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As most of you probably know by now, I am an Instructor with Sportbike Track Time in the Southern Region. This weekend, I took the weekend off from Instructing and decided to just go for one day and ride. I ended up taking my dedicated track bike ('07 600RR), as well as the FZ 09. Saturday morning started out pretty chilly (32 degrees) at 7:00AM when we normally arrive at the track, so I decided to ride the track bike instead of the FZ during the morning sessions, giving the temps a chance to come up before I took the FZ out on the track (no wind protection on the FZ). Lunch break is from noon till 1:00PM and by then, the temps were approaching the 70 degree mark and I decided to take the FZ out and do some laps. If you all remember, I switched out the tires to the Dunlop Q3's, right after buying the bike, and, I've never ridden on the Q3's before, so the first session or so, was getting acclimated to the FZ on the track, versus riding the 600RR.........big difference for sure. I also wanted to take it kind of easy during that session because of unfamiliarity of the new tires and not 100% sure of the pressures that I should be running on a 70 degree day with basically a pretty cold track surface.

So the first 20 minute session was spent getting a feel for the bike on the track, and the tires. I started out pretty slowly (relatively speaking) and trying to find out the kind of lean angle I could push the bike to with the stock suspension and the new tires/pressures. Things went pretty well considering that I am accustomed to riding a bike with full Ohlins suspension, setup and dialed in for me and my body weight with riding gear (approx. 215 lbs). The bike, as most of you know, is a monster when it comes to acceleration and torque, and this was the place to test some of the limits of the bike. The first thing that is immediately noticed when the bike is pushed hard is the lack of decent suspension for this type of riding. Front brake application when coming in hard to a corner, results in a lot of front end dive, ....front forks compressing way too much! Since there is no compression damping adjustment on the bike, you have to keep that in mind when you are coming in hot and trying to set your entrance speed for the corner. What I was impressed with, the stock brakes/pads are really pretty good on this bike. I run the Vesrah RJL's on my track bike, so I'm accustomed to having very good brakes that will operate with a two finger application. I'm not going to tell you that the stock brakes/pads are that good, but honestly, I really did not struggle with braking at all, except for the front end dive issue.

Second session out: I am definitely feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike at speed now and definitely feeling the shortcomings of the stock suspension. The front suspension seems to work....."decent", but as mentioned, the dive is one issue, but not the only one. With no adjustable compression damping available, going over any bumpy areas while at full lean (or even a lesser amount of lean angle), does not give a "planted" feeling a the front end. I never did "push" the Q3s (make them slide) but when the suspension isn't working like it should and you are leaned over at speed, the bike kind of gives you a feeling like it is "flexing", or wobbling. Now before ANYONE mentions the bolted frame that has been a topic of discussion on several occasions........I DO NOT attribute that wobbly/flexing feeling to that....it is suspension related. I have the rear shock preload set up to the highest setting and that is not enough. Rear end squat when driving out of the corners on the throttle is apparent. On top of that, the lack of any adjustable compression damping at the rear end is also causing some "pogo sticking" when running over a series of bumps. After coming in off the track after my second session, I checked out the front and rear tires to see if there was any visible abnormal wear (I knew there would be, just a question of how bad) and there was. I had the rebound damping dialed in at almost full hard and I was seeing the leading edge of the tire grooves being worn down less than the trailing edge of the grooves. That can be an indication of too much rebound damping. Since the stock shock is so cheaply made, there are no detents in the rebound adjustment; so instead of backing off say three clicks, you just turn it CCW with a screwdriver and get what you get......definitely trial and error and then go back out and try it again. So, I backed it out a 1/4 Turn and went back out for session three.

Third Session out. By the end of the second session, I was finding the max lean angles of both sides, with the peg feelers still on the pegs. For some reason, I got distracted, talking to a guy and gal that had walked past my paddock area and was wanting to know all about the bike.......so, long story short, I forgot to take the peg feeler off before the third session and went back out with them on. During the third session, I was really starting to push the bike pretty hard, as now I was getting use to what I had to deal with suspension wise and how to somewhat adjust/compensate for it's shortcoming. I was also having to somewhat adjust my lines and lean angles as I was dragging the feelers at almost every corner. The tires felt really good and I really never had any issues with them. At 70 degrees air temperature when I started out, I had the front set at 28 psi cold and the rear set at 26 psi cold. The bike has got tremendous drive out of the corners as long as you keep the revs up in the 7-8K range. Oh, and the bike was in the "A" mode the entire time out on the track. If this bike were to be used for track days on a consistent basis, a steering damper would definitely be required. Even as far up on the seat as I was yesterday, the bike likes to shake it's head coming out of the corners, especially when leaned over and hard on the gas....the front end just gets very light. If any of you here have ever been to Road Atlanta and are familiar with Turn 5, after you go through it and are driving up the hill to the short straight before T6, the FZ would lift the front end every single time in third gear coming over the crest of that little hill/rise. I had to be in third to get a good drive out of the turn, but yet, be very smooth on the throttle application coming over the crest because of the bike's tendancy to wheelie there. It would have been pretty easy to loop the bike over without much effort at that spot.....where you are in the 90 to 100 MPH range.

