‘How can track-dayers address front-end issues?’
Mick Shanley, 39, is team manager for Milwaukee BMW, who are running British Superbike champion Josh Brookes in World Supers this year
“When you are starting out riding on circuits, it’s all too easy to listen to too many ‘experts’ and confuse yourself. If you have cornering issues, and the bike’s base set-up is good – sag set, standard settings plus a few clicks, with decent tyres – then for me, there are a few key leading questions to answer.
“If a rider is complaining about the steering, I won’t want to know what it is doing, but where it is happening. Is it on the brakes, or as you come off them? Perhaps it’s when you start to open the throttle. Then I’ll ask what the stability is like at that point? For example, if a bike is unstable on the brakes and reluctant to turn in, but as you release the brakes it responds, then that tells me the front is too soft.
“Then I’ll want to know how fast does it dive? If it’s plummeting, some compression damping will slow the dive rate. If it’s not that, some preload will increase the level of force needed to move it initially. But go too far on preload and the forks could return too fast, so it won’t change line easily as you throttle off in long, fast corners. Then it’s time to up the spring rate with less preload.
“Your bike might have some datalogging kit, and we’ve got masses of it here, but it’s easy to convince yourself of anything when you look at the data. Don’t be a slave to it – it’s a guide, not the law. For normal trackday use standard brake pads are as good as anything. Stuart Easton prefers them for the North West – and he could be described as quite quick.”
‘I won’t want to know what it is doing, but where it is happening ’