Essential Components to Every Motorcycle
Today's performance motorcycles are extremely capable machines that can literally be taken from the showroom and onto the track in stock trim; however, there are a few things that you would want to do to them to make them more track-ready. These are essential components to every motorcycle that should be changed to ensure safety and maximum performance on track! The more you know about these parts, the better your results will be.
For competition, it is a requirement to safety-wire parts of the motorcycle that can lead to parts falling off and or spilling fluids onto the racing surface. This is also good practice for track-day riders and street riders. It also teaches you to be aware of these dangers. The following parts need to be safety-wired:
oil filler cap
oil drain bolts
coolant drain bolt
brake caliper mounting bolts
front fork pinch bolts
exhaust hanger bolt
wheel axle nuts
sprocket nuts (optionally)
It is a good idea to safety-wire your gear shifter bolt and shift knuckle bolt, but be careful because you can do this incorrectly and impede normal shifting.
Frames are expensive, so protect them. Simple carbon-fiber frame and swingarm covers can be siliconed in place and offer protection from gravel rash, sliding, and handlebar damage.
Although the OEM suspension these days can be more than adequate for track riding, it is not set up for individual rider weight, so it is highly advised to do that for the track-day enthusiast or racer. You want to make the upgrade to a cartridge kit for the front, such as the Ohlins NIX 30mm kit and a TTX GP rear shock. This is going to be a worthwhile investment.
Any new motorcycle these days is going to have little to no upgrades required to the motor. The common thing to do is to remove any of the smog system so that you can get accurate AFR reading when you have your mapping set up. There are autotuners out there that will need this to operate, such as the flash tune autotuner or Rapid Bike ECU modules. Then it’s down to engine case protection, so get a good set of crash protectors.
Some of the new bikes have really well-made titanium headers; however, for street regulations, they require catalytic converters and mufflers to stay within EPA noise regulations. While these can be used, the catalytic converter can present a problem fitting with aftermarket bodywork, not to mention the heat it generates will burn the bodywork. Also the weight is substantial. Three-quarter systems take care of that, such as this Graves Cat eliminator system for the Yamaha R1, which still uses the exhaust valve. It also uses the factory exhaust motor and cables and custom mapping to improve torque and drivability at low to midrange RPM and small throttle openings to create a more linear power curve.
Some bikes come with slipper clutches now, which is great! If your bike does not have a slipper clutch, then this is worth looking into as this will really help with the engine braking and the translation to the back wheel hopping when downshifting into corners. At HHR Performance, we sell Suter clutches, which are used by Moto GP, World Superbikes, and with Factory Yamaha in road race and off-road. These clutches offer the most for adjustability and come with interchangeable pressure plates and can be changed without any special tools.
So you have a 2020 BMW S1000rr or ZX10RR or R1M—let’s face it, any of the top-of-the-line big bikes come with lightweight wheels for a reason. They make the biggest difference to the handling of a motorcycle due to unsprung weight! Once you have ridden a motorcycle on the track with lightweight wheels, you will know what all the fuss is about. At HHR, we sell Rotobox carbon fiber wheels as well as lightweight aluminum wheels from OZ and Dymag.
Tires today are amazing compared to what we had 15 years ago for racing. The amount of R&D that comes down from World Superbike and other road racing provides the big companies masses of data. Now we get to enjoy this on our bikes. If you need a race tire, then you have many options, but you may not need a race tire to enjoy your bike on track, as there are many DOT road-legal tires that are capable of impressive lap times! Just take the Isle of Man TT for instance; in Stock 1000, they use DOT tires. So be sure to try various setups to see what makes the best sense for your budget.
Lastly, the brakes! Don't cheap out on your brake setup for the track! Sure, ABS is great for the street and for track days; however, most racers and professional race teams will replace ABS with braided brake lines going directly to the calipers. They will also upgrade rotors and calipers, but that does start to get expensive. One of the more affordable ways to upgrade your brakes is to choose a Fren Tubo brake line kit and remove ABS and upgrade your braking pistons to Braketech stainless steel drilled pistons, which will dissipate heat, increasing the performance of your OEM calipers and rotors. Be sure to choose the correct pads for street and track days or race only. You cannot run race pads on the street, as you will not generate enough heat for them to work safely.
At HHR Performance, be sure to check out our vast selection of aftermarket motorcycle brakes to increase your performance and handling on the track. We sell brake line kits, calipers, brake pads, rotors, and master cylinders from some of the best racing companies around, like Brembo, Fren Tubo, Alpha Racing, and TK Brakes. Get yours today!