs onto the stock fuel tank cover brackets. This ends up getting bolted to the frame as a single assembly. The GPR install requires that the steering stem nut be removed with a 41 mm socket. Once the stem nut is removed, the damper bracket is installed on top of the upper triple clamp and the steering stem nut is replaced. The damper is then bolted on top of this bracket, and the pivot arm fits into the pivot arm bracket that is bolted to the frame underneath the tank cover. Overall it's a nice, clean design that offers on-the-fly damping adjustability.
Next thing to do is address the lack of a subframe tray suitable for mounting electronics; one issue with the CBR is that once you remove the stock rear fender, the 'storage tray' underneath the passenger seat is taken with it - so a replacement has to be made. In this case I fabricated a tray using a piece of Lexan polycarbonate available from just about any home improvement store. Using a piece of scrap cardboard, I first designed a mock tray and then traced this over the Lexan. The Lexan was then cut to shape with a dremel tool and the edges were deburred. The nice thing about Lexan is it's flexibility; it was easy to bend the piece and fit it between the subframe rails after cutting it to size.
Here's the final fitment of the Lexan before being ziptied to the subframe; note how the aluminum bracket at the front of the subframe and the cast lip at the rear carry the piece. Not only will this easily support any electronics to be installed, the tray weighs almost nothing and is both incredibly strong and virtually unbreakable.
Now to install the Bazzaz electronics. For this project the entire Bazzaz ensemble is being installed, including the Fuel Injection/Traction Control/Quickshifter module (FI/TC), the Air/Fuel Mapping module (AFM), a Z-bomb (to remove power restrictions at the top-end of the rev range) and remote fuel map / traction control adjustability\ switches. When you first open up the box with the FI/TC unit, you can't help but be amazed at the amount of wiring involved. This isn't your average fuel programmer : )
The first thing to do is line up where the Bazzaz modules and wiring harnesses are going to sit on the bike. In this case the main fuel injector harness is going to run along the left side of the frame, and the ignition coil and AFM harnesses are going to run along the right side. In order to link the harnesses to the Bazzaz units on the tray, I enlarged the holes in the rear of the battery box where the rider seat tabs go through. Once the openings were enlarged and lowered with a dremel the wiring harnesses to fit right through. The photo on the right shows how the main injector harness runs through the hole after enlarging it.
Another set of wires to route are those for the fuel map switch and traction control dial. This requires that the airbox be removed for installation (upper left photo; note how the screen has been removed from the airfilter for better airflow). Rather then install the switch bracket on a handlebar, I decided to install it on the upper triple clamp to provide a little extra crash protection. After drilling a hole and using a sheetmetal screw to install the switch bracket, I ran the wiring underneath the upper triple clamp and GPR bracket and between the airbox and left frame rail.
While the airbox is removed it's also time to install the Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) connector (#1) to the Bazzaz FI/TC module and Z-Bomb. It's very important to make sure the FI/TC wire harness connector (#2) is connected directly to the TPS, and the Z-Bomb connector is attached between the FI/TC harness and the stock wire harness connectors (#3). After this the airbox can be reinstalled. Of note also is that the Bazzaz instructions (which aren't very detailed) call for a tap connector to be installed on the light green neutral sensor wire. The photos on the right show where this wire can be found; be careful not to cut the wire when exposing it from the rubber sheath.
The Bazzaz FI/TC harnesses have connectors for eight fuel injectors, the Throttle Position Sensor, Crankshaft sensor, Speed sensor and Neutral sensor along with all four ignitions coils and a quickshifter unit. Plug it all in, and here's what you've got. I zip-tied the Bazzaz harnesses along the existing stock wire harness routes for both a clean install and to ensure the wiring stays in place without rubbing and wearing through. In the upper right photo you can see where the Bazzaz unit draws power from; a tap connector installed on the brown and white wire leading to the stock taillight connector. A quick turn of the ignition to 'on' shows power going to both the FI/TC and AFM modules.
After installing the FI/TC and AFM modules the quickshifter is connected to the left rearset, and the quickshifter wiring is connected to the coil harness of the FI/TC unit. I was pleased to find everything installed perfectly with the Woodcraft rearset. Note that in this photo the shift arm is facing up; this is for a GP shift pattern on the Honda. I eventually turned the shift arm down for a street shift pattern as I prefer.
