Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A New Adventure (Part Two)



Getting Ready for the Track


She's in her track clothes now!
In my first post of this series, I laid out the plan to shift from riding on the road to the racetrack.  I’m not there yet, but I’ve made a ton of progress since then.  I’ve bought the bike and trailer, back protector, new gloves, and I am finalizing my order for new leathers with Comet Racing.  I’ve also made quite a bit of progress on preparing the bike for the track.  

I’ve definitely learned an important lesson this far along in the process: it’s expensive!  Granted, I haven’t exactly gone the budget route with this project.  I could have spent about half as much on the bike, and still had something perfectly acceptable for the track.  Given the wide range of bike options and rider preferences, I’m not going to focus on the bike aside from the track preparations.  I had also budgeted for the gear replacements and upgrades, and I truly believe that it’s worth it to buy the best of anything that might one day save my skin.  The expenses that I’ve really been feeling have been the “nickel and dime” sort of thing.  I’ve had to make several runs to The Home Depot for little stuff, tools, zip ties, towing accessories, and what not.  

Bike Prep


After 10 days on the road with the SQL Sentry team for the PASS Business Analytics Conference and Microsoft Tech Ed North America, much of my weekend was spent getting the bike ready.  I purchased the bike with a full set of Sharkskinz race bodywork, so that was a big plus.  I did have to pull all of the street parts, tie up some wires, and mount the race plastics.  Wow!  There are a ton of pieces to the street plastics on the ZX10R!  I took off 25 or so pieces of bodywork.  They were replaced with four!  I’m planning to sell the street plastics, mirrors, and lights to recoup some of my costs.

Who blew up a motorcycle in my living room?


 What’s left to do: 

  • Safety Wire
  • Replace coolant with distilled water and Water Wetter
  • Change numbers, and maybe add some other cosmetic touches.

New Gear


As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been getting some new gear.  I’ll be sure to review all of these in a future post.

Gloves:

I’m going to get my old set of Held Phantom IIs repaired, but went ahead and ordered another set from Revzilla since Held’s USA distributor went out of business a few months ago.  I love the Phantoms and wanted to grab another set while I could still get them from a US retailer.  Not having to order from Europe saves on duties and an unfavorable exchange rate.

Back Protector:

My Forcefield Pro Sub 4 arrived while I was out of town.  I needed it before I could order my custom leathers, since I wanted to be able to wear it when I had all of my measurements taken.  My initial impression is that it’s very well made and quite comfortable. 

Leathers:

My new suit took a lot more research, and will be another month or so before it arrives.  I can’t fit my back protector under my old Joe Rocket suit, and it’s due for replacement anyway.  I’m sure there are off the rack suits out there that would fit me, but here in Charlotte, NC there are very few places that stock high end suits.  After riding for the last year with gloves made from kangaroo leather, I decided to focus my search on a kangaroo suit.  This further limited my options, and led to my investigation of custom suit manufacturers.  Most of the custom suit makers are small businesses with overseas production facilities, so it was important to me to find one with good customer service and a solid reputation.  

After speaking with staff at several others, I ended up going with Comet Racing Leathers.  After a few emails and a lengthy phone conversation with Karl, the owner, I’m sold.  I’m actually sold enough that I’m signed up for their track day ambassador program, which will make me a field representative for the company.  This did get me a discount on my suit, but I would have purchased one even without the deal.  Customer service and responsiveness are very important to me, and Karl has that side of things well-covered.  I’ll be posting a more thorough review on the suit and purchase process once it arrives in about a month.   



I went for one of Comet’s raciest suits, the Apex Pro, in Kangaroo.  I’m going to use their red/black color scheme as a base for my design, but we’re going to go a bit further and have some fun with it! 

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