July 23, 2016
After starting to ride over the past couple of months I’ve slowly developed a soft spot for motorcycles. While I’ve always liked and appreciated them, and vividly follow MotoGP, I’ve never really had a lot of opportunity to experience them. While they will never replace going flat out on a track in a car, they provide a thrilling experience no matter what the conditions. Maybe it’s because my 200SX has been going through a lot lately and I’ve haven’t had the chance to drive it, but there really is something about bikes.
So I decided to buy one for my own. I’ve been riding all the bikes that I have available at work but I don’t think it will ever replace learning and experiencing your own, and of course, I would like to modify one too.
I didn’t know this bike even existed until I started looking for one; it’s a Honda CB1100SF X-11. A naked version of the CBR1100XX Blackbird, with a slightly detuned engine (135hp) for more low end torque. There are a few other differences of course but in principle that’s what it is. It’s a big bike and a heavy one, but as I’m well over 6ft it fits me nicely.
I weighed the bike on automotive scales with a full fuel tank:
Total KERB weight: 256.5 kg
Front Weight Percentage: 47.8%
I’m surprised how rear biased it is.
The bike has these very distinct front cowls for the radiator that direct the airflow through the radiator and around the bike. Honda says they’re to improve cooling and also provide downforce and increase stability!
The bike is mostly stock, but the previous owner made a few tasteful and functional mods, which I appreciate. Firstly the front hand controls have been replaced with a proper handle bar from LSL and risers. The front fork springs have been replaced with progressive Spiegler units and there’s a nice billet upper triple clamp cover too, also from Spiegler. At the end of the handlebar there are some nice retro/cafe mirrors.
At the rear the shock has been replaced with an adjustable Wilbers one. It’s quite stiff.
There are a few cosmetic changes too, like LED indicators and rear light.
The braking system is easily the most complicated one I’ve ever seen on any bike or car. Honda call it the Dual-CBS, which stands for Combined Braking System. As the name implies both hand and foot brake levers apply braking pressure to both the front and rear calipers, in a proportioned manner. The RH front caliper is fixed, while the LH one car rotate and apply pressure to a second master cylinder which is in turn connected to the rear caliper. The hand lever only applies pressure to the two outer, larger pistons. The smaller inner pistons are actually pressurised from the rear foot lever to provide braking force at the front. So far, from a few emergency braking tests the system seems to perform very well and I’m sure it is quite secure for on-road panic braking, if you don’t have ABS. Although I would be interested in seeing how it works on a track environment where the rear wheel gets quite light.
The first things I’m going to do are remove the centre-stand (weight reduction, bro), replace a few service and damaged items, and then repaint the radiator cowls.
July 9, 2016
I love seeing these sorts of cars at tracks, as for me the mid to late 90s Super 2000 touring cars are some of the best looking and coolest race cars that have been produced to this day. This ex-touring car is now living the time attack life and I’m sure it’s a fantastic platform for a street based time attack machine. Luckily it was parked up and had most of its body panels removed giving me a chance to have a peek at some of the details.
The front has been nicely simplified and its all function! Scoops and ducts for the intake, radiator and brakes, and then a few attachment points for the front splitter. The radiator has been relocated to be right at the front of the car and actually looks a little smaller than the stock one.
The engine bay really is spectacular. The engine is incredibly low and rearward in the engine bay and it’s great to see how tidy they are. No unnecessary crap, just pure performance.
Because the engines were NA and the competition was incredibly fierce between manufactures, a lot of development is put into intake and exhaust design, resulting in an overwhelmingly big intake and plenum.
Due to the extensive lowering and 19″ wheels a lot of changes have been made to the chassis too, which you can see by all the welds present. Larger tubs, reinforced strut mounts and engine mounts and seam welds in lots of places.
I also like the removable and lightened front brace; this is something I would like to do on the Nissan.
Beautiful 2-piece discs and AP Racing calipers. Single lug nut for maximum awesomeness.
On to the interior and it’s all business. The driver sits very far back in the vehicle, almost behind the B-pillar with an extended steering wheel and dash. Floor mounted pedal box and of course, a sequential gearbox.
Been riding a lot of bikes lately and it’s been a great experience, especially because the Swiss roads and countryside are amazing. A real dream for anyone passionate about riding/driving.
