Labrosse and Duhamel Together Again for the First Time

Inside Motorcycles exclusive by Colin Fraser- St. Eustache, Quebec: Current Autodrome St. Eustache track owner Alan Labrosse was a top motorcycle road racer in the early 1980s, winning AMA Nationals in the 250cc and Formula One categories, as well as representing Canada in 250cc Grand Prix World Championship action in Europe. 

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 14:26

Springfield Flattrack: Lawrence and Labelle Miss the Show

Story by Frank Wood- Two of Canada's top dirt track racers, Doug Lawrence of Mississauga, ON, and Mike Labelle from Welland, ON, failed to make it into the main event in their respective classes at the AMA Pro Flattrack Springfield Mile held on May 27 at the Springfield Illionois Fairgrounds.

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 14:06

Taylor Dominates Niagara

Story by Frank Wood- Canadian dirt track champion Donald Taylor of Port Colbourne, ON, dominated the opening round of the Canadian Motorcycle Association Dirt Track National Championships held at Niagara Raceway in Welland on June 2.

Monday, 04 June 2012 19:17

Duhamel shows the way at Autodrome St-Eustache

Canadian motorcycle road racing legend Miguel Duhamel was back on the track at Autodrome St-Eustache on Friday, although not in a competitive sense. The multi-time American Motorcycle Association (AMA) champion was in the role of guest instructor at the official licensing day for the Honda CBR250R National Race Series, which will be part of this summer's Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship.

Monday, 04 June 2012 09:38

The Lap-Time Difference Channel

One of the new features on the updated 2012 BMW S1000RR is a "best lap in progress" function as part of the onboard lap timer. By comparing distance and time at intervals, the lap timer can determine if elapsed time to that point on the track is better or worse than it was on the best lap previously recorded. On the BMW, this calculation is performed at 100-metre intervals, and a lamp on the dashboard illuminates to indicate a favourable result.

Most data acquisition systems offer a similar feature. In fact, any two channels can be compared using a difference channel function; for example, a speed difference channel will show exactly where on the track speed is greater or less than it was on a reference lap. If the difference function is applied to the elapsed time channel for two laps, a "lap-time difference" channel can be displayed. This is essentially the same function as the BMW's best lap in progress feature, but the calculation is performed dozens of times per second instead of once every 100 metres.

Like the BMW, a light on the system's dashboard can be illuminated when the lap-time difference is positive, but in this case the feedback is almost instantaneous and constant. Additionally, the data can be output in graphical form; the lap-time difference function can show a lot of information in a simple format. Shown here is data for two laps of Las Vegas Motor Speedway's classic course, with Javelin Broderick riding a Yamaha YZF-R6. Speed for the faster of the two laps is shown in red, while speed for a lap .34 seconds slower is shown in black. The bottom trace, in blue, shows the lap-time difference between the two laps.

Most data acquisition systems offer feature similar to the BMW's, but the results can be plotted as a data channel. Here, the blue trace shows the difference in time (blue) between two laps of the track, with speeds shown in red and black.

Most data acquisition systems offer feature similar to the BMW's, but the results can be plotted as a data channel. Here, the blue trace shows the difference in time (blue) between two laps of the track, with speeds shown in red and black.

By the convention used, if the lap-time difference trace increases, the time for the lap shown in red is improving compared with the lap shown in blue — note that at the end of the lap, the blue trace shows the overall difference in lap time, about .34 seconds. While progress over the course of the lap is fairly steady, there are a couple of anomalies that bear further investigation. In turn 3, for example (note the turn markers across the top of the graph), Javelin saves a full .3 seconds on the slower lap in one corner (the trace drops), even thought the speed traces are almost identical. The lap-time difference trace shows that a significant portion of that time was then lost on the following straight (the trace increases), but not enough to offset the advantage gained in the turn. In this case, examination of the position data showed that Javelin took a tighter line in the turn on the black lap, and although this hurt speed slightly on the straight, the tighter line overall is a better option.

The lap-time difference function is a powerful tool that shows, at a glance, how time is gained or lost over the course of a lap. These differences are sometimes very difficult and time-consuming to find in the segment data, but the lap-time difference graph can be used to quickly and easily find those areas of interest that require deeper investigation.

Thursday, 31 May 2012 08:36

Golo's Shaw-O'Leary Scores Maiden Sportbike Win

Story by Frank Wood- Rising teenage sensation Austin Shaw-O'Leary of Falmouth, Nova Scotia tasted victory in his first appearance in the Amateur 600 and Amateur Sportbike classes at the opening round of the Atlantic Roadracing League (ARL) 2012 held at Atlantic Motorsports Park last weekend. 

