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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been inspired by NeonMarine's fantastic build thread to try my hand at something similar. I won't have nearly as much detail or trick parts, and it will probably mostly be race updates more than anything but hopefully it provides some entertainment or value to a few folks.

Since it's about 1.5 years into the journey already I will try to cover most of that time in a recap in the first post below. Please feel free to ask any questions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I spent a few months laboring over which bike to buy for this purpose and it really came down to two. The 2016 R1(always been a Yamaha and crossplane fan) and the 2016 zx10r. The Euro bikes interested me but the cost, reliability, parts availability and ease of set-up were too steep. At the time the Honda was a turd and the gsxr1000 hadn't changed in years.

The r1 was calling me but when I added everything up the zx10r was going to save me a few thousand to get going, I lived about 15 minutes from Farrell Performance who specializes in Kawasaki and the 2015 r1's had just gone through a recall with rumors of crank issues starting to appear. The zx10r also had the option of non-ABS models which saved me the hassle of ripping it out.

So I purchased this lovely 2016 zx10r as a left over in February 2017. Intention was to make it into a track/race bike with the main purpose for racing the CCS midwest region. $11,999 + tax and tags was a hell of a deal I thought!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Since I was getting married in Summer of 2017 I only put about 800 street miles on the new bike. But after the wedding we had enough money left over that in September I bought some used bodywork, case covers and exhaust. I went with the m4 3/4 system because I couldn't justify the huge cost increase for some headers when the stock ones are Titanium and supposedly flow pretty well already.

I then had Farrell Performance do a dyno tune with Woolich ECU flash. The bike made 182hp so not the highest some have seen but I know every dyno reads the differently so I could care less. I also had a 420 chain kit installed with a -1 front sprocket. The bike had way more pep and the weak throttle response below 7000ish was gone. The zx10 now made my older 2012 r1 feel like it was towing an anchor.

A week or two later I packed her up and headed to Blackhawk Farms Raceway for my first track day since 1 day I did in 2016 on an r6. It was pretty cold out but I got a lot of dry sessions in throughout the weekend immediately felt comfortable on the bike unlike my brief stint on the r6(long story but I hated it).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Spring 2018 rolled around pretty quickly so it was time to get ready to race. I knew from the beginning that I wasn't going to throw money and parts at this bike, a mistake I made with my 2012 r1. I was instead going to run close to stock as long as possible so I could use my funds for seat time and to focus on my riding. I knew the bike was plenty capable already and was going to be far from holding me back.

With that said I talked with Jason at Farrell Performance and while he agreed that the stock Showa suspension was pretty capable he recommended changing the geometry for track usage. The cost was pretty minimal so I dropped the bike off with him again and he flipped the swing arm pivot point and switched out the head angle collar, bringing the rake in by 0.5 degree. I only had the one TD weekend the previous Fall so it was hard to compare but after trying it out the bike felt fantastic. It turned in so easy and was quick to transition from side to side(my biggest complaint with the 2012 r1). I was afraid it might get a little unstable with these changes but fortunately that was not the case. To be cliche, the bike felt like it was "on rails" in the corner.

No pictures of this change but I highly recommend it to anyone tracking the zx10!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So I hit a track day weekend at Blackhawk Farms in Spring 2018 which is where I got to test those new geometry changes. The bike was feeling great and my times were getting close to what my best I had done while racing in 2014. One thing I forgot to mention, I do remember thinking the bike wanted to wheelie and head shake a lot more! I think part of this was due to the geometry change but mainly I was just getting more comfortable and was getting on the power earlier coming out of corners. My first reaction was wanting to change out the stock steering damper. But going back to what I said earlier about throwing money at the bike, I decided to just live with it and learn to ride it out. Still running the same OEM damper to this day.

I skipped the actual first race weekend at Autobahn Country Club because the forecast looked terrible and I had never been to that track. So my first race weekend in May 2018 at Blackhawk Farms was coming up quickly and I was pumped!! I decided to hit a track day school with Motovid.com the Friday before race weekend to get prepared. Cory West helped put that program together and was guest instructing. I was also pitting with TSE right next to him so that was a cool experience. I learned some great tools that I still try to implement today. Unfortunately, the weather took a crap and the actual race day ended up being about 50 degrees and raining. Having not raced since '14 and almost no wet riding experience I decided to sit out.

Ignore the white plates, they came with the bodywork lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To sum up most of my 2018 race season, I ended up racing for the first time at Brainerd Int'l Raceway. Never been to the track before so it took me a day to get used to it. Crazy track!! Super fast T1 and T2 unlike anything I've experienced before. I was just so so here, definitely toward the back of the Amateur field.

