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Tracking a Chicken

Old 08-03-2011, 10:34 AM
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Tracking a Chicken

I'm taking that old Chicken and putting her on the track. I'm replacing the rings and gaskets, but I really have no plans on messing with the engine. Maybe some fuel management and/or pipes, but that's it. I'm looking for advice on Suspension set up. I've heard RC51 front/rear ends are good. I'm 73", 180 lbs. Do you think stock will suffice? Thoughts?
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:54 AM
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Stock will get you around the track, but a respring / revalve / fork brace will help more than a fork swap would. (resprung & valved, USD fork swap = best)

For the rear, adding a swing arm brace is far easier than a RC51 swap with similar benefits.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:36 AM
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Fuel management?
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:18 PM
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what are you trying to achieve on the track? if you're just looking for fun days, that's one thing. if you want to try to be competetive, then that's another.

For general use, I've found the a spring and valve replacement along with a fork brace does fine. I've not replaced the rear. I had a professional suspension guy set it for me at a track day and he said the rear was "ok" based on how the front was set. Of course, I could spend more and do upgrades, but for fun track days, it's not a necessity.

your extra money would be well spent to start collecting spare parts for the eventual get-off. side cases, levers, replacement bars, sliders. I have a set of plastics just for track use that are more beat up.
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Old 08-04-2011, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by zmaniv View Post
Fuel management?
Stage 1 Jet Kit tuned to the pipes.
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:30 AM
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Fork brace, respring and revalve makes for a great front end. My penske rear shock was the best mod I think I've made to the bike. Cbr 600 f4i m/c, calipers and Vesrah brake pads made braking alot more assuring. None of those mods are nessecary for a trackday, but I would never go back to stock.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:00 AM
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good point about brakes. if you don't want to upgrade the calipers, at least get some braided lines for the stock units. I was noticing brake fade on the track as sessions were ending. the new lines fixed that right up.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Yeller View Post
good point about brakes. if you don't want to upgrade the calipers, at least get some braided lines for the stock units. I was noticing brake fade on the track as sessions were ending. the new lines fixed that right up.
Yes I forgot about the lines. That's the first step I took for better brakes, definitly worth it. I got my calipers and m/c for like $70 shipped off ebay and the best part is it's pretty much bolt on, do a search.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:39 AM
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"Fuel management" and "VTR" isn't mentioned in the same sentance that often... There really is no way of making this beast less thirsty, but several ways of making it thirstier... That's one of them...

I'd say the most worthwhile upgrades in terms of chassie is a new rear shock and respring/valve in the front... That's basic... Going to a new front end or swing means a lot more work, but has several fringe benefits, like lighter wheels and absurdly more powerful brakes depending on choiches, but it all costs a pretty penny... It's not needed, and while it's fun, it's more of a "winter project" than something for a trackday...

I'd probably opt for race plastics if you are doing more than one trackday, it saves a lot of headache...
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:47 AM
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yeah, like headlight weight alone!
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Old 08-04-2011, 12:22 PM
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And not only is it stronger than the oem plastics, which will literally shatter upon impact, it's repairable if it is damaged. Plus if you buy your race fairing before you ruin your oem stuff, you can sell it to pretty much pay for the race fairings. I got my Sharkskinz in the mail the other day and they are very well made. I'll be posting pics once it's all buttoned up.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:31 AM
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I've got OEM plastics. I may sell them to afford tracks. The piston rings are in, so I'll be putting the bike back together in the next day or so. I'll keep you all posted. I'm going to take it for one track day before I decide what to do about suspension. I ride my street chicken pretty hard and thus far, I have no complaints about suspension.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by superchickencornermonster View Post
I ride my street chicken pretty hard and thus far, I have no complaints about suspension.
Really..... Name:  thinking.gif
Views: 229
Size:  307 Bytes

