MotoUSA recently entered its GSX-R1000 Yoshimura project bike in the Oregon Motorcycle Roadracing Association series to put several of its aftermarket upgrades to the test.
When I was first approached to ride the MotorcycleUSA.com GSX-R1000 Yoshimura
project bike, I think my first question was, "does it really make 185 horsepower?” The answer was "yes", so the decision was made and logistics begun. The bike is a 2009 Suzuki
GSXR-1000, with Yoshimura building the engine and Ohlins
delivering its high-spec suspension. The rest of the chassis has been barfed on by the best a parts catalogue can offer. (Check out more on the development of MotoUSA's SuperBike in the Modified Superbike Comparison
and the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 Stage 2
and Stage 3
I was excited to ride and test this Yosh bike, because my current racebike is a lightly modified ‘09 GSX-R1000. It would be a really good comparison to ride the two bikes back to back on the same weekend. The plan was to run both bikes in the August round of the Oregon Motorcycle Roadracing Association series. I'd run my bike in the two Formula Ultra races, then flog the Yoshi in the Open SuperBike event at the end of the weekend.
Taking delivery of the bike, I thought it'd be good to check the position of the controls and some of the geometry settings against the numbers off my bike. This is where the real work began. Up until this point I assumed the bike would be set up and, hopefully, in even better condition than mine. I stood in disbelief when we measured the front a full 9mm lower than mine! But wait though, it gets better. From there I went to the back of the bike and confirmed it was riding 11mm
After taking delivery of the bike our tester and his crew worked extensively on revising the GSX-R1000's geometry.
taller at the axle than my set-up. This thing was practically doing an endo while it was standing still!
Our crew scratched their heads for a minute re-evaluating our plan to ride the bike the way it was delivered. I think the tipping point was the realization that the bike still had a stock steering damper on it. Purely out of self-preservation, we busted out the tools and began changing the geometry to match those on my bike.
We spent the day going back and forth riding both bikes at the 2Fast Trackday
. My hopes were that the Yoshi bike would handle and operate flawlessly, but neither turned out to be true. The steering was heavy, but the fueling at 2% throttle during mid-corner was impossible. When you wanted to tighten the chain with just a breath of power, it would lurch forward - making it impossible to make mid-corner adjustments. The thought of opening the throttle early while exiting a turn bred fear into my soul.
Our next hurdle was lacking the cable necessary to tune the Yoshimura EM-Pro electronics package on the bike. We scrambled around in hopes of finding something. Meanwhile the bike almost launched me to the moon several times trying to ride around the problem. Luckily, my buddy Mike from Fuzimoto was around, and he had what we needed. It took several episodes of trial and error, but we were steadily making progress on the power delivery.
Without having realized it and without having ridden the bike after making a wide host of changes to it, race time was upon us. I was concerned the stock steering dampener wasn't going to cut the mustard, and we still hadn't had time to start work on the suspension settings. The gearing was tall, and I was warned it was tuned ‘stupid lean’ and to be careful not to melt it on the straightaway. How’s that for a pat on the back as you head off to pre-grid, eh? To top it off, I tried a practice launch in the hot pit as I set out on my warm-up lap and nearly stalled it, then wheelied. Sweet! Nice work Alan... just hope nobody was watching.
At the drop of the green flag I was ruthless on the clutch, and it helped. I didn't leave the line with much speed, but by the time I clicked into third gear on the run to the first turn everyone was going backwards. This thing ripped on top! I got into the first turn at a pretty good click, and held onto the lead for the first lap.
Getting used to the suspension and power delivery while my competitors were breathing down my neck was very unsettling. There was hardly any mid-range it seemed, then the power would snap on when you got to about 10,000 rpm. You'd get used to the lack of a hit when you first opened the throttle, but it'd hit halfway through your drive and force you to run wide.
I bumbled around for about three laps trying to figure stuff out before taking a look back. I saw what I expected to see when I turned around: a faceshield full of someone's number plate. Thankfully, the one thing on the bike I knew well and knew I could count on were the Pirelli Superbike slicks.
Despite lacking the time to properly dial in MotoUSA's GSX-R1000, our tester dominated the OMRA race.
I've been a Pirelli
rider for the last 13 years of my racing career, and knew that after four laps I can lean on these tires with confidence. I started putting some muscle into my riding, and the bike responded. At first it liked it, but as I poured it on more and more it started fighting back. The stock steering dampener clearly wasn't up to the task and I had to wrestle the entire chassis while leaving almost every corner. Also, we couldn't run a quickshifter, because the previous set-up was for a reverse shift pattern. As a result every time I shifted on the back straight (which wasn’t so straight) the chassis would unload, then load up again, causing the whole bike to torque up. At 3/4 lean, full acceleration, in fifth gear, going a buck-thirty with the rear wheel spinning… this gets your attention.
By Lap 10 my arms felt like they were going to fall off. I took a look back and thankfully my efforts had paid off; I had ditched 'em. I spent the last two laps cruising and took the win with room to spare.
At the end of it all I almost didn’t believe we won the race. Up until that time I’d been so focused on developing or adapting to the bike every moment I was on it. I was almost numb to the race experience.
Although excited I’d taken first-place, I felt as though I didn’t give the bike a fair shake down. I hadn’t changed a single clicker on the suspension, the fuel mapping was still miles off and the bike was still shaking violently coming off the turns. I promptly called up MotorcycleUSA.com
and suggested/asked/begged to ride the bike again the following month to really put it through its paces. They agreed.