Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Racer Notes - Privateer's Garage = Great Customer Service

Yesterday I had a brief exchange of e-mails with the guys at Privateer's Garage about a few things I needed for the Buell 1125R race bike. I'd seen the Woodcraft front stand, and the Woodcraft site specifically said their stand would work on my bike.

I asked the guys at Privateers for a quote, and got one back in minutes. Kyle also let me know he could get me the Vortex front stand for the same price, and why he liked the Vortex stand.

I thanked Kyle for his help, and let him know I'd take his advice and go with the Vortex stand.

This afternoon, I got an e-mail letting me know my new Vortex stand had been delivered to Privateer's Garage and was ready for pickup any time.

Now that's good customer service. No, wait- it's great customer service. That's how a new business makes it in a tough economy. I wish every town had a shop like Privateer's Garage, and I'm not shy letting people know when a business treats me right.

Total cost to race thus far:
Race bike (Buell 1125R) $6.500.00
Vortex Front Paddock Stand (incl. tax): 173.99
Total so Far: $6,673.99
Number of races run: 0

Do you know a local business that deserves recognition? Let everyone know by leaving a comment below.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Racer Notes - The Bike Is Just A Start

As I prepare for my foray into motorcycle racing, it's become crystal clear to me that the race bike was just first of all the equipment I'm going to need (and pay for) before I even hit the track for my first race.

Forget about the cosmetics at this point. The bike needs new race tires. After I buy and mount those tires, they're going to need tire warmers. And a generator to supply electricity for those tires. And an air compressor or air tank to fill them.

I'm also going to need more equipment, like a back protector.

I figured out that the max tongue load of my Jeep won't allow me to load the bike into a carrier on the trailer hitch, so I'm going to have to borrow Matt's F-150 for race weekends, and I'll need a ramp to get that bike on/off the truck.

I'll need spare parts in case something breaks while I'm on the track, so add the cost of spare shift levers, brake levers, brake pads, etc.

I asked good folks at BadWeatherBikers.Com what they recommend for a typical track day. Here are a few responses:

Gearhead recommended:
Raceday Check-off List
Bike w/key - Put the key in the bike after you load it so you don't forget it!!!!
Tie-down strap box -
Fuel can - 5 gallons
Radio - some tracks use an FM signal to broadcast 1st & 2nd calls plus other info
Clock - more important than you'd think!
Under Armor - I forgot to pack mine once, I was very uncomfortable the whole day in my leathers
Generator & key - Don't laugh, I drove clear up to Road America last year only to discover I'd left the Gen key at home
Yellow & black drop cords - for tire warmers
Helmet w/both visors - unless you wear sunglasses under your helmet, have a smoked and a clear visor
Tire warmers
Spare tire & jack - for trailer
(3) Chairs
Cooler / water
Work carpet - easier on your knees than knealing on asphalt when check tire pressures, etc.
Buell Racing banner - REPRESENT!!
Box of Rags
Extra brake pads
Pit Bull stands
Bicycle - I always take my mountain bike, lots easier to get around than walking everywhere
Buell tool kit
1/2 drive breaker bar
Axle nut
Firebolt manual
T-27 Wrench
Big allen wrench for rear axle pinch bolt
Race tool box
T-27 Screwdriver
Safety wire & pliers
Torx hex set
2 qts. - AmsOil 20/50
Allen head set
Pint of synthetic brake fluid
Air pressure gauge
Pocket knife
22mm wrench
(2) pliers
22mm 1/2 drive socket
(2) Adjustable wrenches
(3) straight screwdrivers
Air tank
Electrical tape
Duck tape
Side cutters
1/2 torque wrench
Notepad and pens
Race log notebook
Clutch lever
Brake lever
Shifter assembly

