Long-term tests: Tri­umph Street Twin, Husky 701, BMW F800GS

An af­ter­noon on track with the 701 Su­per­moto gives Liam an op­por­tu­nity to sharpen his sus­pen­sion-tweak­ing skills

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

If there’s one thing I’ve not done enough of over the last few years it’s track rid­ing, and with the Husqvarna 701 Su­per­moto un­der my cus­to­di­an­ship this year I’ve got a bike al­most per­fectly suited to the task of pro­vid­ing cir­cuit­based fun. Su­per­mo­tos are gen­er­ally thor­ough­bred race ma­chines, af­ter all.

It’s taken me most of the year to get the Husky to a track, but when Se­nior Road Tester Michael Neeves let slip he was test­ing a new bike at Rock­ing­ham and the cir­cuit would be free to use for the af­ter­noon I knew I had to es­cape from the of­fice. MCN’S Head of Con­tent Tim Thomp­son also jumped at the chance to take his long term Yamaha MT-10 for a spin, which then al­lowed me to take ad­van­tage of Tim’s years of ex­pe­ri­ence in both rid­ing and writ­ing about bikes.

Af­ter the first ses­sion – which only lasted a few laps as there were too many of us on track at once – the rear tyre (a Met­zeler Racetec RR K3) was al­ready look­ing like it was tak­ing a beat­ing. The con­fi­dence it gave me af­ter just the first sight­ing lap was in­cred­i­ble. Tim saw the rear tyre and asked me how the bike felt dur­ing the short ses­sion. Bouncy and un­set­tled was the only re­sponse I could come up with. It wasn’t ex­actly in­spir­ing con­fi­dence.

Mas­ter Tim lent me the screw­driver from his MT-10’S toolkit – the Husqvarna doesn’t have one – and gave me a crash course in the dark art of sus­pen­sion, of which he is a mas­ter. See­ing the state of the rear tyre, Tim started me out on the shock, turn­ing the com­pres­sion fully in to find out how many clicks out it is as stan­dard (see box out). Tim sug­gested four clicks in on the rear com­pres­sion to start with. Do five or six laps and see how it feels.

Im­me­di­ately ev­ery­thing felt slower. Not my lap times, the sus­pen­sion travel just felt more con­trolled. The big­gest area this was felt was the fast off- cam­ber right-han­der. Pre­vi­ously, run­ning through the dip in that cor­ner the Husky seemed to con­tinue bounc­ing long af­ter, but ev­ery­thing felt much more level with the new rear com­pres­sion set­ting.

Back into the pits for a chat with my new guru I felt like a proper racer, tweak­ing things for faster lap times. Chas­ing that ex­tra tenth. Mas­ter Tim sug­gested look­ing at the front sus­pen­sion now. Un­der hard brak­ing the front was div­ing in­cred­i­bly quickly, and bounc­ing straight back up when the brakes were re­leased, leav­ing the bike a lit­tle un­set­tled go­ing into cor­ners. Four clicks in on the com­pres­sion and back out to test.

Al­most im­me­di­ately I felt I could brake later, and the bike felt more com­posed on cor­ner en­try. More apexes were hit, and brak­ing late – one of my main prob­lems when track rid­ing – felt much eas­ier. The Husky was still mov­ing around more than I was used to bikes mov­ing around on track, but by this point I was get­ting used to it and ac­cept­ing that’s how su­per­mo­tos are. One of the big­gest is­sues now was just hold­ing on down the fast straight out of the first cor­ner. With nowhere to hide and one arse cheek hang­ing off my arms were aching from just try­ing to hold on.

Af­ter a quick break for some water and a ba­nana, I con­sulted with Tim and opted to keep set­tings the same for the fi­nal ses­sion. Af­ter a cou­ple of laps the bike felt live­lier – it wasn’t as planted around the three long lefts, my favourite cor­ners at Rock­ing­ham.

Chas­ing the per­fect set­ting is a con­stant bat­tle. Change a set­ting, you go a bit faster. Change an­other set­ting, you go a bit faster still, re­quir­ing more ad­just­ments as you work the sus­pen­sion harder. With a bit more time I would have looked at chang­ing the re­bound – es­pe­cially on the front to stop the forks re­turn­ing so fast, but I was happy with what I’d learnt in just a few ses­sions. The sus­pen­sion changes also worked won­ders on the rear tyre. It looked bet­ter at the end of the day than it did af­ter that first short, bouncy ses­sion.

‘Im­me­di­ately I felt I could brake later, and the bike felt much more com­posed’

3561 MILES

With Tim fol­low­ing on his MT-10, Liam was able to put his sus­pen­sion tweaks into prac­tice

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