Thursday, 24 May 2012 19:28

Suzuki GSXR-1000: Suzuki Opts to Refine, Not Redesign, for 2012

This review was first published in the print edition of Inside Motorcycles, Volume 15, Issue 1 March/ April 2012. Story by Costa Mouzouris/ Photos by Andrea Wilson.

It's been about two years since I've ridden a Suzuki GSX-R1000. I have had the good fortune of riding every version of Suzuki’s open class Gixxer since 2003, and I can now add the revised 2012 model to that list.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 16:51

Measuring Slip

In my article in the current issue of Inside Motorcycles ("Computing Speed II," April/May 2012), I briefly discuss measuring wheel speed and calculating slip as part of a data acquisition system. "Slip" is a broad-meaning term and a difficult parameter to quantify accurately, and I thought it deserved some more attention here. When we talk about slip, we are generally referring to wheelspin and a loss of traction, and there are a couple of ways to consider it. One is the difference in speed between the front and rear wheels; if the rear wheel is turning faster than the front, that is positive slip. Under braking, the rear wheel can turn slower than the front, resulting in negative slip. Slip can also be considered as the difference in speed between either the front or rear wheel and actual ground speed as measured by GPS. Knowing an accurate value for slip in a data acquisition system helps point out areas where the rider is spinning the rear tire or wheelying on corner exits, or skidding either tire on corner entries. Additionally, an accurate slip measurement is the cornerstone of a good traction control system.

A very rough value for slip can be calculated by simply comparing front and rear wheel speeds, or comparing wheel speed with GPS speed. Since most motorcycles are already equipped with rear wheel speed sensors for their speedometers, it's simple enough to record rear wheel speed and calculate slip as a percentage compared with GPS speed. The first and largest error introduced is due to the tire's changing circumference as the motorcycle leans, which affects the speed calculated - just as your speedometer reads higher as you arc into a turn. This can result in a slip calculation of more than 10 percent (the difference in circumference between the center and the edge of the tire) even when there is in reality no wheelspin at all. This error can be reduced by using a math channel to take into account the actual circumference of the tire based on lean angle as measured by a sensor or estimated from GPS data. Some tire manufacturers release this information, as Dunlop does for its spec AMA tires, but a fairly accurate estimate can be made using an arc or parabola formula based on a couple of measurements. BMW's DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) system uses this approach, with a lean angle sensor and maps inside the ECU to take changing tire circumference into account. The ECU can be reprogrammed using the company's HP Race Calibration Tool to account for different tires.

A second error is introduced when the tire deforms under load. As the motorcycle accelerates and decelerates, weight transfer loads and unloads the tire and changes its circumference accordingly. The load on the tire can be calculated based on static weight and longitudinal acceleration, either from an accelerometer or from GPS data. Knowing some values for tire stiffness, or again having actual specifications from the tire manufacturer, an estimate can be made for the change in circumference from tire deformation. Several Kawasaki patents for traction control describe a system that uses compensation maps inside the ECU to adjust measured slip, based on rpm and the gear selected, to account for tire deformation.

If you are generating a slip channel for data acquisition, the more accurate you can make the data by accounting for these errors, the better you will be able to find and analyze areas of actual wheelspin that need attention. 

Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:21

Casey Stoner Announces Retirement at end of 2012

From Reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner confirmed today that he would retire from the sport at the end of the 2012 season. The Repsol Honda rider addressed the media at the start of the official pre-event press conference for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, making a short statement in which he outlined the reasons behind his decision.

Thursday, 17 May 2012 11:50

Remembering the First World Superbike Race – Part Four

Twenty Five years ago, the newly invented Superbike World Championship opened up at Donington Park in England, with an event that few involved fully understood in terms of structure and rules, but few can argue with from a 2012 perspective.  If it’s important to start a new series off with a crazy, exciting debut, then Donington 1988 certainly delivered.

North Americans were the acknowledged Superbike class experts, but the FIM rules were based on AMA guidelines as well as both the World Endurance (very big at the time, especially with the Suzuka eight hour race in Japan at Honda’s home circuit) and the TT-Formula One Series.  When the Isle of Man lost World Championship status in the late 1970s, the TT-F1 class was established to provide a “real road racing,” production based category that would be centered on the Isle of Mann.

