Erik Buell Racing EBR1190RS – Given the Tool

Posted in Crotchrocket.TV, Erik Buell Racing, Formula One, Roadracing, Shorai, willow springs, WSMC with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by shawnhigbee11

1st Place on the Crotchrocket.TV EBR1190RS in WSMC Formula One 

Wow what a crazy few weeks it has been!   What transpired recently was almost stealth-like in nature, so quick yet subtle.   It all started by Rob Weaver of CrotchRocket.tv casually asking if I would be interested in racing a EBR1190? I was unsure of what to make of the question.    Of course I was interested, but thus far bounds of energy have been soaked into such a dream never to materialize.  More or less my candle was growing dim about the possibility.  

A few days passed, Rob kept poking me and we discussed the concept a bit more in detail.  Eager and ready for the opportunity, but just the same, I was holding back trying not to jump the gun.  The next thing I know, Rob kicks things into high gear and jets off to Milwaukee to pick up the CrotchRocket.TV EBR1190RS.  Then it hit me, whoa, Rob is serious about this and we are going racing next week!

So the Wednesday before the WSMC Streets of Willow event, Rob’s removing the street parts and preparing the bike for the track.  I’m unable to drive to meet him so we plan on finishing up the setup at the track on Friday.  Off to the track I go with trailer, Buell 1125R race bikes and spares to meet up with Rob.  We arrive at the Streets of Willow for the Friday Motoyard track day, unload, and set out on track to compare the old Buell1125R and new EBR1190RS race bike.

I know the rest should read like a fairytale, and honestly is does play out to be that kind of ending.  However, the racing reality is that success is constantly working against the odds and obstacles that appear.  The fairytale ending is only possible after enduring the fall of inflated expectations, properly executing timely and decisive actions to combat the obstacles, and manage the physical and psychological steadfastness to conquer the competition.  

So before the fairytale, comes the inflated expectations.  It’s not surprising that in today’s world of rapidly advancing technology, the assumption is that new equipment is always better right?  Well in the history of fresh off the press motorcycles, new and improved can be a tedious and elusive path to finding speed.   Even with significant improvements on several key components, there’s no guaranteed advancement without the proper setup.  The tuning of a motorcycle roadracing setup is best described as a huge matrix of variables.  The magic of the setup is found by understanding the relationships between those variables.  And when properly aligned, the string of variables can be played to create a beautiful harmony.   

It just takes a quick look at the 1190RS spec sheet to determine it’s clearly a better motorcycle.  It has two fundamental improvements, more power and less weight.  Chassis stiffness, aerodynamics, ergonomics, and mass distribution are more subtle enhancements.  But to take advantage of those details, the rider needs to feel connected and in control of the motorcycle.  The bike needs to respond appropriately to the road and rider inputs in a consistent manner.

Properly tuned suspension for the course and rider are one of the keys to feeling connected and in control.  After a day of testing the bikes it was clear that this is where we needed to merge the old with the new.    So the tested and proven Traxxion Dynamics AK-Gas forks and Penske rear shock were installed on the new 1190RS.  Additionally, the chassis geometry was measured and adjusted to suit the Streets of Willow track.  This was a huge leap forward in confidence and performance.

With such amazing credentials on the EBR1190 spec sheet the expectations permeated the pits.  As much, the obstacles we encounter each and every session on the track seemed like thorny spikes in our forward progress.  Race one and two were impeded by many pending issues.  But, one by one we persevered and overcame the issues, just in time for the Formula One race.   By Sunday afternoon, the bike had a solid setup with only a few minor issues lingering.

This is the grand finale, the WSMC Formula one Race, with a mixture of aggressive and talented Pro riders in the field.  As the start time approaches, there’s nothing more that can be done with the bike, it’s go time!  Nothing more but mental acuity and riding skills from here on out to the checkered flag.  Having the confidence in the bike, check.  Knowing the competition and the track characteristics, check.  Visualizing the task at hand, execute each corner for every lap with accuracy and precision like a Swiss watch, check.  Read the pavement through the tires, up the suspension, distributed throughout the chassis and finally interpreted through the body, check. Enjoy the ride, feel the rear end dancing while hard on the brakes.  As the cornering forces develop, let the body drape down and around the bike to firmly unite.  Once the corner unwraps, it’s time to squeeze the trigger and ease the Dunlop tires to their limit of adhesion.  Twelve laps later, coming out of the last corner heading toward the checker, it’s a period of elation to realize the accomplishment and success. 

Mission accomplished – 1st Place on the Crotchrocket.Tv EBR1190RS in F1!

