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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I wanna say first; I couldn't have done any of this without Ed Sorbo, Tige from Catylist Reaction and Mark & The DucShop. I thank them all for their own role in this tuning.

I bought an 848 in spring 2008 to race in 2009. But after having conversation upon conversation about geometry and suspension changes, it seemed too expensive to modify a new bike, rather then buying a previously built race machine. So I ended up buying a 749R race bike in October 2008 for my 2009 season.

The entire 2009 season I suffered with what can only be classified as poor tire grip and stiff suspension syndrome. The main issue is corner 2 at my home track of WSIR (willow springs international raceway) Its an extremely fast right hand corner, which goes forever. Entering the corner there are some bumps, on the exit its smooth. You basically go into the corner full throttle, grab some break to help settle the bike and then full throttle back out again on exit. What was happening is; I'm using such good tires, they were accepting of my riding for the first 3 - 4 laps of a race, but after that, they'd end up sliding on the exit of corner 2. You might say that shouldn't be a problem, but it is a problem because once they start sliding in corner 2, they would slide out of corner 9 as well. The bike really never felt planted in those two corners, which are two 100+ mph corners that lead onto straights, so the better drive you get, the quicker you go.

Frustrated, I tried running a lighter spring and a non-modified DU301 shock, but none of that really helped the cause. The problem with the stock shock is; its too dam stiff. Someone in the Ducati factory was smoking crack when they put a 120nm spring in there, not even a 200lb rider could really benefit from using it. But putting a lighter spring 95nm, proved just as worthless because the stock 749R shock is valved for the heavy spring and it just doesn't work well with a lighter version.

October 2009, I decided enough was enough and the stock shock was getting sold on ebay. I purchased another DU301 and had The DucShop do a Chandler build on it. Mark and Kai also figured out the proper spring rate and valving needed for my bike. I was concerned initially about the shock because once I installed it, the bike didn't feel much different. A bit softer, but not the huge difference I assumed it would be. I messed with the suspension a bit, but without having someone to bounce ideas off of, I failed to tune the suspension well enough for it to help. Tire wear was still poor and the bike still slid all over the place after a few laps.

For the final round of the season, I hired Ed Sorbo to come and help me. He is an AMA Superbike tuner and an all-around know-it-all, just like myself! :rolleyes: Only he knows more about suspension then I care to even think about. He and a good tuning friend of his, spent 3 hrs tuning my bike on the sunday before the race weekend, here is what we did:

  • We started by setting sag. Their suggestion of 35 ft and 30 rear was a perfect combination. We found out that it was a bit too soft in the front so we wound up running 34 ft and 30 rear once we were done tuning.
  • We then ran lots of laps, adjusted the dampening to compensate for the changes. First the rear, which started to feel better and eventually the front, which the added preload helped considerably. I got the rear wheel off the ground under breaking a tiny bit and the forks didn't bottom out, which is always a good sign, almost all the travel was used though.
  • Then, we started to mess with the tire pressures. We started @ 19psi and went up from their. Mind you, it was a cold day, so off the warmer temp's were in the 140's, where they are normally in the 170's. Off the track temps were also pretty low, so the final pressure numbers were in the mid 20's (24 - 26) on the rear and 29 flat on the front.
  • Finally, we worked on geometry and on sunday night we wrapped up with a 12 degree down angle on the swing arm and a 512mm swing arm length.

Sunday morning came around, we worked on rebound a bit to find a happy medium and stuck with a setting that worked all day, here is what I learned:

The dampening on the DU301 with the chandler kit from The DucShop, is a very well valved system. Our settings wound up being smack dab in the middle of the adjustment range on both compression and rebound. We tweaked substantially on the rebound of the shock, going from one extreme to the other. This is where we found the happy medium and the least sliding of the rear. We also tweaked with the compression the forks, which was very difficult to dial in, it almost seems like they need to be re-shimmed. The ride height was one of the biggest changes. I had run those numbers before, but not with this shock or sag settings. I think its a combination of the proper settings and the swing arm angle, which really helped get the bike setup properly.

