The Czecher SuperLite GSX-R750 began life as Vincent Haskovec's personal track bike, but since the tragic accident which ended his racing career, the bike will be auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the injured rider.
Holding the throttle way longer than seems natural, ignoring the voices in my head screaming at me to brake, I go by the R1 like he is chained to a stump. Eyes locked on my reference marker, I hold it until it gets painful before rolling off, lightly massaging the front brake lever and howling over the blind rise; quickly dropping two gears as the force of the brakes sees my helmet giving the fairing a solid Glaswegian kiss (head butt in UK-speak).
Threading the eye of the needle between the rumble strips on either side, the Czecher SuperLite GSX-R750 then flicks left from mere thought as I twist the throttle again approaching the downhill left. Out on the Streets of Willow racetrack, I am in another zone, the warmth of Vincent Haskovec's smile and iron handshake the tonic I needed to really twist the throttle on the bright red missile between my legs.
The Suzuki GSX-R750 seen here started life as Vincent's present to himself to celebrate his first year on the payroll riding for Team M4 EMGO Suzuki in 2004.
"It was a dream come true," he told me about what was once his personal bike. Coming from a pure street background, he enjoyed riding the GSX-R on the road, as well as taking it to a couple of track days.
At the time, Paul Taylor of TaylorMade Racing was doing some work for Haskovec's race team and a conversation between the two eventually saw the bike heading to Paul's workshop for him to perform a little magic. As the man responsible for preparing the Saxon Triumph Triple that Sir Alan Cathcart campaigned all over Europe in the '90s, Paul knows a thing or two about setting up race bikes and duly went to work.
Of course, as most of you will know, Vincent would never get to ride the bike again. Vincent had been on the top rung of the podium at the AMA Superstock's opening round in Daytona last year, but he sustained severe injuries in a terrible accident during the AMA Formula Xtreme race at Infineon Raceway two weeks later. Czecher's paralyzing injury was a tragedy that has reverberated throughout the motorcycle racing community ever since.
The stock GSX-R750 that became the Czecher SuperLite was lightened by addition of a one-off carbon-fiber tailsection and carbon bodywork and fuel tank from OPP Racing. The carbon fiber shows as black lettering through the dark red paint on the gas tank.
With Vincent battling in the hospital, Paul decided to go all out and turn the bike into something really special so it could be auctioned off to help Vincent offset some of his medical expenses. To help him with the project, Paul contacted Pirelli who jumped straight in. As the bike evolved, the list of contributors continued to grow. (Full list at the end.)
Arriving at Willow Springs as the early morning sun painted the mountain backdrop with rich, golden light, I found Paul making some last-minute adjustments to the trick Gixxer in the garage. We were joining a HyperCycle track day, and with access to the track anytime we wanted, there was no need to rush out into the chill air.
Looking positively evil sitting on its race stand, the bike is visually very different to the stock GSX-R750
it started life as. Walking around as we did our introductions, it was immediately clear Paul is about performance first, as the Czecher bike certainly doesn't have the look of a living-room-kept show bike. Raw, aggressive, and exuding a workmanlike sense of purpose, it just looks like it wants to be ridden hard, not kept on display.
Responsible for the totally unique look is the OPP Racing carbon-fiber GSX-R1000 bodywork and a TaylorMade windshield. Modeled after a 1992 Ducati Paso, the shield is not made to look through, and has a small blade up top that Paul says helps eliminate buffeting. It is pretty low and you do look right over it, even when seriously crouched, and it certainly did a good job of keeping the breeze off my upper body. Matched by a carbon-composite gas tank, also from OPP Racing, the lettering on the tank was actually done with a stencil to allow the carbon fiber to show through the thick, red paint.
I should also credit the wild looking tailpiece for giving the Czecher such a personal signature, and this is a piece that Paul is very proud of. As a direct copy of drawing by world-renowned artist, John Keogh, the laminate carbon construction of the self-supporting unit was directed by Jordan/Midland F1 designer, John McQuillium. It is without a doubt as beautiful as it is unique, and it could exist purely as an exquisite piece of artwork. Completely eliminating the aluminum rear subframe, which saves 12 lbs in weight, it is made of numerous layers of carbon with a vacuum-cured Nomex honeycomb core. It also holds the TaylorMade high-exit single exhaust pipe with a ceramic-coated muffler, another piece of stand-alone artwork.
The TaylorMade windshield, borrowed off the 1992 Ducati Paso design, includes a small blade on the top to prevent buffeting. The screen in small enough to see over and still provides decent wind protection.
