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Hey All,

This forum has been a great source of info for me and there's always something interesting to read and look at. I don't have any major revelations or great wisdom to share but I thought I'd just post a little about how a newbie racer that is a sub par mechanic is going at things.

I have moved to a new city with a track (Castrol International Raceways, Edmonton AB Canada) and thought I'd give racing a go. With the move I now live in a house and have a garage which I have been sorely missing during the last 4 year of condo life. I have very little track experience, 3 track days about 5 years ago and none since. I am basically starting from scratch and trying to sort things out.

Step 1: Buy a bike (May 10th ish 2017)
So I picked up a track ready 2005 999S for a decent price. Don't have much history on it but the guy said it has new belts and the valves were done. New chain and sprockets, tires are ok for a short bit, nothing great but nothing terrible either. It was a street bike that the guy turned into a track bike and never used it as such.

Step 2: Race School (May 12-13)
Go to race school, rode the bike for the first time, find a couple issues like leaking oil from the clutch and forks, don't crash, get race license. Completed the school and had fun doing it. It was bloody cold out, about 5C the whole day on the track which was less than ideal. My first time ever on a this generation of ducati, 999. It has lots of power, handles well and has shown me that I am clearly the weakest link.

Step 3: Fix the bike (May 15-25)
Time to figure out what is causing the clutch oil leak. Remove everything and replace the larger oil seal behind the clutch basket, leave the original smaller seal in place as it seems fine, put it all back together. Shit it still leaks. Crap it is the small seal that the push rod goes through. Replace push rod seal and all good now.

Step 4: 1st ever race (May 27-28)
Practice day went well. Clutch no longer leaks, I didn't crash and my lap times are improving a little, very little. It is painfully clear that I need to develop as a rider. I brake way too early, my lines are off and I have to get the weight off my arms. About 1 in every 5 turns I do it somewhat right and it feels awesome. This is so much fun even though I'm one of the slowest guys out there.

Race day, 1st race ever, novice division here we go. Made it through both races without any issues other than being slow. Pretty cool feeling gridding up with everyone and heading into the 1st turn with 25 bikes around you. As I watch the faster riders pull away I focus on my lines (which are still terrible), body position (which is getting pretty good, or so I am told) and trying to grow some balls to start braking later and harder.

Step 5: Track day (June 10)
Get some more practice, practice, practice. It was raining and wet but it's the only track day I can make before race round 2 so I suck it up and go. Got some practice but not any real improvement that I can see. Good to get time on the bike but I need a coach.

Step 6: Suspension Work
Ok my forks have been leaking since the race school and they are leaking a lot. I have the forks and rear shock removed and all cleaned up so they can be rebuilt. The guy doing the suspension work will give me suggestions on what to do and we'll see how she rides after that. I'm also open to suggestions on what should be done.

In regards to removing the suspension the front forks are easy, 30 minutes and done. Nothing hard there as long as you have a proper stand. The rear shock was pretty simple too if you know what needs to be removed. I messed up and took the exhaust and seat/fuel tank all off which was not needed. I assumed that you needed access to both sides of the swing arm to undo the bottom bolt through the rear shock. I was wrong. Even with pissing around with the exhaust and seat I was done in just over 2 hours. If I would have known the proper steps it would have been 1 hour including all the time rigging the bike to a ladder to keep it upright.



Now I wait to get my suspension back, put it on the bike then race round 2 & 3 on June 23-25. I also have a set of Dunlop Q3s coming my way which should be good enough rubber for me at this point.

I have been learning things the hard way with regards to working on the bike but that's half of it for me. I want to be able to maintain my own bikes and those hard lessons with wasted time doing stuff that isn't needed really helps you remember the right way to do things.

