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Archive for August, 2018

Monster 1200S, Supersport S, Scrambler 1100 S demo ride notes 0

Posted on August 25, 2018 by acruhl

Above are pictures of the bikes, in the same order as the title.

I spent part of a day last weekend riding some demo bikes at On Any Moto. They are very generous with their demo bikes, and I really enjoy riding all types of bikes to see what impression they leave.

My intention was to ride the Supersport then head home. I get a lot of questions about this bike, and I was curious about it myself.

But there was a big surprise after riding a few other bikes, read on for my thoughts.

The Supersport is kind of a confusing bike for me. It’s at a pretty high price point for what it is, and it has a small-ish engine compared to some of it’s competition. One of the sales people said it is a bike for someone who wants a Panigale but lives in the real world. I can go with that. Of course, it’s a Ducati so it has the nice single sided swingarm and great looks.

Thankfully, it’s a very well sorted bike. It’s the first one I went out on of the three. The immediate impression is it’s a very friendly, “sit in” riding position. It’s lacking some legroom for a sport touring bike, but it seems made for shorter or smaller riders in general so this is fair enough. It feels light. It goes side to side easily. There is plenty of power, but it’s never intimidating. The suspension is set up for comfort more than footpeg scratching. I was thinking this bike would work equally well for touring up to the mountains or a quick track day with some minor suspension adjustment. That alone makes it worth considering for someone that can only have one bike.

The second bike I went out on was one I really had little interest in, the Scrambler 1100 Sport. One of the mechanics was raving about it and insisted that I took a quick ride on it. Apparently he’s saving his money to buy one of his own. I was really not bothered to ride it but I decided to be polite and go around the block.

After about 100 yards I knew this was something special. Ducati really hit it out of the park with this one.

Strangely, from sitting on the bike it looks and feels a lot like an early 80’s standard bike like a GPz or GS750 or something. It has a wide gas tank and tubular handlebar, and what seems like a very similar riding position. And simple gauges (although LCD). It’s really a cool feeling.

But that’s where the similarity stops because it’s got a twin cylinder engine and way, way better suspension and handling than the dinosaurs the riding position reminds me of.

What an engine. You need this engine in your life. What a sound. I immediately thought of all the bikes that the air cooled 1100 engine came in and decided I needed all of them, including this one. Well, in an ideal world anyway. (Ok, why not: Multistrada 1100, Hypermotard 1100, Monster 1100 or EVO. And this one. What am I missing?)

I decided to ride over Gates Pass to get a few corners in. And it handled very well. It does a reasonable impression of a sport bike if you push, even though it has knobby-ish tires and an 18 inch front wheel.

It’s very comfortable. It makes me feel like I would rather be riding this than an older Multistrada 1100 since it has less “stuff” (bodywork mainly) and might be better on dirt roads. A nice tail bag plus a tank bag would be ideal. You could ride all the way across the country, paved roads or not, and not get bored of it.

I think I’m not doing a very good job of conveying how good it is. It’s just a really well sorted out bike, and you’d never guess from how it looks. It’s way better than it looks.

The third bike I rode is the Monster 1200S. I’ve never been much of a Monster guy. I want either an upright touring type of bike (like my junkyard Multistrada 620 dark), or a sport bike. Monsters have this compact, aggressive head over the handlebar riding position which makes a lot of sense for sort of an “urban attack” style bike, but it’s not really for me. Lots of people love it though. Fair enough.

But what an engine. The 1198 superbike motor should live on forever because it’s one of the all time greats. Torque, power, it’s got it all. When you twist the throttle, there is absolutely no delay in gaining speed. You’re going much faster immediately (given you’re not 2 or 3 gears away from where you should be). It’s almost alarming with the upright and compact riding position. The sensation of speed is pretty intense.

The Ohlins suspension is very well controlled along with well tuned electronics so you know it’s probably not going to do anything silly. But it sure feels like it wants to. And I think this is the essence of it. It’s a bruiser tamed just a bit by modern technology. A Monster. And it is.

What a fun day. And I never thought I would like the Scrambler so much. Sometimes things don’t go how you expect.