 

Huge thanks for Rob &  Stacy, and associated team sponsors.

 

 

 

 

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AMA Daytona Sportbike race at Laguna Seca

Posted in AMA, Buell, Buell 1125R, Daytona Sportbike, Motorcycle, Racing, Roadracing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2010 by shawnhigbee11
July 25th  

Finally the race seasons’ unpredictability swayed in a good direction. Good fortune developed over the course of a few weeks when I was introduced to some new ideas about drinking water which consequentially lead to some sponsorship too.  It all started in a conversation, with fellow racer Ernie Snair,  about training, nutrition, and the importance of water.  Ernie said he has been drinking Kangen water.  I’d never heard of Kangen water,  but was curious to learn more so he recommended that I should visit and speak with Eric Ortiz of the Water Wellness Center.  The WWC offers a free demonstration every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month, so I drove out to LA to check it out.  What I learned about Kangen water was very enlightening.  It just seems logical to drink ionized water because it offers a smaller molecular structure, slightly alkaline pH, and favorable -ORP values.  I’m looking forward to incorporating Kangen water into my fitness program for the remainder of the season.  The Wellness Center has a water bar and provides free samples of the Kangen water, so I loaded up when I left.  They also sell the machines that make the water.  

As the Laguna Seca event was fast approaching, a sponsorship deal was put together to represent the Wellness Center at the track.   The attendance at Laguna is always huge, so it was a perfect opportunity to get the word out about the Wellness Center and my other sponsors.  Everyone worked together and we were able to put together a display booth for the pit area.   The race weekend schedule was a bit unusual because of the Moto GP race.  The DSB class practiced on Friday, two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, and a single 23 lap race on Sunday.  

photo by Larry Ross

It would’ve been nice to get on track on Friday, but last minute sponsorship responsibilities in addition to vehicle trouble on Friday had us getting to the track literally five minutes before registration closed.   So we spent Friday evening setting up and making sure everything was ready for Saturday AM Qualifying.  It was nice to start the weekend with new tires, the bike setup documented, and the pit areas well organized. The racebike is the same Bartels’ HD Buell 1125R that was used at Daytona.  I was excited that Antelope Valley HD was onboard for the Laguna event as well.  Scott Kellerman, is very much a race enthusiast, it was great to have him come out to the track.    

A 1:31.349 in qualifying session #1 was the best I could run fresh off the truck.  After the session, Mike from Penske helped us work toward a better shock setup for the Laguna track.  Rear grip seemed a bit sketchy in a few corners.  It looked like the rear shock was hard into the bottom-out bumper so we increased the rear spring rate from 525lbs/in to 550lbs/in.  I figured this would also help the bike to finish the corners from apex to the track out point.  Also, I wasn’t using 6th gear down the front straight so we lowered the gear a few teeth.  In the afternoon qualifying session I turn a quicker time of 1:30.614 but was still stuck at the 18th starting position.  Not exactly what I was aiming for but top 20 was in the money.  I was confident things would pick up even more for the race on Sunday.  

Marianne and I stayed in the race trailer, and many of the Buell enthusiasts were camping at the track too.  Jerry and Kathleen’s “Love Shack” hosted the regular group of Buellers, located on the hillside outside of turn 9.  Steve Slaughter was also camping with a group of racer friends closer to the turn 11 area.  We were a bit short on crew and were fortunate that a couple of Steve’s friends volunteered to help.  Graham and Dobrisa know their way around a racetrack and helped tremendously with handling the pit logistics.  Steve and Marianne handled the tire swaps and setup changes along with a zillion other things throughout the weekend.  I was lucky to have such support, truly fantastic! 

photo by Larry Ross

 Sunday morning we awoke to a marine layer that covered the track with a thick fog.  Visibility was so poor that the morning practice session was cancelled.  This was quite unfortunate because we wouldn’t be able to evaluate the chassis setup changes prior to the race.  The rear traction was better but the front traction was still difficult to read on corner entry.  I was losing time on corner entry but the front was already at its traction limit.  

