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Archive for February, 2008

February 9, 2008

Moving On Up

…. continued from Memories of a Motorcycle License Test

After a season of experiences on the RZ350 it was relegated to my wife to ride and I went out and acquired a brand new 2001 Yamaha YZFR6.

bike-in-box-2.jpgYou wouldn’t believe the looks and thumbs up I had from people reading the crate while driving down the 401 highway from our units warehouse to Ab’s Motorcycle Shop one of our original Ontario Yamaha dealers (now retired) for the pre-delivery inspection.r6-front.jpg
Once the bike was ready, I cautiously drove out of the parking lot (praying I wouldn’t look stupid crashing it in the first 50 feet merging onto the road…come on I’ve heard the stories too).Wow, what an eye opening experience. This bike was nothing like my RZ350. Besides the power the most notable difference was engine braking, the R6 had a lot where my little RZ had very little. It was quite evident in the first stop light I had to stop at when I was still 50-80 feet short of my mark. A little red in the face with embarrassment I clutched the bike forward to the proper position, thank you for full faced helmets.

rz350.jpgAnother main difference that I noticed right way was the lack of a front nose section of the bike. Don’t get me wrong it’s there! Just probably a ¼ off what the RZ350 had so it felt like it was missing or I was sitting too far forward on this bike.

And don’t forget push button start! No more kick starting the engine to get it started what a nice relaxing change.

Finally, the brakes where 10x better than what I was used too. It’s amazing what 12 years of development can really do to those binders. Which really came into use that following July……..but that’s for another post.

Bryan Fil

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Posted @ 10:55 am in Uncategorized   
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How Fast Is Fast?


Dream on Dream on Dreamometer…


With the general use of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology widely spread these days, it is no wonder that such technology brings interesting questions.

A few years ago, we all knew that speedometers were unlikely to read exactly correct, but we didn’t know how far out they may be unless we had a radar reading to compare. Now, many riders have GPS navigation that gives lots of information, including a “calculated” speed.

It has brought some complaints from some rather irritated owners that drive along comparing the GPS speed to their bikes speedometer and find them differing. In most cases, the speed shown on the meter will be higher than that on the GPS, often by as much as 10% higher. Why?

  • Actual measurement Vs calculated
  • Wear factors
  • Safety

Let’s look at these 3 things in more detail:

speedo.jpgThe meter needle is being moved (in most cases these days) by electric pulses coming from a speed sensor. As the wheel revolves faster, the pulses have less time between each and the meter registers these as a reading of vehicle speed. It may not take into account wheel-spin or slip that does not give forward motion. Nor does it account for tires replaced with an aftermarket brand that have a different outer diameter. Either of these factors will result in a difference between the actual measurement and the GPS calculation of where you were a couple of seconds ago compared to where you are now to give you a speed.

As parts wear, things change. In particular, as the tire wears down from full tread to wear bar, the distance it travels in 1 full revolution will lessen. Take, for instance, a 150/70 17 tire. If the overall diameter at the center of the treads is 520mm, then the circumference will be (r x π) 260 x 3.141 = 816.8mm. In 1 turn (with no slippage),  it travels almost 817mm (more than 32 inches).

If the tread is 8mm deep when new, at fully worn the same tire will only travel 804mm. You have now lost ½ inch of distance every time the wheel goes around. And this doesn’t even consider the effect of having the correct air pressure in the tire.

But the meter doesn’t know this change has occurred and only counts the pulses per wheel revolution, so the indicated speed doesn’t change when the actual speed has.

From a safety standpoint, it could be argued that in general, more people fall off or crash when they are traveling too fast than when they have slowed down. Therefore the last thing we (a manufacturer) want to do is make people go faster than they think they are going. So we err the meter to the optimistic (faster) side of the reading more than the pessimistic (slow) to take into account the above possible changes. Of course, these days, product liability dictates engineers must make every effort not to expose a company to a lawsuit, so that also has its effect.

To summarize, yes, the average speedometer will have a “built-in” error of up to 10% optimistic and will usually be much less than 5% pessimistic, but at least you can still read it on a cloudy day when your GPS  is searching……searching…….searching.

Have a technology question on your Yamaha that you would like explained? Fire me in a comment.



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February 7, 2008

Welcome from Andre Harris

Hi, my name is Andre Harris (you can call me Dre’); I’m the Events and Show Coordinator in the marketing department of Yamaha Motor Canada.

