New Year + New Tires

First of all, let me apologize for this blog going silent over the winter. I have a few draft posts that never made it to "publish" due mostly to my fatigue from a hectic 2020. I won't waste time complaining further than that as I know everyone had a tough year. I do have a post on trackside logistics and what I've learned about supporting an electric motorcycle at the track over the past several years that I'm excited about publishing, so I'll try to get that one out following close behind this one.


The Lightfighter v2.0 spent most of the winter up in Ashland, Oregon at Ely's shop. Ely performed a check of the major systems, but with no issues discovered, the bike just rested waiting for the season to restart. And it start it has! A glutton for punishment or just equally drawn to impossible challenges, Troy has signed on for another season of fame and fortune on-board the Lightfighter as we continue to chase down the Supersport lap times and take the fight to the gas bikes. Last weekend we headed back out to our favorite track with the name of a tree and a type of clothing closure in it to test some new tires...

I've been chased by a digital artist on instagram to do one of these "track explosion" renditions of our photos. Here it is. Pretty cool, huh?

Outside of simply getting back into the swing of being at the track and working together, we did have a pretty specific goal for this test. I mentioned it was a tire test and let me explain. From the start of the program, we've been testing and racing on Pirelli's awesome Superbike slicks - usually in SC1 or SC0 compounds. We've really had no issues with the tire whatsoever and some of the fastest bikes in club racing on any given weekend are going to be on Pirelli rubber. That said, as a result of the Cycle News article on the bike, I reconnected with an old friend at Dunlop Race Tires from my Brammo Racing days (Eric Bostrom is a life-long Dunlop rider). My friend encouraged us to try their latest racing slicks that they've developed through their partnership as the exclusive tire supplier with MotoAmerica. The tires are made in the US and they've added some compounds and sizes since I last ran them, so there was interest on my side to give them a try. For a small club team like ours, the opportunity for a full tire sponsorship for a season is certainly not something you pass up.


We knew how these trackday tests can get away from us with the limited number of sessions and potential for red flags, so we got out in the very first session and got to work trying to understand the tires and if we were going to require any major set-up changes to make them work. Troy's first roll-out of the pits for 2021...

Out onto track...

And down the straight at speed...


By the time the day was done, we had logged about 30 laps and completed 7 of the 8 available sessions, missing one during the lunch hour for charging and a gearing change. Here's what we learned, in no particular order:


  1. The Lighfighter is running as well as we left it in 2020. Our change back to the narrower 5.5" rear wheel and 180 width tire combination allows the bike to change direction more quickly and be more accurate on line selection.

  2. The Dunlops are a stiffer, slightly heavier tire carcass than the Pirellis. The soft compounds we tested have plenty of grip, but they give an entirely different type of feedback to the rider. While we made adjustments to soften the pre-load and damping, this was the biggest adjustment needed by the rider - i.e. more laps to understand how these tires communicate.

  3. The late change to gearing was another positive move. Not only does it increase the drive off the corners, playing to the bike's strengths, it also allows us to suck in the wheelbase by almost .5". This change was immediately noticed and further improved the bike's nimble handling and direction changes.

  4. Troy's in good form and I got used to spinning spanners again pretty quickly. It would be great to have one more test before we go racing, but it doesn't look like it's in the cards.

Troy at speed. Note the rear axle position - this bike likes running a shorter wheelbase.

Unless another convenient trackday opens up, our plan is to do the racer's only test day on the Friday prior to the AFM race weekend and throw in with some of the fastest club racers on the planet. Who knows what classes they'll end up slotting us in, but we're targeting the Formula 1 class (purpose built race bikes up to 750cc 4-strokes) and 600cc Superbike. The fields are large and the lap times in those classes are very impressive, but we think we can show that we belong to be these. Until then... stay safe everyone!

Troy testing that rear Dunlop. Here's hoping we can announce a new sponsor shortly!


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