At the start of the race, the Buell rocketed off the line and gained a few positions going into turn one.   DSB race start video. I was excited to be moving up through the field and after a few laps it looked like a top ten finish was possible.  Then going into turn one the brake lever faded and came nearly back to the handlebar.  It was a heart-racing moment as I ran extremely wide, just barely staying on the track.  After that incident I cautiously entered the next corner, and the brake lever came back again.  By this point I slowed down substantially and was seriously considering pulling off the track.  I wondered if I had a loose banjo bolt or a cut brake line.  While contemplating what to do I reach over and adjusted the lever out much further.  I frantically pumped the brake lever on the short straight sections between corners.   After several periods of pumping the brake lever, it felt normal heading into the corkscrew.  I was planning on pulling into the pits but it felt good coming into turn 9, so I stayed out. 

photo by Larry Ross

It must have been an air bubble in the lines.  I gave it a lap to test the brake consistency, gather my confidence and then picked up the pace again.  Unfortunately by this time a few guys had passed me and opened up too much of a gap.  I was able to put my head down and charge hard for the rest of the race.  It turned out to be a race-long battle with Russ Wikle.  Near the closing laps of the race the rear tire wear caused the bike to oversteer and was backing into the corners quite a bit.  In the end I held off Wikle to finish 12th, and turn a weekend best time of 1:30.565.  

I really appreciated the encouragement from Marianne, Steve, and Ernie to compete on the Buell at Laguna.  I was proud to be out there doing battle on the Buell.  A huge ‘Thank You’ to everyone who showed their support and came by the pits.  

photo by Larry Ross

Higbee Racing is supported by- WaterWellnessCTR.com, Bartels’ HD, Antelope Valley HD, Erik Buell Racing, Shoei, Heroic Racing Apparel, Traxxion Dynamics, Taylor Made Racing, Penske, Vortex, Pit Bull, EK Chain, MsXXFast.com, Badweatherbikers.com, SoCal Buell Riders, Speedcell, Galfer, Pit Bull

Buell 1125R Higbee Racing replica model

Posted in Buell, Buell 1125R, Daytona Sportbike, Racing with tags , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by shawnhigbee11

 

A few weeks ago I saw this Buell 1125R model kit in a hobby store.  When I got home and mentioned it to Marianne she insisted on buying one.  So after getting it home from the store it required some minor assembly of the major pieces.  While working on putting it together we opted to convert it to make a Higbee race bike replica.   Turnsignals, Mirrors, passenger pegs, etc were either left off or removed.  Marianne painted over the headlights and taillights and cut out some #11 decals, while I created some micro sponsor stickers to place on the 1125R model.  Building the Bartels’ HD /Antelope Valley HD Buell model was a fun little project. 

 

 

 

 

 

Back on the Buell- WSMC Streets of Willow June 20th

Posted in Buell, Buell 1125R, Racing, Roadracing, willow springs, WSMC with tags , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by shawnhigbee11

June 20th, 2010 

Two race wins, one 2nd place finish at the Streets of Willow

There’s no place like home….no place like home.   And predictably, that’s exactly what the Buell1125R offered this weekend at the WSMC Streets of Willow event.  Not only was the Buell comfortable, but I ran quicker lap times on the Buell than  previously on the Yamaha R6.  In Feb I turned a quick lap time of 1:15.034 on the Yamaha during a second place finish in the Formula One race.  Yet during this months’ Formula One race, I turned a 1:14.072 lap time aboard the Buell.   At the start of the F1 race, the Buells’ torque allowed me to handily lead the field into turn one and hold off Jeremy Toye on the new BMW Superbike.   On lap 5, Toye passed by down the straight, but I was surprised to keep him in sight for the rest of the race.  I could inch up on him in a few areas on the track but not enough to make up for the straights.  The competition was strong and I rode hard to keep Jimmy Wood, James Randolph, and Karl Lowry behind for the 12 lap F1 race.  After finishing a strong second on the Daytona Sportbike spec Buell1125R I couldn’t help but think, oh what I wouldn’t do for a Buell1190RR

It was a good battle in the Formula Twins H/W race with KTM rider James Randolph.  After the half way mark in the race we started to lap bikes.  With the KTM close behind I had to take some chances getting through traffic.  At one point I passed a lapper through the high speed turn 9/10 esses.  The speed differential seemed like 20mph!  It’s really tight in that section so I had to use all of the race surface and just squeaked past the other rider by a few inches.   Luckily there wasn’t any contact because that would’ve been ugly.  When the checkered flag dropped it all ended well.  Even with starting the race on a well used 7704 dunlop rear tire  it was enough to lead all eight laps, take the win, and set a new class record on the Bartels’ HD /Antelope Valley HD sponsored Buell.  My 1:15.375 lap time set a new Formula Twins Heavyweight Streets of Willow class record, as mentioned by roadracingworld.com.

