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Shane - Superlite (#43)

We're rolling now ...

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Things are gathering momentum now and I'm getting more and more excited about this bike.

After getting the bike back to the shed I'd hardly touched it. Lots of rain and plenty of cold weather had put me off getting out there, besides which I'd gotten really busy with a couple of other projects that I managed to get involved in.

However, I had been thinking, planning and buying some bits that were going to be needed. Amongst other things I've got some Woodcraft covers for the engine, a Sigma Slipper Clutch and a bunch of other bits and pieces.

I'd also been looking for someone to do the engine work on the bike. After talking to a whole lot of different people (most of whom suddenly started sounding very nervous when I told them what I wanted to do) I eventually found someone in the lower North Island that was willing to look at the different ways to accomplish turning the bike into an F3 450cc triple, not just simply doing what I asked. This is a good thing as I'm certainly no expert and the number of people saying no was starting to make me reconsider what I wanted done.

At about the same time Pete McDonald was getting interested in what I was doing and had been talking to Paul Grant, one of the mechanics at Wellington Motorcycles about it all. Paul had heard about the 450 triple race bikes and had his own theories about what should work best so we got talking. Paul reckoned the only way to figure out exactly what would be the best sort of configuration would be to put a bike on the dyno and test each configuration. Things like which cylinder to deactivate aren't as straight forward as you would think because each cylinder is slightly different and the firing order makes a surprising difference to how much power you get.

Paul was keen to test things on the dyno cos he wanted to confirm if his own theories were correct. The main problem was that because of the type of dyno Wellington Motorcycles have and the time it takes to set up it's not a cheap exercise.

So Pete talked to Garry Gill, one of the Managing Directors at Wellington Motorcycles. Garry then talked to Steve Dundon, the other Managing Director. Steve has been, seen and done it all when it comes to bikes. From racing 125's to TR500's, been involved in the Dave Hiscock's Plastic Fantastic and did his time under the legendary Dickie Lawton of Lawton and Boyle fame. Steve got a little intrigued by it all and asked Paul what we wanted to do and hoped to achieve.

Next thing I know we're cleared to use the Wellington Motorcycles dyno on a Saturday at no charge!!

So I picked a date and we were all set.

On the Friday I had a couple of small things to do before heading to Wellington. However, when Friday actually rolled around I'd ended up with more than a couple of things to do so I was running around like an idiot. I'd already flushed the old coolant out and changed the oil the day before. I was going to put a new oil filter on but I hadn't realised that meant taking the exhaust off so I gave up on the filter and just threw it in with the rest of the bits for the mechanic. I quickly stuck the fairings back on, tied it onto the trailer and finally got moving at 1:30pm.

It was a slow trip down. Not only was I towing the trailer with the bike onboard but it was wet most of the way and below freezing for much of the Desert Road so it took much longer than normal.

At 7:45pm I was putting a bit more gas in the car at the Caltex in Porirua when the attendant came out and said their computers had crashed so I couldn't pay for the gas until they were back up again and therefore had to wait around for 10 minutes or so.

I let Drew and Deano know as I was meant to meet them.

The GPS had Deano's address so I was following its directions and got a bit suspicious when it directed me to turn off the motorway at Johnsonville. A couple of minutes later I was swearing profusely when I found myself stuck in a remote corner of the Countdown carpark with no way out except reversing. Looking at the instructions from the GPS it was telling me to CATCH A TRAIN!!!! "Departing at 6:30am, arriving at 7:37am"!!!!!!! It's 8:00pm in the evening!!!!! I didn't drive 500+ks to wait 10.5 hours in a supermarket car park, catch a train that takes an hour to travel less than 10ks and then walk 2ks up a bloody hill!!!!

Does anybody know of some decent GPS software for an iPhone 4S??

Eventually I got to Deano's place about 7 hours after leaving. I did make a couple of decent stops to straighten out my back but still, that was a long trip.

