I am sure a lot of regular track rats will be able to relate to this story. You are steaming through your favorite turn, knee puck skimming the track surface eyes, glued on the exit, when some young yahoo in road-rashed leathers howls by on the outside like you are tied to a stump. Riding an out of date sportbike with more duct tape than a Homeland Security safety kit, the spray-bombed side panels and zip ties a clear indicator of the yards this bike has traveled on its side, or upside down. With the rider possessing a set of spuds the size of grapefruits and no concept of the word tomorrow, all you can do is watch the rear end disappear into the distance.
That is unless your name is Adrian Jasso. In that case, you have built a successful career on Wall Street and have decided to give a new 2006 R6 to Jamie James Productions so you can go chase that rascal. Having raced motocross for 20 years, Jasso decided that, marching through his 30s, he would try a track day. He got hooked.
An experienced single-engine and glider pilot, and a connoisseur of Porsches, Jasso is no stranger to speed. In fact, he has owned more than 30 bikes, including the famous limited-production 2-stroke Yamaha 500cc V-Four RZV500R he raced while living in Japan.
“I had ridden my 916, 996, and MV F4-Ago 1000 but wanted a more focused track tool.” A motorcycle that is light, nimble and, in his words, “revs just like one of those fascinating two-stroke GP machines.” Adrian then read some reviews on the R6 and decided it would be the perfect platform.
The tricked out JJP R6 is not only a beautiful to gaze upon, but its $30,000 makeover pays huge dividends in performance and handling.
We have tested both Jamie James Productions R1s over the years here at MCUSA, as well as his seriously outrageous RZ 350, and have always come away impressed with the incredible attention to detail and the rideability of the bikes. The latest JJP R1 ended up gracing the cover of Cycle World shortly after we tested it, where resident fast guy, Don Canet, stated, “The performance and level of refinement of the JJP Series 2 YZF-R1 absolutely blew our socks off! Simply put, it is one of the finest, best-balanced sportbikes CW has ever sampled.”
I have waxed lyrically about the way the JJP bikes retain the stock feel and how well they work. So heading off to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) to ride the latest two-wheeled wonder to roll out of the North Carolina workshop, I had pretty high expectations. With owner Jasso spending an extra $30,000 on top of the price of the bike, I didn’t need to be reminded that Duke Danger’s piggybank wouldn’t be of any help if things went pear shaped in any way: Caution would be a good word to recite on pit lane, I reminded myself, as I nearly lunched the four-door in the technical section before the VIR entrance in my eagerness to get there.
Just casting an eye over the JJP R6 for the first time left my lower lip hanging, as Jasso introduced himself and told me: “I wanted to have the ultimate track bike, and Jamie James Productions was able to give me the total package. Just think what it must cost to build an AMA Superbike, or an FX bike? When I tell my good friend who races Porsche Cup how much I have spent, the performance per dollar equation just amazes him.”
The JJP R6’s Sharkskin Formula Xtreme bodywork was done up by North Carolina’s Russell’s Paint and Body, with the white number plates painted on for owner Adrian Jasso to mount his racing digits.
Especially, when part of the deal is Jamie and Doug taking the bike to the various track days for Jasso, which basically gives him the experience of being a factory racer. Coming into the pits, Doug grabs the bike and gets the tire warmers on, gases it, and checks it over, while Jamie and Jasso debrief, discuss any changes and talk about how to go faster. As a grubby journalist, it’s pretty amazing to me from the other end of the financial spectrum, but if I had the readies, I wouldn’t do it any differently.
The Sharkskin Formula Extreme bodywork went off to the usual suspect, Russell at Russell’s Paint and Body, deep in Deliverance country, North Carolina. It will eventually feature a few more graphics, but frankly, the Yamaha competition blue seems pleasantly uncluttered, even nicely understated to me. The white number plates are painted on, since Adrian will begin racing this R6 any time now. Watching him ramp it up at the end of his last session while knocking two seconds off my best time, he looks like he’s ready for some stiffer competition.
The quality of the paint is about as good as it gets on a race bike outside of an AMA paddock, and looking closely at the front of the fairing reveals a small pencil camera poking through a neatly cut hole. Identical to another lens exiting the tail section in the rear, it is part of a system purchased from VDL (Video Data-Logger) www.vdlmotorsports.com.
JJP tuner Doug Crawford needs no introduction to regular readers, but for those who haven’t met him here on these cyber pages, he was responsible for tuning more than one of Jamie’s championship-winning bikes back in the day. Installing the camera system, Doug ditched the stock mounts and hid everything in the tailpiece before custom mounting the lenses. A small Sony Mini DV camera uses a tripod mount to solidly attach it to the seat frame rail. There is also a button on the side of the frame that allows the rider to switch between views: Great when you stuff your best mate into a turn, then switch camera views to watch him try and pass you back. The coolest feature of the VDL system is the throttle position monitor and speedometer reading that shows on play back, and taking a trip over to VDL’s website shows more options available if you want to hook them up.