TT-F1 (street circuit) stalwarts were suspicious of SBK, and the fight for an event at Assen in 1988 helped save TT-F1 as a World title series.  To some extent, SBK relied on TT-F1 regulars to fill the grid fir their first few races.

As well, TT-F1 was a class for four-strokes, not the 125cc/250cc/500cc established hierarchy of the Grand Prix premier series, and attracted the small European builders such as Bimota and Ducati.

1987 TT-F1 World Champs Bimota were undoubtedly the favorites for the new Superbike world crown, partially because they had made it clear that the new series was their primary focus –the small Italian boutique builder pulled out of TT-F1 to put all of their trick alloy eggs in the SBK basket. 

Honda U.K. supported Carol Fogarty would win the 1988 TT-F1 title from three other Brit based racers and use that success as an eventual springboard to the World SBK tour.  Eventually, even with Isle of Man support, the TT-F1 World Championship would disappear as street circuits became less popular and the upstart SBK tour built steam. 

Bimota also dumped their quick but erratic long time leader and TT-F1 title winner, Virginio Ferrari (a late 1970s Kenny Roberts G.P. rival) and picked rising stars Davide Tardozzi and Stephane Mertens to ride their new YB4s.  The beam framed YB4s were ground breaking for their time, featuring Yamaha’s trick five valve per cylinder engine mated to Bimota-sourced fuel injection.  Did the Rimini-based firm actually produce the 200 units required for FIM homologation? Bimota probably built the required number, over time, eventually.

The biggest shock in the Donington paddock was the Ducati transporter, complete with the first official viewing of the iconic 851, “Superbike” written large across the fairing.  This was the street bike debut of a prototype racer first seen in “Battle of the Twins” action at Daytona as well as the Bol d’Or 24 Hour event.

1981 500cc Grand Prix Champ for Suzuki, famed charmer Marco Lucchinelli, was on hand to handle this sole Desmo twin, and the bike was so “one off” in build quality that it was hard to imagine that the tooling existed to produce 200 identical machines. Nonetheless, FIM reps had visited Bologna and viewed the required number of Ducatis.  Today, every single one is a collector’s item!

The Japanese manufacturers had agreed to support Superbike through distributor/dealer teams, and it would be a while before the major influence of the Italian companies caused the big Jap builders to go all-in.  As mentioned earlier, the restriction on over-bore and requirement for stock carbs discouraged Suzuki and Kawasaki, while Yamaha’s aluminum framed FZRs had yet to replace (on the track) the now-outdated steel-chassis FZ model.

Even without direct manufacturer support for SBK, some TT-F1 stars (including Anders Andersson’s Suzuki effort) and well-supported World Endurance teams (Suzuki and Kawasaki France) would provide a solid presence in the first couple of seasons.

The primary Japanese machine expected to feature in the inaugural Superbike Championship season was a Honda. The “big H” had made a solid commitment to the production-based categories with their ground-breaking, brand-new, ultra trick, and very expensive, RC30.  The v-four design featured an alloy frame and single-sided swing arm, but most of those entered at Donington were close to stock in set-up.

While the RC30 would eventually stamp its mark of authority on most production-oriented classes of international racing, it would become a solid symbol of success at the Isle of Man.  Hence it was no shock that Honda U.K. supported Donington entries for local heroes Joey Dunlop, Roger Burnett and Kenny Irons.  Soon, all kinds of RC30s from every country in Europe would be filling the majority of the SBK grid.

The Honda pilot who didn’t quite fit with the rest of this factory-approved group was American Fred Merkel.  The former AMA Champ had been dumped by American Honda, and had reinvented himself as a Superbike missionary when Italy started a series for street-based machinery in 1987.  Riding for famed owner(and former bike builder) Oscar Rumi, Merkel did wonders on a kitted VFR, and knew all about the secret, non-kit trick bits required to make a v-4 Honda perform.

Merkel liked the RC30 to look at, but wasn’t happy with the level of tuning provided by the over-the-counter “kit” parts.  He thought the RC30 was heavy and lacked top end against the Bimotas, but was committed to racing the bike “as is” – with the belief that solid early showings would put him on the short list for the best, updated tuning parts. 

As every Honda-supported insider would soon learn, you needed to show well at events leading up to the home race (in 1988, it was late August at Sugo) to be entitled to the un-listed bits that would ensure that you were one of the few “haves” that got the most from your v-four.  

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 10:43

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