Well then you would be one of the few. The stock set up is very poor and is also unbalanced from the factory.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:17 AM
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I take my Superhawk to the track.
If you bike has all stock supsension it can go around the track. If you want to actually carry any kind of speed. I would at the least change out the stock fork springs for your weight. It's pretty straight forward, $100 will get you a set of springs, slide the old ones out, slide new ones in. Fresh oil and your good to go. I found the stock rear shock to be ok, not good but ok. But you really need to re-work the front end. Other than that the Superhawk makes a great track toy. Enjoy
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:14 PM
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I've never had any issues with my stock suspension, despite never having an upgrade to compare it to. I still ride it moderate to hard and feel very comfortable around turns. I have found though that my turn-in is affected by the naked front as there is now less weight to keep the front planted, so I lean further forward.
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by 8541Hawk View Post
Really..... Attachment 12304

Well then you would be one of the few. The stock set up is very poor and is also unbalanced from the factory.

"I suspect you need more practice operating your machine"
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:50 AM
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Just wait until you get a few track days under your belt.

I rode mine stock the first few times. Due to a wreck, I had to replace the forks. I was fortunate to source some that already had spring/valve upgrades. I was very pleased. I've not gone beyond those upgrades, but it's definitely a positive and you'll notice the difference.
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:23 PM
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is it easy to respring and oil your forks yourself? part I would be worried about is fork seals I heard those were a PITA I even bought new forks in place of replacing just the seal... if it's a handy-man's work I'd like some more info on parts!
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Old 08-12-2011, 01:14 PM
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springs and fluid is easy. Anything more than that gets progressively difficult, but can certainly be done in a garage.
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Old 08-12-2011, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by superchickencornermonster View Post
"I suspect you need more practice operating your machine"
Well... Who needs more practice can be debated until the end of the world...

I can ride a stock VTR pretty fast and agressive, but to me it fells all wobbly and alien... I'm however not that hot on a track... There are plenty of people around here faster than me...

But the simple fact is that a very good friend of mine, who's a very, very good track rider and racer, compared his stock VTR (road use only normally) to a VTR with swapped rear and front suspension, otherwise stock around the local track... Both bikes where on the same tires, albeit different wear on them...

The result was after a few laps monumental... He was doing faster laps without even trying when the front and back was working together, not fighting each other...

Then he jumped on my very much not stock bike, still with road tires, but not the same brand or sizes... His first lap, getting used to the bike was half a lightyear from the other laps, and a couple of laps in, he set a new personal lap record on that track... A track that he's raced at and knows... Yeah, he has since polished it more than once I suspect on his racebike, a much more powerful and newer bike, purpose built for trackdays... So it's not a sensation in that sense...

But the point remains... You can ride a bike with bad suspension faster than you think... But it's a whole lot easier to go fast on good suspension... In fact once you get the bike set up for you, it feels like you are going darned slow, and still people are getting in your way, braking halfway through the straights...

You only know the best you have tried... And if you only have tried the stock parts... Well... I would suggest trying something better darned soon...
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Old 08-12-2011, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Yeller View Post
springs and fluid is easy. Anything more than that gets progressively difficult, but can certainly be done in a garage.
seals are actually quite easy also, just a couple more bolts
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:11 AM
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I used to race 250 production (NSR250 MC18), and while I have never tracked my Firestorm, I have some idea of what a bike should do on the track.
The front is woefully undersprung, unless you are <65kg
For a first go at the track, put new springs in at the front, and go out & have a good time

The Racetech fork springs I put in have made a world of difference. The rear shock spring is close enough to live with for the moment, but I have a CBR600F4i shock on the way, to modify ala Jamie Daugherty style.


If you get serious about tracking it, get the forks resprung and put racetech gold valves in them, and get a JD modified CBR F4i shock- I keep hearing good things about them.
Braided lines are a must.
Enginewise, put a set of hi-rise cans on (for ground clearance, the other lacking part of the stock bike), a DNA or K&N filter and a jet kit in.
Time on track will do more for your laptimes than money on mods, and money on suspension will do more than money on the engine.

Last edited by Kieran; 08-13-2011 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by superchickencornermonster View Post
"I suspect you need more practice operating your machine"
Yeah sure whatever you say...... but then again my fully Ohlins equipped bike does handle just a touch different than yours.

