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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have posted this in another forum but have had such a good time I wanted to share it............................................................. I have spent Monday and Tuesday of this week at the Phillip Island GP track. It was my first time on a track

On Monday I participated in the Australian Super Bike School (affiliated with Keith Code's California Super Bike School) Level 1 course. I would consider myself a pretty average rider and was keen to improve my skills and experience a little bit more of my Ks in a safe environment.The course was fantastic, the weather a perfect 22c and the bike was extraodinary. We had 5 classroom sessions each followed by a 25 minutes track session (1 track instructor to every 3 students) to practice the relevant skill from the preceding classroom session e.g. 4th gear only,no brakes for the first 2 sessions as we practiced cornering roll on and turn points. The day flew by as skills developed and speeds got higher. By the the last session we were allowed to use 5th gear down the straight and it became apparent to all and sundry that the Ks was one quick bike as I hit around 250k at the red line down Gardner straight (geez turn 1, known as Doohan corner, comes up quick at that speed).

Tuesday I followed up the school with a track day to try to build on my newly learnt cornering skills while everything was fresh in my mind.The weather and track conditions were perfect again

The format of the day had 4 levels riding 6 20 minute sessions each. Being in the novice group we were out first at 9am straight after the compulsory rider safety briefing so I had no time to gather my thoughts. Out on to the track I immediately felt comfortable and after a couple of laps was quickly back up to the speeds I was running by the last session on the Monday and improving but I never felt the need to grab 6th gear the straight just to see....maybe next time when the skill level is a little higher. That's the best thing about the Superbike school, it gives you a simple,easy to understand plan for each and every corner you ride. Once again the day passed by in a blink of eye.
The bike was brilliant to ride over the 2 days and saved my arse on one occasion when I had a rear wheel slide followed by a front wheel slide when I rolled off (I know I know but its very hard not to...) but at least I sat still and the bike corrected itself...thank you Norman Hossack. The guy following me found me after the session and said it looked amazing and the Ks was awesome the way it handled the situation. Traction was amazing (despite the above...clearly rider error) and I was scraping pegs and boots which surprised me given my novice track status. Brakes were fantastic and I was easily able to out break most into the hairpins. On the gas and no one and I mean no one (not R1,CBRRR,GSXER,DUC,Aprillia even a Benelli)passed me for the 2 days.

I had nothing but positive interest and surprise in the K1200s from other riders (A graders to novices alike) which also added to the feel good factor. In the 2 days I covered about 350km on the track in 10 sessions (i missed the last track day session as I had to ride about 2 hrs home) and had an absolute blast.

If you've been thinking of doing this type of thing then let me just say.................. DO IT. .................... a few other observations:

1. I was running Pilot Powers with 30psi front and rear (set up by the school team) compared to the normal 36 & 42, very sticky but also resulted in a near new tyre being at least 1/2 gone.
2. I weight 74kg and am 5ft 8inches tall, used preload set at rider plus luggage and Sport damping which worked well. I did try 2 up preload for one session to see if it turned the bike quicker but was spinning it up out of Siberia (80km left hander). I guess with the factory setting based on an 80kg rider I wasn't heavy enough to maintain traction
3. The front end was fantastic, stable in all situations providing the rider with high levels of confidence. I subscribe to the no news is good news theory i.e. the so called lack of feedback from the front end just means there is nothing wrong
4. High speed wind blast wasn't an issue with good protection provided from the screen when tucked in, but its an unbelieveable sensation when you pop up at 250km/hr to set up for turn 1
5. Seat was terrific, comfortable and very easy to move around on
6. red lined the bike many times in 3rd,4th and 5th gear now and the bike has 4,500km up. The difference in the engine and gearbox post the 2 days has been significant. Both have freed up considerably with 1-2 & 2-3 gear changes much improved whilst the engine just wants you to rev it now..its going to be hard to keep things legal around town...ah well I will just have to head back to the Island...... :)
 

