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David

Dual-Sporting at the Barber Motorsports Track

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David

bike1.jpg

 

What can I say except that any day at the track is a good day. Despite this being my twelfth track day, I consider myself a relative newcomer. I say that because I'm learning just as much now as I was at the beginning. In fact, I think I learned more about riding last Sunday than I've ever learned in one day before.

 

I'd done Level III and Level IV at Barber last fall and just thoroughly enjoyed the track. So when I saw that the Superbike people were going to be back this fall, I signed up early, assuming I'd use one of their bikes, the Kawasaki ZX-6R. (Can you believe that they put 15,000-20,000 miles on them at the track in two years, and then sell them for ca. $5,500 after that? They are great bikes.) But slowly I began to consider doing it on one of my own bikes instead. The ST4s, still in immaculate condition, is looking for a new home, and I didn't want to jinx it and destroy the thing. So that left the newish (4,400 miles) 12GS. Then of course there was the question of tires.

 

I looked everywhere and found the only sport tire that would fit was the Dunlop BT-020, but I heard enough bad reports about the thing that I figured I'd stick with a dual sport tire instead. Of the choices available, the Michelin Anakee clearly won over the Tourance or Trailwing. My OEM Anakee tires were starting to wear thin, so I shod the beast with a brand new set.

 

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So three people joined me that day, and here they are. Must have been a sale on sappy shirt colors at Wal-Mart the day before! tongue.gif Left to right, Mark Davis (madavis) from Atlanta; Alan Poindexter (Dex) from Houston; and Ed Buff (ShovelStroke Ed) from Florida:

 

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Dex rode one of the school bikes, as did Ed, but Mark and I rode our own. Actually, Mark rode a girl's bike (no offense to you FZ-6 owners--this really is a girl's bike! grin.gif

 

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And here's my GS, stripped down to more of a street fighter look:

 

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I had been regularly scraping the side stand so knew I had to do something with that. The plan was to remove both the center and side stands, but when I looked at them I realized that I'd have to rework the interlock safety wiring on the side stand, and I wasn't sure I wanted to mess with the wiring on this new CAN-BUS system. So, I decided to remove the rubber bumpers on both stands...

 

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...and then wire both stands tight to the frame:

 

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Barber is just an amazing track. It's interesting, has many passing zones, and it's not intimidating. Here's a track map on which I've superimposed the turn numbers (they might not be the right ones, but they are the ones I use):

 

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Here are a few notes, useful if you ever ride it or if you are watching a race and wonder about the uniqueness of the turns.

 

01--You can't take this turn too fast. It's a complete hoot. It's easy to brake late and pass on the inside. 3rd gear.

 

02--Loooooong turn. Apex is about 60% of the way through where the curbing changes. Deep lean angles and easy to run your knee around the pavement. 3rd gear. Good passing on the outside.

 

03--Typically drive to the outside of the turn. Crests right at the number in a blind climb, but hug apex to make good time. 4th gear.

 

04--Known as "hairpin" or "horseshoe" turn. People go down in this turn like bowling pins at a tournament. smile.gif 2nd gear. Great passing zone with some late braking.

 

05--Barely a turn but they numbered it. 3rd. Great passing zone coming out of 04.

 

06-08--Short chicane--aim straight for the middle. Hop curbing on 07. In 2nd gear coming out of 08 with good drive to really long "straight."

 

09/10--Very quick and violent left/right in 4th gear. Good passing zone out of 10 and before 11.

 

11--It can be taken faster than it looks. Riders slow down too much before 11 and it's easy to pass. Down to 3rd gear.

 

12--Off camber turn. Gotta be careful here because the dip compresses the bike and that, combined with lean angles, will get you dragging things. Good passing zone on the inside between 12/13.

 

13--Blind into this corner. There's a tall pine to aim for to set up for a late turn into 13, and then you want to clip the apex and drive hard to 14 for a late turn.

 

14--Very tight turn in 3rd gear. Good passing zone on the inside of 15.

 

15--Got to get a great drive out of here, typically in 2nd. On the straight you'll hit the limiter in 4th or just flip into 5th before the dip into 01.

 

Anyway, I've never heard anyone say anything but that it's one of the best tracks they've ever run. Apparently they like it for car racing schools, too. Like Porsches? Take your pick: car or SUV! grin.gif

 

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Here are a few other pictures. First, they've got a new snack trailer, now. Priorities!

 

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Here I am talking with one of my fav instructors, Stu-man:

 

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Here are more of us jawing between sessions. Left to right: me, father (Paul) and son (Paul) Ducati riders from Louisville, and our on-track instructor.

