Check out our trick data dash... HERE

Want your own Aprilia SXV 550 to race?


Learn all about them at AF1 HERE

SXV's are way too much fun !


The pursuit of speed and adventure…

Sep 2010

Track time or Wrench Time?

I got the race bike prepped for a great day of practice at the midwest’s finest road course - Autobahn Country Club, in Joliet. If you’ve never been there - think of a country club, but where the term “driver” means a guy in a helmet bustin’ ass around a track in their favorite car, or in our case motorcycle. It’s got to be one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to. If you find your self in the area, you will not believe it until you see it !!!

Check out this

You have got to love the all nighters in preparation for the track day, and my wife was certainly aware of my time in the garage. But as I went to bed, in the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t ready for this, and must have muttered that over and over in my sleep. But like any good racer, I awoke ready to hit the track.

My day started early, and my cohort Tim, was ready before the crack of dawn to put his CBR1000RR to the test, me... well, I was ready to break in a new motor in the SXV, and see what all the years updates to the bike were going to yield.

Someone was eager to get rolling, and we arrived at the track about an hour early, with day break looking to be absolutely perfect weather for being a two wheeled hooligan.

The plan: alternate with the cars for track time, get a quick tour of the place, get educated in a drivers meeting, where pre-track prep and flag education was provided by Francesco D'Avola (who was very cool), before getting the leathers on.

Back at the bikes, I mounted up the Vio POV video camera, added some gas, did a methodical vital fluid check, and with a tire pressure adjustment I was ready for the track.

Session 1 came and went without incident, getting the tires up to speed, the laptimer didn’t seem to be registering much of anything, (Gotta look into that) I felt comfy on the SXV550, and spent the first session listening to the motor through my new exhaust, and working the tires on the cool track surface to get them up to sticking temp.

Tim was quickly sorting out corners and getting the rear tire to hook up... You gotta love liter power, even from 200 yards back it was obvious that he was in for a day of fun.

I had been previously plagued with some crappy handling (see 2008 blogs) and with my broken foot last year, I never sorted the thing out. This year I came prepared with suspension adjustments front and back, and with the correct gearing I was able to drill the thing down the straight, with no headshake, tire hopping, or high speed weaving. It felt great to get this thing sorted out finally.

Session #2 same deal, I felt the tires getting sticky, the sun kept rising, for a while I was able to keep Tim in my sights while he absolutely powered away from me on the straights with that liter power. I remember saying to myself out loud, damn that 3rd gear of his is freaking insane !!!

I was mid corner when I realized my little Italian bike was not feeling well. The rear tire hopped while I was on the gas.. Hmm that’s weird.. I had been here before, it felt like I was running out of gas. I quickly stood the bike up mid corner, and just as I neared an upright position the bike died, and the rear tire started to lock.

Now it all came rushing back where I had this feeling from, Riding my NSR250, when it used to cold seize on me... Crap I pulled in the clutch coasted off the line (Which I was already well off of) looked down, expecting to see a bunch of fluid belching out, and saw nothing.

A quick dump of the clutch didn’t make it re-fire, so I shrugged it off and coasted to the nearest corner worker. Back at the pits I could not restart it, so I stuffed it back in the truck.

3rd session Tim let me ride his Honda VFR800. I had never been on this bike. It made nice smooth power, and the nice sticky rear Michelin hooked up well. The front (a slightly worn street compound) got greasy on me in a lap or two, so I played around pushing the bike until I found out another surprise.. ABS front brakes. Under really heavy braking the front would hop and shudder (typical ABS) and I have to tell you that is more than unsettling.

I realized that combination with a greasy front tire, meant keeping it at that pace would have awarded Tim some new body-work (at least), so I backed off of it, and worked on being smooth through the corners.

For a bike that checked in with about #150 pounds more than my SXV, it was an excellent handling bike, and very smooth. I thanked Tim for the use of his spare bike, and left the last session for Tim (He had the whole track to himself !!) while I took some pictures of him circulating.

On my way home, I kept thinking - what a perfect day, perfect weather, great time at an excellent facility - (Thanks Craig !) and thanks Tim for doing a track-day with me.

Even when I got home and found out the motor had seized, somehow it didn’t seem to ruin my day... Half a day at speed is still better than a full day at the office !