Author Topic: Taking it to the Track...  (Read 2090 times)

BrammoBrian

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Taking it to the Track...
« on: August 10, 2014, 10:26:08 PM »
I've been hoping to start this thread for awhile, but just now getting around to it.  I think it would be awesome to have a place where those that attend track days or races with their bikes can provide tips or talk about issues they've encountered so we don't all have to learn the same lessons over and over.  It would also help others understand what they're getting themselves into above and beyond taking a "normal" bike to the track.



We've certainly learned a lot through the racing program about not only the bikes, but also how to manage the environment to ensure a better experience when at the track.  I'm sure others have insights they can offer as well.  Here's a start from me:

TIP #1
Get a Level 2 charging cordset.  The Level 1 EVSE isnít going to cut it when youíre discharging your bike at a much higher rate then youíll ever see riding on the street.  Itís typical for us to see nearly 1kWh of energy consumed per lap at race pace!  Hereís the one we use on the race team:

http://www.clippercreek.com/store/product/charging-station-lcs-25p-nema-l6-30-2/

The one in the link above comes pre-wired with a NEMA L6-30 style plug, which is common on larger generators that supply a 220Vac outlet.  You can also purchase the EVSE with a NEMA 14-30 style plug, 50A plug (although you wonít make use of the 50A), or no plug at all (hardwire option).  Youíll need to become an infrastructure expert for the track youíre headed to in order to determine what option is best for that venue.  Most tracks have at least the 220VAC/30A service available for RVs and Motorhomes.

At Level 2, youíll cut your charging time in half or better, and will most likely be able to run a full day of 10-20 minute sessions going off every hour.  Youíll usually end up with a little extra time over the lunch hour to get the charge back up as well.



TIP #2
Get some shade.  The photo above is a bad example as the bike is charging in full exposure of the sun at a hot California track (Thunderhill Raceway).  Youíre going to be asking a lot of the battery system, which relies on passive, conductive cooling through the finned battery enclosure to dissipate heat.  The thermal mass of the battery also means that they take a while to heat up (good thing) AND cool down (bad thing).  If your batteries are above 45C, they will also limit the charge current to less than the maximum rate, extending your charge time.  A 10íx 10í pop-up awning will usually do the trick to keep the bike and rider considerably cooler on a hot day. 



Itís also a good idea to have a high speed shop fan available to move air across the heat sink of the battery enclosures (i.e. the side of the bike) as this will help cool the batteries when the bike is stationary while charging.  I picked up a shop floor fan like this one on special at Home Depot:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Lasko-20-in-High-Velocity-Floor-or-Wall-Mount-Fan-in-Black-2264QM/203067767

Iíve got about a billion other tips that come to mind, so Iíll try to add them one by one or a couple at a time.  Hopefully Jeff, Arthur, Bob, and others will add their insights as wellÖ

« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 10:50:31 PM by BrammoBrian »

Jeff

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 03:11:10 AM »
TIP #0
DOOOOO IT.  Do it do it do it.  I say this as a total novice, maybe now slightly-above-novice, having never done a trackday in my life prior to Refuel last year:

Seriously, do a trackday.  Get a cheap set of leathers and do it.  It totally enhanced my street riding skills -- I am way more comfortable leaning the bike over in a corner now, and am more comfortable with the limits of traction.  Before Refuel, being out on a track was in a compartment of my brain categorized with oh I don't know, squirrel suit jumping, or being in space.  "Things that are theoretically awesome, but I have no practical means to make happen and thus will probably never do."  Color me a surprised moron when I find out the average cost of a casual trackday is what, a couple hundred bucks?  And if you have leathers and two brain cells, you'll be let onto a racetrack?  Amazing.  Sign up for a day in the novice group, talk to all the coaches you can find, and have fun.  It is crazy amounts of fun, especially if you can convince a friend or two to come along with you.

Brian nailed the charging stuff.  Re: the plug, I'd recommend flar's recommendation here: buy the bare wired one, get your own plug at Home Depot, and simply leave off the 4th prong.  I can plug into both NEMA 14-30 and 14-50 with ease.  I also heartily recommend the Clipper Creek LCS-25 -- I stupidly left mine broiling in the sun at Thunderhill and it shut off temporarily with a red fault light; I thought I'd fried it permanently, but nope!  After I put it under some shade (see Brian's point) it booted right back up and merrily kept charging.  Also, as stated in that other thread, the Clipper Creek people are great.