I inhaled the first beer I was handed. We didn't stay long as it was getting a bit late and Deano was looking a bit second hand. My car, trailer and bike stayed at Deano and Nikki's while I went with Drew. We got to his place and smartly knocked off another 3 beers while watching The Vampire Diaries. Is it just me or does one of those dudes have the sort of face you just want to punch??

I woke up a couple times during the night to find how windy it gets on the foreshore in Wellington. Sounded like a force 9 hurricane outside.

Next morning and Drew's in the kitchen where I hear a coffee machine making the magic brew. Awesome.

After knocking back a coffee and picking up the car from Deano's I managed to find the Service Entrance to Wellington Motorcycles without making a single wrong turn. An excellent start to the day.

One thing that I quickly noticed about the place was that all the guys out the back all appeared to be happy. It was a Saturday morning and usually the weekend crew at stores are grumbling and don't really want to be there. But all the guys in the workshop seemed genuinely pleased to be working where they were and were interested in the crazy things we were going to be doing, giving me the impression that Wellington Motorcycles is a good place to work. As a customer that's the sort of thing I like to see because good management, company culture and atmosphere means the crew are happy and having people that are happy working on your pride and joy is certainly a good thing.

Wellington Motorcycles dyno is a Dynopack 2000 from International Dynamometers NZ. Unlike the Dynojet ones the Dynopack 2000 is hooked up to the bike in place of the rear wheel. Basically, you get the bike up onto the dyno, remove the wheel, swing the arm up out of the floor of the dyno, attach the drive chain to it and you're good to go. The advantage of this is that you don't have the tyre to deal with. The tyre soaks up horsepower as it deforms, can slip on the roller, or conversely, get too sticky and screw up the readings. By eliminating the tyre you get a much more accurate and consistent reading.

However, this means much more setup time, especially if your bike is a sports bike which have a larger diameter axle than most and a wider swingarm. Also, there's a whole bunch of parameters that need to be changed for each bike from the final drive ratio, start and stop points for each run and more. All of which can mean more than an hour before you're ready to do the first run.

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First up was a couple of baseline runs.

The first one showed a couple of large dips in the torque curve that really shouldn't be there. This is most likely down to the fuel mapping of the Power Commander. Originally it had been set up in Auckland and from looking at the dyno graph of this single run Paul was able to point out where it appeared to be running rich or lean. The second run pretty much confirmed what he said and also showed that there are likely to be some very decent gains from sorting out the fuel map.

However, we weren't there to sort out the fuelling, we were there to test some theories and figure out which cylinder is the best to deactivate and how.

Paul said that in his experience a bike that has problems with cylinder #1 will run significantly worse than the same bike having problems with any of the other cylinders. Why this is he's not sure but it's something to test. My Triumph had cylinder #1 (I always thought it was #4 but I had been numbering them wrongly) disabled due to an exploding valve so this made me wonder if it would've run better if one of the others had of gone instead.

Figuring out which cylinder to disable was simply a matter of disconnecting the fuel injector on a cylinder. So we pulled the injector plug off of #1 cylinder and the bike wouldn't start. Typical. We measured the resistance across the injector and clipped on a resistor. Now the bike fired up, except it sounded exactly the same as it had on 4 cylinders.

A quick poke around and we found it has dual injectors.

Another resistor in the circuit and we're away.

After disabling the fuel injector on each cylinder and doing a run it was pretty clear that, on this bike at least, the cylinder to disable is number #4. It's most likely different on other bikes, but on a 2005 Honda CBR600RR the cylinder to disable is definitely #4.

The graph for #1 looked exactly like the graph for #4 except that it made 5% less power everywhere. The graphs for #2 and #3 were almost exactly identical in every way. For #2 and #3 they were much better at the bottom end than #4, were significantly worse through the mid range but came back to be marginally better at the top end. The thing is that #4 had the mid range even though it had a big dip there. This dip knocked a good chunk off the top end. Unlike #2 and #3 the hole in #4's mid range showed every sign of responding well to improved fuelling.