Gobsmacked by the visuals, listening to Paul trot out the stats and figures just kept the slack-jawed, drooling expression well and truly plastered all over my face. Tipping the scales at 339 lbs with fluids, and putting 145 horsepower to the floor on race gas, the Czecher is producing literbike horsepower while making the current crop of 600cc supersports look like they have serious junk in the trunk. To get an idea where it fits in to the scheme of things, it is only 13 lbs heavier than a MotoGP bike and is a remarkable 25 lbs lighter than an AMA Superbike.
To achieve this significant weight reduction over the stock GSX-R, which is no heavyweight at 404 lbs, Paul had to address many areas. With 12 lbs gone from the subframe, a pair of Dymag carbon fiber 5-spoke rims jettisoned another 11 lbs. The bike I rode had Brake Tech steel brake discs, but ceramic front discs that eliminate 2 lbs from the bike will be fitted at delivery after the bike's auction. Paul's own custom-fabricated rear caliper assembly and a Brake Tech rotor saved two more. And so the list goes on, with major weight loss coming from the carbon fiber gas tank, a couple of pounds from the titanium rear shock spring, and 3.5 from the TaylorMade muffler. Add a whopping 7 lbs saved with the titanium headers and you can see why the bike is so phenomenally light, even with starter motor, fluids, headlights, turn signals and license plate in place.
Checking out the suspension, I asked Paul about his decision to retain the stock front fork. Jim Lindemann was his answer, and expanding on this he explained how impressed he has been with Jim's work, so it was a natural decision for the forks to go away to Lindemann Engineering for a complete re-valving and re-springing.
"There are a lot of companies out there offering suspension, but it's results that count," says Taylor. "And with Jake Holden regularly beating factory guys on Jim's suspension, it was a natural choice for me."
Running in the stock triple clamps, the rebuilt fork also has low- and high-speed compression damping adjustment for extra fine-tuning. In the rear, a multi-adjustable Penske 3-way shock was chosen, with the aforementioned titanium spring.
The distinctive tailpiece of the Czecher SuperLite is a copy of a drawing by artist John Keogh. The honeycomb design
under the seat is strong enough to exclude the need for the aluminum subframe. It also houses the TaylorMade single exhaust with ceramic-coated muffler.
Having tested a number of specials on Ohlins suspension, I was very interested to see how this set-up worked, and during my first few sessions, I have got to admit to not being highly impressed. Exiting the tight right-hand turn at the top of the circuit, the bike would get into a shimmy that would stay with me all the way through the left-hander that leads to the 20-degree banked bowl turn.
The big problem was not the suspension; it was the nut behind the handlebars. Not knowing the track, and being overly aware (nice way of saying paranoid) of how even the slightest mistake would result in the shattering of lots of very expensive carbon fiber, I was erring toward caution. Tip-toeing around the Streets of Willow, finding my lines and trying to mentally readjust to the steering inputs the Czecher needed, or rather the lack of input, our cameraman was taking naps in between my laps.
And then something remarkable happened. Pulling in from another snail-paced session, I saw Vincent rolling across the parking lot. I hadn't realized he would be coming and was horror-struck to think a racer of his caliber was going to be watching me crawl around a racetrack on his personal motorcycle. I shouldn't have worried, as minutes into meeting him, his warmth and humor had rendered any such thoughts redundant, and as he talked about motorcycles, racing, and his life with such passion, I was filled with admiration and respect. So much so, that immediately hitting the track for my next session, something clicked in my head and I just went for it.
Beneath me the motorcycle suddenly made total sense. Shifting gears as the rasping, mechanical howl coming from under the gas tank hit its peak power crescendo, using one finger to scrub speed with the intense braking system as I hammered into corners, and tipping in the turns with thought alone, we were flying. Now, the suspension was happy. Exiting the tight right-hand corner hard on the gas, the Czecher just floated across the bumps that had been affecting us at slower speeds.
The Czecher SuperLite lives up to its name with extensive use of carbon fiber, with the coveted material also comprising the Dymag 5-spoke rims. The Brake Tech rotors shown here are leading-edge ceramic discs which provide more power with less weight. Problems with them pulsing during testing necessitated a change-over to steel discs.
Howling into the left-hander with the throttle wound open kept the rear Pirelli digging and the bright red projectile on course. Holding its line with laser-like precision, exiting the bowl fully leaned over, throttle pinned and eyes locked on the horizon, the bike never gave the slightest hint of wanting to run wide. This meant I could cut up the inside of other bikes to pass with ridiculous ease, in a similar fashion to the way the Poggipolini NCR
behaved when we tested it last year.