June 26, 2016
I’ve had this car for a few months now but haven’t really posted anything about it. After the BMW 330xi packed up (still needs to be fixed) I needed another comfortable replacement as a daily commute, and what better choice than a 90s Lexus. Its a 1998 JZS161 Lexus GS300, which in the EU comes with a 2JZGE, naturally always Auto.
Fantastic interior, great functionality and one of the quietest and smoothest cars I’ve been in. It makes the weekend commutes between Switzerland and Italy a breeze as it simply eats up miles. It can comfortably cruise at any speed while still being quiet and calm.
Bought from a 90+ year-old man, it was in impeccable condition with just 110,000 km. Very low mileage for the car and also considering its a 1998.
The plan is to try and keep it as comfortable and functional as possible while still improving its looks and style. I already have a few parts for it waiting to go on. Some TEIN S-Tech lower springs should lower the car nicely while still maintaining the soft damping of the original struts.
Less excitedly I also have a tow hitch for the car so I will finally to be able to tow the Great Danton to tracks instead of driving it. Luckily the kit has a removable tow hitch which means that the structure should remain nicely hidden behind the bumper.
June 25, 2016
I thought it would be interesting to show the results of the problems I encountered with the new splitter at Imola. As posted earlier I had some serious chattering of the front splitter above 200km/h which was a bit disconcerting at those speeds.
The chattering was caused by the low stiffness of the front mounts which when air passed over the splitter at 200km/h it excited some natural frequency of the assembly, is what I’m guessing. Due to no straight passage to the frame I decided to mount the front supports directly to the bumper, which is clearly not stiff enough.
Luckily the splitter simply skimmed off the tarmac and didn’t decide to catch on to something, otherwise I would have been a pretty big explosion. Some scrapes under the splitter.
The front supports got battered pretty hard; I should probably go up in thickness. What I was very surprised by is the rear mounts; they bent backwards despite them being made out of 2mm steel which I thought would be more that sufficient for the location. Most likely they rearward force of the splitter hitting the ground caused them to bend.
Another interesting one are the canards which have bent downwards. These were never a problem, even at Monza I didn’t have any issues, but most likely this is again caused by the chattering of the splitter causing the entire bumper to rock up and down. The rocking in addition to the downforce obviously was too much for the brackets.
So the next move, as soon as the fuelling issue is sorted, is to address these issues and beef-up the entire mounting strategy, but it has been a great learning experience.
June 18, 2016
After finally completing (sort of) the Great Danton I was finally able to attend a round of the Time Attack Italian Championship, my first one this year and round 3 of the championship. This was always going to be a shakedown event to actually make sure the car runs ok and to ensure that all the new components are fitted and working correctly.
The day before the event I had quite a few things to sort out, most importantly a large water leak from the left side of the engine which ended up being one of the water heater coolant lines. I also had to drive the car down from Bergamo all the way to Imola so I was quite careful as it was all unknown, and I stopped a couple of times during the 3 hour trip to check fluids and so on.
This first image sums up my day quite nicely; a lot of time waiting for a session after fixing the car. I had some sort of problem during every session which meant that my actual running time on track was very limited. I would usually go out for about 2-3 laps and then find out I needed to come back in to fix it, by which point it was too late to reenter the session.
The first session I went out for about 5 laps and came back in thinking everything was ok but I had lost a nut from the power-steering pump and the belt was slipping.
In the second session all the water that was available in the sky decided to fall and the session was quickly red flagged. We were able to redo the session after it cleared but I quickly found out that I had lost a bolt on the exhaust and it was dragging.
On the third and final session before the Superlap I decided to actually push the car a bit now as I hadn’t had any chance to actually test the limits of the car and get to know the track a bit better. But at the end of the main straight on my first full power pass the splitter simply couldn’t hold on😀. At around 230km/h it ripped through the bumper and hit the ground. Luckily it had only a few grazes and was able to secure it again to the bumper with an improved mounting strategy but this wasn’t to be enough.
During the superlap on the first lap it once again came loose and started chattering. So I had to take it very cautiously around the lap and then on the second lap my car decided to have a fuelling issue, and that was the end of the day. My pace during the day wasn’t too far off the pack but at not point during the weekend was I pushing the car (posted a similar time to last year); hopefully I can get these issues sorted and hit the track again to actually see the improvements over last year.
Overall I’m actually very pleased with the day because all the issues were fairly minor and can be worked upon and the engine really went without a hitch. An engine I built completely from the ground up actually went pretty well, so it has been a huge learning experience.