My new Panigale V4, part 7 – another trackday! 0

Posted on August 25, 2018 by acruhl

(Knee down but crap lean angle… Read on for my inevitable excuse… Photo by Dan Katz.)
First read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 (trackday!) and Part 6.

I got another chance to go out to Inde Motorsports Ranch for a trackday on the new V4. I feel like I had a lot of unfinished business from the last trackday, but I didn’t finish it due to tires. Or lack thereof. Read on for more info.

The On Any Moto crew invited me to another trackday which I’m grateful for. These trackdays they have been doing have pretty much been OAM staff only, and me, your humble club president. Hopefully soon it will open up to more riders.

So I had all these ideas about changing electronics and testing out all the different settings, but the rear tire put a damper on that. I hadn’t changed tires since the last track day (really 1/2 to 2/3rds of a day) and my dealer didn’t have a set of Supercorsa SP V3 in stock at the time anyway.

It was evident from the first session that the right side of the rear tire had taken a serious beating on the last track day, and there was very little drive grip available this time out. DCT (traction control) settings from 4 (more intervention) to 1 (less intevention) felt about the same to me. The electronics would let the tire spin wildly as lean angle decreased from maximum depending on how much throttle I gave it, but they never let the tire go very sideways (which prevents catastrophe). I could lay down lines from turn 7 all the way to the chicane at turn 8 which felt like 50 or 60 yards. Left turns were nice because the tire was in relatively better shape so I could drive through them pretty hard.

Like I said in my last trackday post, I’m not sure the SC2 compound on the side of the rear tire is ideal for the conditions. It’s a hot and abrasive track, probably better suited to SC1. And I wasn’t using tire warmers because these are street tires right? I just gave them a few laps to warm up, and made sure they were in the sun between sessions. Maybe I will try warmers next time. But next time I’m hoping to have slicks (SC2/SC1) or maybe a different type of tire.

The front tire seemed like it hung in there pretty good. But I was still treating it like a street tire and not a race tire since it gave me a few warnings last time out. I’m sure I was getting 5-10 degrees more lean angle on my old 998 with race tires the last time I had it out here. I just wasn’t confident to ride this V3 front tire hard, but this may have been unfounded.

EDIT: It sounds like I’m really down on these tires and I want to clarify something. These work great on the road. No issues at all. They worked really great for my first 2 or 3 sessions out on the track as well. But I think they are not the ideal tire for the conditions I’m riding in. I’m also a former expert racer so I’m probably pushing them harder than 95% of other people riding this bike. Next time I will try slicks to compare. I also want to try other brands.

I left DWC (wheelie control) on 1 and for the most part the bike didn’t wheelie much. It would lift the front over “wheelie hill” (between 11 and 12) but not too bad. I was expecting more wheelies coming onto the straight but I think the combination of traction control and wheelie control mostly kept the front down (unlike my old 1199 which would wheelie violently there!). I really wanted to try turning wheelie control off but I just couldn’t. My friend’s old ZX-10R race bike would wheelie in 4th gear on straights, which is not entirely pleasant. This bike probably has 20-30 more horsepower.

Something occurred to me the other day. The base model V4 doesn’t have an electronically adjustable steering damper like the V4S does. I saw the magazine photos of guys holding the front wheel about a foot off the ground on corner exits. I wasn’t able to do that. It would wheelie very briefly and then come back down. Is this Ducati doing more to control the wheelie on the base model because they can’t tighten up the steering damper for the “touchdown”? I think this is possible.

So I’m not really sure these electronics laden superbikes are for me. I’m sure I’m going around the track pretty quickly, but is it me or R2-D2 behind me (“lock it down R2!”) doing the riding? I’m not going to say I’m some kind of track riding genius but I can hold my own, and I don’t feel like I’m using all of my skills to ride this bike. I’ve got literally thousands of track miles at many different tracks, so I feel like I know what I want by now. It feels like I’d rather ride a friendly 130-140 horsepower bike than a raging 190+ horsepower bike that needs electronics to reign it in. To underline this, I rode a KTM 390 cup bike for about 5 or 6 laps and had a whole lot of fun. Not fast at all but you’re solving a whole lot less problems and stressing less on it. There’s something to be said for that!