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Denis, good post. Interesting that you were scraping pegs and boots. I logged about 300 miles this summer at a great track over the course of 2 days, we're the same height but I weigh 25 lbs. more, and I couldn't get anything to scrape. However I had my preload set for 2 riders and I supposse that may have been the difference. Or hell maybe I wasn't leaning over as much as I thought I was, but same deal, by the 2nd day no one except the instructors were passing me and the rear tire chicken strip was teenie. Fun stuff, ain't it? But as an aside, I got a dose of reality thrown in my face this morning...I take most turns, no matter how slow or fast, with the proper line and proper body positioning. 90 degree right hander, intersection, 25mph turn, no gravel, but as it turned out, upon closer inspection as they say, lots of really fine grit of some kind. I'm in a groove, gonna nail this one, hanging off nicely, good form, looking good, feeling good and bam! Front end washed out, low-side, damn these leathers work great! Was on the 1100s or I'd a been REALLY pissed. Minimal bike damage since it never flipped and it sort of just spun on the right jug, and no damage to me, so I'm thankful for the lesson which was this: Even though I looked ahead and saw no debris, that certainly wasn't the case. Even though I was on the right line, at the proper speed, this ain't no racetrack. And even though I'm good at this stuff I'm not as good as I think I am and this was a good reminder to back it down to 7/10 or 8/10 on the street and save anything more aggressive for the few track days I'll be getting every year.
 

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Good post. I've booked the Level 1 session at Rockingham next April. I've done two track days there before so I'm sure by the end of the day I'll have a clear idea of where I've been cocking it all up in the past.
 

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I agree, good post. It mirrors my experience of my first track day about a month ago at the Jarama Race Course in Madrid in that I loved it, thought it was a blast, learned a lot, blew by all kinds of bikes and am counting the days until I can do it again.

However, my day had a bit more "external exitement" to it. Our day started out clear skies, but with extremely heavy fog, so they had to delay the opening of the track until you could actually see more than just 6 feet ahead.

This meant that our first two track sessions were on a sunny but wet track. It gave us a chance to learn about wet riding conditions (in perfect weather), but it also unfortunately served to lose confidence in our bikes.

Why do I say this? Well, since we had to wait for the track to dry we had a much longer and more detailed classroom session where they were telling us all about each curve and they made it a point to stress two curves in particular because they were where most of the mishaps occured.

One is the Nuvolari/Fangio tight right hander which comes up at the end of the main straight (and at 260 Km/h+ it does indeed come up fast). The second was the Bugatti curve which is a tight left hander, unorthodox in shape and hard as hell to figure out the line - and making matters worse is that it comes up after a long, quick downhill.



Anyway, as we were in our second track session with the track half dry, the instructor is telling us that we can pick up the pace a bit, but that we need to closely follow his line. So what happens at Bugatti, our instructor hits a patch of who knows what and low sides his K1200S at about 80 km/h (luckily for him it was a loaner provided by BMW Spain).

After avoiding running over him and the bike (plus each other) we all headed back into the pits. We had already been nervous before going out on that session because during the first one several of the riders had experienced a bit of traction loss due to the wet conditions. After that wonderful exhibition of how to slide your body in the correct position :) we were all scared shitless about going out again and dumping it for what appeared no reason at all.

We got a new instructor after that. The first one no longer had a bike and I suspect his pride was hurt a hell of lot more than anything else - fortunately he had no damage.

Once the track dried, our group pretty much recovered its composure, but it was funny to watch us the rest of the day whenever we got to Bugatti. We would all be following the new instructor's line as dilligently as possible throughout the course, except when we got to Bugatti. Whenever we got there, without exception, everyone in our group was taking a very different line - and nobodies was the same. It wasn't a pretty picture and it made for some interesting readings of the curve, particularly on what is already a difficult curve, but everybodies "new" line avoided the apex where the instructor dumped it. It was mostly paranoia on our part since all the other bikes continued to use the proper line, but as they say, once bitten twice shy.

Mishaps aside, the day was a blast and the final open session where we were allowed to "run free" was absolutely incredible. It also lets you gain some huge respect for the GP and other racers who are running elbow to elbow at 250 kh/h+ as if they were cruising down the boulevard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It was petty excited being on a track where I watched the GP boys for 3 days just 4 weeks ago and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. Sorry to hear you came off Zombiewolf but I agree that you just can't ride in the real world like you would on the track. I'm definitely going to save it for track days but I'm very lucky having such a facility on my door step. In fact i'm planning on doing the level 2 course in January when Keith Code comes to Australia as part of the school's Australian 10th anniversary. Now that will be something being instructed by the master. HDR i completely understand how your group lost confidence...I struggled with the corner where I had my moment for the rest of my time there. It was interesting that during my 2 days at the track there was 3 falls that I know off but this knowledge was passed along very very quietly by the riders in pit lane but not onced mentioned by anyone working there. I suppose they don't want to mess with people's confidence. As for GP riders elbow to elbow I still can't fathom how they do it......they are extremely gifted athletes who are unbelieveably courageous or just plan dumb. They are amazing.
 

