I learned something at Sears Point last round – I’m not that old or washed up.  We went into that weekend with four big problems and raced with virtually no Sears practice since August 2011, yet we ran only 1.5 seconds off the FP pace and came home with a win in Open Twins.  You ask me that’s a good weekend, especially considering we were slowed by lack of rear grip and hellacious chassis wobbles coming up the back straight.  But going fast despite our issues is not our goal – solving them is.  And while we did fix 50% of our issues (rear tire coming off the ground under braking, bike turning at too low mph), really we made no headway at all into solving the lack of rear grip or chassis wobbles.  Sure we left Sears with plenty of ideas, but the problem was many of these ideas were conflicting.  Also some of them, I felt, could cause worse problems in other areas than the ones they fixed.

One interesting thing we tried at Sears was padding the rear of our fuel tank – to push my weight rearward.  This was J.J.’s idea, and while I liked the thinking in it, it didn’t seem to change anything out on track – but the “rear-weight” seed was planted.  The next idea we considered was lowering the rear ride height to the bottom of it’s stroke, again, to put more weight on the rear/get the rear squatting, to improve rear grip.  This idea I did NOT like.  We have tried lowering the rear of this RC8R a few times now.  Each time I ride our bike like this I only last half a lap and come back in – it is terrible.  Ruins the whole character of the bike.  It steers wide, rear traction is awful, my feet drag on the ground, and it turns in lazy as hell.

We left Sears undecided on what to do next.  I wasn’t satisfied with this so I stepped outside our typical box and called our good friend Doug Chandler.

Doug Chandler Cagiva GP

Photo by Bill McMillan

Doug Chandler is still blazing fast on a motorcycle today.  He rides, he teaches, he is still very much into roadracing motorcycles.  But that’s not why I drove our bike down to his bicycle shop in Salinas.  There is another element to DC10 which most people don’t know about.  His looks are deceiving – easily you can picture him riding a horse to work, wearing a cowboy hat, and chewing tobacco all day long.  With this image you might also assume he’s not the sharpest marble in the pile.  And you would be wrong.  Easily Doug Chandler is the most unique thinker when it comes to bike/chassis/suspension setup that I have ever met.  Never in all the questions I have asked him has he answered in a way even relating to anyone else I have asked the same question to.  Personally I find that fascinating.  And once again that fascination of mine brought me to his bicycle kingdom seeking setup advice for our race bike.

Holding our RC8R’s grip in one hand Doug looked up at me and started asking questions.  I said it wallowed violently side to side.  He asked “In a straight  line or leaned over?”  Right away no one else ever asked me this.  I said, “Leaned over, hard on the throttle, going fast.”  He asked, “Turning to the right, to the left, or both?”  I had to think about this one, as yet again no one had ever asked me this question either.  I finally answered, “Hard exits turning left only.”  He said, “I bet your front wheel is set out to the right, out of line with your rear.”

You see why I drove down there yet?  Who talks like this?  Who says these things?  Who knows this stuff without ever riding the dam motorcycle, measuring the dam motorcycle, or even seeing it go..?

Just then I told him, “Well we do still have a problem with our triple clamp off-sets.  The steering stem holes are not quite perfectly in line with each other, which aims our front wheel out to the right.  This is a problem we are working on fixing by next round.”  He looked back at me with a crooked eye-brow and said, “Yea, get that fixed..”

Here is our problem with our off-sets:

Line up perfectly on the outside, as you see here the way they sit inside both the upper and lower triple clamps….

….the inside holes for the steering stem are actually not in line, which aims our front wheel off to the right

So there, this is good news.  Possibly now three out of the original four problems we have with our bike will be solved by next round.  Now on to the fourth problem, rear tire traction..

Like I said, Doug is a fascinating guy.  Once we started talking about rear grip he proved his worth again.  He asked me about front grip, “What’s it like mid-turn?”  …try to follow this now:

GoGo: “I thought we were talking about rear traction.”

DC10: “We are.”

GoGo: “So why are you asking me about the front mid-turn?”

DC10: “I’m not, I’m asking you about the rear.”

GoGo: “Doesn’t sound like you’re asking me about the rear.”

DC10: “Answer the question.”

GoGo: “I hate you.  …But anyway it feels great.  …Except for when I lose the rear a bit mid-turn, like in turn 2 at Thunderhill.  When I do that and I have to make a correction with the throttle, maybe to back out of it just a hair, I instantly lose the front for a bit.  It’s weird yet exciting, makes me feel like a superhero.”

DC10: “Why do you think you’re losing the front mid-turn?”

GoGo: “I don’t know, that’s why I came here.”

DC10: “It’s cause you’ve got too much weight on the front.  Which is also why you’ve got no rear grip.  You need to move the weight back.”


Right at this point my brain starts to hurt.  “How the hell are we supposed to do that – move the weight back?”

DC10: “Move your rear axle forward, change your front off-set to move it forward too, keep your wheelbase the same – if you like it how it is.  To me it seems long, which also puts more weight up front.  You might try shortening the wheelbase up a bit too..”


So there you have it, a man goes to a bicycle shop in Salinas to sort out a roadrace bike set to run next AFM round some 300 miles away.  How about that for a WTF moment?

Here is Doug’s idea in a graphic, on how to move our bike’s weight rearward.
For reference, the “Frontheavy” version is how we’ve raced our bike since day one.

 This article will remain a work-in-progress.  We are set to test these changes, AND also our new race bike for the second half of this season, up at Thunderhill around the 23rd of this July during a Keigwins track day.  DC10 has offered to come help us set both bikes up, experiment, and test.  All I have to do is find him one student to take his riding school that Sunday, July 22 2012, and he will make the trip.  It’s a good deal, he works with you all day, gives you video and tons of attention/help.  If you are interested please email me “gogo at gotagteam.com”.  We’ll have a go-fast-party!


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