Changing directions faster than the walnut inside the cerebral nut basket between my ears could deal with, I was vividly yanked back to my most shameful moments on the Valencia racetrack in Spain last year as I attempted to figure out the Yamaha M1's
Just days after my ride on the new Triumph Daytona 675
, a machine that thrilled me with its turning abilities, here I was riding a bike that made every corner entry I made at Sepang look like a workout. Over-cooking the tight right-hander at the top of the track on the next lap, when the jet lagged walnut decided to convince my right hand we were at another part of the track, I was forced to throw the GSX-R hard right while heavily on the brakes. Affecting the bike not a jot, I came off the brakes and let out a loud "yee ha" as I made the turn, knowing few bikes would have allowed me to get away with such a dumb move.
Riding harder and faster every lap just made the bike feel more at ease, as well as putting the brakes to better use. Using the stock master cylinder and calipers to squeeze a pair of Brake Tech full-floating rotors, the Dash 2 Goodridge braided steel lines and Ferodo race-compound pads make this system the equal of anything I have ever used. Paul explained the Dash 2 lines are narrower, and allow the rider more lever travel to activate the pistons. I, for one, am converted, as I like the feel the system gives before all hell breaks loose when the pads attempt to weld themselves to the discs.
Back in the pits, I asked Paul about the engine and what makes it so fast. The thing was pulling like a train all the way to redline and was making so much power there were only a couple of times I got the bike to maximum rpm on the relatively tight track. It makes power from extremely low down and emits such a vicious, adrenaline-inducing roar from the unfiltered velocity stacks. It makes most bikes sound positively asthmatic. Paul gave me a huge grin when I asked him about this, as he doesn't want anything stopping the airflow, and for the next part of the story he handed me over to Carey Andrew to get the scoop.
Instead of opting for a high-end Ohlins front suspension, the Czecher SuperLite retains the stock fork, rebuilt for track action by Jim Lindemann. Our man had some trouble with the set up at first, with an exit out of a hard right giving the bike a shimmy.
Andrew is the wrench behind capturing three 750cc Superstock championships for Suzuki, contesting the Superstock class last year with Jake Holden at the controls, so it was a natural decision for Taylor to take the engine to Andrew and the HyperCycle crew. The engine was stripped, blueprinted and a lighter charging system substituted. Camshafts from an '05 GSX-R1000 were chosen and degreed to Carey's own special recipe. Valve springs were sourced from Suzuki's own GSX-R600, as they are built to spin to 15,000 rpm, and some mild port work was performed. Then, compression was raised a little, although the stock head gasket was retained to allow the bike to run on pump gas. The brains behind the system is a Yoshimura EMSQ full electronics package, which makes it possible to change the mapping from pump to race gas. Using a small switch on the right hand handlebar, it is just a matter of choosing your octane preference and moving it left or right. If Andrew did anything else to the motor, he ain't telling. One thing is for sure: when you drop the hammer on this baby you had better be holding on.
Finishing another track session, I decided not to tempt fate before the auction by riding again. I had experienced the best the Czecher SuperLite could offer, and there were a myriad of small details to go over with Paul and the day was fast drawing to a close. I know Paul would have liked more time to custom fit the bike for me, as both the Cycle Cat bars and rear-sets are adjustable, and getting the rider comfortable is high on Paul's list of priorities. Spending my life jumping on and off so many different bikes, I have learned to adapt to what's there, so didn't feel the need to change anything. With the bars able to go forward or back, as well as up and down, I am sure I could have had found a place that would have suited me better if we had longer.
With a winning bid, you're chances of attracting attention just got raised up several notches.
Vincent had left during my last session on his bike, and as the sun started to slide behind the mountains, I was lost in Taylor's world of programmable shift lights, LED taillights, carbon fiber heel guards, custom this, and 6061 billet aluminum that. Just trying to fathom out how much time he has into this bike was a job in itself.
I wondered how to explain what a phenomenal piece of hardware this motorcycle is. A motorcycle that in the right hands is going to make a mockery of just about anything on two wheels. One that is going to provide the hard-core trackday enthusiast with the ultimate adrenaline rush, wrapped in a package that has such intense limits that few people will ever get close to testing them. Open-class horsepower in a package that is lighter and slicker than the hottest middleweight, it really is racebike with lights.
As one man's vision of what a sportbike should be, I have to conclude by agreeing the Czecher SuperLite is just what Paul Taylor states: "The ultimate trackday motorcycle."
If you'd like to get your hands on this dream machine, check out www.racetaylormade.com where you'll find information about the auction in which you can bid on it for yourself. Not only would you get a stellar track bike, but proceeds from the auction will go to benefit Haskovec through a special setup through the Wegman Fund, a 501(c) (3) non-profit tax-deductible foundation. You'll have to hurry, as the auction closes on March 1. Bid high!
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