My new Panigale V4, part 6 0

Posted on August 11, 2018 by acruhl

First read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 (trackday!)

Yes, I did a dyno run. I’m not going to reveal the horsepower numbers because it was 106 degrees and the dyno doesn’t do perfect conversions for temperature. It’s above 180 and below 200 let’s say. The curve was pretty smooth so I’m happy with it. A few notes though: I was worried this would tear up the rear tire based on the wear I’ve seen on the street and the track. Turns out that thin strip of “street compound” tread down the center of the rear tire did it’s job and the tire didn’t suffer too much. We didn’t get torque because you have to get an RPM takeoff and it’s not so easy to do on this bike. You have to lift the gas tank and I didn’t want them to spend the time to do it. To do a proper run you have to turn off traction control, which isn’t obvious on this bike and I didn’t study how to do it. I just assumed you could set DTC to 0 in race mode. You can’t. There’s another menu to do it. It took us a few minutes to find it. Anyways.

Riding this bike on the street is not nearly as unpleasant as I thought it would be. Going back to the 1199, I bought it pretty much sight unseen and didn’t get a test ride. I was just so enthused that Ducati went so “all out” on a twin that I had to have it. Within about a mile on my first ride I was thinking “what did I get myself into?”. It was just an animal. Imagine trying to go on a nice walk with your dog, but your dog is a tiger. It’s pulling you along, dictating what’s happening. You’re pretty much just trying to keep things under control and not get injured. That’s how it was with the 1199. I’ve heard the exhaust and map cured it but I never rode one with that stuff.

Not so on this bike. I got to test ride the V4S before I got mine and it only made me more certain that I wanted mine. It ran fine on the street, albeit super duper hot from the exhausts on the rear cylinders. Otherwise, it would cruise along on the street and still work really well on the mountain road. My base model was the same. And now that this new map is in place that deactivates the rear cylinders at a stop, it pretty much solves the heat issue. My only real issue is my throttle hand gets sore after some time. I’m thinking that’s my problem as much as the bike’s. I have to work on relaxing and supporting my body with my legs more on longer rides.

I haven’t done a thing to it (other than add a battery tender cable!) and it worked really, really well at the track as I stated earlier. This is the way motorcycling should be from my perspective, and it’s certainly not guaranteed that it will be with any bike you buy. The 1199 was an obvious example. Apparently the current GSX-R1000 is another example. They seriously limit the upper RPM power just because they want to. I would have returned this bike if I thought that was going on. (And it may be to some small extent, but it’s seriously fast so I’m not complaining.)

But I’m probably going to do a few things anyway. I don’t have lots of money to go around spending, this bike put a serious dent into that. But I think a few things might make it better. I want to get a lightweight battery since it’s mounted so high. I can see that making a bit of difference. (Although slim fast is cheaper and probably a smarter idea.) The lighter wheels on the V4S made a real difference at the track, so I might look into that. OZ makes some lighter wheels for not too awful much money. Also, I’m a huge fan of the 7 spoke forged wheels that came on the 2009 1198S, but I don’t know if they are that much lighter than my current cast wheels. I always tell people to upgrade controls first (levers, rearsets, brake lines) but the stock stuff works really well so I might not touch that stuff. Suspension upgrades are another obvious thing. During setup, ESP found that there is either a “bleed” circuit for rebound on the front (so you can’t completely lock it up) or it just doesn’t have enough range, but doesn’t have enough range and we’d like a bit ability to control rebound damping. So that requires a valving change. The rear shock is probably set up with a light spring that is preloaded heavily because there’s not a lot of initial movement and it’s a bit harsh. It ends up working OK at track pace but it’s a bit harsh at lower speeds. I’m thinking a Penske shock with the proper spring would be nice if it exists. I’ll look into it.

I could do with spending money on lots of other stuff though, including my dirt bike and 998. That’s probably a better idea because this Panigale V4 works pretty well already… And I need a new helmet… And leathers… And boots… Gotta keep the spending under control…

Panigale V4 vs. Panigale V4S track comparison 0

Posted on August 05, 2018 by acruhl

(This was the only picture I got of both bikes together. Suck.)

