Track lessons on our GSX-R1000

Published: 01 August 2004

"The first drill of the day was all about selecting and using reference points – for your turn in point, your apex and your exit. And it was all done in fourth gear – with no brakes. And that made the final tight chicane a challenge – but it could be done.

"I never did get that chicane right all day. That – if any excuse is needed – will be enough to get me back to Silverstone.

"After a second classroom session – this time to give you the confidence to try different lines – we were out for a lap sticking to the right of the circuit, then a lap sticking to the left – and finally a lap down the middle.

"Then we were invited to experiment with unusual lines. My instructor, Gary, led me on a merry dance. We tried the kerb, the rumble strips – and well beyond the white lines of the edge of the circuit. His point was that it’s not a disaster if you end up there – you’ve got more room to manoeuvre – and to manoeuvre in safety – than you thought.

The California Superbike school ran at Silverstone for the first time on August 2. motorcyclenews.com Editor David Cushman took his long term test GSX-R1000 to it to try Level II of the course.

And this latest long term test update on the K4-Z model also includes an invite for you to suggest the next tyres we should try - and the bolt-ons you'd like us to investigate (page 4 of this story). The rubber is an increasingly urgent issue - after Monday's track session.

Here's Cushman's experience of Level II of the four-level programme at Silverstone:

"Level II focuses on visual skills. It’s the kind of stuff you’ll want to know about if you’ve ever felt like you were running out of Tarmac on track or road.

Click here for the school's site. Main picture by Picture Management.

"The single most significant thing I learned was that forcing yourself to use your peripheral vision really does seem to slow everything down – and that gives you more time and a real sense of more space to play with. The confidence that gives you results in smoother, ultimately quicker, riding.

" I won’t say I perfected the technique in the day of riding and classroom sessions at Silverstone, but I did acquire the skill – and now it’s up to me – and the rest of the students doing level II – to carry on practicing it every time we ride.

"Another classroom chat from European Director Andy Ibbott focused on vanishing points.

"Silverstone doesn’t have the traditional ‘where-the-kerbs appear-to-meet’ style. The next session had us focusing on the ones we did have – and I found myself looking too far – to the detriment of my apex hunting.

"A quick word from my instructor had me back on the right track. The way peripheral vision can help was the focus of the fourth classroom session – and what we spent our next track session concentrating on.

"Forcing yourself to ‘switch it on’ really seems to help when a little bit of track panic sets in. Suddenly you feel like you have more room, that seems to give you more time, you take that time to look for where you want to go rather than target fixate on where you don’t – and you end up making a turn in comfort that you were starting to get tense about missing.

"The final session of the day was all about getting more drive out of corners. This involved a technique the school calls Pickup. The idea is to counter steer the bike to put it more upright in the last part of the turn, keeping your body where it was through the turn, and opening the throttle earlier and wider.

"You just have to remember to pull your body back up with your knee or waist muscles, rather than with your arms through the bars (or you could cause a tank slapper). The shortened circuit we used still had room enough to get the GSX-R flat out in fourth.

"And with more right-handers than lefts, the right hand side of my rear BT010 was well and truly melted by the close of play. With around 1200 miles on them (220 of those miles on the track) their useful life is close to over.

"I’ll be replacing them very soon. If you have any suggestions about what rubber you’d like me to try on the GSX-R, post on the dedicated GSX-R1000 board here.

"The GSX-R1000 has also been borrowed by sister title RiDE for a road test. It's time in standard trim is at an end. Your suggestions on bolt-ons and tweeks are welcome! email me or post on the GSX-R1000 board"