THERMAL CUTBACK WILL HAPPEN
Eventually, if you're moving at a decent enough pace, you WILL run into thermal cutback mid-lap.  It doesn't actually seem to affect the power that much, just the regen; I guess it's probably mostly that the batteries are too hot and don't want energy put back in them (and thus make them hotter)?   So yeah it's a bit surprising at first -- 'heyyyy, no regen!' all of a sudden -- but not a huge deal.  In fact my only real feature request of the Empulse (and Brian & co already know this) is I wish there was a way to simply turn off regen entirely upfront so I didn't have to deal with adjusting mid-lap.


As much as you'll want to show off your bike at the track, you should NOT charge like this -- cooking in the open sun.

Honestly, other than the charging and thermal considerations, the only stuff I have to add is really general trackday from-a-newbie-standpoint type stuff (as in, not electric-specific) that I've learned over the past year or so.

Q: "But Jeff, everybody at a trackday will be faster/cooler than me and will also scorn me and cast aspersions upon my family!"
A: Well, you're gonna be slow, sure . . . but what you have yet to discover is:

THE PEOPLE ARE REALLY NICE
Like, holy hell seriously.  At first I thought it was a fluke.  Like, oh everyone must've been nice at Laguna just cause that was an electric event.  And then oh yeah sure, Eric and Shelina and Shane are all spectacularly nice . . . but those other people that ride gasbikes, they must be a bunch of jerks or something.  They're all gonna scoff at me because I'm on an electric bike AND I'm a super slow newbie! 

But as it turns out, nope!  Genuinely: the vast overwhelming majority of people I've met at track events have been the nicest, coolest bunch of folks.  Most people you meet will simply be excited that you're out there and learning and whatnot.

You know how motorcycling is kind of a community?  And motorcyclists wave to eachother on the road and stop and help eachother out or whatever?  Turns out that track-riding motorcyclists are an even more close-knit community within a community.  They're gonna be as excited that you are out there riding for your first time as you might be excited for a dude that just finished the MSF and has an ear-to-ear shit-eating grin on his starter 250 or whatever.

THERE ARE LOTS OF INSTRUCTORS
There are dudes (and ladies) that have been doing this shit for decades, and typically volunteer at organized trackdays as dedicated coaches.  They'll usually be wearing jerseys or some form of identification, and they're inevitably both A.) super badass, and B.) excited to help out and tow you around the track and give you feedback.

RELAX
My first trackday went through a few distinct phases:

1.) 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I'M ON A TRACK AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA'
2.) 'Heyyyyyy, I'm on a track!  This isn't so bad!'
3.) 'All RIGHT!  I got this!  I'm gonna go faaaaaast'
4.) 'Ohhhh shit ohshitohshit almost ate it in that corner.'
5.) 'Ooookay, not that fast.  Let's calm down and go slow and just enjoy the rest of the sessions'

And the most hilarious part of all?  Upon reviewing my Gopro footage: my lap times in phase 5 were the fastest of the entire day.  When I just relaxed and went with the flow.


I only use the finest NGK sparkplugs in my Empulse.

DON'T WORRY ABOUT TIRES
When I went out for Refuel the first time I was all "omg I'm on a track.  I need track tires."  Yeah, not so much.  You and I are not nearly fast enough to even begin to approach needing the traction provided by slicks -- and unless you have a set of tire-warmers, it might even be a liability on a colder track.

I ran my Pilot Road 4s at Laguna this year and at Thunderhill, and they are totally fine.  If you're fast enough to be able to tell that street tires are starting to not be enough, THEN move up to track tires.

Also, changing tires is a pain in the ass.

DO WORRY ABOUT SUSPENSION
Usually at every organized trackday there is a 'suspension guy' or two who can help you sort out your settings.  Dave Moss has been at most of the ones I've attended, and is a super nice guy.  You should absolutely 100% seek out the suspension guy.  It's amazing the difference it makes -- and the Empulse R has totally decent adjustable suspension, so you owe it to yourself to take advantage of it.

