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Topic: Buell Inside Pass - Willow Springs, 11/3/08  (Read 4425 times)

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kevin_stevens
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« on: November 05, 2008, 06:54:05 pm »

This Monday I attended Buell's Inside Pass track/demo day at Willow Springs raceway.  I'd been looking forward to this for over six months, for several reasons:  I'm very interested in the Buell 1125R, both directly and in comparison to the XB series bikes, and I was looking forward to running my ZX-14 at the "big track" after being there previously on my F4i.

General event:  Very well done.  This was a standard three-group 20-minute session format.  Novice group went out in lead-follow mode, at least for the morning.  Passing rules were 6-foot clearance for *everyone*, novice passes on straight only, intermediate on outside of turnes, advanced inside and out.  Pretty standard.  The sessions started a little late at first, but they handled it well by cutting everyone's first session a couple of minutes short, and were caught up by the third hour.  For $150 you got track time, free Buell knee pucks and T-shirt, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and water/Gatorade all day long, and *free* track photos!  (The photos have a Buell logo on them unless you pay for prints, but you can download the full-res shots for free.)  That's a great deal for a track day.  There was supposedly a tire truck there too, but I didn't check that out and don't have any details.  The temps were in the low 60s, and I never got significant heat in my tires, although the demo bikes were fairly warm since they ran continuously.

Demos:  They had a factory truck with about twenty demo bikes, plus what looked like loaner leathers (which seemed odd).  The way it worked was that at registration, you filled out a waiver form for the demos.  Then you signed up separately for time slots on the bikes you wanted to ride; I got back-to-back sessions in the afternoon on an XB12R and a 1125R.  It looked like 1125R and CR slots were a little tight, but everything else was pretty available; you could probably have ridden Buells exclusively in all sessions if you really wanted.  Demo rides were ONLY during your regular time slot, so you didn't have advanced riders in the novice demo group or vice versa.  They didn't run demos in the first or last hours.  Demos were follow-the-leader, and at least in the novice and intermediate groups the speeds seemed appropriate; I didn't talk to any advanced guys.  My biggest issue with the demos was that they didn't have suspensions set up - I understand they couldn't set up every rider/bike combination, but I've been at other demos where they had bikes set for small/medium/large and directed people onto the appropriate bikes.

Bikes:  As I said, I really wanted to try the 1125R, and compare it to an XB12.  I was lucky enough to get to ride both bikes back-to-back about thirty minutes apart, and both were the Pearl White/Hero Blue paint combination, so I got the faster ones.  Smile

XB12R - I expected not to like the Harley engine, so was carrying that preconception in, but it proved to be invalid.  I didn't dislike the engine, I *hated* it.  There was simply no rev range, and I felt like I was rowing the bike around the course.  Every turn required anticipation of not only what gear to *enter* in, but whether there would be enough range to *exit* the turn without shifting mid-exit.  Willow is a big track, and there were several places where I both lugged the engine into the turn, and hit the rev limiter on the exit.  The transmission was ok, but with fairly long throws.  You sit pretty far forward and "on top of" the XB, and while the seat/peg configuration worked fine for me, the bars were too high, too close, and too straight - my wrists wanted more angle.  I had heard about the XBs wanting to stand up under braking.  I didn't notice that particularly, but what I did notice was the bike wanting to stand up mid-corner.  It would turn in fine, but I had to hold pressure on the inside bar or the bike tried to stand up and run wide.  Again, this is with no suspension setup.  The front end also topped out noticeably over the turn 6 crest, but I didn't have wheelie problems.  I consider myself a "slowish intermediate" rider, and I had trouble keeping up with the demo pack (mixed 1125s and XBs) on the XB.  I never felt comfortable, particularly with the engine.

