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Lets make this a great year to be out and enjoy the Yamaha FJ1100/1200 Motorcycle

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Author Topic: FJ's on the race track  (Read 380 times)
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Location: NE Pa
Posts: 533

« on: July 11, 2022, 07:02:42 AM »

I was coaching this past weekend for N2 at the Pitt Race complex.  A kid shows up (I say kid because they're all kids to me) on a really nice stock '85 FJ1100.  I mean it still had 16" wheels and stock brakes.  We were riding in the novice class but I can tell you he was making that bike fly.  It almost makes me wonder why we ever made all the modifications to the original FJs.  I followed him for an entire session and he was upper quartile for the group.  I think better brakes would have helped as he had to initiate braking a bit early to get bike ready to turn.  In any case I had the most fun that session just reliving the past.   yahoo
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Gender: Male
Location: Atlanta 'burbs
Posts: 422

« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2022, 06:39:15 AM »

I'm no track expert, but I did a C.L.A.S.S. at Road Atlanta on my FJ when it was stock 24 years ago. (That was the time Reg Pridmore yelled at me - about my rear tire, which was visibly not-new.)

My FJ had the 1988-and-later 4-piston calipers and bigger rotors, and I had good tires and good brake pads, but the bike was not always reassuring to brake and corner even at my Novice group pace. With the stock brakes and suspension, I never got quite what I was expecting out of braking, or leaning in for a corner, or standing up exiting a corner. I had to leave a big margin, because I was never sure how much of it I was going to use.

The stock brakes always had a soft lever and not-quite linear response since new. I just thought "that's what modern motorcycle brakes are like" until I tried a VFR700 and it felt fantastic and stopped effortlessly. My favorite part of the FJR brake system on my FJ now is the lever feel, it's two-finger light and it's firm and reassuring and predictable, and I'm sure that would help. (I NEVER got the hang of braking hard on the stock set-up, and even that was probably miles better than the two-piston ones on the pre-1988 bikes.)

Cornering with the stock suspension was always work, and that "kink" on Road Atlanta's back straight that barely even registered as not-straight at 110 mph in a Miata was a big ol' scary curve at 135+ mph on a stock FJ. I rolled off the throttle most laps because I just couldn't mentally acclimate to leaning, straightening, and then braking downhill and setting up to corner hard for 10A. I really didn't want to wind up in the gravel outside 10A like that 900SS guy did, and I didn't want Reg to yell at me again, and I couldn't reliably modulate my braking and my corner entry turn-in accurately enough to be sure I could keep from sliding the front, or braking too little and running wide.

The higher ride height in back that I get from the Penske could have probably been gained from different dogbones, but with the stiffer fork springs and appropriate damping, it turns in more predictably and holds a line mid-corner more easily. The bike feels like it's 100 lbs lighter, and it does what I expect this way, within the limits of how I can ride it.

It's not that it's "faster" this way, it's that it feels better to me to ride this way and I feel more comfortable going faster on it - the limited speeds I can ride it are slightly less-limited.

The way it's set up now, everyone who has ridden both prefers it to the 998. I did a track day at Barber on the 998 a few years ago and I agree with everyone else who has tried both, "the FJ with the Penske / Racetech works better than the 998 does." If I get another track day this summer, I'll take the FJ.

Reg Pridmore yelled at me once

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