TRACKDAY RIDERS SPEAK
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.”