As you can see by some of the pics below, the zx7R is being converted to a more single-minded machine. Will it end up as a racebike, or a "proper" trackday bike? That remains to be seen. The last round at Gimli in Sept. was weird. I could only stay for the Saturday, and while the weather was warm, the wind was a bit insane. Worst I'd experienced in nearly 20 years going to that track. A HUGE tailwind helped with top speeds along the front straight, but turn 1 saw you bending the bike into a nasty crosswind. While the suspension setup had improved due to my tweaking, I was running way wide, off the track. After 2 full sessions in the morning, I hit abort after lunch. The street tires were also past their best on this track, feeling greasy and I was getting a few minor front and rear slides. No sense throwing the bike away at this point.
That being said, I turned some consistent 1:06s when the weather cooperated. Far from record or even competitive times, but I was certainly not pushing it. The drive home allowed me to thing of all the "if only"'s...
- the gearing is a mile off -- too tall for the track. A proper track setup would allow me far better acceleration
- proper race tires should be worth a few seconds a lap -- Dragon Supercorsas would be the next step
- weight -- me (about 10lbs) and the bike (hopefully more)
- suspension -- the forks need some work
The mental attitude as well, that this is a track-only bike should allow me to push it a bit and chase some lap times. My best ever lap was a low 1:05 on the ex650, and I then promptly crashed out of that race.
The plan (some of which you can see below)
1. Fit proper race bodywork: this should save weight and also be track compliant with an oil-retaining bellypan. Some please on the zx7r forum got some sharkskinz that needed a bit of work, as well as a very light graves fairing stay. In the process of patching some holes, and will paint over the winter. I've ordered a race tail from squidskinz in Canada that is done and on the way.
Thought I'd steal some of the ideas from the Pramac Ducatis. I think it would look good for a Kawi paint job, as the green is true to the team colors, but I've got red leathers. Style is important. Furthermore, Tremclad makes a key lime green and a nice red that is "close". Won't be a replica, but will end up looking similar.
2. Get the forks sorted: one of the seals was weeping, and at my faster pace, I was blowing through the travel. The preload is too soft for the track, so some heavier springs are in order. I shipped the lot to race-tech for a rebuild. From here, I can service the forks, as the gold valves are in, and the springs are correct. Seals and oil (once I get the correct driver) are all the tools I need.
3. Race rubber: supercorsas will be ordered in the spring
4. Brakes: street compound HH pads are OK, but I want to try some "proper" race pads. I might blow through them quicker, but if they get the big beast stopped sooner, all the better.
5. Find some more ways to lose weight: I think the rad resevoir could go (replace with an HRC bottle), and I've already removed the rad fan. The subframe has been shortened, and the steel bracket to hold the tail lights and reinforce the passenger seat weighed about 5 lbs. I also swapped out the 20 inch alloy can on the exhaust with a 16 inch titanium one. I already have a lightweight battery (which I need to bring inside for the winter). Not sure what else I can do, considering the wheels are already far lighter than stock. Anything beyond this gets too exotic and very expensive. Some engine maintenance is due shortly, mainly the valves. I'll wait until the spring for warmer weather before I tackle that. I'm still OK based on the engine mileage. I've also fitted new plugs, air filter (as seen below), and gone up 1 size on the mains to test.
If I can get into the 1:03s, this would put me at the back of the Novice superbike grid. Most of the sbk bikes are 600s anyway, so whatever. The design is approaching 20 years old (1996), so the fact that this is a "newer" 1999 makes little difference. If I can get to those times, then I think I'll sign up for some races. 3 seconds is an eternity, but I might be able to find them if I keep working on setup and continue to get used to the bike. I really doesn't feel that "hard" to ride as is.
I dunno... I guess I like both the challenge of building a bike (obviously), but prefer the "no hope" status of racing an old one. I won't podium, but I think I will have fun. I suppose this bike will eventually qualify for a vintage class somewhere, and maybe I'll make a road trip, perhaps go south and race with the Yanks. That is a long way off, and makes a pile of assumptions -- that the bike would be legal, and I won't be a rolling chicane out there.