I was disappointed that there weren’t more riders entered in the BOTT race.  The race went as expected.  Its was a very sparse field so I put my head down and only ran hard for a few laps to build up a comfortable lead and then just cruised to save the front tire for the F1 race.  The race win was great but it hurt my progression toward the overall championship because the small field meant only half points would be earned.  I relinquished my points lead in May when I missed the Willow event to compete in the TTXGP race at Infineon.  Even so, at the end of the June event I was able to pick up the pieces and  close in on Lowry in the F1 class.  The current F1 standings indicate only 7 points out of leading the championship.  With 5 rounds left in the season, the Formula 1, Bott HW and the overall are all within reach.

It was a great weekend, but it took some work to put it all together.  The Buell hasn’t been raced since earlier this season at the Daytona 200 and needed to be repaired and serviced.  Upon closer inspection of the bike I wondered how it even finished in the Daytona 200!  Several parts were damaged from being taken out by another rider on the opening lap.  The front master cylinder lever, radiator, and foot peg all needed to be replaced.  The daytona tires were toast and also needed to be replaced, gearing was reduced to 16/46 for the tight streets course, a muffler bolt was  found to be missing while cleaning the bike, and the final step was to install the Race Technology DL1 GPS data logger.  

So after all the bike prep work was complete, the trailer was cleaned up and loaded for the 3 hour drive to Willow Springs raceway.  I was lucky that Marianne was coming to the track and supported the effort.   Marianne was my primary crew, but Ernie, Danny, and Ozzie were also there to lend a hand.  It was great to see all the fellow Buell riders and enthusiast at the track, including Wolf from SoCal Buell, the group from Glendale HD, as well as Will and the gang from Bartels’ HD. 

Marianne helped make everything go smoothly.  She did a great job handling the bike stands, tire warmers, fuel, tire pressure, etc to get me out on track in time for each session.  She also took laptimes and updated the setup log book with notations.  Fortunately we had no issues with the bike.  So the work was minimal, just the typical suspension setup, tire changes, and gearing selection.  I spent most of my time off the track looking over the data and setting up the bike.  The Streets of Willow track was recently repaved in a couple of sections, but is still very rough.  I was amazed at how well the Traxxion Dynamics AK-Gas forks and Penske shock soaked up the bumps.  This is the first time I’ve used the new Penske shock on a rough track and its performance was incredible.  Not only did it soak up the bumps but it offered really good chassis control and drive grip exiting the corners.  I owe alot of the 1:14.0 lap time to the quality of suspension components! 

I was elated to see the 14 flat lap time in the F1 race, but it was a long and hard progression from the initial Saturday session’s fast lap of 1:18.6!   Saturday’s lap time improvements came from using the GPS data to determine optimal lines, sorted the gearing out to accomidate optimal mid corner speed while maintaining maximum corner exit accelerations, and fine tuning the suspension for better traction.  At the end of the Saturday practice day my time dropped to 1:16.24.  I knew that Toye was in the 14’s and was determined to get there too.  In the Sunday morning practice I got hooked up with Toye and Randolph to study their lines.  After a few laps of tailing them I  learned what I needed too, and felt prepared to pick up the pace once I had new tires installed. 

Gabe at Sport Tire Services recommended using the Dunlop 6680 front, and 7704 rear slick tire compounds.  I ran on used tires for the Formula Twins race, but a new front was mounted for the BOTT race.  The new front felt great and I picked up the entry and apex speeds but was still tentative on the corner exits.  The rear tire slid consisently but grip was down due to so many heat cycles and minimal tread left.  I figured no worries, 14’s will come in the F1 race once the near rear is installed.  And that it did!!  The rear tire worked perfectly all race long, and allowed me to open the throttle much sooner and more while leaned over in the corners.  It felt good to have the extra rear grip and invited me to ride the crap out the bike with confidence. 

I’m looking forward to digging into some more post race data analysis.  I find it interesting to understand what I did differently between a 1:14.0 lap and a 1:15.0.  I’ll look at split times from the sectors, apex speeds, braking g, cornering radius, lean angle, exit acceleration, etc to understand what it took to go faster.  You can look for some of those findings in the next higbee-racing.com blog post.