This racing thing is proving to be an expensive hobby but next year should be a little cheaper as the startup costs are what kill you:
- trailer
- tools
- tires
- spares
- buying the bike
- tire warmers
- stands (I started with cheap stands then bought pit bull stuff. The pit bull stands are my stands for life now, great build and worth it in my opinion)
- Helmet, Leathers, Boots, Gloves
- etc, etc, etc

I wrote this up so the newbies or people thinking about racing can get a little insight. Also the veterans can laugh at my mistakes and flash back to been there done that. There has been a little bit of frustration (very little) on my end but it truly has been a lot of fun so far and I don't regret this at all. My girlfriend on the other hand doesn't really understand how this is fun with all the time and money being spent and is generally grumpy that she has to park on the street now (hopefully just for the summer).

Any feedback or suggestions are always welcome. I'll keep updating this thread as the season goes on.

Thanks

Ryan
 

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Hi Ryan,

Thanks for the write-up. Very good an informative. Some of us had wondered about the process, and I appreciate your candor and enthusiasm.

Ron
 

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Hello there fellow Albertan.

I got involved in racing with my 749 back in 2008 in Calgary so I can try to offer a few insights for you.

Getting your suspension done is a great place to start. I assume the person doing the rebuild will be putting in springs to suit your weight.

It looks like you have remote reservoirs on the clutch and front brake master cylinder...great idea as the stock integrated ones are vulnerable in a crash.

Personally I wouldn't have bothered with the Q3's and would have went straight to proper race tire, Q3 is probably a great trackday tire but if your serious about going faster you want all the grip you can get especially in the early learning stages. As a novice a set you won't be wearing out a set of race tires in a weekend like the fast guys do. Also you should, sorry no, you need to get rain tires as well as a spare set of wheels to mount them on to make the switch over quicker. With the quickly changing weather we get here in Alberta you will miss too much track time without them, and with the amount of money you sink into this sport you want all the track time you can get.

If you do go for a 2nd set of wheels consider a set of forged aluminum and use them for your dry tires. These will make quick direction changes (chicanes) a lot easier, and Castrol appears to have plenty of those.

I would suggest replacing the crappy stock rearsets with something that actually has grip. Woodcraft is a good choice. Spare clip ons are a good idea too, ones that you can replace the tube in case of a crash.

Getting some coaching is a real good idea. I believe you can get that during the Hardnox trackdays through On track Performance.
 

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You want better tracking for later braking into the corners. Get a race 19 master cylinder and some brake tech full floating rotors and ebc hh full sintered pads, medium compound slicks will really helpa lot.
 

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Good work! I raced my 1st weekend on Q3's and was impressed. They were completely spent after 5 races that weekend.

Then I tried Pirelli DOT's.....

Thats a whole different level of grip, and the feel is amazing.

I bought a Brembo RCS 19 brake master.....WOAH. It was WAY TOO MUCH for me. Sold it and went back to stock. Much better feel for me...my racebike is a 2012 848 Corse with 330mm front brake discs, so its got plenty of stopping power. I felt the RCS 19 was too much and actually dangerous.

Suspension and geometry are the most important. Im not familiar with the 749/999 chassis, so I dont know it that bike needs geometry changes, but my 848 certainly did. After dialing in the geometry, suspension was up next. Rear shock upgrade will benefit you the most.

Good luck, keep us updated!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input.

The suspension work has been a great mod. I regret not putting stiffer springs in the forks (I weigh 190lbs without gear) as the guy doing the work said the stock ones should be adequate for my weight but I now disagree with a few track days on the new forks and my preload maxed out. New seals, fluid and valving for the forks and a stiffer spring on the rear (90N/mm) cost me $700 canadian.

I have some new to me Gilles Rear sets on the bike now and they provide way better grip than those smoothed over factory pegs. I could have went the cheap way and just hit the factory pegs with an angle grinder but I'm trying to move away from being my ghetto fabulous self. I also upgraded my classy electrical tape numbers for some actual decals. The bike has masters from a 1098 so there's a little better braking than the factory setup.