Now, when corner 2 comes up, I don't get sliding, but I get slight rear wheel drifting on power, which is OK and manageable. I also have substantially better feeling from the rear and grip levels are stabilized. I was grinning my last race because the bike felt so good to ride. I was able to go deep into fast corners, I normally would feel uncomfortable going into. Obviously the lesser tire pressures and the softer preload settings, help with bumps and that benefit was well worth the effort and energy. I'm extremely happy with the setup right now.

Here is my current configuration:
Bike weighs 380 wet, rider weighs 160 with all gear
Tires: Dunlop 420 (16.5") KR106/108 (67 compound ft/rear Medium++) 200 profile rear
Ohlins DU3011 shock with Chandler Mod 1.0 spring
Ohlins R&T forks with OES (SBK) valving and .95 spring
34mm sag front
30mm sag rear
Forks flush with triple tree ride height
265mm rear ride height (center of hub to top of ducati ride height tool)
23.3 degree rake/91mm trail (30mm offset)
512mm swing arm length

Obviously the rest of the numbers are futile because every shim stack is different and every shock/fork is different. My base numbers won't help anybody really, but to get the geometry correct, the info above should be helpful.

Here are some stills of the corner in question (corner 2 @ WSIR)







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Tye,

those pictures are epic... heroic looking even. Your dedication is bordering on nuts... and that's why you did so well. Congratulations again... I hope you come to our East Coast meet because now that I know you weight 160lb with gear... I know I can also make jokes about you without fear when we meet. (Unless you're one of those wackos who ride their ducs with guns strapped to their leathers in which case i'm scared again)
 

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Nice pictures.

With all the fun I have been having with my 999R, a friend who races a 2008 CBR600 in the 600 class here in Dubai is considering buying a 2006 749R and racing it in the 600 class. I raced one in 2006 and loved the bike (and podiumed with it once I got some help setting it up). Do you race against 600s some times, and if so, how competitive with a 2009 600 is it (rider skill obviously being the biggest issue)?

Do you replace the cases on your 749R periodically? I sold my 749R race bike when JHP suggested replacing the cases at the end of the season - reminded me too much of my 888. One attraction of the 999R was the sturdy cases.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
With all the fun I have been having with my 999R, a friend who races a 2008 CBR600 in the 600 class here in Dubai is considering buying a 2006 749R and racing it in the 600 class. I raced one in 2006 and loved the bike (and podiumed with it once I got some help setting it up). Do you race against 600s some times, and if so, how competitive with a 2009 600 is it (rider skill obviously being the biggest issue)?
I think the 749R "can" be competitive against 600's, but it really isn't out of the box, neither is the 999R. These modern 600's can be STUPID fast and will out handle pretty much any Ducati. I've seen 1198R's struggle in power vs 600's, with similarly skilled riders! :eek: It really is the skill of the rider and most of the really good guys, don't ride Ducati's because they don't have contingency!!!

Do you replace the cases on your 749R periodically? I sold my 749R race bike when JHP suggested replacing the cases at the end of the season - reminded me too much of my 888. One attraction of the 999R was the sturdy cases.
Maintenance is kinda strange on these machines. My 749R lasted 5000 race miles and it was still going well, but I decided it needed a re-build. The cases should be replaced every 5000 miles, but I never ran it to 13,500 RPM... so I figure one more season of racing at 12,000 RPM, the cases should be OK.

I'm going to do a report on the motor soon, it should be apart today. ;)



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Discussion Starter #8
Going out to Big Willow for Turkey Days. You gonna be around?

Also, how fast are your lap times now? Surely you probably dropped, what, 2 seconds or so?
The bike is "under construction" at this moment, so no more riding this season. :(

I'm looking forward to putting the new setup to good use next season. I really never got enough time on the bike to get a full benefit, when you watch the Club Racer Episode 4 and see the master cylinder failure and clutch issues all day sunday, that was enough to fool my confidence. :(



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Tye,

those pictures are epic... heroic looking even. Your dedication is bordering on nuts... and that's why you did so well. Congratulations again... I hope you come to our East Coast meet because now that I know you weight 160lb with gear... I know I can also make jokes about you without fear when we meet. (Unless you're one of those wackos who ride their ducs with guns strapped to their leathers in which case i'm scared again)
He lives in the People's Republik of Kalifornia, so legally carrying a gun is extremely unlikely. The Second Amendment does reach that far west. ;-)
 
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