So now that the pissing contest is over. I still stand by my original statement.... The stock set up is rather poor and you would be hard pressed to find someone that agrees with you that when ridden hard there are no complaints about the stock suspension.
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by 8541Hawk View Post
Yeah sure whatever you say...... but then again my fully Ohlins equipped bike does handle just a touch different than yours.

So now that the pissing contest is over. I still stand by my original statement.... The stock set up is rather poor and you would be hard pressed to find someone that agrees with you that when ridden hard there are no complaints about the stock suspension.
+1 the stock suspension is one of the worst setups Honda rolled out with. for goodness sakes the rear shock is not even fully adjustable and don't get me started on the Mickey Mouse fork damping.

If the stock system is working for an owner great, but a quick poll would put the stock crap at a 1 or 2 out of 10 with 10 being great.
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by 8541Hawk View Post
Yeah sure whatever you say...... but then again my fully Ohlins equipped bike does handle just a touch different than yours.

So now that the pissing contest is over. I still stand by my original statement.... The stock set up is rather poor and you would be hard pressed to find someone that agrees with you that when ridden hard there are no complaints about the stock suspension.
C'mon, Jarhead. I was just teasing. Yes, I'm going to upgrade the front. Probably with springs instead of going to an RC51 front end. I've ridden my bike pretty aggressively for awhile and I've never got the "shimmers" in the corners that everyone else seems to talk about. Maybe it's due to my light weight, or maybe I'm just not pushing her as hard as you guys are. Either way I'd like to put a few track days on the stock springs so I'll have a basis for comparison.

As far as the 'work' that's involved... We can go ahead and assume that I can handle pretty much anything that needs to be done to this bike. I'm in the middle of rebuilding the engine right now, I've turned wrench on over 700 bikes and I'm the owner of the highest rated motorcycle shop in Virginia, MD and DC. I'm not saying I know everything, cuz' I don't, which is evident in the fact that I'm asking questions on the forum. All I'm trying to say is that mechanical ability, tools, and Garage space are not issues with me, so if you know of a mod that would help me out, but have resisted from telling me due to difficulty level, then please tell away.

Thanks for all the advice. I'm documenting my progress on the chicken, so I'll be posting up a big write-up later.
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Old 08-13-2011, 12:03 PM
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Well then don't forget to brace the swingarm..... for serious track work, you will need it.
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Old 08-14-2011, 05:05 AM
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Agreed, brace the swingarm, and I fully agree that if you are lightweight swapping the springs and valving will give you a lot of bang-for-buck... But at that point, remember to go looking for a forkbrace... It's not just the springs and valves, the front end flexes a lot, even with a lighter weight rider like you, and if you get that brace on there creating a lot more solid unit, the feel will improve a lot...
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:16 AM
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If you've worked on that many bikes all you have to do is look at the front suspension of ANY race worthy bike and then look at the bicycle front suspension they put on the superhawk. I've ridden a lot of superhawks and while I will agree that a sprung and braced SH is a big improvement if you have the time and money go for the swap. In terms of over all improvement it can't be beat, the gain in brake power and feel alone is almost worth it and then you add full adjustability and stiffness of inverted forks and MUCH larger triples, much more feel and stabillity with turning.

IMO 1st thing to spend your money on is track seat time, this eventually will tell you when you need to spend the money on the second thing, suspension!

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Old 09-05-2011, 09:02 PM
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Ohlins


My bike handles great with ohlins rear shock and front end re-sprung and re-valved.

Do ohlins actually make a kit for our front forks? Springs? or valves?

Also for serious track work a slight front brake upgrade helps! Plus having a spare can of gas! I use two full tanks of gas on a regular trackday with the superhawk.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Do ohlins actually make a kit for our front forks? Springs? or valves?
They do if you are running RC51 forks...... and it works really good....

But for the stock units, if you wanted to go Ohlins, then give Dan Kyle a call and I'm sure he could set you up with or build you something....
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