A small camera is hidden is mounted in the JJP R6’s nose, with the unit wired up to a VDL (Video Data-Logger) system. Complemented by a camera in the tail, the system documents the owner’s exploits on the track.
One facet of the JJP R6 that really transforms the handling is the BlackStone Tek carbon composite wheels. Dropping a total of 7.5 pounds of unsprung weight, their lighter mass makes for significantly less effort when tipping the bike into the turns. Heading down through the technical turn 3 through turn 7 at VIR exhibited a very similar feeling to the first sessions on the Czecher GSX-R750 we tested a while back. The bike wanted to tip in with the slightest nudge on the bars, and with the engine straining like a pit bull on a tight leash, just the slightest throttle opening launched the bike forward like a missile, so the first few laps were a steep learning curve.
Honking flat out down the long front straight toward Turn 1 initiated the next thought. Jamie’s bikes should come with a government health warning concerning possible medical problems arising from using the brakes. Just between you and me, I initially found the brake system on the R6 too intense. Brushing the brake lever with a sensitivity that might have saved my marriage if I had employed it at the right moments, I was immediately greeted with a face full of moving asphalt and the sensation of my arse moving from side to side in thin air. The resulting thump when the rear wheel made it back to terra firma just added to the terror. Totally intimidating me, it took till later in the day for my nerves to settle down enough to really take advantage of the latest brakes to make it onto my, “best of the best” list. (Rossi’s M1 excluded, ’cause that thing isn’t for humans.)
Using an R1 Ohlins Road and Track faaaork, as Jamie would say, necessitated adding 320mm Wave Rotors instead of the original R6’s 310 mm items. A set of stock R6 calipers with original pads is responsible for mauling the Galfer wavy bits, and they are instant overachievers as soon as they are bolted to the anorexic 349-pound R6 (weighed empty).
The front end on the JJP R6 features BlackStone Tek carbon composite wheels, which drop 7.5 pounds of unsprung weight. Meanwhile, the 320mm Wave Rotors team with stock R6 pads and calipers to provide intense braking power.
“I always like a lot of brakes,” Jamie informed me with a grin as I figured out how to get the best from the system. Not content with just regular levels of overkill at the front wheel, Jamie called his good friend Jeff Maloney at GP Tech, and an AP Lockheed single-bore radial master cylinder made its way onto the stock handlebar. These things are just plain mental, and even though it causes problems with mirror mounts, I have installed a similar system on my streetbike. It is that good. Adjustable for both lever adjustment and ratio, you can completely custom set the front brake lever to your heart’s desire. Pumping Super 600 AP racing fluid through Goodridge black coated steel lines, at a minimum this is a system for experts only – it is that powerful. Thankfully, after some sage advice from the wise one, by the last session I was getting the best out of the brakes, and it was just sick how late I was waiting to throw out the anchors. Somewhere on the video I passed three or four bikes going into Turn 1, proof that getting it right can even make hero out of a putz like me.
Talking with Doug about the Ohlins fork, it was soon apparent that this wasn’t a simple bolt-on job. First he took an R1 triple clamp and pressed the steering stem out. Next, he re-machined the triple clamp to accept the R6 steering stem, which is wider and longer. The top triple clamp is the stock R6 unit, and that means rake and trail remain identical. The reason Doug went with an R1 front end was because there wasn’t a front end available for the R6 at that time.
In the rear, an R1 BlackStone Tek carbon composite wheel is used to match the front. The rim is half an inch wider than the R6 wheel, although the 6’s hub is retained, so it is a straight fit with the stock swingarm. The extra rim width allows the use of a standard fitment 190-series rear tire to increase the contact patch. As tested, the JJP R6 came equipped with Michelin Pilot Race compound tires, a 120/70-17 front and the 190/50-17 rear. Out on the VIR asphalt, it was extremely hot, but I never got the rear to spin, and the front saved my spotty arse a couple of times, although we won’t mention details. In terms of outright performance, they are as sticky as anything I have ridden on.
For rear suspension an Ohlins YA606 shock absorber replaces the stock unit and sucks up any bumps coming up through the carbon composite wheel.
To keep the rear tire in contact with the asphalt, an Ohlins full-race YA606 shock absorber was installed. As tested, it was set up for Jasso who is 15 pounds lighter than I am. This never really posed a problem till later in the day when I found the minerals to hold the throttle wide open out of Turn 8 for two upshifts. Fully leaned over, hard on the gas, the rear end started squatting and squirming, but it was more fun than annoying. If I hadn’t been sharing the bike with the owner, we could have simply added some preload to suit my weight.
We did make some changes to the front fork because Adrian and I were both floating the rear wheel into the corners. Jamie just added in progressively more compression until we stopped whining. It actually comes with high- and low-speed compression damping for those who know what they are doing, and once Jamie had fiddled with all its important little places the ride quality just went into new dimensions. In the rear of the bike, the rear brake caliper is stock and pushes stock pads onto a Galfer Waver Rotor for those sick enough to need of more stopping power.