THINGS TO BRING
Miscellaneous items that spring to mind:
  • WATER.  Seriously, a lot of water.  Also snacks
  • A tire pump and air pressure gauge
  • Some manner of foldy camp chair
  • A roll of gaffers/painters tape for headlights and etc
  • Basic tools.  A set of allen wrenches (I picked up this set for my track bag), screwdrivers, and an adjustable wrench or two
  • Lightweight wool or quality synthetic undergarments.  For the love of god, don't wear cotton under your leathers.
  • Your coolest cool-guy sunglasses

Anyway yes, thanks Brian for starting this thread.  Like I keep saying: you ALL should come out and do Refuel next year, at the very least.  I hope somebody else joins me in partaking of track buffoonery outside of that as well!

dbsuperbiker

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2014, 07:56:03 AM »
Two of the best mods to make to an Empulse R streetbike when taking it to the track, is to turn down the regen braking from 18% to 12%, and cut rider footpegs a bit shorter.
what a fun trackbike.

protomech

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2014, 05:20:49 PM »
TIP #1
Get a Level 2 charging cordset.  The Level 1 EVSE isnít going to cut it when youíre discharging your bike at a much higher rate then youíll ever see riding on the street.  Itís typical for us to see nearly 1kWh of energy consumed per lap at race pace!  Hereís the one we use on the race team:

http://www.clippercreek.com/store/product/charging-station-lcs-25p-nema-l6-30-2/

The one in the link above comes pre-wired with a NEMA L6-30 style plug, which is common on larger generators that supply a 220Vac outlet.  You can also purchase the EVSE with a NEMA 14-30 style plug, 50A plug (although you wonít make use of the 50A), or no plug at all (hardwire option).  Youíll need to become an infrastructure expert for the track youíre headed to in order to determine what option is best for that venue.  Most tracks have at least the 220VAC/30A service available for RVs and Motorhomes.

At Level 2, youíll cut your charging time in half or better, and will most likely be able to run a full day of 10-20 minute sessions going off every hour.  Youíll usually end up with a little extra time over the lunch hour to get the charge back up as well.

Given the additional infrastructure requirements, I guess most people trailer their bikes to the track. Does anyone ride to the track?

At nearly 1 kWh/lap, the Empulse has enough energy for ~10 laps onboard, and charges 3-4 laps per hour with a L2 EVSE. That's pretty good for a shorter trackday, but I imagine there are events where you may need to recover charge more quickly. Doubly so in case you ride to the track.

Is there a possibility of pairing the onboard charger with an off board charger, or using a larger off board charger? Is this even feasible given a hot battery pack?
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7racer

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Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2014, 05:31:23 PM »
I so want to do this as I regular track my car.  The only problem is at my local track there weren't any chargers I could use.  I might look around again but they best I could do with my Tesla was a 110 outlet!!! (I regulary track the GT-R...the Tesla was a fun 2 day event)

protomech

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 06:22:34 PM »
Have you seen this article, 7racer?
http://www.teslarati.com/48-tesla-on-a-track-with-no-electricity/

On this particular track, Teslarati found that their Model S consumed 2.1 kWh per lap - which seems surprisingly small, given the 8x delta in peak power between the Empulse and the Model S. At 2:20 per lap and 2.1 kWh consumed, the lap-average consumption rate for the Model S was "only" ~54 kW.

In their case they were able to charge at 10 kW at a nearby RV park, which is slightly higher at 4-5 laps charged per hour .. but the drive back and forth likely ate about half a lap of charge per.
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ttxgpfan

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2014, 01:16:08 AM »
Tip #3: If there are no pictures, and they aren't posted to the forum, it didn't happen. ;)

Seriously though guys. Do you mind if I use this for a blog post sometime? Great thread Brian.

barboo

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2014, 02:39:32 PM »
Great thread! I echo the comments above and...
Tip 1: Tires
As you go faster you'll end up getting a DOT slick or full slick tire. You'll want to be using tire warmers with those tires. Whether you use OEM or slick tires you'll want to go by manufacturer pressure recommendations for track setup. Do not use street pressures at the track. Depending on your speed and track temps you'll get a nasty surprise if you do.

Tip 2: Helpful mods
Adding clip-ons (which will get you lower) and track based fairing will help in regards to reducing drag.
Adding a different sprocket on the rear will help for acceleration and maintaining corner speed. The tighter the track the bigger the sprocket.