 

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Here's a very confused bike! grin.gif

 

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Here are the track pictures for the day. While do they always adjust the lean angles more upright in the darkroom? smile.gif

 

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Parked bikes on a break. On Sunday everything came to a halt for one hour due to some "church" law on the books in Alabama from years ago:

 

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Here's a student trying out the new "clutchless upshift" training bike. That's one thing I don't have any trouble doing, but I found this training aid a bit useless. For some reason I took a picture anyway. tongue.gif

 

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Here are some more action shots:

 

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Having bored you all with countless threads on fun track days, I won't go into any greater detail except to note my times. I was really curious what I'd manage on the new GS, having saved my lap times from last year on the ZX-6R. Back then I did several 1:51 laps for an average speed of 75 mph. On the GS, I did several 2:03 laps the first day and several 2:01 laps the second day, for an average speed of 68 mph. (I don't know what the course record is, but I'd guess that it's somewhere around 1:26.) So, for a bike with less power and quite a bit more weight, I was pleased with the lap times. I found myself wanting to hop on the ZX-6R and get into the high 1:40s, though. smile.gif

 

Would I take the GS on the track again? Absolutely! In fact, I'm going down again in October with a different school just to learn from a different perspective. Cobie Fair, the head instructor, pulled me aside and urged me to stay away from apex curbing because he said it looked like I was brushing the valve covers, though they never touched. He felt like I'd reached the limit of the bike and didn't think I ought to take it much faster. We chatted about the BoxerCup a bit, and noted that their times would have been around 1:45. But the difference is that they are not riding a GS; they've got special valve covers; and different suspension setups, including a higher rear end. All that to say that I'm not looking to go any faster, though it still pisses me off that of the 59 riders that day there were 4 with better times. tongue.gif

 

But I know I could ride better, which isn't necessarily faster. That's why I said at the beginning that I probably learned more than any other single day on the track. Riding a bike with obvious power and lean limitations forced me to be better. It put the focus on my skill or lack of skill instead of on the bike. For the first time--on a beast of a bike--I began to understand things like I hadn't before. Some were fine-tuning my riding style, and some were major issues. It's amazing how dense I can be when falling into my normal riding habits. That's why an outside perspective helps.

 

Mark, Dex, Ed--nice riding with all of you. It's double the fun to be able to it with people you know and hang out between sessions.

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Jim VonBaden

David,

 

I have yet to do a track day, but your write-ups are convincing me that one day I should! Good job, and thanks.

 

All that to say that I'm not looking to go any faster, though it still pisses me off that of the 59 riders that day there were 4 with better times.

 

On a GS you went faster than 55 riders on sport bikes and you are pissed? confused.gif

 

I think that is outstanding. thumbsup.gif

 

Jim cool.gif

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StretchMark

Nice riding with you too!

The GS was certainly a topic of conversation. The corner worker's found it pretty amusing that you were passing some of those other bikes.

I bet Dex that you would switch to the school's bike on Sunday. I figured that ego had to be kicking in pretty hard with your R6 buddy there grin.gif

 

I wish I got to watch more of your sessions, but as you know, they keep you moving around. Those pictures on the track are awesome!

 

Interesting you mention eight "good" passing zones..including inside on Turn 1 blush.gif where I had my run-in. I really only felt comfortable passing on the outside of turn 2 and before turn 11..and the really slow folks on the front straight.

 

I have to say, my RT felt like an absolute pig when I rode it this weekend. I spent the whole ride wondering if riding on the street could ever be as fun as on the track. Christine demanded I get that thought out of my head immediately grin.gif

 

And yes...the shirt was a Wal-Mart special grin.gif

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David
I have yet to do a track day, but your write-ups are convincing me that one day I should! Good job, and thanks.

 

Go for it! The RS would be a really nice bike on the track, and you've got a great track near you! smile.gif

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David
I bet Dex that you would switch to the school's bike on Sunday. I figured that ego had to be kicking in pretty hard with your R6 buddy there grin.gif

 

I thought about it, actually, but only because I wanted to keep up with my surgeon friend Peter. We've run a bunch of tracks together and I really enjoy riding with him. Oh well--next time. We've already decided we'll hook up at Laguna next year, and I'm sure not going to ride the GS out there.

 

I have to say, my RT felt like an absolute pig when I rode it this weekend.

 

I know what you mean. But when I hop on an RT (I rode an 1150 the other day through part of NC) it wasn't the weight I noticed so much as the narrow bars. You need a 12GS. Don't let Christine see this, though.

