TRACK­DAY RID­ERS SPEAK

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Mcn Investigation - Con­tin­ued over

Adrian 50, Yamaha YZF-R1M Fast group

“It’s got full elec­tron­ics, in­clud­ing the sus­pen­sion. I took the ABS off, though; once when the ABS kicked in the lever came back to the bar and the brake dis­ap­peared!

“The elec­tron­ics con­nect ev­ery­thing: the lift con­trol puts the front wheel back down for you, and the trac­tion and slide con­trol sorts ev­ery­thing out when you go into cor­ner cranked over and give it full gas. I lean on the elec­tron­ics and if they weren’t there I think I’d sh*t my­self! The R1M’S elec­tron­ics are bril­liant; it rides it­self – they let your av­er­age fool ride bet­ter. I’ve no­ticed the dif­fer­ence since hav­ing it and I’m a lot quicker rider on it.”

Giles, 50 BMW S1000RR Fast group

“I don’t ride any dif­fer­ently with elec­tron­ics, but it’s a get-out-of-jail-free card. If I get it wrong they sort it out. My bike has been chipped and I set the trac­tion con­trol to -4, so I get a bit of wheel­slip, but it still saves you.

“I still pro­gres­sively wind the throt­tle on out of cor­ners, but some­times it still catches you out, like over the Moun­tain at Cad­well where the elec­tron­ics can get a bit con­fused.

“I used to have a ZX-10R but these BMWS get bet­ter ev­ery year. I’ve dis­con­nected the ABS and re­placed the electronic sus­pen­sion with Bi­tubo units. The quick­shifter and au­to­blip­per are bril­liant; I don’t know why I haven’t had them before. I turn the an­ti­wheelie off as it’s too in­tru­sive. My front wheel doesn’t come up as much as the Kawasakis and Yama­has on the throt­tle, so I ride through it.”

Kev, 52 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 No Lim­its track­day in­struc­tor

“My bike doesn’t have any elec­tron­ics. I need to get some be­cause ev­ery­one else has got them! When I’ve rid­den bikes with electronic aids I find they’re eas­ier to con­trol when you let the trac­tion and anti-wheelie do their job. With mine I have to con­stantly use the back brake for trac­tion and to stop wheel­ies, but not in right han­ders, as I can’t get to the back brake lever. Elec­tron­ics will work ev­ery­where.

“When I can’t get to the back brake I’m ten­ta­tive on the throt­tle, but with elec­tron­ics once I’ve got the back tyre loaded I know that I can let them do their work. I’ve rid­den the Suzuki for the last four years with no elec­tron­ics, but it’s start­ing to show its age now when I go out with peo­ple on 2016 bikes with them. Tyre wear is bet­ter with trac­tion con­trol, too.

“I’ve tried the au­to­blip­per and quick­shifter on the lat­est BMW and they’re bril­liant – you don’t have to think about it. I’m old school, so I have to blip the throt­tle when I’m chang­ing down − I can’t just drop the clutch, even though my Suzuki has a slip­per on it, I still have to blip it. Elec­tron­ics are a safety aid, but you can still high­side.”

John, 31 Yamaha YZF-R1M In­ter­me­di­ate group

“You ride with a bit more con­fi­dence know­ing the trac­tion and slide con­trol are there. This is my first litre bike, so it’s good to know that if it is go­ing to step out, it’s go­ing to be grad­ual, rather than a big get-off.

“I had a K8 GSX-R750 before this, so it’s a big step up. I’m a big lad and need more power. I was get­ting to the point where I was good in the cor­ners, but ev­ery­thing was com­ing past me on the straights.

“I wouldn’t be as con­fi­dent with­out the elec­tron­ics, but ev­ery­thing’s turned to the min­i­mum as I’ve got more used to it. It’s never go­ing to save me, but I know if it does de­cide to slide out, it’ll give me a lit­tle bit of no­tice.

“The anti-wheelie is great com­ing out of cor­ners and one less thing to think about. It eases the trep­i­da­tion about com­ing out of a cor­ner and giv­ing it a wrist-full – you know that for at least a few sec­onds it’s go­ing to give you a bit of help.

“My quick­shifter stopped work­ing re­cently and it feels alien rid­ing with­out it and chang­ing gear man­u­ally un­set­tles the bike. I’ve got an au­to­blip­per or­dered.

“I backed off the rider modes when I first got the R1M, but as I’ve got more con­fi­dent and used to the bike, I’m go­ing back up again.”

De­clan, 39 Honda Fire­blade In­ter­me­di­ate group

“I had an ABS BMW F800 before this non-abs Blade and it was my first bike. Once the ABS stopped the brakes from work­ing and I rolled out into the front of a car. I was nearly killed.

“That in­ci­dent broke my trust with ABS, but with the Honda I was fear­ful I didn’t have it any­more. Al­though it took about a week to un­der­stand I didn’t ac­tu­ally need ABS and I felt to­tally com­fort­able with the bike. The ge­om­e­try of the bike and the way it’s set up is much more im­por­tant to me than elec­tron­ics.

“Some­thing like the BMW S1000RR is fan­tas­tic, but the more elec­tron­ics you’ve got work­ing, the more there is to go wrong. I know peo­ple who go out to Spain for track­days and spend a lot of money, and if they’re hav­ing electronic is­sues with their bikes then it ru­ins their en­tire hol­i­day.

“Elec­tron­ics aren’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing, but I don’t trust their re­li­a­bil­ity.”

‘Elec­tron­ics are a use­ful safety aid but you can still high­side’

Glen, 42 Aprilia RSV4 Factory In­ter­me­di­ate group

“I love elec­tron­ics, apart from ABS, which I’ve turned off for the track be­cause it’s use­less. I’ve got the race ECU with the im­proved trac­tion con­trol set­tings that I can ad­just while I’m rid­ing. I’m not an ex­pert or a racer, just a track­day rider, but they re­ally give me the con­fi­dence to do what I ac­tu­ally can’t do.

“I had a GSX-R750 for the track and before that a Blade and I take more risks with trac­tion con­trol. But say­ing that, now I’ve got rider aids I’ve crashed more than I ever did before – high­sides and los­ing the front. But that’s just me push­ing the new ECU set­tings.

“The rid­ing mode is set to ‘race’ with less en­gine brak­ing and a sharper torque re­sponse. I’ve got the an­ti­wheelie on its low­est set­ting and it means I don’t have to think about hov­er­ing over the brake pedal when I’m com­ing out of a cor­ner. I can just gas it when it comes up, which it does all the time and I know it’s not go­ing to go past the point it’s sup­posed to go.

“My quick­shifter packed-up re­cently and I was lost. Try­ing to use the clutch felt alien and made me won­der how we ever did it before. The au­to­blip­per is the one thing I want, but I can’t jus­tify the ex­tra grand. I’ll just have to blip on the down-changes my­self.

“The elec­tron­ics aren’t in­fal­li­ble and you still need to have your wits about you, but it’s a lit­tle com­fort zone know­ing they’re there.”

Bikes like Suzuki’s GSX-R are still lan­guish­ing be­hind in the tech­nol­ogy stakes

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