1125R - Ah, this is more like it!  A more typical cockpit with quite a bit of wind protection.  The bars still felt a little straight, but were in a much better position for me.  I was sitting "in" the bike rather than "on" it.  Seat/peg was similar, although the pegs felt a bit longer, which was nice.  They may have actually just been spaced more widely, but in any case my feet landed on the pegs instead of on the knobs.  The engine was *much* more flexible - which is what I noticed more than the 50 extra horsepower.  I could carry a single gear all the way into and out of a turn, and adjust the bike with the throttle much better than the XB.  The most comparable bike I've ridden extensively was my TL1000S - this engine felt mildly de-tuned from that, but was very responsive and pulled hard up to just short of the rev limiter.  This gave some useful overrun, which again the XB didn't have - you were just suddenly ON the rev limiter while the engine was still pulling.  The bike handled about as well as the XB, but differently - it either has better suspension or this one was set up better for me.  The bike didn't try to stand up in the turns at all, very neutral, but it did feel a bit nervous on the straights above 120, like it was getting aero lift in the front end.  In maintenance-throttle turns like 2, I could also feel some engine surging; you could actually see this as the bike changed line back and forth slightly.  It wasn't noticeable in 8, where you are actually rolling on a bit.  Oh, one other thing I noticed in person with the 1125R - there is a significant gap between the upper fairing and the radiator pods - about 3/4".  I never noticed this in the pictures previously, but in person it's very obvious and looks rather tacky.  When riding the 1125R I started at the back of the demo group (because that's where the bike was), and got separated from them by a slower rider whom it took me a bit to realize wasn't part of the demo ride.  Once I passed him, the main group was two turns ahead, and on the 1125R I was easily able to make up ground and catch up to the group within one lap.  So for me, obvious difference in comfort level and performance.

ZX-14 - After my Buell sessions I got back on my bike for the last session of the day.  Damn, I love this bike.  The rear shock isn't up to the performance level and smoothness of the Buells.  Beyond that, it's neutral everywhere; the engine does exactly what the throttle tells it to, and the brakes are awesome.  Plenty of room to move around.  No head shake over 6, if you didn't roll off it carried the front for a ways but set it down gently.  I ran second gear from turns 1-5, and third from 5-1.  Hit the rev limiter in third going into 8 and down the main straight without enough room to go into fourth. I went out in front of the Buell demo group, lapped them in about five laps, and passed the entire group down the front straight.  25mpg for the day.  I think I'll keep her!

Oops:  Every time I've been at Willow Springs, people crash in turn 3.  I don't understand why - the "cold tires in the first left hander" explanation is the best I've heard, but we had an ambulance roll at the end of the next-to-last session, so (shrug).  Turn 3 is a medium-speed banked uphill turn, so how people run out of grip once they've turned in is a mystery to me.  Last time I was there a guy right in front of me disappeared in an explosion of plastic, and I *know* we weren't going fast.  At the Buell event there were about six "incidents", all of which I heard or saw being in turn 3.  I didn't get details on the red flag incident, it was on the checkered lap and I'd already exited.

Overall:  Highly recommended even if you're not into Buells, just an excellent low-stress track day.  Well run and cheap for what you get.  I confirmed that the 1125R would be a great bike for me, but didn't come away thinking "I MUST have one of these NOW!".  I'd think it would be a better fit for me than a 1098 or RC8 if I was in the market for a big-twin sport bike, but I'd definitely want to ride the RC8 first.

KeS
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Prubert
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2008, 07:12:39 pm »

Here are the 2 you rode.....



And here is the gap.....



Should have tried the CR!!
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2008, 11:17:22 pm »

I actually liked the bar position on the CR, it was lower and more angled than the R - but I knew I'd never buy that bike because of the wind protection differences.  I did think of taking one out in the 3pm session just 'cause, but I wanted to get a back-to-back with my bike, since that's what I'm "calibrated" to.

I think the XB's would have shown off better at Streets rather than the big track, there they could have used their torque to better advantage.  The big track just kind of overwhelmed them.  But it showed off the 1125 very well.   Drool

KeS
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2008, 01:10:03 am »

Nice write-up and a very thorough comparison.



BTW, I've followed this thread from Ride Reports to Buell to Pit Row so I guess you really do get more for your money at a Buell Inside Pass day.
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kevin_stevens
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2008, 01:34:33 am »


Nice write-up and a very thorough comparison.



