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Pocono Inside Track – ‘testing’

What a wild ride the past few days.

Kind of a sidebar, but I recently picked up a WR250R to romp around the trails with. The Electric Kitten (Tiger 1050) is a fine bike, but it doesn’t handle off-pavement exploring very well. It usually ends with session of ‘rub my belly whilst I lay on my side, you silly bloke’. I don’t recommend this game – it’s little more than a trap. In the least, the WR will be easier to hoist back onto it’s rubbery paws.

I had delusions of grandeur about taking this thing to the track for a couple sessions. She came with SM wheels, so it seemed like a logical thing to do before re-clawing it. Spent about four hours getting the bike track-ready and took it out for a rip. After stopping for a bite to eat, I returned to a dead fuel pump. Yay! I didn’t know Yamaha’s played this game. Maybe the fuel pump is British. Of course, adding the retrieval and cursing process to the day transformed afternoon into evening, and eventually, complete and utter darkness. Just in time to ready the FZ. It never fails. A Stoltec track day isn’t legit unless it’s preceeded by preparations long after midnight. It’s nothing if not consistent.

If you don’t count the forgotten SD card, the gas jug that blew off the trailer when a strap failed, and a leaky brake fitting, the day went pretty well. Wait, a leaky brake fitting? Yes, you read that right. The 100 mile test ride wasn’t enough to test the bleeder’s seal on the R6 master cylinder, but the 35 mile trailer ride to the track was. Don’t ask, because I’m not sure. Long story short, I should have known better. I had a GSXR master cylinder cry me a river a few years back who’s only remedy was teflon tape. Thankfully, my pit neighbor had bit left in his toolbox. Apparently, his was a pisser too (the week before). And to think the seat is supposed to do the sealing…thanks Brembo!

All in, the track weekend was amazing. If you’re in the NE, I highly recommend coming out to Pocono S/E and giving it a whirl. I’m begging.

The best part of the weekend was the lack of tinkering on my behalf. The chassis geometry was set, along with the suspension and tire pressures. Without the ‘need’ to tweak the setup, I was free to enjoy the bike in it’s purest form: at redline from corner to corner. Despite the (still) low pegs and the wide clubmans, I finally ditched the stock peg feelers. Incidentally, the stock feelers touched down before the rear tire reached the edge (about 1-2 mm left). Before you try this at home, keep in mind that I’m running Dunlop Q3’s and non-stock chassis geometry. Be that as it may, I was able to comfortably figure out the knee-down body positioning. My short legs make me work for it, but at least I’m able to gauge lean angle now. It’s been a lot of work to get the setup right for my riding style, but it’s finally in the ballpark. More like the infield. Very pleased.

Oh, and the brakes? This was the missing piece during the past few track days. Although the stock master cylinder was more than capable, the feel from the R6 m/c continues to impress me. For the money, it’s really a no-brainer. By comparison, I did a session on a brand new 636 on Sunday. While very good, it’s brakes lacked the feel of the modded-FZ. The FZ gives excellent feedback, trail braking right to the apex. Yes, the tires and suspension also play a huge role here…but the point is the bike WORKS. I was hitting low 120’s down the back straight and brakes never failed to impress. I’m eager to try out the Pocono FUSA course with its high speed straights and banking. Although we’re still sitting at 132 mph, it will be a good test. Who knows…maybe R6 rotors will round out the front brake conversion.

In all of the Go Pro woes, the useful footage was limited. We’re left with only a short piece of the Sunday’s final session. Sorry – I’ll do better next time.

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