Ok I am the king of making old shit work and my 2004 1000RR was never a good handling bike regardless of how much money was thrown at it. It was just a poor design and Honda got their ass handed to them with that model repeatedly at the club, national and world level no matter what suspension or chassis mods they made to the bike. I loved my RR though and supplemented it with the best suspension and HRC race parts I could get my hands on. As an instructor and test rider using that bike for 50-60 events every season I got very very comfortable on it and I knew every thing it was going to do before it did it in every condition on every track. My last crash on it was 3 years ago at a little goatpath in California called Buttonwillow. I was hauling ass doing 1:52's for 5 sessions with a couple other pro racers (which I am not) and of course they were all on cutting edge machinery and there I was on this 10 year old bike riding it at 110% just to keep up with their brand new bikes. I ate shit and got a concussion because I was trying to push the limits of an older bike and quite frankly the mental focus and physical effort involved in hustling a turd like the 04 1000RR caught me out. My biggest relief is that I did not take someone else out with me at that pace. You cannot consistently expend that kind of effort at 110% all the time and not make a mistake somewhere along the line or at least I cannot...
Now to be totally honest I have not done a 1:52 on my Gen4 at Buttonwillow not even since they repaved the track. The reason why varies from the basic fact that I don't have a gazzillion miles on the seat of this ZX-10R like I did my old 1000RR to the idea that I don't feel the need to put it or myself in harms way as I REALLY don't want to wad this bike or myself up any time soon. I'm getting too old for that, but I can tell you this I was running 1:56's there the last time I was at Buttonwillow and I was totally comfortable at that pace and not even beginning to tax my ability or the prowess of the Gen4. I was riding within 4 seconds of my personal best lap record set on my old 1000RR, but doing it with about half the effort.
The reason these new bikes keep coming out with improvements and why we put expensive suspension parts on them is so we can ride faster with less drama. We want to be able to go quicker around a racetrack and remain safer while doing it. That is what a newer bike is going to offer you and if you are racing competitively for contingency you really owe it to yourself and the others you share the track with to be as safe as possible.
Thanks for sharing this story LDH, I think you've just summed up all my thoughts and wonders in this story.
This is exactly what I was thinking, I just thought it would be possible to achieve with some suspension settings on my Gen3.
I'll start looking for a 2011/12 ZX10R.
I think its better to find a stock one with low mileage as I prefer doing the modding myself, this way I'll know exactly what I have.
My friend's 2015 has it ECU flashed, GPR steering damper, QS, K&N air filter and Akra slipon.
I will also want to upgrade the front brake, I'm running Vesrah XX on my Gen3 and they are amazing !! (I will take them off and put them on my future Gen4)
From your experience with that bike, What else do you guys think I should do without touching the suspensions?
I would suspect front end is sitting too high or/and forks are compressed too little. Make tests by turning out all fork preload, move forks through clams in 4mm increments until braking becomes unstabile or it wants to turn too much inside.
What else can cause SOOO hard flicking? Too long wheelbase, flat swingarm, low seat heigth, bent frame?
How the hell can stock gen4 feel that much better compared to your top suspention unless there is something simple wrong with it?
My Gen3 isn't damaged, bent nor has a problem with the suspensions, that I know for a fact (checked before bought).
As I mentioned in my first post, the suspensions had bad setting for my skill level, I should've been 5 or 6 second faster in order to really use these settings. (at list that's what the suspension guy at the track told me after my crash)
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I can go at list 2 seconds faster on my current bike but as LDH so nicely put it, I want to use half the effort and keep it as safe as possible. I'm not a professional racer, I don't get paid for that and I don't do it as much as I would like (due to financial reasons of course) so I think getting a newer model, say a 2011, will get me closer to my personal limit faster and will probably help me improve myself and get my limit up a notch :)