BTW, I've followed this thread from Ride Reports to Buell to Pit Row so I guess you really do get more for your money at a Buell Inside Pass day.


Yes, I think that distance travelled *qualifies* it as a Ride Report, so it will probably be moved back shortly.   Lol

KeS
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2008, 10:53:34 am »

Quote
The bike didn't try to stand up in the turns at all, very neutral, but it did feel a bit nervous on the straights above 120, like it was getting aero lift in the front end.


maybe air coming into those huge air ducts did provide some lift?

Cool write-up. I really wanted to do one of the Buell trackdays, but the nearest one to me was 400+ miles away. I know some people will disagree, but to me, big V-twins are outpaced by much smaller I-4's so I think I'll stick with that direction.
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atypical1

« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2008, 12:05:23 pm »

Great write up. I really wish that I could have attended this one. I really like your comparisions and think that those kinda rule out Buell for me.

So I am one of "those guys" whose eaten in on turn 3. I know it is a relatively slow turn but there is something about it. But it also might have been my tires as the last time I was there with DOT race tires I drug a knee the entire time on that turn with no lack of grip.

So, what kinds of speeds were you hitting at the end of the straight?

james
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2008, 03:28:25 pm »


Great write up. I really wish that I could have attended this one. I really like your comparisions and think that those kinda rule out Buell for me.

So I am one of "those guys" whose eaten in on turn 3. I know it is a relatively slow turn but there is something about it. But it also might have been my tires as the last time I was there with DOT race tires I drug a knee the entire time on that turn with no lack of grip.

So, what kinds of speeds were you hitting at the end of the straight?

james


The problem with the straight was that turn 9 was *filthy*, it started the day with two pools of sand about 1/2" deep on it, and they just got progressively spread out over the track surface throughout the day.  It was really unsettling to start to turn in and feel/see sand from the rider in front spray from under the rear tire and across your visor.  So it was hard to get a normal run at the straight, I ran way to the outside of 8 and did a very late apex there so that when I crossed the "real" apex at 9 the bike was pretty much straight up/down.  I was still gettting a bit of wheel spin on the ZX-14 there.

The XB - I don't know, I was in like twelfth gear or so by that point.  Smile  The 1125 was in fourth gear at around 135 (I shut down early on the main straight, at the first ripple, because I'm a coward).  The ZX-14 was kind of caught between gears and hit the rev limiter in third about the end of the pit wall at just over 140mph.  It really wanted to be in fourth, but I'd be upshifting and then immediately downshifting twice for 1, so I didn't bother.  As a comparison my F4i was getting a clean drive off of 9 last time I was here, and my GPS showed 136 as my top speed for that day, also with early braking.

KeS
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2008, 03:31:10 pm »


Great write up. I really wish that I could have attended this one. I really like your comparisions and think that those kinda rule out Buell for me.

So I am one of "those guys" whose eaten in on turn 3. I know it is a relatively slow turn but there is something about it. But it also might have been my tires as the last time I was there with DOT race tires I drug a knee the entire time on that turn with no lack of grip.

So, what kinds of speeds were you hitting at the end of the straight?

james


So when you went down in three, what happened?  Were you just cruising along and suddenly wham!, or did you ever figure out what the cause was?  The rider in front of me just magically disintegrated, it was very strange.

KeS

(used to like turn 3)
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atypical1

« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2008, 03:33:58 pm »

Oh man...kinda glad I didn't go then. That's really scary to have sand on that turn considering just how fast that turn is. I can't imagine including sand in the mix. I haven't on that track when it was that dirty so that would have really spooked me!

Imagine how much faster you could have gone if you had decent drive off of 9. I mean you should be at over 100 on 9 and considering the performance of the ZX you could have had some serious speed there.

No probs with brake fade at all? But you said it was pretty cool right? What tires were you running?
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atypical1

« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2008, 03:41:43 pm »




So when you went down in three, what happened?  Were you just cruising along and suddenly wham!, or did you ever figure out what the cause was?  The rider in front of me just magically disintegrated, it was very strange.