OK, the FZ does have a speed limiter built into the ECU. The best that I could get was an indicated 133 MPH on the bike yesterday. Having said that, the bike does seem to really start running out of steam on the top end.....which is just the opposite of what I'm use to with a 600RR inline 4 cylinder that tops the RPM range at 15K.
Because of not having any wind protection on the FZ and even though I was tucked as tight as I could be, at times, there is still a tremendous amount of wind noise going on and honestly, I didn't really feel the bike's "electronics control" for top speed kick in, but I also know that I couldn't coax any more than an indicated 133.

So, in summation, the bike pretty much performed exactly like I expected it to. I knew going in that it was NOT a track day weapon in it's stock form, but I do believe that with some suspension mods, it could be pretty good out there on the track.

So what does all of this mean for the average, everyday rider that is going to use the bike for commuting, casual riding, canyons/mountain riding, sport-touring, etc? Obviously, the suspension components are lacking....period. Do you Absolutely need to upgrade/modify them to be able to ride the bike? The short answer is NO! The more reasonable answer is that this bike could use some attention on the both the front and rear. That doesn't mean that you have to buy the very top of the line suspension components that will set you back $2500 to $3000. What it means is that some folks may be happy with some different springs and a heavier fork oil in the front end. Some choose to have some of the valving and shim stacks AND springs and fork oil dialed in for their personal settings. Some may choose to go with a fully adjustable front suspension that can be made to work for a near perfect ride. It is going to depend on what your preferences are and also, how you are riding the bike and it's uses.

The rear shock: All I can say is that it really is not much good for anything other than........uh.......being a stock shock! It really is pretty bad and it will certainly be one of the items that I replace on mine, and keep in mind, I'm not talking about track day use. This bike is going to be mostly just my normal street bike, but the rear shock really is that bad if the bike is pushed at all, even a somewhat spirited pace on the local twisties in your area.

I may try to put up some pictures of this weekend after Dave gets them posted on his site, but at the earliest, it will later on this week and is I can find some decent shot that wont bore y'all to death.
 

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how much do you weigh, triple?

naked bikes have a rough time at triple digit speeds. the 09 makes more power everywhere than the typical stock 600, but it has a hard time overcoming drag at higher speeds. stoltec said flash-tune found the speed limiter to be a soft one that keeps the throttle butterflies from opening further, so you won't feel the speed limiter 'hit' like you would the rev limiter. i wonder if the ecu is detecting speed from the speedo, or from a combination of gear position and rpm. try disconnecting the speedo sensor and see if you can then go faster (obviously you'll need a different way of measuring speed since the speedo won't work).

the new ktm rc390 sounds like it would be a blast on a track.
 

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how much do you weigh, triple?

naked bikes have a rough time at triple digit speeds. the 09 makes more power everywhere than the typical stock 600, but it has a hard time overcoming drag at higher speeds. stoltec said flash-tune found the speed limiter to be a soft one that keeps the throttle butterflies from opening further, so you won't feel the speed limiter 'hit' like you would the rev limiter. i wonder if the ecu is detecting speed from the speedo, or from a combination of gear position and rpm. try disconnecting the speedo sensor and see if you can then go faster (obviously you'll need a different way of measuring speed since the speedo won't work).

the new ktm rc390 sounds like it would be a blast on a track.
I weigh in right at 195 lbs without gear.....so probably 215 to218 with full leather suit, Sidi Vertigo Corsa boots, gloves, helmet, back protector, and under armor. Yea, I kind of forgot about both those items that you mentioned........a lot more wind resistance on a nekkid bike (not only the bike, but no place for me to tuck out of the wind), and the fact that the speed limiter is going to hit like a rev limiter does.........cause I found that a bunch of time during the three sessions. The FZ spins up really quickly and it's pretty easy to hit the rev limiter on the track. I'm done with track days for the year until next spring, and I really don't plan on taking the FZ on the track very often.....may once in a great while, so I don't know if I could disconnect the speed sensor and feel brave enough to try those speeds anywhere other than a track. Those kind of speeds get you a set of handcuffs, a rollback for the bike, and worst of all, my security clearance will be pulled and I lose my job if that's gone....just no way it's worth any of that.
 