I hit the next round at Road America, the crown jewel of the race season and probably my favorite track(Barber is a close second). I did fairly well in Amateur but still had a lot to learn. I turned my personal best time of 2:36 during a race. Ran out of gas in the carousel during my last race and it was hot as balls with temps of high 90's all weekend but I had a blast. I forgot to mention that I pitted with Trackside Suspension & Engineering at Brainerd in addition to that first Blackhawk race weekend. Road America was my 3rd time pitting with them and it was amazing have their help and knowledge!

Next weekend up was late July back at home, Blackhawk Farms. I started to pick up the pace and was starting to get a whiff of the podium but missed out in all my races. Was always just a little bit slower in certain sections and the lead pack would pull away on me. My starts were and still are very weak as well which hurt. I would have to work the whole race to get around a couple slower folks and by then the lead pack was gone so I couldn't get a tow. The upside was I got more experience passing people.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I got to hit a great trackday weekend at Road America in August with Midwest Track Day and had a blast. My good friend and fellow racer Jonathan Schweiger is a coach with Midwest TD and worked with me throughout the weekend. Even though he rides an r6 he could still turn a few second better lap times than me so I would avoid blasting him on the straights so I could learn from him in the corners. By the end of the weekend I was pulling away from him all over and ran my new PB of 2:30! I was feeling great on the bike and was learning to really trust the Pirelli SuperCorsa DOT race tires.

The next race round was going to be the very next weekend and these trackdays left me with a lot of confidence.
 

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Formerly CLCRACINGAaron
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I like where this is going....
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
JR we're not quite to 2019 yet but soon! Have to recap the 2nd to last round of 2018. Blackhawk Farms (again) in late August. There was a small trackday being run on Friday so I decided to do it and also try out some Michelin DOTs. My aforementioned buddy Jonathan is kind of Michelin whore lol and pushed me into it. I had zero complaints and was enjoying the Pirelli's but figured I should at least try something else. Well...I did not like them from lap 1. I had no complaints about grip, they stuck just fine(especially since I backed off my normal pace) but they didn't give me the same feel and confidence. I am not nearly a good enough rider to figure this crap out myself but after giving vague descriptions to Scotty at TSE we came up with a few issues.
1. The Pirelli's are taller, especially the rear. This probably lends itself well to the zx10's stock ride height. Since I was still on stock suspension Scotty had no way to raise the bike with the Michelin tires to re-create this.
2. I like my tire carcass soft apparently... The Michelins gave me none of the normal feel that I got used to. I'm sure they can provide that to better riders but the Pirelli's will move around a bit more and in my head that sounds terrible but I guess I jive with it.
3. The previously mentioned profile of the Pirelli allows them to "fall" into the corner a little easier. Just looking at the Michelin's mounted it is apparent they are the same angle of circumference all the way around making them very linear for turn in. The Pirelli's are more V-shaped causing a quick rate of turn in.

So for the race weekend I was kind of apprehensive about running these Michelin tires I had just purchased. Since I didn't have a ton of money, I was not willing/able to schill out another $425 for a set of Pirelli's. Luckily, the stars aligned though and a guy happened to be wanting to sell a set of brand new pirelli slicks. Since he would let me paypal him 2 weeks later I had them spooned on for races the next day. Immediately felt back to normal and throughout the races my times dropped even more. I think I dropped 2ish more seconds for a new PB of 1:16. I also finally won my first race ever with Rookies Cup, a 2nd in Unlimited Superbike and narrowly missed a first in Unlimited GrandPrix(see video below, it's pretty good!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Ok! So I have gotten very into race recaps and not talked much about the bike aside from tires. So headed into the last race weekend of the year September 22-23, 2018 at Blackhawk(again, again...) I hadn't really changed much on the bike at all. The only changes I can remember making putting in new EBC brake pads. Can't remember what I was running for most of 2018 but they were cheap and not OEM. Since I just posted in another thread about brake master cylinders, I had Scotty at TSE bleed my brakes early in the season and they immediately felt firmer! Reminds me I should probably have this done again since it's been awhile.

So to recap the last race weekend: My confidence was continuing to grow and I was loving the zx10r more and more(I promise I'm not pandering on a zx10 forum, I legit love this bike!). Up until this point I avoided or did poorly in GT races which are CCS' 25 minute race, making them about twice as long as a normal race. So I signed up for GTO(the 1000cc GT class) and immediately get a decent start. Not exaggerating, I literally found myself in first place after about 2 laps. Somehow I carved through all the other bikes and got out front. I almost shit my pants! I specifically remember thinking ok this is a pretty long race and I'm going to peter out at some point so just hold on and ride your own ride. Well... the half-way flag gets waved and I'm still chugging along. I settled into a pace and just kept clicking off decent laps. I looked back and couldn't see 2nd place. About 3-4 laps to the end I felt a horrible "thud" from the bike coming out of the last turn. I remember thinking I had a bolt or something stuck in the shoulder of the tire and it was shaking the front end when it would hit the ground. I immediately said ok I need to pull off track so I don't bin my shit up! But I didn't happen again that lap so I kept going. About 2 laps to go it starts happening is several corners around the track but I figured "fk it!" I'm going going for the win. I started to back off though and with 1.5 laps to go got passed. Somehow held onto 2nd the rest of the way.

