By Richard Vohsing
So, you’ve just rebuilt and modified an old bike and now you need to take it through its paces and make sure everything is working correctly. Smart people would probably idle up and down their street or maybe run some drills in a local parking lot to test everything out, stopping frequently to inspect the bike to ensure that nothing has wiggled loose or started to leak.
These are the things that a smart person would do; I of course, am not a smart person.
As you might expect, I did things properly: I signed up for a trackday. And not just any trackday – I signed up for a trackday at Willow Springs – one of the most intimidating tracks on the west coast.
For those of you who have not heard of Willow Springs – I’m not sure what rock you’ve been living under but allow me to explain – Willow Springs is a FAST track. It’s the only track I know of (outside of oval tracks) where a 100+mph average speed is possible. A skilled rider on a 1000cc bike will routinely hit 155+mph down the front straight, and will sail through turn 8 at upwards of 140 mph. It may not be a very technical track, but the speed tends to amplify even minor mistakes, and going down at 100+ isn’t a particularly pleasant experience.
In other words, it’s the perfect place to ride an untested, unproven, used bike with over 60,000 miles on the clock. What’s the worst that could happen?
As I said, I am not a smart person.
The sun rose to the soundtrack of generators and racebikes – music to my ears of course. An announcement over the PA signaled a bunch of grown men in leather suits hobbling over to the clubhouse to enjoy a 30 minute speech they’ve heard hundreds of times. It’s cold, the coffee machine is broken, but we don’t care – we’re here to turn old dinosaur juice into tiny rubber balls.
For the first session of the day, I took out my tried and trusted GSXR for a warmup session. I could feel the pavement was warming quickly, and as the light breeze died down, I knew it was time to put the FZ through its paces.
40 minutes later, the FZ graced the track for the very first time, all pretty and shiny, and looking way out of place as the only bike on track with a headlight. Still, the green flag dropped, and those R6 kiddos were surprised to see the front tire of the FZ1 lift off the ground as she high-tailed it out of pit lane.
I took it easy the first lap, no tire warmers meant the Q3+ tires were a bit cold, so I picked up the pace with each lap, building confidence with each corner. Things were going well, and I was keen to finish the session and make some suspension adjustments. Unfortunately, fate had other plans….stay tuned for our tale of woe.