DECEMBER 8, 2009
Now it was time to install a bracket for the Bank Angle Sensor (BAS) along with a pair of ram air intake tubes. For this build I obtained a nice CNC machined BAS bracket from Superbikesupply.com, which fit the stock fairing stay and BAS perfectly.
A pair of carbon fiber ram-air tubes were sourced from U.K. company Pro-fiber. Overall I was pleased with the quality of the carbon fiber, which weighs almost nothing and offers a much smoother airflow to the engine then the stock intakes.
Here the BAS bracket has been installed on the stock fairing stay and the ram air tubes are fitted inside the race glass; the tubes lined up perfectly with the stock airbox and Auctmarts upper fairing. I'd recommend smearing a dab of grease around the lips of the ram air tubes where they meet the stock rubber airbox boots to help them fit inside.
One thing I noted about the Auctmarts upper fairing was that the holes for the air intakes were molded with relatively small openings, and the ram air tubes were about a 12mm larger in diameter where they connected. As a result I used a dremel tool to remove about a 15mm of material from the inside of the fairing at the air intake. This expanded the intake openings by about 10mm, which will increase the amount of airflow into the engine.
The final answer for the exhaust dilemma was to fit a Jardine RT-5 slip-on; on the left you can see the difference in the bends of the mid-pipe between the Jardine and KR Tuned slip-on, and on the right is a comparison of the canisters. I have to say I was pleased with the quality of the Jardine canister - it seems like a durable part, and once installed the mid-pipe allowed the bellypan to fit perfectly.
JANUARY 2, 2010
Time for dyno-tuning! To get the fueling dialed in correctly I took the advice of several folks and brought the bike to MRP Motorsports in Glen Burnie, MD ( http://www.mrpmotorsports.com/ ) to get the Bazzaz FI/TC unit dyno-tuned and custom mapped. MRP did an excellent job of building two maps, one a full-on dry weather map and the other a softer-hitting wet weather map which combined with the traction control should allow the bike to be relatively manageable for rain races. MRP's dynamometer was set up to read true rear-wheel horsepower, and after several hours of mapping the bike ended up putting out 152.6 RWHP and 75.7 ft lbs torque, which according to MRP was a strong showing on their dyno for this bike. However, based on other CBR1K's they've tuned I was also told that a full Akropovic system would have produced an additional 3.5 peak hp and 5 midrange hp, which is something to consider for the future if I want additional power. For now though, the power and torque curves are excellent and I expect it to run strong on the track. Here's a quick clip of the bike on the dyno (right-click, then click 'play'):
Perfect A/F ratio and a totally smooth power curve - just the way I like it.
FEBRUARY 20, 2010
Next it was time to have the suspension setup to a proper baseline; this would include having the sag set at the front and rear of the motorcycle and adjusting the rebound and compression damping for overall balance. Because proper suspension setup is critical for having confidence in what the bike is doing at speed, I brought the bike to a shop I've trusted many times before to have set it up the right way - Washing Cycle Works in Washington, NJ. http://www.washingtoncycleworks.com/
Washington Cycle Works is a suspension and performance shop that caters to both racers and trackday enthusiasts alike; it's great to a have a shop of this caliber in New Jersey where riders can get just about anything needed to be properly prepared for a day at the track.
Here the rear shock is being checked for damping characteristics after the spring preload has been set; one observation of the Ohlins components is that they came direct from Ohlins set up very close to the baseline settings I needed. I'm anticipating the bike will have a good, compliant feel once I get it on the track.
After having the suspension set up it was time to start addressing some of the detail work on the bike. First up was finishing the brakes and setting up the preliminary gearing. Regarding the brakes, according to the WERA the rear brake rotor may be modified even when racing in Supersport based classes. With this in mind I decided to try something new, and that was getting rid of some unsprung rotating weight from the rear of the motorcycle. The stock rear rotor, although perfectly fine in application, is something that weight can be lost from without detriment to performance. For a gauge as to how often I usually use the rear brake, on my previous racebike I ran the same set of rear (stock) brake pads throughout my ownership of the bike - over three years of trackdays and racing. Before selling the bike I inspected the pads and found that they still looked to be in almost perfect condition. Needless to say, it's a component I don't use all too often except to occasionally settle the suspension at speed.
