Staff Blog: In search of confidence

Published: 24 June 2013

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I’ve started to try and get to the bottom of the confidence issue I reported in the paper last week, which has left me with chicken strips on the Street Triple R’s Pirelli tyres.

First step was to order some Dunlop Sportsmart tyres. I’m not blaming my drained  confidence on the standard Pirelli Diablo Corsas - but I’ve never ridden on them before, while the Sportsmarts are known quantities that I loved when they were fitted to my 2010 Ducati Multistrada. If I’m still lacking lean when these go on the Triple then I’ll know it’s definitely not the tyres to blame. I’ve also heard reports from some Triple R buyers that the Diablo Corsas fitted to the bike aren’t to the same spec as the aftermarket equivalents from Pirelli. So at some point I’ll try some direct from Pirelli to put that to the test.

After the tyres, the only other possible cause on the bike is the suspension, which is very stiffly set up. Having ridden 2000 miles or so on the standard set-up, I set about the adjusters at front and rear. I started by measuring the static sag, the amount by which the suspension compresses under the bike’s weight. This was exactly as it should be – 25mm at the front and 15mm at the rear. I then wrote down the standard damping adjuster settings (11 clicks from fully in for front rebound, 10 clicks for front compression and nine clicks for both rebound and compression on the shock).

My first change was to soften the front rebound and compression damping off so they were both at 14 clicks from fully in, and take off three clicks of rear rebound and six clicks of rear compression damping. It might sound random, but the changes put each adjuster halfway between the standard setting and the softest possible, to give me an idea of the range.

What this hadn’t bargained for was the amount of difference one click makes to the amount of damping. On many bikes I’d be hard pressed to know that I’d reduced the damping by this amount of clicks, but I could certainly tell on the Street Triple R. I’ve already dialled two of the clicks back into both damping adjusters at the front, while I’ll be stiffening the rear as well now. The changes have reduced some of the juddering that the standard, track-friendly set-up caused on rough roads and made the ride more relaxed. It’s work in progress as the shock is too soft as it is, but I think with more experimentation I’ll find a setting that suits me.

But I don’t think my troubles with lean are down to the suspension. They are in my mind. I can’t break the subconscious connection between lean angles and hospital food. I say subconscious because I can’t remember the racing crash that led to my current predicament.

For now, I’m not going to worry too much as I’m enjoying riding my bike a lot, even if I’m not leaning it over much. But my mind has started to turn to track riding, as the best advice I’ve had for getting over my (un)lean spell is get on a track, where I can ride around without traffic coming the other way. I’ve looked at the calendar and the most likely date is an evening session at Cadwell Park. That’s where I had my massive crash last August, and I’ve not been back since. I wonder what my subconscious would make of that.

(A footnote: I mentioned in a blog a couple of weeks back that I was accompanying my girlfriend Charlie on the first part of her sponsored ride to Germany. So I should let you know that she made it to Berlin and back and has raised £1800 or so for the air ambulance that scooped me up after my crash. I think some of the donations came from people who read the blog, so if you are reading - thank you. You can see more at http://www.justgiving.com/charliecopter)

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