#5 Hel Brake Lines Mini Review

Hel have sent me a brake line kit so that I can try them out and report back to you all.
Today I went for a fairly decent ride despite the ice so I could properly use them.
I noticed immediately after fitting Hel that my braking response was smoother, particularly under heavy braking which I have struggled with in the past. The R1 is a big chunky bike and confidence in stopping quickly is something I have to work on regularly.
Improved braking feedback has helped me to be less snatchy with my front brake. Braking is evenly distributed helping you ride smoothly. It’s also given me more trust in my rear brake – having more consistency in the brake helps me a lot, as I know that when I use it I’ll feel it working, and not accidentally use it too much and cause an accident. If you have bought a new bike or your bike is relatively standard, you will probably find that your brake lines are rubber. Obviously rubber works, but they don’t last as long; under heavy use they will expand and twist out of shape, your brakes will feel spongey and your braking won’t be consistent or as responsive. They’re also dull and boring. Of course I chose pink, they are very bright and very beautiful, but you can have pretty much any colour you want as Hel make them all. Colourful brake lines are an important visual upgrade to any bike, so even if you don’t feel like you need them for better braking, there’s still a good reason to get yourself some.
Hel’s customer service is outstanding, they are on the end of the phone to help you if you’re unsure of anything, on Facebook if you just want a bit of advice, and they will help you out with all your questions. As well as brake lines they have a range of other performance upgrades including callipers, suspension, and glittery stickers.
I hope this review has covered everything, if you have any specific questions feel free to ask or give Hel a shout if you want to discuss anything with them.

https://www.helperformance.com

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#4 2017 GSXR1000 A Mode

My first time on this bike was in B mode, the weather had been rubbish so there was lots of mud and gravel on the road and I thought that was the safe option. Although the bike was great, I found it lagged a bit and was kind of awkward pulling away, apparently this is what B does. So last weekend I found somewhere that would let me test another one and I got to take it out on my own for an hour with nice dry roads and find out some more about how the bike is.

Observation 1 – The bike drinks fuel like a kid on their 18th birthday drinks cheap vodka. “You’ll have more than enough fuel for an hour” said the sales guy pointing at the fuel gauge saying it’s half full. Of course the bike ran clean out before I got halfway back to the shop, luckily I noticed it discreetly flashing in the corner and managed to roll it to the nearest garage (Thank god there was a garage). There isn’t a light. Keep an eye on it.

Observation 2 – Brakes are very good still. I was so distracted enjoying acceleration of a bike that weighs about 5kg that I forgot that corners are a thing that you have to slow down for. So they did get tested, and they work. They work reeaally well… Also they’ve got Brembo written on them so you can get that on your Insta.

Observation 3 – A mode makes the bike feel lighter. Seriously it took me about half an hour to relearn how to corner, the R1 takes a bit of manhandling to get it to go down round corners but the teeny tiny GSXR doesn’t, so me going into a corner about to put some force into it was a scary experience. Once used to it I loved it, with the added throttle sensitivity it was great fun.

Observation 4 – I loved its mild unpredictability in B mode. In A mode that’s multiplied. Gentle movements on the throttle if you don’t want to be thrown backwards (but you do, because it’s funny…)

Observation 5 – People will stare at you. They have to crane their necks a bit to see round the exhaust so it’s obvious they’re looking at you. Extra effort to not stall in front of them.

Observation 6 – The exhaust is really awful. I made excuses for it in my original post. I take that all back, it’s got to go. It makes the bike sound broken. It’s crying. Save the bike. Change the exhaust.

Observation 7 – On my first go I rode the GSXR1000R, this time it was just the GSXR1000 (no additional R) that’s a few £k difference in price new. The difference doesn’t translate onto the road that well, maybe if you’re all for the safety features and you’re a devil on track, but I’d save my money (spend it on a exhaust and skip hire for the standard one when you take it off) and get the cheaper version with just the one R.

I hope this is informative for people. It has definitely thrown my ‘new bike plans’ into chaos because up until this ride I was dead set on an S1000RR. Now I’m not so sure.

Big thanks to CMW Motorcycles Chichester for letting me out.