 

And yes...the shirt was a Wal-Mart special grin.gif

 

Well, if you still have your receipt you might want to get your $2.99 back! grin.gif

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ShovelStrokeEd

Nice job documenting the day.

You rock on that thing, I had the opportunity on Saturday to watch you hot lapping and its amazing the speed you were carrying in the corners on that thing.

BTW, my shirt was from BMW but I'm getting rid of it, looks like it adds a few lbs on the camera. blush.gif I gotta remove some tonnage before the next session.

Great weekend. I'm looking forward to the next.

 

Ed

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BULLman

Great pics. Gotta get to a track day one of these days.

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Limecreek

David,

This is just a great picture, and I'll bet the marketing guys at BMW would love a copy. I'm wondering if they ever considered that owners would use the GS for track work. Do you think it was a focus group question? tongue.gif

 

Very, very cool... thumbsup.gif

 

bike1.jpg

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David
This is just a great picture, and I'll bet the marketing guys at BMW would love a copy.

 

It's a great thought, Greg, but consider this: I didn't even make it past the first round for the K1200S test ride! smirk.gif

 

By the way, Will Eikenberry, their head mechanic and supreme rider (holds a number of course records in the US) took it for a spin and gave it a big thumbs up. thumbsup.gif

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Voodoo
By the way, Will Eikenberry, their head mechanic and supreme rider (holds a number of course records in the US) took it for a spin and gave it a big thumbs up. thumbsup.gif

 

I'll bet Will is a whole lot nicer to you from now on. thumbsup.gif

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chadhargis
By the way, Will Eikenberry, their head mechanic and supreme rider (holds a number of course records in the US) took it for a spin and gave it a big thumbs up.

 

You let someone else thrash your bike? How could you?

 

Oh wait...I let you ride mine 1000 miles....nevermind.... confused.gif

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Spike
... You let someone else thrash your bike? How could you?

 

Oh wait...I let you ride mine 1000 miles....nevermind.... confused.gif

 

Hey, its always permissible to allow a much better ride to thrash your own bike.

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Joel

So, has anyone else ever seen so much of a GS bash plate when both wheels were still on the ground? cool.gif Too cool. thumbsup.gif

 

My local dealer is having an Octoberfest open house on Saturday, with test rides on the whole BMW fleet, first come, first served. I might have to camp out in the parking lot Friday night. grin.gif

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Endobobdds
I have yet to do a track day, but your write-ups are convincing me that one day I should! Good job, and thanks.

 

Go for it! The RS would be a really nice bike on the track, and you've got a great track near you! smile.gif

 

David, Wonderful write up and pictures!

 

I have had only 2 track days with the second one resulting in a significant get off! However, I share your enthusiasm and look forward to doing more of them in the future. I don't believe, however, that the KRS is well suited for the track. It certainly has the power and torque but the 670 lbs makes even minor corrections in the turns difficult. I think Jim should do a track day with his KRS because it will definitely allow him to realize the limits of both his own skills and the limits of the KRS, however, if he likes the experience, as I did, than we both should consider picking up a nice used 600 cc. track bike and leave the KRS's at home. thumbsup.gif

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Jim VonBaden
I have yet to do a track day, but your write-ups are convincing me that one day I should! Good job, and thanks.

 

Go for it! The RS would be a really nice bike on the track, and you've got a great track near you! smile.gif

 

David, Wonderful write up and pictures!

 

I have had only 2 track days with the second one resulting in a significant get off! However, I share your enthusiasm and look forward to doing more of them in the future. I don't believe, however, that the KRS is well suited for the track. It certainly has the power and torque but the 670 lbs makes even minor corrections in the turns difficult. I think Jim should do a track day with his KRS because it will definitely allow him to realize the limits of both his own skills and the limits of the KRS, however, if he likes the experience, as I did, than we both should consider picking up a nice used 600 cc. track bike and leave the KRS's at home. thumbsup.gif

 

Thanks for the suggestion, but I have an R1100RS. Significantly lighter and with a lower CG than a KRS. Not to mention a LOT less power.

 

For me, the RRS is pretty nimble, especially at my size. I weigh more than half the weight of the bike. tongue.gif

 

Jim cool.gif

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HoonTang

Can I just add that those are really, really cool-looking leathers!

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Limecreek

Well, I guess the word is out about the GS track bike grin.gif.

 

061.jpg

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David

Great picture, Greg! Where is that from? Do you know the rider? cool.gif

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Limecreek

I found the picture over on the K Bike site. The gentleman’s name is Josef, and he is a MC instructor in Sweden.

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