Why would you need to upgrade your sportbike?
Exhibit A: My decked-out 2002 R1
In my last entry, I wrote about how motorcycles today are capable of such technical prowess that if you're really looking for the most bang for your buck, you're better off buying the most badass sportbike you can find rather than the most expensive supercar you can afford; for less than what you would pay in taxes alone for today's supercars, you can buy a superbike with a power-to-weight ratio that supercars could envy.
So why would you ever need to upgrade your motorcycle?
Ohlins FG43 Forks
My main man Rob of Evolution Motorcycles once told me, “Motorcycles are rolled out of the factory made to fit everyone. You’ve got to tailor it to fit yourself.” He told me this after I told him how I think that a completely stock motorcycle is perfectly adequate for my use. In truth, they are, but in sport riding – including track riding – one will get to a point where something about the bike may need to catch up.
PVM Billet Monobloc Calipers
It’s never usually the power output (unless you’re racing), because there’s more than enough power in any of today’s modern sportbikes. But what it is is the ability to control that power, the right tools to be able turn this power into a useable force in, through, and out of corners. Because power without control is simply chaos, and chaos can hurt.
Brembo 19×20 Forged Master Cylinder; Motion Pro Revolver Throttle Kit
I used to think that I was the kind of rider that may not be in tune enough with what the bike was doing underneath me, that I wouldn’t notice what upgraded parts would do. I was wrong, because having upgraded my front brakes, I could feel the difference when slowing and stopping. When I upgraded my suspension, I could feel every undulation of the road. These minute feelings translated to absolute control in a riding discipline that demands your utmost attention and focus because the tiniest miscalculation can lead to catastrophic results out in the racetrack.
Upgraded components also made me realize that just because a bike is older does not mean it’s outdated, and that a newer bike left untouched isn’t necessarily the better bike.
Exhibit B: My bone-stock 2007 R1
For all intents and purposes, my 2007 R1 is a much more powerful and refined motorcycle than my 2002 R1 when they rolled out of the factory. So with my 2007 R1, I made it a point to keep it bone stock rather than deck it out like my 2002 R1. I figured it was five years newer than my 2002 R1, it should be just as good out of the box, maybe better.
I was wrong.
(A) Is my 2002 R1, (B) is my 2007 R1, both on the same tires, both at Laguna Seca, both in clear and dry weather. Note the difference between my two best lap times (shaded in blue).
See that? I was faster on my eleven year old bike with upgraded components than I was on my six year old, bone-stock bike. I hate to admit it, but it can’t be denied. Far from being just bling on motorcycles, upgraded parts do provide a quantifiable difference in your riding as you improve.
Riding around the track, we push the envelope each chance we get.
It makes sense to have to get better envelopes eventually, to better control the chaos.