Pre-fairing pic :)
« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 07:33:30 PM by barboo »
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BrammoBrian

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2014, 10:45:50 PM »
Thanks for joining in, Bob! 

And since we're posting cool race pics, here's another windscreen + clip-ons mod by racer Pete Nicolosi, who races his bike in WERA on the East Coast...




barboo

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2014, 04:57:46 AM »
Thanks for joining in, Bob! 

And since we're posting cool race pics, here's another windscreen + clip-ons mod by racer Pete Nicolosi, who races his bike in WERA on the East Coast...


Great pic!
1973 Honda CL350 (For Fun)
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BrammoRules

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2014, 10:38:58 AM »
@ BrammoBrian: If the Brammo Race Team is sponsored by ICON and both Shane and Eric where ICON, why don't you?  Seems to go against the company you work for as you are wearing Shoei and Pilot. 

BTW, love my 2013 Empulse! 

BrammoBrian

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2014, 11:59:35 AM »
@ BrammoBrian: If the Brammo Race Team is sponsored by ICON and both Shane and Eric where ICON, why don't you?  Seems to go against the company you work for as you are wearing Shoei and Pilot. 

I think when it comes to safety, personal preference always trumps commercial affiliations, but... since you asked...

I am not sponsored by Icon.  Icon does not make a commercially available one-piece race suit and they have not offered me a custom one as they have for select racers and journalists, so I wear Pilot.  I have a binding agreement with my family to wear the Shoei helmet, as they purchased it as a gift for me (it's a $600 helmet :o) to keep me safe at the track.  That gift pre-dates Brammo's sponsorship by Icon.  I do wear a plain white Icon Airmada on the street with my Icon Chapter 1000 or Brammo Icon mesh jacket.  I used to have an EBoz replica helmet which I did wear to the track, but I crashed in it and it had to be retired.  I am hoping to order a new Elemental helmet to replace it, which only recently became available (over the last month).  I'm pretty sure Icon would be understanding of my choices as they champion safety and doing what's right for you rather than towing a corporate line... because they're cool like that.   8)

roma258

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Re: Taking it to the Track...
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2014, 09:29:57 AM »
TIP #0
DOOOOO IT.  Do it do it do it.  I say this as a total novice, maybe now slightly-above-novice, having never done a trackday in my life prior to Refuel last year:

Seriously, do a trackday.  Get a cheap set of leathers and do it.  It totally enhanced my street riding skills -- I am way more comfortable leaning the bike over in a corner now, and am more comfortable with the limits of traction.  Before Refuel, being out on a track was in a compartment of my brain categorized with oh I don't know, squirrel suit jumping, or being in space.  "Things that are theoretically awesome, but I have no practical means to make happen and thus will probably never do."  Color me a surprised moron when I find out the average cost of a casual trackday is what, a couple hundred bucks?  And if you have leathers and two brain cells, you'll be let onto a racetrack?  Amazing.  Sign up for a day in the novice group, talk to all the coaches you can find, and have fun.  It is crazy amounts of fun, especially if you can convince a friend or two to come along with you.

Brian nailed the charging stuff.  Re: the plug, I'd recommend flar's recommendation here: buy the bare wired one, get your own plug at Home Depot, and simply leave off the 4th prong.  I can plug into both NEMA 14-30 and 14-50 with ease.  I also heartily recommend the Clipper Creek LCS-25 -- I stupidly left mine broiling in the sun at Thunderhill and it shut off temporarily with a red fault light; I thought I'd fried it permanently, but nope!  After I put it under some shade (see Brian's point) it booted right back up and merrily kept charging.  Also, as stated in that other thread, the Clipper Creek people are great.

THERMAL CUTBACK WILL HAPPEN
Eventually, if you're moving at a decent enough pace, you WILL run into thermal cutback mid-lap.  It doesn't actually seem to affect the power that much, just the regen; I guess it's probably mostly that the batteries are too hot and don't want energy put back in them (and thus make them hotter)?   So yeah it's a bit surprising at first -- 'heyyyy, no regen!' all of a sudden -- but not a huge deal.  In fact my only real feature request of the Empulse (and Brian & co already know this) is I wish there was a way to simply turn off regen entirely upfront so I didn't have to deal with adjusting mid-lap.