KeS

(used to like turn 3)


I dunno what happened. I was just cruising along and didn't make any sudden movements so I don't really know. I was on the Multi so it wasn't like I was really railing. I will say that the tires were hand-me-downs though and the previous user also went down in turn 3. So I don't know what happened.

Funny, it only happened that one time and the last time I was there (with the R12S) I had absolutely no problems at all. Go figure.

james
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2008, 05:17:28 pm »


Oh man...kinda glad I didn't go then. That's really scary to have sand on that turn considering just how fast that turn is. I can't imagine including sand in the mix. I haven't on that track when it was that dirty so that would have really spooked me!

Imagine how much faster you could have gone if you had decent drive off of 9. I mean you should be at over 100 on 9 and considering the performance of the ZX you could have had some serious speed there.

No probs with brake fade at all? But you said it was pretty cool right? What tires were you running?


Yes, I think the hot tip would have been to drive off of 9 in third, then short shift to fourth and let the bike pull.  I'm still chary about picking braking points at high speed, and there weren't any cones out, so "shut down when you hit the rev limiter in third" was an easy decision point.  I was a little surprised they didn't just send out a truck to blow it off in the morning, as the rest of the track was pretty clean, it was just that one spot (to start with).

I've never had brake fade problems, and really there's only three big braking points (1, 3, 5) with lots of cooling time in between, so no, no problems.  I just put on Spiegler SS lines, and the brakes felt great as always.  I was on Conti Sport Attacks; I really like their profile, but they didn't heat up at all.  I got a little bit of cold tearing, but no "rippling" or smearing whatever.  On a set of Road Attacks at Buttonwillow last year, the tires got very sticky with nice grain ripples, some edge smearing, and they actually got a little greasy at the end of the day, but that was in 90+ weather.

The Buells ran Corsa IIIs, and they did get warm (not hot) as they were ridden pretty much back-to-back.  Worked fine.

KeS
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2008, 12:15:16 am »

Kevin, your assessment of the XB12R's shortcoming is right on.  That bike due to that engine would not suit fast tracks because you simply run out of rev/power way too early.  In roads around Palomar, it is ideal and you won't have the issue of the rev limiter up until you want to pass several cars at a time.  Then, you need to shift more.  Therein lies the challenge in riding the XB fast.  YOu need to get used to that limited rev ceiling and use the torque by shifting early.  The other issue is the 5-speed leaves a gap between 3rd and 2nd that is way too wide under certain conditions which becomes apparent in fast corners.

The handling issue you had about keeping pressure on the bars to stay on the corner is definitely suspension set up.  My XB12R did that before I tuned the suspension to my weight.  The XB is the only bike I have ever owned that really REQUIRED suspension set up before it performed its best.  If it's off just a little, you will feel it right away because its sweet spot is very narrow.  In its defense, once you have it dialed in and you get used to the engine's powerband, it is a delight to ride.  Plus, the limits on power forces me to keep my speeds in check, which is both good and bad!  

Sounds like you had a great time.  I'm glad you enjoyed riding the 1125R.  
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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2008, 02:47:15 am »

That was actually about my only disappointment with the Buell day - I've always heard how sensitive the Buells are to suspension setup, and there was no attempt to dial the bikes in at all.  Logistics would have prevented settting each bike up for each rider, of course; but I did think they might have preset some S/M/L bikes.  Moto Guzzi did that with only three bikes at their demo, with 20 or 30 Buell could have had three different lines of bikes.

I don't mean to rip on the XBs - I'm not particularly fast at adapting to new bikes/cars; and I *know* I'm biased against that engine type.  My interest was in the 1125 going in, and I was just happy to ride an XB first to act as a baseline, so I wasn't really trying to evaluate it as closely.  As it turns out, the riding sequence couldn't have been better; a morning on my own bike to get calibrated, then the XB, the 1125R, and my own bike again back-to-back.  *And* they were both 2009s!

Awesome day in any case, I can't wait for them to put up their schedule for next year!

KeS
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