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Thanks Vern. What do you think of the weight distribution? For street sport riding what do you think of bars something like an inch forward and an inch down? Even without the weight issue I'll probably do that to lean into the wind a bit like an SV650.

How's the tire wear, do you have an estimate of how many miles you will get out of them?



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Vern;
Since a great many of us are not likely do a trackday, for a myriad of reasons, your report is much appreciated. It is especially good to know that a forum member can give us the "straight skinny" on the handling characteristics of "the beast" in order to improve it.
One question: Did you happen to check your times to see if they were at all remotely comparable to your track bike? Just curious....
 

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Vern, glad to hear the track day went well. We're all but tucked in up here for the track season. It'll be another ~5 months before we have recurring 70 degree days :mad:

Second session out: I am definitely feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike at speed now and definitely feeling the shortcomings of the stock suspension. The front suspension seems to work....."decent", but as mentioned, the dive is one issue, but not the only one. With no adjustable compression damping available, going over any bumpy areas while at full lean (or even a lesser amount of lean angle), does not give a "planted" feeling a the front end.
As you and I have already discussed, there are two culprits inside these forks. First, are the spring rates. At 0.76 kg/mm, the springs are SOFT. Getting better spring for your weight will improve things dramatically. The second issue is the damping. Although the springs are soft, being able to slow the compression action would help alleviate the dive. Unfortunately, beyond being nonadjustable for compression, the stock compression valve is unique from a sportbike perspective in that the center bleed circuit is present, but unused. All compression damping is handled by the shim stack and one very small x-drilled bleed port. A 'simple' revalve will improve things, but will remain non-adjustable. This is where we're going with our Stage 2 forks (Stage 1 being springs and oil). The high speed compression will be massaged to better handle ripples while the rebound circuit will be tightened up to eliminate the pogo'ing you described.

I never did "push" the Q3s (make them slide) but when the suspension isn't working like it should and you are leaned over at speed, the bike kind of gives you a feeling like it is "flexing", or wobbling. Now before ANYONE mentions the bolted frame that has been a topic of discussion on several occasions........I DO NOT attribute that wobbly/flexing feeling to that....it is suspension related.
I agree with this synopsis as this reflects my personal opinion as well (at this time). If engineered properly, a bolted joint can be just as effective. With properly sized fasteners, a suitable pre-load (resulting from the bolt torque), and good mating surface friction, you can achieve an awfully strong joint. This is how all high pressure piping joints are handled!

I have the rear shock preload set up to the highest setting and that is not enough. Rear end squat when driving out of the corners on the throttle is apparent. On top of that, the lack of any adjustable compression damping at the rear end is also causing some "pogo sticking" when running over a series of bumps.
The stock shock has a 560 lb/in spring and only has a little over approximately 1/4" of preload adjustment. Soft spring + low preload = incorrect geometry that will induce squat.

The pogo'ing you describe is more likely the result of too little rebound damping. In stock form, the shock simply doesn't have enough rebound damping to handle a moderately paced ride. Add in heavy track use and/or a series of ripples to the road surface, and an emulsion shock will foam. Once this occurs, damping fades and control is lost for BOTH compression AND rebound. The situation gets worse and worse until the air bubbles thin out. The damping curves are set by the piston geometry and shim stack design. However, the only way to fix the foaming issue is to move away from an emulsion shock. Once that completely submerges the piston in oil and pressurizes the oil (nitrogen charged). This eliminates foaming by removing the air/oil interface and by pressurizing the oil to a point that cavitation doesn't occur. Guess what can't be done with the stock shock...

After coming in off the track after my second session, I checked out the front and rear tires to see if there was any visible abnormal wear (I knew there would be, just a question of how bad) and there was. I had the rebound damping dialed in at almost full hard and I was seeing the leading edge of the tire grooves being worn down less than the trailing edge of the grooves. That can be an indication of too much rebound damping.
I agree with your assessment of too much rebound damping if the front edge of the tire is wearing, but this doesn't fit with what we know about the stock shock (both from dyno testing, personal use, and your pogo'ing account). A picture would be useful here.