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nice post denis
glad you feel the same as me about taking the KS on a trackday, and simply enjoy the excellence in engineering of the engine and chassis together
btw, nice picture too !
cheers
 

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Hey there! My name is Kenneth from the State of Maryland in the USA. I just purchased a 2006 K1200 S and I was amazed of the power, ride, and confort seating down for I am 6' 1" tall. I think I will do the same as you and take a course as well
 

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totalbody...CLASS will be at VIR in southern Virginia 9/18/06 and 9/19/06
A whole bunch of us from Morton's BMW will be going, hope to see you there. I'll also be at Mid-Ohio for three days, either just before or just after VIR. They haven't posted their '06 schedule yet but, pardon the pun, I got the inside line. www.classrides.com
 

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Dennis - any chance you can post some more pics? Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Glad to hear you had a great day at the track. It is something I really must do myself.
 

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denisl said:
here you go

Cool pics, I notice you taped your mirors, but not your headlight....just curious, was your headlight off?

(I've seen some guys riding the K on track, and they just pulled the mirrors in, guess to protect them if they go down, keep shiny stuff off the track, etc.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
headlight was on. Not a bad idea turning the morrors in, might give it a try next time. All the taping was done by the course operators, included the speedo for the school day but not the track day. Being my first time on the track it sure was weird not being able to see behind but as with most things you quickly adjust. like the first time I headed into pit lane from the track.....I went to put my turn signal on instead of holding up my left hand.....
 

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Great post Denis. Got me thinking I might do the Keith Code's course at Eastern Creek in January/February when he makes an appearance at Eastern Creek and Philip Island early next year.

I've done the Superbike School courses before and I'm sure there'll be a lot to gain from Keith's input.

I'm still on the K1200RS but have ridden the K1200S around Eastern Creek on a BMW ride day. Your post got me thinking how much better the 'S' is and adds to my dilemma as to which bike to choose next. I'm torn between going more sport ('S') or comfort ('GT').

I'll have to do some test rides on both when the new GT becomes available in Sydney.

Cheers,
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Tuk, I've just got off a '03 K1200gt and never thought I'd be on a sports orientated bike. Am loving the K1200s and after the school and track day am even more sure my decision to step up has been the right one for me. Its amazing how much beter this bike gets with some Kms and especially after some harder riding. As always the decision which way to go is such a personal one I wouldn't try to influence anyone one way or the other, just test ride as much as possible...the bikes will tell you.......
 

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great post Denis. I've done several track days over the past few years. It is very very addicting. IMHO, one track day is worth 3 seasons of riding from a skills improvement perspective. I've done all mine so far on a VTR100F SuperHawk. I'm really looking forward to getting out on the S next summer.

My last track day was 2 seasons ago. I managed to work my way up into the advanced riders group. But unfortunately, I got taken out by a guy on Turn 1 at Loudon International Speedway. He cut over too soon, too fast to seat up for turn 1A and took out my front wheel. I crashed pretty dramatically. spent a few days in the hospital. Nothing major, but sucked just the same. The guy was very apologetic - stuff happens.

Despite that, I can't wait to do it again. I veiw my accident as a rare occurrance in track days. Most riders stay within their skill set. And its one hell of alot of fun. The ability to learn what your bike will do when pushed is incredibly valueable. In an emergency situation on the road, you'll respond w/o panicing, becuase you've worked through more technically demanding challenges on the track many times.
 

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CDPerry said:
Cool pics, I notice you taped your mirors, but not your headlight....just curious, was your headlight off?

(I've seen some guys riding the K on track, and they just pulled the mirrors in, guess to protect them if they go down, keep shiny stuff off the track, etc.)
the track days I've done require mirror removal an all lights (headlight, tail ligth, turnsignals) to be taped and disconnected. The theory being that any light is a potential distraction, and given the speeds involved, is too risky.
 
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