I’ll be one of the folks blogging here; often I’ll blog about sport bikes, though I’ll cover anything motorcycle-related (especially if you ask me to! 😉

Now, a bit about my background…

I’ve worked at Yamaha Motor Canada for going on five years. I like my job – the company is full of enthusiasts, and I get to travel and meet like-minded individuals. And I get to sample the latest and greatest of a wide selection equipment – from dirt bikes and sport bikes to large-displacement cruisers, even beginner bikes.

And quite often, I’m testing one-of-a-kind equipment, before it even goes into mass production! Cool, eh?

I’ve been riding since 1974 (I’m NOT telling you my age! I was out of diapers, but not old enough to get a mature rider insurance discount 😉
My first bike, way back when, was virtually unheard of in Canada, but it was all I could afford – brand new for $600! It was a Jawa CZ 175 [JaWa the first two letters of the developer’s name- Janecek – and first two from a competitor’s model Wanderer; the CZ for Czechoslovakia.)

I’ve been training novice riders as part of the Humber College Rider Training program for more than 20 years, and instructing in advanced cruiser/touring at the FAST Road Racing School for more than seven years.

I was asked recently if I have a favourite bike; I don’t think so – really, any bike with an attitude (but not too obnoxious!) The MT-01 torque sport bike, Vmax, and Roadliner all come to mind.

My hobbies? If it’s got a motor and handle bars… I want to ride it!

Why am I blogging? ‘Cause I want to share my passion (obsession?), relay my stories and experience – and generally be part of the never-ending quest for what it is about motorcycling that we true enthusiasts like so much!


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Posted @ 8:45 am in Authors,Maintenance,Special Events,Sport,trailer hitch,Travel Stories,Yamaha Insights   
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February 5, 2008

A lesson in humility at motorsport race school

An outstanding instructor cut my ego down to its proper size on the track

By Andre Harris, events coordinator, Yamaha Motor Canada

I’d like to share one of the most humbling and eye-opening experiences of my 33-year motorcycling career. It was 1990, and I was attending Michel Mercier’s FAST Riding School at Shannonville Motorsport Park in southeastern Ontario.

Michel MercierMichel (right), the owner of FAST, is a world-class racer with many titles to his name and a proven record of being able to steer a motorcycle around a racetrack extremely fast. He also has the unique ability to be able to transfer that knowledge and passion to his students.

We all know that everything that goes up must come down… well, my ego began its ascent during the two-hour classroom session at FAST. Michel was introducing us to racing terms such as the proper way to apex a corner, the importance of using braking markers, how to hang off the bike, etc.

But I knew all this stuff! I thought, “I’ll be the fastest thing on two wheels to ever come out of Southern Ontario. I’ll be giving the big boys a run for sponsorship money!” I couldn’t wait to get on the track and show everybody what I was made of.

Just before lunch, we broke into groups:
1. Slow guys and gals who have no interest in racing; they want the experience of riding on the track.
2. Sport bike owners who ride hard on the street and want a safe place to try their skills on track.
3. Fast guys and gals who know how to ride and aren’t afraid to push their bikes to the limit.

(Guess which group I insisted on joining?)

The track portion of the day consisted of four sessions on the track, five students at a time, with an instructor following for one lap to critique your riding. After each session, the instructor debriefed the students with recommendations.

1990 FZR 600RI selected my bike of choice, a 1990 FZR600 (right). As the sessions progressed, I was consistently receiving positive comments about my riding style.

Everything was going great: my braking markers were getting closer and closer to the corner apex, my hanging-off technique was perfect, I was shifting in the power band, and my lap times were dropping faster than US greenback. Obviously I was right not to bother listening to the second half of the classroom lecture!

And then… Michel replaced my instructor on the track. I decided I wouldn’t let him pass me; he’d have to offer me a job before the day was done.

Everything was going according to plan until something blew past me… it was a blur, but it looked like a RZ350. RZ350Very “old school,” with a rider sitting almost backwards, not even looking where he was going… holding onto the handle bar with one hand as his other hand waved instructions at me. It looked like Michel, with his trademark grin, telling me I wasn’t going fast enough.

Let’s recap: I’m the fastest guy in the fastest group, about to turn my fastest lap time of the day, when a guy 10 years my senior, on a bike almost 10 years out of date, blows by me like I’m standing still – and he’s not even looking where’s he’s going! Was I humbled? You bet I was!

The moral of the story?
• We never stop learning
• It’s not the bike, it’s the rider

Happy learning, and let’s be humble out there.

P.S. I finished the day a little quieter and more respectful – oh, and I was recognized as the fastest and smoothest rider of the day! 🙂 I eventually did get offered a job working with Michel and have had the privilege of being part of the FAST organization since 2001.

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