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Shane - Superlite (#43)

Paeroa Battle of the Streets 2017

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The lead up to the 2017 Paeroa Battle of the Streets was frantic, with lots of work being done on the bike.

On the 10th February I did a track day with MotoTT to test out a couple of things. I finally had a steering damper mounted on the bike and Iíd also gotten hold of a gyroscopic mount for the camera, a couple of things Iíd been wanting to get sorted for quite a while.

The steering damper had been quite a challenge. The mounting brackets are made to fit the 2005 CBR600 RR, which is exactly what I have. However, that year the bike came with 2 different top triple clamps and my bike had the wrong one. Not only did I have the wrong one but the right one was proving impossible to find. Due to the design of the triple clamp I have and the area around the forks thereís no way to easily mount a steering damper. Iíd talked to a couple of people about it and finally Clayton at Paice Engineering came up with a collar that fitted around the mounting bracket and stopped it rotating at all. Iíd need to drill the top triple clamp but I was ok with that as itís over engineered many times over and besides, I had a spare.

Clayton made up the collar from just the mounting bracket so when I test fitted it a little bit of modifying was needed to ensure there was adequate clearance and nothing would jam the steering. Once modified it looked to be perfect for the job.

The gyro-mount for the camera is a great little unit from Feiyu Tech, the WG Mini. Itís roll axis only mount for GoPro style/size cameras. I figured I didnít need a 2 axis mount because the pitching back and forth of the bike shouldnít really be noticeable so the 2 axis would be a waste of money and after seeing some of the video I got I was pleased to see I was right.

However, one problem I found because of where itís mounted, on the end of a short extension above the steering damper, the slight shaking was very noticeable making the video almost unwatchable and that was at the relatively smooth Taupo track. At Paeroa it was going to be a complete waste of time unless I stabilized the mount.

One big problem Iíd found at the MotoTT day was the front end was not good. There was a whole heap of stiction in the forks. I already knew that and had it all booked in at KSS, but that was on the following Monday. After talking to Dave Moss about it he told me to pop the dust seals on the bottom of the fork outer and put a little bit of grease in there to stop the oil seals from sticking to the fork tubes. I couldnít get the dust seals to move and I wasnít willing to start leaning on them too much otherwise Iíd inevitably damage things so flicked Dillon Telford a few dollars to do it for me.

Once Dillon had that sorted we noticed that the front wheel wouldnít free wheel at all and there was plenty of resistance so it looked like the brakes needed to be overhauled as well.

After a couple of sessions the front wheel was getting worse so I called it a day and went home early.

Unfortunately I now had a week to get the forks and shock out, serviced and back in as well as somehow getting the brakes to Dillon so he could overhaul them. Then there was the shaky camera mount to sort out as well as the regular work to get the bike ready to be ridden.

Thankfully, the old $7.00 fold up chairs that only last a couple of weeks came in handy, donating a leg to the stabilizing the camera mount. Using that I made up a couple of bracing struts that held the camera dead still. Hopefully there wouldnít be too much vibration from the bike to upset things.

Monday I was in the car early, heading for New Plymouth to get the suspension overhauled. I was driving down, getting the suspension done, then driving back in time to hand over the braking system to Dillon.

While at KSS we changed out the springs as I was maxing out the preload. Changing the springs means changing the damping so the front end was going to be completely different. Unfortunately I wouldnít be able to squeeze in some testing so the first time Iíd ride the new suspension would be at Paeroa, so it was going to be an interesting event.

After getting the brakes back from Dillon I took a lot of care reassembling the front end as I wasnít going to get to test ride the bike. A quick blast up and down the street doesnít count because everything feels wrong on the road.

Saturday morning I headed over to Paeroa early to get setup in a decent spot. Lucky I did as the car park I set up in filled up quickly. Any later and I wouldíve ended up right next to the Portalooís. Given how hot it was predicted to be I wanted to be well away from them.

The bike easily passed through Scrutineering so I locked things up and headed home as Iíd end up drinking too much beer.

Later on we headed back over to Paeroa, had some dinner and a couple of beers before turning in for the night.

During the night I woke a few times and each time it was raining steadily. By 6:45am the rain had eased up but hadnít stopped. I was sure there wouldnít be any racing but I went through the motions anyway, after all, until itís officially cancelled thereís always a chance.

At riders briefing they announced a delay of an hour before making a decision. An hour later weíre told the track is almost completely dry but there are patches that are still slippery so weíd be waiting for another half an hour.

While weíre waiting the Medical car, ambulances and a couple of other vehicles are charging around the track trying to dry it out. At the next briefing weíre told that Tony Rees and Toby Summers would head out and check out the track conditions before a decision would be made.

Toby gets out there on a 2 stroke Motard and immediately nails it. Tony takes things quite a bit more cautiously, however, after 2 laps heís almost running at Qualifying pace but Toby has disappeared.

End of the quick session Tony gives it the thumbs up and eventually, once he pushes his unreliable 2 stroke into the pits, Toby does too.

So weíre going to be racing.

First session is the newbies sighting laps and I want to get a look at the track as well as do a little testing of the suspension. Looks like nearly half the paddock have the same idea so what should be the smallest session of the day ends up being the biggest.