That said, because the rear rotor can be modified it's a prime candidate for weight loss. In this case I sent the rotor (and a spare) to Quality Machine in Savannah, Georgia where they lobbed over a pound of weight off through CNC machining. This pound of unsprung weight is theoretically equal to seven pounds in the saddle, so it's a modification I felt was worth checking out for this build.
As you may recall, I previously changed the front countershaft sprocket from the stock 16 tooth to a 15 tooth sprocket; this has the effect of lowering the overall gearing, promoting better drive and closer spacing between gears. To continue this trend, it was now time to change the stock rear 42 tooth sprocket with a 44 tooth sprocket to set the final gearing baseline. In this case the stock sprocket was swapped with an aluminum piece from Vortex Racing, which weighs considerably less then the stock sprocket even though it's physically larger and designed to still work with the stock 530 size chain. Note that swapping from the stock 16/42 gearing to a 15/44 setup does not require changing the stock chain length.
After taking care of the rear wheel it was time to finish the front brake system. Although I've ran Vesrah brake pads in the past, for this build I decided to try something different. I've heard positive feedback regarding the new EBC "EPFA/HH" sintered extreme racing brake pads, so I figured I'd give them a try on the Honda. Changing brake pads is a simple procedure, made easier when you're working on new calipers. If you do this on used calipers make sure the calipers are cleaned thoroughly (particularly the pistons) with some warm soapy water and a toothbrush before installing the new pads. This needs to be done because brake dust builds up over time inside the caliper and clings to the sides of the pistons; this can cause the pistons to 'hang up' and not retract properly when should to, causing the brakes to drag.
The first thing I do when installing new brake pads is to crack open the pad retainer pins while the calipers are still mounted to the forks; this makes it much easier to loosen them if the pins are hard to unscrew. After this, remove the calipers from the forks and then unscrew the retaining pins completely from the calipers.
In the top photo you can see the difference between the EBC sintered racing brake pads (on the left) and the stock brake pads. Prior to installing new pads, remove the backing plates from the old brake pads and transfer them to the new ones. Then insert the new pads into the caliper, and reinstall the retaining pins.
Next it's time to secure the retaining pins as required for racing. In this case I safety wired the pins directly to the brakeline banjo bolt, ensuring that both the pins and banjo bolt are secured properly. When the pins are safety wired like this they can stay in place until the next time the brake pads are changed and don't have to be tampered with, even when removing the calipers for wheel changes.
Next on the list was to install axle sliders for the front forks. I'm a big believer in using axle sliders; I've had them prevent what would have been considerable fork damage in the past, and for the minimal cost I consider them to be cheap insurance towards keeping the forks off the tarmac in the event of a crash.
Here are two examples of axle sliders available for the CBR1000rr; on the left are axle sliders from "Tuner Factory X". These sliders appear to be of a decent quality and include a threaded aluminum rod and a replacement axle nut that comes pre-drilled down the center to permit installation. On the right are a set of axle sliders from Supermoto Engineering. I've used to Supermoto Engineering sliders in the past with great results, however I found for this application they did not come with a pre-drilled axle nut. As the stock axle nut does not come drilled from Honda, it would have to be drilled down the center in order to fit these. At this time I chose to first install the Tuner Factory X sliders to give them a try, and will keep the Supermoto Engineering axle sliders as spares.
FEBRUARY 28, 2010
One thing to consider when building a clubracing bike is to also build up a good supply of spare parts to bring with you in the event of a getoff; levers, footpegs, fairing stays and even a spare subframe are all things I bring to the track to patch the bike up in the event of a crash. In this case I decided to keep the stock fairing stay as my spare and put in its place a "Motobrackets" fairing stay. In the photo above the Motobrackets stay is on the left with the stock bracket on the right. Swapping them is very simple; all you have to do is unplug the wire harness from the rear of the instrument panel, undo the three screws that hold the panel onto the stock bracket an unscrew the two 12 mm bolts which connect the stock bracket on the headstock. After putting the Motobrackets stay in its place transfer over the three rubber grommets from the stock fairing stay which cushion the instrument panel from vibration. One good thing about the Motobrackets part is that it costs less then half of the price of the OEM bracket yet is essentially identical.