CMW Motorcycles Chichester – 01243 782 544 – http://www.cmwmotorcycles.com

#3 R1s first track day

On Thursday me and my bike had our first track day. I was lucky enough to get onto Performance Bikes Magazine and Dunlops free track day at Rockingham speedway. I’ve wanted to try the R1 on track since I bought it, I did one track day on my R6 at Donnington, but haven’t been able to do one since. I was extremely excited to learn that I had one less than two weeks away once I received the email.

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Rockingham is 150 miles away from home, the weather was a bit sketchy but I packed light with the bare essentials (pink duct tape, baffles, spare socks and a phone charger) and set off at 4am. It was dry-ish when I left but there was a huge wall of thick fog just before the A34 and on the other side was rain. I arrived soggy.

For what I assumed was a random selection of Performance Bikes readers, the majority of people who’d arrived at Rockingham had dauntingly professional looking set ups. My preparation was putting pink tape over my headlights, replacing my mirrors with a bolt and washer and hiding my number plate in my backpack. Most people there looked like they lived for trackways with their vans backing onto the garage, bikes on paddock stands with tyre warmers already on, piles of tool boxes, drinks coolers and leathers hanging from the ceiling. Everyone in the garages was so helpful and friendly I was able to get help and tools to do what I needed to do then wander round and drool over the other bikes.

After a short briefing each group went out to do a few sighting laps. The track was still wet but it had stopped raining and the forecast looked good. Approaching the first hairpin (more like two left 90 degree bends right next to each other but close enough for there to just be the one apex) I changed down a gear and my rear tyre had a tantrum and did a little warning skid. So I made the safe decision to miss my first full session and wait for the track to dry.

Dunlop were absolutely amazing, without them I probably wouldn’t have survived the day. They made me lots of cups of tea (silly me didn’t bring cash for the refreshment truck), let me loiter in their truck to warm up while I was still soggy, and they gave me tyre advice.

When the track dried up I went out for my first session. I was embarrassingly slow but at least I wasn’t worrying about falling off. I didn’t get it out of first gear on most laps that session; the straights were short and the corners were quite sharp. I got lapped by a few people which was a bit heartbreaking, but I was going VERY slowly.

Several people gave me my first piece of critical advice – I need to stop worrying about other people on the track. I had removed my mirrors but I was shoulder checking, making sure no one was going to undertake me at the last second before a corner. The worst thing would be to crash and not be able to get home. Apparently if someone coming from behind hits you, your back tyre has more grip then their front, and they will come off but you are more likely to be ok. With this encouragement I went to my next session with more confidence.

At this point I wanted to learn a few corners at least so even if half the track was done at my snail pace I could focus on a two or three corners and get them right. The first little chicane, the long left hander and the last corner coming out of the tight S bend became my favourites. I was a lot happier after my second session, then it was time for lunch.

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After lunch (salad and a hot chocolate from the cafeteria) I asked for help on track from a Performance Bikes rider, I wanted to learn what lines to take because I’d been too busy not falling off on the sighting lap to remember them. John McAvoy followed me for a few laps then overtook for me to follow him then followed me for the last lap. I learned that there are exit apex’s as well as corner apex’s, which I hadn’t been using up until then, so I’d been taking corners far too tightly. The final corner I’d been doing completely wrong and the new line meant I could go into it much faster and get a higher top speed sooner, and I’d hit the first corner faster. I’d also been a massive wimp with my brakes and throttle and forced myself to brake later and throttle on sooner and harder. I could feel the bike starting to work, confidence on my brakes has always been an issue for me that I try to work on regularly, but I was learning to trust them. The bike has no electronics, if you screw up there’s no abs or traction control to save you; I love that about it, it means I can’t be lazy and rely on anything, but it doesn’t mean it sucks, it won’t spit you off if you make a mistake.

After this I had two sessions to enjoy. They were MUCH better. People were recognising me on track, I was getting little thumbs up when I got overtaken (still getting overtaken but a thumbs up softens the blow), I wasn’t worried about being rear ended, and I was able to improve all the corners, even the first hair pin I was able to throw the bike into rather than wobble round cautiously, and I was really enjoying myself.