Weíre out on track and itís immediately obvious that itís dry enough to ride without doubts, but also the suspension is definitely different. The third thing thatís obvious is the gearing is totally wrong. Itís so tall Iím only getting to about 12,500rpm in 4th gear on the main straight and 2nd is too tall for all of the corners.

Iím trying to find lines thatíll let me keep my speed up when the front end tries to kill me in the esses where I flick from left to right. Iím not even starting to push but I know the front wheel had left the ground during the transition from one side to the other, meaning the rebound damping was way too aggressive.

Back in the pits I back off the rebound damping a turn. I also back off the steering damper a little as Iím used to feeling the bars twitch when things are close to the limit and the steering damper completely kills that. The steering still feels exactly as it used to, except thereís none of the twitches right on the limit.

The first practice session was cancelled because of the rain but things were rapidly warming up and Iím going to be doing our only practice/qualifying with doubts about how the front end is handling.

Out for Qualifying and the front end feels much better, although thereís still a slight feeling of disconnection during the left to right flick. More worrying is hitting the bumps at turn 1 on the brakes while turning. The rebound damping is still wrong and the tyre leaves the ground over the bumps. The steering damper stops the bars from slapping but the tyre leaving the ground means Iím ploughing straight ahead instead of turning.

I still wasnít anywhere near a decent pace so Iím not surprised to find out I qualified 12th out of 15 with a 57.299. I am surprised that Iíve gotten a 57 considering the problems with the gearing and rebound. I thought Iíd be struggling to break the minute with those problems.

Back in the pits I back off the rebound damping another 1.5 turns and climb out of my leathers. Itís getting warm and the humidity is ridiculous.

Race 1 I head out on the warm up lap. Out of the hairpin onto the main straight it looks like Jordan Burley had a touch of brain fade and clipped the bails on the outside. However, he shakes his head and continues on the warm up lap. Iím meant to be lining up between Jase Augustine and Aaron Carmichael, but it looks like theyíre in the wrong spots and itís difficult to figure out exactly where the rows are. I end up beside Finn Harman even though heís meant to be on the row in front of me but itís his mistake not mine.

Weíre off!! I donít get a great start and neither does Aaron, but everyone else pulls a bit of a gap on us. Dan Nicholson, who chose to start at the back instead of on the crowded row in front of me, is on Scotty Moirís little hybrid beast and eases past me into turn 1. Iím pleased to see the gearing isnít so wrong for the blast from turn 2 to the esses, but once in the esses the bike drops well out of the power. Out of the esses Jase Augustine uses the SVs torque and easily drives past me on the run to the fast turn 5.

Iím having to use first gear out of turn 6, which means virtually stopping, getting the bike straight and upright before opening the throttle. The SV shows itís bottom end again and Jase pulls an easy 20m on me. I make most of it back on the brakes but thatís not really the place you want to be making ground.

I spend the rest of the race chasing Jase. He gains ground out of the esses and turn 6 and I pull back a little bit here and there but he gains more than I can get back.

Lap 4 weíre heading down to the esses when the yellow flag comes out. Phil Munt has stuck it in the bails and is looking a little sore. The red flag comes out so thatís it for the first race.

The bike was handling better but itís still not right over the bumps near the turn 1 apex. I was having to take a straight line through that part of the corner so that it didnít matter if the front wheel wasnít quite touching the ground, which meant I was slow. Through the esses there was still a vague sense that it wasnít quite right.

Now that youíve read about the race hereís a video of it using the gyrocam.

NOTE small browser windows may end up with half of the video cut off so view it YouTube instead

By now itís sunny and stinking hot. But the sun has brought the crowds and thereís a very steady stream of people through the car park.

Race 2 and everyone has figured out where theyíre meant to be this time, although that doesnít mean I get a better start. Iím starting from the far left side, the inside for the kink and Iím not quite able to get my nose in front of the rest of my row so I back off and let the others have it. Iím still trying to get some confidence in the suspension set up and Iím not interested in pushing anything so 3 bikes go past me.

Into turn 1 and again Dan Nicholson eases past. Out of the esses and once again Jase Augustineís SV hauls arse past me. Iím left chasing Jase but Iím still holding back so he eases away from me lap after lap. Nobody crashes this time so we get the full 6 laps in, although Richard Markham-Barrett disappears on lap 4 but maybe thatís a mechanical issue with the NSR300.

We get things packed up fairly quickly and make tracks. I know trying to get across the bridge is always a mistake so we take the long way, which always ends up being faster as itís only 10 minutes longer.

NZSBK is the following weekend but I wonít be riding. I decided Iíd help out instead of riding as the Hamilton club is running the weekend and I want it to be a success. Besides, it already has the largest number of entries so volunteers will be needed.

Iíd like to thank

  • My pit crew for helping hand
  • Clayton @ Paice Engineering
  • Robert and Denis @ Kiwi Suspension Services
  • Craig @ Grey Street Motors
  • Stefan @ DL Consulting
  • Dillon and Jo
  • My wife
  • The Paeroa Trust and the AMCC for putting on a good event

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  1. old slider's Avatar
    Enjoyed reading the trials and tribulation in the days of a motorcycle racer, thanks for that and the onboard footage, look forward to your next meeting report.
  2. Mental Trousers's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by old slider
    Enjoyed reading the trials and tribulation in the days of a motorcycle racer, thanks for that and the onboard footage, look forward to your next meeting report.
    Glad you enjoyed it