I ended up picking up a good running 2005 749R for a great price and now have a fancy parts bike. I might have a winter project on my hands of converting the 749R to my track bike for next season and possibly putting the 2005 999S engine into the 749R. We'll see how ambitious I get and how much money I have left after this race season. The forged wheels have been pirated off the 749R, pirelli slicks have been added to them and they are now on my 999S track bike. I never used the Dunlop Q3s on the track and they're now on my 998 (what a great bike). The Pirelli slicks seem to be a great tire but what do I know.

My next mods will be to ditch the 42 tooth rear sprocket for a 40 tooth and to add a slipper clutch that is currently sitting in my garage. Over all the bike is running quite well but needs an ecu reflash or some dyno tuning to get the idle dialled in a little better. The gigantic exhaust on the bike is not doing any favours right now and the bike will cut out at idle every now and then.

Now for the racing. I completed a double header weekend (june 23-25), Friday was practice and saturday and sunday were rounds 2 & 3. I am definitely improving, my lap times are down from 1:55 to 1:40-1:43 (1:19 is the track record). I am actually passing people now and looking less like a pylon. Still more progress to be made as I'm still near the back of the pack. Some results from a couple races were 23 of 30 and 14 of 20 . My goal is to hit a personal best of 1:30/lap by the end of the season. I have started to consistently brake a lot harder now. I had a good ass puckering moment when my front tire started to give me some feedback from some hard braking into turn 1 off the straight while I was passing someone as they were braking a little earlier than me. I am definitely noticing that my tires are brakes are a lot hotter now when I come into the pits so that's a good sign that I'm working the bike a little more. I need to get my body position a little tighter to the tank but overall it's looking/feeling pretty good. Trail braking is my next hurdle. It is currently happening but I'm not braking right to the apex. Usually braking a little too early and am off the brakes before the apex but I'll get there.

I took a school for 1 day at the track (july 9th) and it helped a lot with my lines and the trail braking. I'm pumped for round 4 July 29-30 to see if my lap times are improving after the tips from the school.

This racing thing is a ton of fun and I'm meeting all kinds of great people through the club. Good fun and a great socializing opportunity with like minded people. Just a good community of people willing to help each other out. Fingers crossed for a solid round 4 with some lap times around 1:35.
 

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More throttle....less brake. ??????? Have fun, enjoy yourself.
 
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Complaining girl friend

If the girl friend isn't getting with the program, find one that is supportive; it makes a huge difference.
I've seen girl friends put on tire warmers, serve lunch and generally act like a team mate, not a boat anchor.

Just some advice from an old guy.
Life is too short and racing is a hell of a lot better than not racing.

Good for you for doing your own mechanical work too.
I vote for stiffer front springs.
 
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I might have a winter project on my hands of converting the 749R to my track bike for next season
THIS!!!

Back in the day the 749R was quite competitive against the 600's and the class really hasn't advanced that much with the outgoing model R6 only having minor fettling since 2006.

Where a 999S wasn't really a competitive race bike even back in the mid-noughties, and superbike development has just gone into hyperdrive since then.

And with the sweet chassis, better brakes and suspension, and the lovely fizzy short stroke engine I would put a sneaky wager on that you'd probably be just as fast on the 749R as your current spec 999S.

Just my 2c, have fun man!
 

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I would put a sneaky wager on that you'd probably be just as fast on the 749R as your current spec 999S.!
With the layout of that track I'd bet good money he'd be faster with the 749R mill.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Looks like someone is interested in buying my 999S once this season is done. If he comes through with some cash the 749R will be my new race bike for 2018. I agree that the better suspension and brakes on the 749R will give me a good opportunity to improve my times. The track I race is all about corner speed with only a couple straights where the 999 would have an advantage but 14 turns where the 749 would have the advantage. I'm just in the middle of round 4 right now with race day starting tomorrow morning. Time to get some sleep after a good practice day and getting my lap times down to a consistent 1:40.
 

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The 999 and 749 are the same bike really. It has adjustable offset clamps and a different link in the rear suspension. Big deal. Price how much to get the 999 suspension done properly and adjustable offset clamps and you will have all the things you want of the 749R but with more power.
 
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