Filling in that hole not only improves the mid range further, it also improves the top end so that it will be noticeably better than #2 and #3. Seeing as the bike won't be dipping below 7,000-ish rpm on the track the bottom end is irrelevant and as #2 and #3 were both better at the bottom end but worse in the mid range that meant it was clear which cylinder to deactivate, #4.

Once we'd established that we had some other theories to test, mostly to do with vibration.

Everyone knows that large amounts of vibration drastically reduces the life span of components. However, vibration also robs a surprisingly large amount of horsepower and we want to minimize the losses. Happily, getting rid of vibration both extends the engine life and improves horsepower output so it's something that deserves a good amount of attention.

The other thing we were looking at was how disabling a cylinder affects its neighbour. This bike runs a 4-2-1 exhaust so disabling cylinder #4 will have a significant affect on cylinder #3 as there are no longer the exhaust pulses that help scavenge the exhaust gases. Less efficient scavenging means you get less fresh air and gas in meaning less horsepower.

Once that was done we had some very interesting results. The empirical evidence shows that removing the piston and conrod probably isn't the best way to go as I had originally thought. This was actually quite pleasing cos it automatically meant a less expensive engine build. After much talking with Paul, looking at the number of k's the bikes done (only 9,140km after 7 years!!) and some quick poking around he suggested that lots of the things I thought should be done don't need to be. The head bearings are perfectly fine, there's a slight movement in the swing arm but that will likely disappear once it has been greased, even the wheel bearings are ok. Really, the bike just needs a damn good clean up.

The news just gets better and better.

After thanking Paul and Pete I started heading north, dropping the bike off with the mechanic that's going to do the work that's needed. Thankfully it's a much less complicated (and cheaper) list of stuff than I had first thought.

Maybe I will be getting that push button shifter after all.

I'm really pleased with the way things have turned out. Without the dyno testing I probably would've spent more money, gotten less power and lower reliability, so this has been a definite win.

One thing I know for sure is that when the engine work etc is done I'm booking the bike in at Wellinton Motorcycles to get the fuel mapping sorted out. Paul really knows what he's doing and genuinely likes working on bikes. You get the feeling that he'd work on bikes for free if it wasn't for things like having to eat.

A huge thank you must go to:

* Steve Dundon and Garry Gill for allowing us to use the dyno on a Saturday to test theories at no charge
* Paul Grant for going into work on a day off and spending hours in the noisey and cold dyno room
* Pete McDonald for pulling a rabbit out of a hat and helping me out
* Drew and Jodi for putting me up for the night, beer and coffee
* Deano and Nikki for letting me leave the car/trailer/bike somewhere I knew it was safe
* Paul Garrett for the excellent deal and for such a good baseline bike to start this project with
* the chick who makes coffee in the trailer at Bulls

Click for directions to Wellington Motorcycles

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  1. Gremlin's Avatar
    Good to hear the happy news!

    As for your iPhone... get a Garmin
  2. Kickaha's Avatar
    It sounds like you have a really well thought out approach to sorting this bike out, be good to see how you get on further down the track, good luck
  3. Crasherfromwayback's Avatar
    Next time try one of my coffees!
  4. Edbear's Avatar
    An excellent example of how valuable a dyno in the right hands can be!
  5. scracha's Avatar
    You fhag.....road trip, beer, dyno....and you didn't invite me to talk $hite all the way down
  6. caseye's Avatar
    Whatever ya do DON"t take one of Pete's coffees. Otherwise awesome read and yep, the Welly MC's are always switched on and bloody good buggers. Looking forward to hearing how the rest goes.
  7. Mental Trousers's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Crasherfromwayback
    Next time try one of my coffees!
    Do I need to take a Brave Pill beforehand??

    Quote Originally Posted by scracha
    You fhag.....road trip, beer, dyno....and you didn't invite me to talk $hite all the way down
    Seven hours of you dribbling on and then drinking beer with Drew, followed by a meeting with Crasher. There's only so much I can take you know!!
  8. Crasherfromwayback's Avatar
    I'l put a pill in your coffee.
  9. Deano's Avatar
    That's awesome Shane. Make sure you let us know when you're coming down again for the tuning.