Since the stock shock is so cheaply made, there are no detents in the rebound adjustment; so instead of backing off say three clicks, you just turn it CCW with a screwdriver and get what you get......definitely trial and error and then go back out and try it again. So, I backed it out a 1/4 Turn and went back out for session three.
To be fair, a lack of detents does not a bad shock (or fork) make. Though the 'good stuff' typically has detents, MANY well-suspended bikes do not have detents. Yes, you have to keep track of how far you turned the adjuster, but this is no different that having detents. With the detents, you count the clicks, without you record number of turns. When making adjustments, NEVER adjust more than one setting at a time, record notes of your impressions, and adjust in increments large enough to feel a change, but not too large that the effects were wholesale.

If this bike were to be used for track days on a consistent basis, a steering damper would definitely be required. Even as far up on the seat as I was yesterday, the bike likes to shake it's head coming out of the corners, especially when leaned over and hard on the gas....the front end just gets very light. If any of you here have ever been to Road Atlanta and are familiar with Turn 5, after you go through it and are driving up the hill to the short straight before T6, the FZ would lift the front end every single time in third gear coming over the crest of that little hill/rise. I had to be in third to get a good drive out of the turn, but yet, be very smooth on the throttle application coming over the crest because of the bike's tendancy to wheelie there. It would have been pretty easy to loop the bike over without much effort at that spot.....where you are in the 90 to 100 MPH range.
As you're describing, I've found the FZ to really entice a 'flat tracker' style...elbows up, head and chest over the bars. For this reason, these will find a home on our bike:


I'll cross the steering damper bridge after the suspension is adjusted. Throwing a steering damper on a bike with a suspension lacking this much is penny wise pound foolish...at least, with the information we have thus far.

OK, the FZ does have a speed limiter built into the ECU. The best that I could get was an indicated 133 MPH on the bike yesterday. Having said that, the bike does seem to really start running out of steam on the top end.....which is just the opposite of what I'm use to with a 600RR inline 4 cylinder that tops the RPM range at 15K.
Because of not having any wind protection on the FZ and even though I was tucked as tight as I could be, at times, there is still a tremendous amount of wind noise going on and honestly, I didn't really feel the bike's "electronics control" for top speed kick in, but I also know that I couldn't coax any more than an indicated 133.
The factory ECU programming is unique regarding the speed limiter. In fifth gear, the throttle is retarded to 70% over ~10k. In sixth gear, throttle gets cut to 50% over ~9k. This won't feel like a rev limiter; rather, it will just feel like you hit a very soft wall.

So what does all of this mean for the average, everyday rider that is going to use the bike for commuting, casual riding, canyons/mountain riding, sport-touring, etc? Obviously, the suspension components are lacking....period. Do you Absolutely need to upgrade/modify them to be able to ride the bike? The short answer is NO! The more reasonable answer is that this bike could use some attention on the both the front and rear. That doesn't mean that you have to buy the very top of the line suspension components that will set you back $2500 to $3000. What it means is that some folks may be happy with some different springs and a heavier fork oil in the front end. Some choose to have some of the valving and shim stacks AND springs and fork oil dialed in for their personal settings. Some may choose to go with a fully adjustable front suspension that can be made to work for a near perfect ride. It is going to depend on what your preferences are and also, how you are riding the bike and it's uses.
Couldn't have said it better myself. However, one caveat...you don't NEED to spend $2500+ for a great suspension. Though it's possible, that level of performance will often go unnoticed by all but the most discerning riders.

The rear shock: All I can say is that it really is not much good for anything other than........uh.......being a stock shock! It really is pretty bad and it will certainly be one of the items that I replace on mine, and keep in mind, I'm not talking about track day use. This bike is going to be mostly just my normal street bike, but the rear shock really is that bad if the bike is pushed at all, even a somewhat spirited pace on the local twisties in your area.
I know you're tracking the progress, but for those who haven't seen it, progress: http://www.yamahafz09.com/forum/31-stoltec-moto/569-first-aftermarket-fz-09-shock-penske-spy-shots.html#post9191

All in all, great write-up Vern. Looking forward to some pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Vern. What do you think of the weight distribution? For street sport riding what do you think of bars something like an inch forward and an inch down? Even without the weight issue I'll probably do that to lean into the wind a bit like an SV650.

How's the tire wear, do you have an estimate of how many miles you will get out of them?
Bob.....the weight distribution seems fine to me, but I do ride the bike very far forward on the seat.....with my junk against the tank or very close to it (I usually slide back a little if I'm purposely doing wheelies in case of a hard set down!!!!)