PatrickMitchell's list was even longer:
Keys to your bike
Extra $$
Trailer or Ramp
Tie Downs or other way to secure your bike during transport
Locks- To secure your bike from theft if left outside at night
Free standing canopy- 10x10 minimum
Front and rear stands
Folding Table/s
Paper towels
Cloth Towels - Large & Small
Distilled Water
RedlineWater Wetter
Chain lube
Chain Cleaner
Axel Grease
Brake Cleaner
Brake Fluid
Gas - 5 to 10 Gallons
Keys To Bike
Food/snacks - You will get hungry
Drinks- Water/Gatorade etc... No Alcohol
Shaded/Clear Helmet Visors
Gauntlet Riding Gloves
Riding Boots
Leathers - One or Two Piece (2 Piece must zip together)
Back Protector - If required...Good Idea even if not required
Chest Protector - If required...Good Idea even if not required
Under garments - Something like UnderArmor for under your leathers
Change of clothes
Wet Ones towelettes
Hand sanitizer
Chap Stick
Garbage bags
Paper Plates
Plastic Utensils
Tent - If camping
Sleeping bag - If camping
Blow up mattress & Pump - If camping
Wife/Girlfriend to take Pictures
Riding Forms if not provided at Track
Service manual
Keys to Bike
Spares - Wheels, Levers, Rearsets, Tires...etc...
Tire Warmers - If Used/Required According to Tires
Lap timer - If you have one
Tools-Including but not limited to:
Misc Screwdrivers
Sockets & Rachets - 1/2 in, 3/4 in & 1/4 in
Torque wrench
Allen (Hex Head) wrenches/sockets
Torx Sockets (Star Headed Sockets)
Safety Wire
Wire Cutters
Safety Wire Pliers
Zip Ties
Duct Tape
Cordless Drill
Drill Bits
Lock Tite
Valve Stem Tool
Air gauge
Electrical tape
Wire brush
Small diameter rope/String
Double Face Tape
Air Tank
Hanging or Free Standing Light
Rubber Mallet
Extension cord/s - If track has power outlets
Generator - If track does NOT have power
Power Strip
Battery Tender

I've got a sinking feeling I should have bought a less expensive motorcycle to use on the track.

Total cost to race thus far:
Race bike (Buell 1125R) $6.500.00
Number of races run: 0

If you race, I'd be very interested in reading what you bring to the track. Please leave your comments and suggestions below!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Step Towards Racing - The Buell Racebike

There it is.

Kindly delivered this afternoon by Shawn Higbee himself. Now it's my track bike. Used at the Daytona 200, the bike had a couple of impromptu body mods done at New Jersey Motorsports Park, so it's not a picture-perfect bike, but it's the more than enough to start racing locally.

Yes, it likely would have been smarter to start in the 250cc class at Willow Springs Motorcycle Club events, then work up to the bigger bikes, but my Buell prejudice is showing. I didn't just want to race. I want to race Buells.

I've always looked to get the best equipment, whether it was sports, military gear or IT equipment. Now without equipment as an excuse, I've got to develope the skills to match the bike.

It's going to be fun!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2010 Is All About Racing

With Erik Buell's focus on racing and race bikes, I thought it was appropriate to refocus the SoCal Buell Rider's Club on racing and track days.

I've updated our calendar to show track days at Willow Springs, Chuckwalla and AutoClub Raceway.

The gang at Privateer's Garage are excited, as well, and looking forward to helping us get our bikes track-ready.

I'm still in the process of finding that track-only bike, and will update as soon as there's news on that front.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Separated at birth?

Ok, it's not Buell related, and I'm not the first one to notice, but... are the Honda VFR and Cylon centurions long-lost brothers?

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Death of Privateer Racing?

I've tried to give DMG the benefit of the doubt. I really have, but their recently announced changes for the 2010 season are the end of it.

First off, Moto-GT is gone. Forget about it. No more.

In American Superbike, the purse is only paid for 1st ($3,500), 2nd ($2,000) and 3rd ($1,000) place finishes, based on the entire weekend, not for each race. If you and your team come in 4th place- tough. You get bupkus.

The picture is a little better for Daytona class, with bigger payouts (five, three and two-thousand for 1st, 2nd and 3rd) and payouts go deeper, with 4th through 10th places getting $1,500 and 11-20th places getting a thousand bucks each.

SuperSport class will pay $1500 for a 1st place finish, $1,000 for second and $500 for third through 10th.

Now think about this. How much would you have to spend to transport your bike(s) to an AMA race, pay for hotel room(s), food, gas, tires etc for each weekend of racing? Could you pay a mortgage or rent and support a family? Likely not.

DMGs new rules spell the end of the professional privateer.

Maybe it's time for something along the lines of the rodeo model. AMA ProRodeo sanctions rodeos put on by local rodeo producers and keep tabs of points totals. Purses are determined and paid out by the local rodeo and riders choose which ones to go to. You want bigger names are your rodeo, you put up a bigger purse. The result is a lot more rodeos, from small, locals-only rodeos where a new guy can get a little experience, to the bigger, more well-known rodeos that attract the top 15.

In southern California alone, we could have races at Willow Springs, Chuckwalla, Auto Club speedway and Las Vegas. Travel a little further and you can add Laguna Seca, perhaps Infineon.

If racing means anything to the manufacturers, they're going to have to get in the game with sponsorship money and use it to help shape motorcycle racing in the USA into something worth watching.

More on this topic at the sites below:
Hell for Leather
RoadRacing World
Superbike Planet (incidentally, never a friend of Buells)