Higbee Racing is supported by –

Higbee-Racing.com, Bartels’ HD, Antelope Valley HD, Erik Buell Racing, Dunlop, Sport Tire Services, Shoei, Heroic Leathers, Traxxion Dynamics, Penske, Msxxfast.com, Badweatherbikers.com, SoCal Buell Riders, SpeedCell, GalferBazzaz, Vortex, Pitbull, Chicken hawk racing, Zero gravity, Ek chain, Cornerspeedphoto.com, Taylor Made Racing, Race Technology

Bartels’ HD and Antelope Valley HD is fielding a Buell 1125R in the Daytona 200

Posted in AMA, Buell, Buell 1125R, Daytona, Daytona Sportbike, Motorcycle, Racing, Roadracing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by Marianne Guarena

Lancaster, California

The Bartels’ Buell ran several Sportbike and Superbike races during the 2009 AMA season, and Shawn Higbee will ride the bike again in this year’s Daytona 200.  Higbee enthusiastically said, “I’m ecstatic about the support from Erik Buell Racing and the James Gang / Hoban Brothers team.  Also, Antelope Valley HD has stepped up to collaborate with Bartels’ HD to field the Buell at Daytona.”  

The James Gang Racing pit crew will be handling the pit stops for both Paul James and Higbee.  The exceptional pit work by the JGR team was a big part of Higbee’s 5thplace finish in last year’s Daytona 200.  Higbee comments, “I have a lot of confidence with Mike Kirkpatrick and John Dahmer leading the pit crew.  I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of guys.  I’d like to also thank the Buell enthusiasts from BadWeatherBikers.com for their continued support of Buell privateers like myself.”

Although there will be no contingency to race the Buell, Higbee is excited to race the 1125R at Daytona. Higbee said, “After many years of developing, testing and racing the Buell, I just had to race the 1125R one more time in the 200. I know some people will call me crazy for entering the [nearly stock] Buell, but I know the bike intimately and it is a pleasure to ride on the world-famous Daytona banking.”

Bartels HD and Antelope Valley HD are participating in the Harley-Davidson competitive bike exchange promotion.  The promotion provides up to $1000 over the trade in value of your competitive bike, toward the purchase of a new H-D motorcycle, The program is running until March 31st, more details can be found atBartelsHarley.com andAntelopeValleyHD.com

For more sponsorship inquiries or to support Higbee Racing, please visitwww.higbee-racing.com.  Higbee Racing is proud to represent the following at Daytona:  Erik Buell Racing, Bartels’ HD, Antelope Valley HD, Traxxion Dynamics, Galfer, Shoei, Badweb, SoCal Buell Riders, Zero Gravity, EK chain, Penske Shocks, Chicken Hawk Racing, Taylor Made Racing, Vortex, Bazzaz, and Pit Bull.

Shawn Higbee to Ride Moto Forza Sponsored Ducati at Daytona

Posted in AMA, Daytona, Ducati, Motorcycle, Racing, Roadracing, Superbike with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by Marianne Guarena

2-18-10:

Moto Forza, Southern California’s premiere Ducati dealership, is excited to announce their participation in AMA National Pro level racing.  Shawn Higbee will enter the Moto Forza prepared  Ducati 1098R in the two American Superbike races held at Daytona, March 4th & 5th

“This is an incredible opportunity and really appreciate Eric Nolan putting his faith in my riding abilities and setting this deal up!  This is a great start to the season and I can’t wait to get the Moto Forza Ducati up on the Daytona banking”, said Higbee.

“We are very excited to have a rider of Shawn Higbee’s caliber represent Moto Forza and Ducati in the national roadracing arena. It is definitely a last minute effort and we do not have time for much preparation. Our resident club racer Eric Nolan was able to put this deal together just last weekend, and was gracious enough to offer up his own Ducati 1098R for Higbee to ride.  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Shawn ride a Moto Forza Ducati at Daytona. We are entering a very much stock Ducati 1098R but I am confident that Shawn will make a good showing.  It’s just awesome to have Higbee riding our bike and being able to represent Ducati at a venue like Daytona,“ says Balz Renggli, owner of Moto Forza.

For more information go to www.moto-forza.com

Higbee sets new class track records at Streets of Willow – Press Release

Posted in Motorcycle, Racing, Roadracing, willow springs, WSMC with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by Marianne Guarena

2/21/10 Rosamond, CA

The 2010 WSMC championship now includes 3 events at the 1.8mile Streets of Willow track.  In the first Streets of Willow event of the season, Shawn Higbee set new track records of 1:15.347 in 600 Super Stock and 1:15.155 in the 600 Modified Production classes aboard the Wheels in Motion /Dr. Bob’s “Motorcycle Medicine” sponsored Yamaha R6.

Higbee comments,  “I really need to thank Gary from Wheels in Motion for preparing the bike.  Penske shocks and Traxxion dynamics have been working with me on the suspension and the improvements really showed this weekend.  And with Dr. Bob Fleischner’s Chiropractic adjustments my focus was great on race day.”

The WSMC championship returns to the classic 2.5 mile Willow Springs roadcourse on March 21st.