The ride home would have been nice, the weather had been beautiful once the morning rain dried out. I got to the M40 (about 60 miles from the track) and the skys opened and I got drenched again, and it wasn’t until gone 8pm that I got home, absolutely knackered, had a bubble bath and went straight to bed.

My tyres now have bubbles all over them, a tiny victory for me, I have never had tyre bubbles before and I’m very proud of them. I’ve met some wonderful people, I am so grateful for everyone who let me borrow their tools and helped me with my bike, for the people who made me cups of tea and gave me encouragement and advice. Everyone was so friendly and chatty, I went by myself, but there was no point during the day that I didn’t have someone to talk to. I’m also extremely thankful to Performance Bikes and Dunlop for the track day, I know I have to do more now, thank you.

#2 2017 GSXR1000R

A blog post! Yes! Sadly my summer has been a bit boring so far, 6 months ago things were happening but now everything’s settled and it’s been tough to get things to write about. I’ve mostly just been drawing and keeping on top of my work and every now and again I go for an uneventful ride, today I managed to score a test ride. I’m now testing bikes in anticipation of a new bike which I hope to get when I turn 25 (about 18 months away). I want it to be perfect, so I’m starting my search now and it’s a good excuse to get some blog posts in.

2017 GSXR1000-R 

Finally I got my hands on one – Finally! As you may know it’s difficult to get test rides on anything when you’re not yet 25, lots of dealers insurance just won’t allow it. Some places have their own authority to bend the rules slightly for a 23 year old who has a full licence and the right experience but some don’t. Fortunately demo days have slightly different rules, I hadn’t booked on but I managed to pinch the place of someone who didn’t make it in time (sorry whoever you are if you did show up!) and no one minded my age.

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The current GSXR1000 made its first appearance at the end of last year and was available in Spring, so it’s still brand new and personally I haven’t seen any out ‘in the wild’ yet. I was prepared to be blown away by this bike, I’ve heard so many good things about it and obviously a bike that is so different from its last version is hugely exciting, technology has advanced so much in the last 10 years, with each new bike model being a massive improvement from the last. In the last 3 years alone we’ve had some major changes in 1000cc bike technology from Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda doing their best. With Suzuki not really up to much recently it’s exciting to see them up their game and roll out something to compete for the hype.

First ride: I’m hoping to come back to this with an update. When I was introduced to the bike I was shown 3 ‘throttle response’ settings, A, B and C. A is the most responsive and C is the least. C is for terrible weather, A is for track and good weather. I kept it in B, the weather was ok but there was a storm last night and the roads were covered in mud and gravel. As it happens I should have just left it in A, the roads were rubbish, but I didn’t get to experience the bike ‘doing it’s best’, B is fine when you’re going, but when you’re manoeuvring roundabouts and junctions you can feel it lagging a bit. Once I got used to it it was ok but a bit frustrating. The plan is to hopefully ride it again and try out A. The bike is still beautifully quick even in B mode, a few times it surprised me, my R1 is quite forgiving if you accidentally snatch the throttle in the wrong gear – you get some warning before it throws you backwards, this GSXR was not as patient. Not a bad thing, you want a bike with a bit of an attitude, it accelerates quickly but it’s manageable. Not sure what the top speed is because ya know…laws.

I like this new teeny tiny 1000cc bike trend. The bikes are getting physically smaller and they are much lighter. Good for little me. I normally get on a new bike and worry a bit about being on my tip toes with a bike thats a bit weighty. Not this one, this one gave me confidence, it’s a bit tall, but its lack of weight makes its height ok. It has all the techy stuff, ABS, traction control etc, good for crappy road conditions as I did discover, yes you avoid the pile of gravel and sand in the middle of the road but it was a pleasant surprise when I accidentally rode over a bit that the bike didn’t start going sideways into a ditch. Top Job. Also if you decide to go the emergency brake route over the swerve out the way route when you go too fast into a bit of road sludge, the bike will handle that nicely. Being as light as it is it was easy on corners, even the flicky little right angled ones that the R1 struggles with, a major plus, fun on little tight corners is important.