Ok, that title sounds a little dramatic for what was really only a 5 lap ride on a Panigale V4S that wasn’t mine. But I did ride it back to back with my own Panigale V4 (base model), so there are some useful takeaways.

First, this particular bike had the full Akrapovic slip on exhaust and map (the one you buy from Ducati), and it was noticeably faster than my stock base model bike. The engines in these bikes are supposed to be the same from the factory. So that being equal, the exhaust and map makes a very noticeable difference in straight line speed at high rpm. It’s hard to compare at lower RPM through corners because power is so high on both bikes. And the V4S was in Sport mode (softer throttle map) and my base model was in race mode. However, on the straight in 4th gear, it was obvious that the V4S with exhaust was faster, no question. As if you need more power on this bike…

What I really wanted to know is what do you get for your extra $6000 or so, and is it worth it?

Cornering first impressions are that the V4S goes side to side noticeably easier than the base model. This is probably due to the lighter wheels, which are always better than heavier wheels for the track. Probably the lighter battery, mounted up high by the gas cap doesn’t hurt either. I’m not a huge fan of the looks of the forged aluminum Ducati wheels at all, but you can’t argue with the results.

The V4S also was much smoother than my base model bike. The electronic suspension was probably doing something right from what I can tell. Transitions from braking to full lean could be done with a bit more confidence, and there was less movement at the apex of corners. I was holding back a little because this wasn’t my bike and crashing was not an option. So I can’t say if electronic suspension is the way to go when you’re going for track records. But it’s better for track day pace for sure.

I think the light wheels were also helping suspension action. It’s easier to control a lighter wheel, and it’s going to deflect easier over bumps. A heavier wheel will try to move the whole bike over bumps more than a lighter wheel.

Conclusion: I like adjusting my own suspension, it’s part of the fun of going fast. So my preference is for manual adjustment in the base model. However, I think for the average track day rider the V4S’s electronic suspension and lighter wheels are a real improvement you can feel and appreciate. But you can easily get a base model bike, buy some lighter wheels, and upgrade the suspension for less money… This is my preference. So I’m still convinced the base model Panigale V4 is the better value overall. Most Ducati buyers aren’t into value though, which is fine. These people should buy the V4S. It works better.

Hopefully I’ll have the time and money to try some upgraded wheels, and I’m hoping to get the Showa BPF front suspension sprung and valved properly for me. When a nice rear shock shows up on the aftermarket (Penske!), I will probably go for one of those as well. And I will have still spent less than a V4S!

Edit (8/11/18): I was told the V4S test bike has the Akrapovic slip on, which is even more impressive in regards to how much more power it has. Also, something else I didn’t take into account is the slip on is something like 15 pounds lighter than the stock exhaust (correct me if I’m wrong). That plus the wheels and lighter battery really leave an impression on how the bike goes side to side.

My new Panigale V4, part 5 – trackday! 0

Posted on August 03, 2018 by acruhl

(Sorry I didn’t get any good pictures, there was no photographer. So here’s a picture of the tire after the day was over.)
First read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

So I finally got the Panigale V4 to a track day. Unfortunately I am pretty out of shape right now and I didn’t get in as many laps as I wanted to, but that might have been a blessing in disguise. More on that later.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a private track day at Inde Motorsports Ranch near Willcox. I have hundreds of laps around this track, but unfortunately the last time I was here was years ago. Somehow the layout came back to me like I was just on it the day before because I was hitting my marks and getting my knee down by the 2nd lap out. Wow. I surprised myself. This is a 2 1/2 mile lap with more than 20 corners! It’s easy to forget where you’re going!

A few days before I had Evan Steel Performance help me set sag and clickers to get a decent baseline. For the most part, the bike did what I wanted it to so this was good. Maybe toward the end of the day I could have played with clickers a bit but I didn’t because I just needed laps. Next time.