Jason Farrell thought it was the stock traction control activating but I was skeptical. It took me and TSE until a practice session the next day to finally figure out the rear sprocket while not toast, was well worn. My damn chain had been skipping teeth coming out of corners! Mark at TSE had my rear wheel off and sprocket replaced in like 16 minutes so I could make the first race. Ended up winning Rookies Cup again, and taking some more 2nds. I was really happy with the progress I made and ended the season with a PB of 1:14 (expert winning times are usually 1:10's) and zero crashes all year! I accumulated about 250 points, 150 points shy of getting an expert bump.

Although I never had much to complain about with the stock suspension, I figured it was getting time to replace it so my bike went to TSE for the winter. My goal for 2019 was to dominate the Unlimited Classes. Many of the faster guys got bumped and I knew I had the pace and seat time now to win.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Finally!!! I know it's been a long time coming but we are at 2019 now! So first thing to cover is my fitness goals over the winter, which I pretty much failed haha! I took a couple months off the gym in through winter and then hit it hard in February. I hate cardio and total body crap so rather than doing what I should have been doing I started lifting again but more vigorously and body builder style(hypertrophy & fairly high volume) than I ever have in the past because I found I enjoy it and figured it's better than not being in the gym.

As for the bike, TSE did their in house fork build that I've mentioned in NeonMarine's thread and we did a "custom" Penske shock build for the rear. I drove down to TSE and a nice long conversation with Scotty and Meghan about the suspension. Scotty showed me all the different piston options in that are possible with the shock and I was very confused but still greatly enjoyed it. We(Scotty) settled on a fairly linear piston that would work well all around rather than some specialized one that might not work well at certain tracks. He also went through in detail what they do to the forks. The best way I can sum it up is that cartridges like K-tech basically block off the OEM Nitrogen chamber in these Showa shocks and then use their standard system that gets used in all kits. What's nice about the TSE kit is it uses the same OEM NO2 system which I figure must be good if the $10k Ohlins forks use a similar design. The piston that pushes on the NO2 chamber is actually plastic in the stock forks so part of the build is that gets replaced with a billet aluminum piece.

Now, my worry here is we're taking a great handling bike and completely changing the suspension. I figured the rear would be fine but I was a little scared that the front end would feel very different and make me go slower until I got used to it. The stock forks are extremely stiff so by making them a bit softer & more compliant might throw me off. Well, those fears disappeared by about lap 2 in April at Autobahn during the practice day before races. I spent the day learning the track and brushing off the cobwebs but the bike did not feel "soft" or "off" in anyway. It just felt good and I just kept pushing it harder and harder. The best way I can describe my bike the way it sits right now with Pirelli SC slicks(same set from the last race day in 2018 might I mention) is I can do some dumb shit on it and it doesn't care(and I have!!!). I can change my line mid-corner, brake late and lean on the front while turning...it don't care!

So I go into race day Sunday with the same bike as 2018 with new suspension and a fresh set of Pirelli slicks. That's it, no other changes or parts. Oh, and new Vortex rearsets because somehow my foot brake peg got snapped off during transport.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Are you riding a Suzuki here ?

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Negative, sorry forget to mention I'm not the one filming. I'm on the black zx10r that is in front of my buddy filming for most of the race. He ended up winning because I let him past at the end there. I legit thought he was pretty far behind me so I slowed down a bit because I was getting tired. I tried to get him across the finish line and went WOT longer than I normally would so I got scared I was going to low side so I blew off into the grass haha I for sure could have made the turn and that's probably how fast the quick experts take it
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
First race day of 2019 at Autobahn North Course: I win all 3 races I entered. To be fair though the grids were pretty light but I ended up getting a lowish 1:07 which is 5 seconds off the track record so I was pretty happy especially since it was the first ride of the year and I had never been to this track before.

I did get DQ'd from the SuperSport race though because I didn't go the the Tech building after the race. I was so excited that I forgot. Won't make that mistake again!

As I just mentioned the bike was feeling fantastic all weekend. I flopped it over into the turns with not much technique several times and it just turned, no drama at all. I felt like I had a large safety margin to go faster if I would just brake a little later and drive out of the corner a little harder. My mid corner speed is pretty solid but I'm setting that speed too early.
 

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Interesting post with some great race results , subscribed :thumbsup:
 
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