The pace that I was pushing the bike yesterday on the track would probably yield 4 or 5 track days before the edges of the tire were gone, with a properly set up suspension. There would be plenty left in the middle though. Of course, all of that depends on pressure, the track temp, suspension, the abrasiveness of that particular track, etc. I would say with normal street riding and not pushing the bike really hard, someone should get 5-6K miles out of the rear.....probably a bit more out of the front. The really bad rear suspension (for track day use) would probably eat the edges of these tires in maybe two days of hard riding.
 
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Vern;
Since a great many of us are not likely do a trackday, for a myriad of reasons, your report is much appreciated. It is especially good to know that a forum member can give us the "straight skinny" on the handling characteristics of "the beast" in order to improve it.
One question: Did you happen to check your times to see if they were at all remotely comparable to your track bike? Just curious....
I usually don't even run a lap timer any more. I can guarantee that the 600RR with the suspension setup that I have and the Michelin Power Cups on there, would absolutely be much faster than the FZ......probably to the tune to a good 10 to 12 seconds a lap at Road Atlanta.
 
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I do ride the bike very far forward on the seat.....with my junk against the tank or very close to it
Then you are REALLY far forward..lol j/k

I ride the same way on this FZ-09. Tank already zipper scratched to hell. Nothing the tank protector won't cover up though.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Nick, thanks for taking the time to respond to the points that I wrote in the track day review/opinions. I agree with what you said and probably could have said a lot more clearly than I did........I'm definitely NOT a suspension knowledgeable kind of guy......and you definitely are.

I will take a few pics of the rear tire with the leading edge issue being worn more than the trailing edge, and in fact, it causes the rubber to accumulate on the trailing edge because of the rebound issue??

I understand about the lack of detents on the "clickers", but it just what I'm accustomed to......having detents.

A steering damper would be almost essential for serious riding, like on a track, given the current setup and especially if someone chose to not try and remedy some of the other issues.

Your explanation of the ECU and the 5th gear/6 gear restriction of the throttling makes perfect sense and you are dead on with the way it acted.....like hitting a "soft wall". It was like it was starving for fuel/air, but not completely!

Again, thanks for taking the time to make that post....it explains a lot to me, and I'm sure others.


Here are few pictures of the rear tire after just three sessions on the track.....

All three of these pics are taken from the right side of the bike, but the left side of the tire looks the same way.....lower on the leading edge, higher (with build up) on the trailing edge.


 

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Wait just a cotton pickin' minute, I still see a fresh area on the edge of the tire. Vern, you are supposed to drag your elbows in the turn to get the max lean angle and pick the bike back up on the tire if you loose the front end.
 

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Wait just a cotton pickin' minute, I still see a fresh area on the edge of the tire. Vern, you are supposed to drag your elbows in the turn to get the max lean angle and pick the bike back up on the tire if you loose the front end.
Yea, that's usually what I do, but yesterday I was eatin' a ice cream cone with one hand and just couldn't pull it off! :)
 

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Some great info in the original post. I knew going in that this bike would have issues with the broken pavement around here, but I only use what the bike will give... and I wait patiently for some better suspension! ;)
 

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Great write up. I'm also a track day instructor and was ready to pull the trigger on the FZ-09. But, it took my local dealer a bit too long to get one in stock and in the meantime, I came across a good deal on a 2012 Triumph Street Triple R. I picked it up on my way to the last track day of the season here in New England and had a chance to get used to it. I sat on a FZ today, and it is very similar to the Street Triple with the FZ having a much lower seat height. It felt great.

The Triumph performed really well in stock form, but the suspension will still need some work to get it up to the level I need. I'm looking forward to riding an FZ to see what I missed by being impatient. I wrote a short article on getting used to the Street Triple if anyone is interested: Adjusting my new Triumph
 

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Here are few pictures of the rear tire after just three sessions on the track.....

All three of these pics are taken from the right side of the bike, but the left side of the tire looks the same way.....lower on the leading edge, higher (with build up) on the trailing edge.
I never took that into account, but I am interested to see what other people say. My rear tires have been wearing that way for a long time now on my SV650 as I've progressed, almost to where those grooves on the edge kind of turn into "fins", correct??

I never thought it really meant anything...
 

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Food for thought concerning the soft front-end:

Another Cause of Cupping

Even if the tires are higher quality, and cupping still occurs, the problem might be with an errant suspension on the vehicle. If the suspension on a vehicle allows for the tires to bounce, as the vehicle rolls along, the extra action will make scuff marks on the tires, resulting in cupping.
Unfortunately, when the cause is the suspension, a qualified mechanic must replace the suspension and the tires. Since there's a risk of the cause being a serious repair like suspension, having a mechanic check the vehicle is often worth the expense, in spite of the time it will take.
 
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