Ok, so on to the juicy info. My first impression is this thing is very, very fast. Like, the fastest in a straight line that I have ever ridden. I saw an indicated 160MPH in 4th at the end of the straight which is not bad. But it’s not scary because it’s not trying to highside me or wheelie out of control. This is obviously down to electronics. I had it in Race mode, and I think I made a few changes (DWC 1, DTC 2) but otherwise left it alone. Probably a good way to describe how it worked was pretty natural. It felt like a way, way faster 600. It went side to side like a 600, and you could hammer the throttle out of corners like a 600 and not worry that much (again, due to electronics). It would wheelie a little and spin, just like my old 600 did when I was racing. Nothing too severe. This bike is phenomenal. Super duper fast but manageable through electronics… It’s changing my opinion of riding high powered bikes on the track which I never liked before.

On to (stock) Pirelli Supercorsa V3 tires. I’m not sure that these are such a huge improvement over the Supercorsa V2. I set pressures at 30 front and 26 rear which is somewhere in the range of recommended for track use. The front gave me a few warnings, pretty normal for a street tire. I just rode around it. But it still performed pretty good. The rear was spinning pretty much the whole time after the first session. A guy riding behind me said I was laying down lines on a lot of exits. I felt like I was as well. The tire is pretty worn about halfway to the center from the edge where I’m straightening up and driving off the corner. I let 2 pounds of air out of it and it made very little difference, if any. The track temperature was pretty high, this might have contributed. As a matter of fact, I’m sure it contributed because Pirelli says the sides of the rear tire are SC2 compound, which is not ideal for hot conditions.. In the end I’m not sure any tire other than a full race slick is suited to a bike with this much power though. But the way these tires tear themselves up on the street and then spin so much at the track… This strikes me as Pirelli making an “appearances” tire as much as a good performing tire. A tire that looks like you ran a WSBK race after a street ride probably makes people feel pretty good about themselves, but doesn’t do much for traction on the racetrack so far in my experience… I’ll buy another set and try again probably, unless I decide to just get DOT race tires (SC0 or 1!) and try those.

The suspension was working pretty good, other than maybe a few extra bounces in places that the clickers can probably solve. The rear is preloaded pretty hard from the factory and did a pretty good job of supporting the rear under acceleration.

Now for electronics… I have to admit I don’t have a lot of time on bikes at the track with so many electronics. I really don’t know how to adjust other than just ride it and feel it out. The quickshifter worked very well in both directions (although I missed a 2nd to 3rd shift once under full power, probably not the quickshifter’s fault). It really makes life easier. Traction control was allowing the tire to spin quite a bit coming off corners, and this is at DTC 2. I wanted to try 1 but I never did. I didn’t change DSC (slide control). I kinda wish I set it lower so it would allow a bit more sideways motion when the rear tire broke loose, but anyways. I didn’t adjust engine brake control, didn’t feel like I needed too. It had some engine braking, which was good. I never felt ABS intervene. I was worried that it would. To be honest, this is not really a hard braking track so I’ll have to test it elsewhere. DWC (wheelie control) was set to 1 and I never got a wheelie exiting corners hard in 2nd gear. I felt like I should have though. I remember getting wheelies in 4th gear on my friends old ZX-10R race bike so I’m sure DWC is doing something here. Maybe I’ll try turning it off for the fun of it… The 1199 didn’t have it and it would wheelie hard exiting onto the straight in 2nd gear, so I know it’s working on this bike.

I’m a bit disappointed in my own performance. I normally start working out in some fashion before I go to the track but I did nothing this time. I really need to start running again or get some good cardio workout because that was my biggest issue, no stamina. Then again, it was hot and humid (typical Arizona monsoon season weather) and everyone was suffering to some extent. But probably me most. It didn’t help that I’m out there trying to ride to my full potential in the first sessions either. I should have taken it a lot easier and worked up to the pace. Ironically, the last session of the day I was really too tired to ride, but this forced me to relax and save energy and I’m pretty sure I was going just as fast as when I was really trying hard and tiring myself out. It’s a reminder that riding fast is mostly mental, and I really need to remember that and work up to it instead of just going for it.

Looking forward to my next track day. I think I can ride these tires 1 more time if I don’t wear them out on the street. But I might just go for some DOT race tires or slicks, we’ll see. There’s lots of interesting tires out there. Hopefully next time I will play with the electronics and suspension clickers more as well. Next time!

(Next post: Panigale V4 vs. Panigale V4S comparison at the track, yes I’m a lucky guy….)

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