Light bikes are also easier to manage when you mess up a corner, which I do frequently. You come into a corner too quick, your instincts take over, there’s road sludge in the corner! You have grabbed a fist full of front brake without thinking about it (just me?). My R1 will stubbornly refuse to corner if I hit the brakes, it’s like a stroppy grown up ‘you can’t handle your corner so you don’t get to corner. I’m going to go into a straight line now.’. Nice little lightweight bikes are easy to correct, as the GSXR was, it gives you a sense of safety, the worst thing that’ll happen if you slam your fronts on in a corner is it’ll try to straighten up, but you can force it to stay down, because it weighs nothing, and the electronics will look after you.

It’s not an armchair but it was comfortable. Just the right size and shape for a 5 foot 7 skinny girl. The controls are all easily within reach, the display is a bit cluttered but everything’s on it and you get used to it. I don’t envy anyone who has to sit on the back of it though, maybe bungee a cushion to the pillion seat.

This bike is a huge update from its previous model. The twin exhausts have been replaced by a big metal waste bin on the side of the bike, I think the exhaust is hidden somewhere inside it. The bike is skinnier, following the new trend of teeny tiny 1000cc sports bikes, a big step down in size from the physically large previous model. Its headlight reminds me of the head of one of the evil drones from Iron Man 2 (sorry), small and a bit boring, I have to admit I preferred the beautiful flowing almost flower-like shape of the older models; it was pretty, now it’s not. Ignoring the big bin and the headlight the rest of the bike looks fantastic; there are similarities between this and other models in the shape of the fairings and the way they connect with each other.

It’s been made to be modified, ok so we don’t like the standard exhaust, there is an obvious reason for this monstrosity – people change their exhausts. By putting a big, emission conscious, boring exhaust on the bike they save money in production, so you save money in buying it – money that you will probably spend on changing the exhaust regardless of how nice or nasty the standard one is. By making it so ugly they’re doing Yoshimura a favour because people are even more likely to buy these exhausts so they can get rid of the waste bin quickly. So it’s not Suzuki being daft and no one on the design team needs to be sacked, they just want you to buy their shiny reasonably sized exhausts. Who can blame them. And I’m still going to photoshop it for jokes because it’s hilarious.

The standard GSXR1000 is £13,600, the GSXR1000R (notice the additional R) is £16100. I am having the google the differences, for £2500 more you get an extra R, lean angle sensitive ABS (thinking about it that’s probably got something to do with me not crashing in that corner but shhh, I’m still putting it down to rider skill), balance free suspension, bi-directional quick shift (no clutch for up or down), launch control, LED position lights, negative instrument display, and lightweight user yoke and battery. Still, that’s a good £500 cheaper for the standard one than most new stuff on the market right now. And if you get one people will stare at you because they’re still a bit new and unusual.

I am hoping to have another go on this one to play with the throttle modes. But at the moment I’m impressed with it, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and it’s a bike I can see myself being comfortable and confident with. It’s got personality which is important and sometimes rare on a new bike that’s drowning in rider aiding technology – the electronics are there, but they’re not overwhelming your riding experience. Its only downfall for me, personally, is that headlight, I’m not going to be able to take cute selfies with it, maybe that’s something that’ll change later on though.

Sources:

https://bikes.suzuki.co.uk/bikes/sport/gsx-r1000/?grade=e733c62c-1ae4-433d-b7f6-0513bbc5f8bc&price=13599&Colour=Metallic+Matt+Black+No.2+(YKV) (July 30 2017)

https://bikes.suzuki.co.uk/bikes/sport/gsx-r1000r/?grade=8537fe08-dd02-4f8d-88c9-73853384846a&price=16099&Colour=Metallic+Triton+Blue+(YSF) (July 30 2017)

Suzuki Motorcycles UK

Haslemere Motorcycles http://haslemeremotorcycles.co.uk

#1

Welcome to my blog! This is a new venture for me (25/06/2017). I’m a quiet person but a lot goes on in my little head so this is where I’m going to write it down. If you like motorbikes and you’re excited to progress onto big fast ones and you need some encouragement and inspiration, this is the blog for you. If you have no idea what you’re doing this is the place to be; I also have no idea what I’m doing but we can learn together. Feel free to get in contact about anything! I love hearing from you, let me know your questions, your worries, your doubts, if I don’t know a solution I will gladly go looking for one. I want everyone to do what they love and be happy riding.