The next thing to is to install some cheap insurance. Few things are as lousy as your day coming to an end because of a punctured radiator. Due to the speeds carried on the track any debris that makes its way past the front wheel and into the front fairing opening has the chance of putting a hole in the radiator. To keep this from happening, I fabricate homemade radiator guards and fit them to any bikes I take to the track. The guard is very easy to make; go to any home hardware store and pick up a sheet of 1/4" wire mesh. It's a very pliable material that's easy to cut and work with. Measure the radiator dimensions around at the top, bottom and sides and mark this on the mesh, allowing an extra inch of material all around. Cut the mesh and fold the edges over to prevent getting poked with the cut wiring...
...then use a rubber mallet to fold over the edges completely. In the lower left photo you can see the finished product. Install the mesh guard over the radiator with zip ties and voila! - you're done. Not only is this an inexpensive mod, it's also very effective as I've pulled stones and other debris from previous guards I've made that could easily have punctured the radiator had they not been in place.
After fitting a 190/55 sized rear tire I noticed that the clearance between the tire and the plastic swingarm fender was only a couple of millimeters; this is because the fender was designed for the stock 190/50 sized tire which is shorter in height. As a result I trimmed approximately 3/4" of an inch from the end of the stock fender in order to provide sufficient clearance. This is very easy to do with a straight edge and a dremel tool - after marking the line and cutting the fender down, lightly sand the rough edge with some 220 grit sandpaper and it'll look factory smooth in no time.
Next up is to flush out the cooling system completely and replace the glycol antifreeze with distilled water. Not only is this required for racing (since Glycol is very slick, can cause serious crashes when spilled on the track and is a huge headache to clean up), but it's also something I'd recommend anyone do before taking their bike to the track.
One thing I noticed about the design of the Honda is that the engineers certainly had a sense of humor when placing the coolant overflow bottle. It's located between the engine and the swingarm, which requires that you remove the swingarm from the motorcycle in order to access the bottle for removal. Now, because I wanted to empty the antifreeze from the bottle I needed to access it, but I wasn't about to go through the hassle of removing the swingarm for this - so I found an easier way around it.
Basically, to flush the coolant overflow bottle while it's still on the motorcycle, disconnect the coolant overflow line from the top of the radiator next to the fill cap (the small hose in the righthand picture above) and put it in a suitable container. Then use a compressor to blow air into bottle cap opening of the overflow bottle. This forces the antifreeze out of the bottle, through the overflow line into your container. The fill the bottle with distilled water and do it again to ensure all of the antifreeze has been washed out.
The continue the process, unbolt the drain plug from the water pump on the lower left side of the engine and drain all the coolant from the system. I usually also disconnect the lowest most radiator hose to ensure everything is emptied. Then flush the cooling system with fresh water, filling it in the radiator opening and allowing it to drain from the bottom hose. Once all of the antifreeze has been rinsed out, install the drain bolt back in the water pump, reconnect the hose and fill the system with approximately 3 liters of distilled water.
Now it's time to finish safety wiring. Safety wiring may seem like an intimidating process if you've never done it before, but it's actually quite easy to do. I've found that the best way to go about it is to have access to a drill press and a selection of quality 3/32" carbide drill bits. Inspect the bolts while they're still on the motorcycle to note which ones need to be wired, and mark them with a felt pen across the face where the holes should line up once the bolts are re-installed and torqued down. Remove each bolt one by one, drill the hole through (using even pressure at a slow speed along with a little oil to lubricate the drill bit if necessary), and then clean any metal filings off. Then reinstall the bolt using the correct torque applying Locktite where necessary.
Note that the concept behind safety wiring is to ensure that bolts and the parts they're holding remain secure on the motorcycle. For racing purposes it is generally required that anything with liquid behind it be secured; this includes any fill caps, drain plugs/bolts, engine galley plugs and the oil filter.
For the CBR, I also safety wired the large bolt securing the oil cooler to the engine. Note that some organizations allow the galley plugs to be secured with silicone in lieu of safety wire, and that the oil filter can be easily secured with a pipe clamp. Don't forget to safety wire the rear brake pad pin(s) as well.