As much as you'll want to show off your bike at the track, you should NOT charge like this -- cooking in the open sun.

Honestly, other than the charging and thermal considerations, the only stuff I have to add is really general trackday from-a-newbie-standpoint type stuff (as in, not electric-specific) that I've learned over the past year or so.

Q: "But Jeff, everybody at a trackday will be faster/cooler than me and will also scorn me and cast aspersions upon my family!"
A: Well, you're gonna be slow, sure . . . but what you have yet to discover is:

THE PEOPLE ARE REALLY NICE
Like, holy hell seriously.  At first I thought it was a fluke.  Like, oh everyone must've been nice at Laguna just cause that was an electric event.  And then oh yeah sure, Eric and Shelina and Shane are all spectacularly nice . . . but those other people that ride gasbikes, they must be a bunch of jerks or something.  They're all gonna scoff at me because I'm on an electric bike AND I'm a super slow newbie! 

But as it turns out, nope!  Genuinely: the vast overwhelming majority of people I've met at track events have been the nicest, coolest bunch of folks.  Most people you meet will simply be excited that you're out there and learning and whatnot.

You know how motorcycling is kind of a community?  And motorcyclists wave to eachother on the road and stop and help eachother out or whatever?  Turns out that track-riding motorcyclists are an even more close-knit community within a community.  They're gonna be as excited that you are out there riding for your first time as you might be excited for a dude that just finished the MSF and has an ear-to-ear shit-eating grin on his starter 250 or whatever.

THERE ARE LOTS OF INSTRUCTORS
There are dudes (and ladies) that have been doing this shit for decades, and typically volunteer at organized trackdays as dedicated coaches.  They'll usually be wearing jerseys or some form of identification, and they're inevitably both A.) super badass, and B.) excited to help out and tow you around the track and give you feedback.

RELAX
My first trackday went through a few distinct phases:

1.) 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I'M ON A TRACK AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA'
2.) 'Heyyyyyy, I'm on a track!  This isn't so bad!'
3.) 'All RIGHT!  I got this!  I'm gonna go faaaaaast'
4.) 'Ohhhh shit ohshitohshit almost ate it in that corner.'
5.) 'Ooookay, not that fast.  Let's calm down and go slow and just enjoy the rest of the sessions'

And the most hilarious part of all?  Upon reviewing my Gopro footage: my lap times in phase 5 were the fastest of the entire day.  When I just relaxed and went with the flow.


I only use the finest NGK sparkplugs in my Empulse.

DON'T WORRY ABOUT TIRES
When I went out for Refuel the first time I was all "omg I'm on a track.  I need track tires."  Yeah, not so much.  You and I are not nearly fast enough to even begin to approach needing the traction provided by slicks -- and unless you have a set of tire-warmers, it might even be a liability on a colder track.

I ran my Pilot Road 4s at Laguna this year and at Thunderhill, and they are totally fine.  If you're fast enough to be able to tell that street tires are starting to not be enough, THEN move up to track tires.

Also, changing tires is a pain in the ass.

DO WORRY ABOUT SUSPENSION
Usually at every organized trackday there is a 'suspension guy' or two who can help you sort out your settings.  Dave Moss has been at most of the ones I've attended, and is a super nice guy.  You should absolutely 100% seek out the suspension guy.  It's amazing the difference it makes -- and the Empulse R has totally decent adjustable suspension, so you owe it to yourself to take advantage of it.

THINGS TO BRING
Miscellaneous items that spring to mind:
  • WATER.  Seriously, a lot of water.  Also snacks
  • A tire pump and air pressure gauge
  • Some manner of foldy camp chair
  • A roll of gaffers/painters tape for headlights and etc
  • Basic tools.  A set of allen wrenches (I picked up this set for my track bag), screwdrivers, and an adjustable wrench or two
  • Lightweight wool or quality synthetic undergarments.  For the love of god, don't wear cotton under your leathers.
  • Your coolest cool-guy sunglasses

Anyway yes, thanks Brian for starting this thread.  Like I keep saying: you ALL should come out and do Refuel next year, at the very least.  I hope somebody else joins me in partaking of track buffoonery outside of that as well!
Can I just say that this is one of the best noob trackday write-ups I've ever seen. Whenever people ask, I'll just copy and past this text and forward it to them (hope you don't mind). Well done sir.