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TTRNO's Thruxton Cup Bike - Suspension

By Maxwell Materne
on May 28, 2015

Racing a bone stock Triumph Thruxton isn’t ideal, not even in the Thruxton Cup, but I made a plan for the season and I’m sticking with it!  I’m only making modifications one at a time so that I know EXACTLY what’s making me faster.  Last race the bike was bone stock, this time suspension was the name of the game.  The best options for the Thruxton Cup, Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 cartridges in the front forks and Gazi Hyper X rear shocks was what I went with.  I showed up to the track the morning of the race with nothing installed… not a good start, but quickly threw my bike on the lift and swapped out the forks and shocks just in time to miss the last practice session.  At this point my first ride on new / un-tuned suspension would be the F2 race against a gaggle of Suzuki SV650s.  The bike felt good but not great, smooth but not planted and quicker but actually wasn’t.  I WAS 2 SECONDS SLOWER!  I got all the trick stuff, but didn’t do any better.  There were 2 things that contributed to this; I didn’t practice and shake off the cobwebs, but more importantly, I didn’t tune my suspension!  Throwing on expensive “go-fast” gadgets is what most motorcycle riders do, thinking that by simply having the things that the fast guys have they will become a fast guy.  Without tuning my performance suspension the bike was just as unruly as with stock suspension, it simply felt better because I was going slower.

 

About an hour after my first race of the day was the main event, the Thruxton Cup race.  I set my suspension to a baseline setting, that I came up with by jumping up and down on it, then headed out for my warm-up lap.   I lined up on the grid next to Doug Polen, the ‘91 - ‘92 World Superbike champion and ‘93 AMA Superbike champion.  That’s the exact moment when my heart sank.  I was in the presence of a legend, competing with a legend, and on a bike that was stock all except for the suspension, which might as well have been stock.

 

The green flag dropped and I had a great start, ended up in the middle of the pack and was able to gain a few positions as the turns flew by.  The bike felt a lot more planted this time and I was able to pick up throttle sooner without upsetting the chassis.  When there is someone to chase the laps seem go by faster and with Doug Polen in my sights the race was over before I realized.  I started in 17th position and finished in 4th behind a world champion and two national champions, overall not too shabby.  

 

The results were great, but I needed to get this suspension dialed in if I’m going to collect more gold.  That’s when I turned to my good friend Dave Moss from FeelTheTrack.com.  In the videos below he explains what my suspension baseline settings were after I finished this race:


Now that we know where I am starting it’s time to do some live tuning on the track.  Below is a video of how he adjusted my suspension as I came in from each practice session to end up with the perfect setup for me.  



Max Materne's Thruxton Cup bike settings:

 

  • Forks flush with the upper triple clamp
  • Traxxion Dynamics fork kit
  • 0.90 front springs
  • Preload at zero (all the way counter clockwise)
  • Rebound .25 of a turn out from maximum
  • Compression 1.25 turns out form maximum
  • Shock length at +2mm on ride height adjuster
  • Preload with 4 threads showing
  • Compression at 10 clicks from maximum
  • Rebound at 14 clicks from maximum
  • Font tire, Continental Road Attack II Evo
  • Rear tire, Bridgestone BT-003 RS
  • Cold starting pressures, 30F, 28R

 

Session 1:

  • Ride the bike, assess wet track conditions and get the tires and suspension oil hot. Come in at the end of the session and assess carcass temps and suspension.
  • changes shock preload to get some static sag
  • change shock rebound as it was too slow
  • change fork rebound as it was too slow
  • remove 2psi from the front tire
  • remove 1psi from the rear tire

 

Session 2:

  • Ride for 4 laps and come in to assess carcass temps and fork travel as the track was drying
  • fork travel bottomed out so preload added
  • shock rebound still to slow so damping removed

 

Settings by lunch

  • Forks flush with the upper triple clamp
  • Preload at two turns in
  • Rebound .75 of a turn out from maximum
  • Compression 1.5 turns out form maximum
  • Shock length at +2mm on ride height adjuster
  • Preload with 4 threads showing
  • Compression at 10 clicks from maximum
  • Rebound at 18 clicks from maximum

 

Session 3:

  • Dry track so focus on braking and flickability in the esses section for 4 laps and come in.
  • change fork preload to 4 turns in
  • fork compression to 1.25 turns out
  • fork rebound to 1 turn out
  • shock rebound to 20 clicks out
  • lower the front end by 4mm for better turn in

 

Session 4:

  • Push the bike hard on the side of the tire to test chassis stability and be aggressive in traffic
  • preload to 6.25 turns in
  • fork rebound to 1.25 turns out
  • shock compression to 5 clicks out
  • shock rebound to 19 clicks out

 

Session 5:

  • Free ride to test the bike at full pace as traffic permitted.

 

End of day settings:

  • Fork height at -4mm from the joint of the cap and tube to the upper triple clamp
  • Preload at 6.25 turns in
  • Compression at 1.25 turns out
  • Rebound at 1.25 turns out
  • Shock at +2mm ride height
  • Preload with 2 threads showing
  • Compression at 5 clicks out
  • Rebound at 19 clicks out
  • Cold tire pressures, 31F, 28R at 100* track temp

 




Now that the suspension is finally dialed in, it’s time to race the fastest guy I know… fellow Triumph dealer John Beldock from Erico Motorsports.  Stay tuned for next week’s article on how that went!



Maxwell Materne

 

Max's Race On A Stock Thruxton

By Maxwell Materne
on February 18, 2015

Waking up at 6:00 AM on race day is second nature for me now but having to dress for the chilly ride to the racetrack felt a bit strange. I have a bit of a morning ritual to my race days: alarm goes off, I snooze 3 to 4 times, then roll out of bed right into my Moto D under suit. A few more layers of clothes as my coffee brews and out the door to walk to work where the company van is parked. This time however it was different as I walked downstairs and hopped right onto my “race bike.” Only thing is my race bike has a license plate, turn signals, headlight and taillight, even a horn. She’s really not a race bike at all but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to ride the pants off of her.



As I crossed over the Mississippi River my mind drifted to what this bone-stock Triumph Thruxton would be capable of. Stock suspension meant a bouncy ride, diminished traction and less control. Some people were calling me crazy to even try to go fast on it. The foot pegs were stock with the “feeler pegs” still on, meaning they were closer to the ground than any other Thruxton Cup bike. My lean angle would be significantly diminished and when hard parts hit the ground it would throw my bike into a cycle of uncontrollable bounces. I started to worry myself, I started to think this may be crazy, more importantly I was certain I would lose. As I passed Bayou Segnette the air became wet, cold and dense. The bike seemed to like it, it pulled strong, throttle response felt crisp even though she was only 62hp, almost 10 hp under the rest of the grid. My fingers felt like frozen blocks of wood, lifeless and rigid, as I pulled in the clutch and applied the brakes to check in at the NOLA Motorsports security gate. The last leg of the journey is simply riding across the paddock on the way to registration, honking and waving to all of the friendly faces I’ve spent the last 2 years racing with. I walked up to registration still shivering from the ride but was met by the warmest welcome from all of the WERA officials. My story, “Birth of a Thruxton Cup Bike”, had reached them and they were excited to see how this race turned out. At first I was flattered, then the butterflies kicked in.




Now back at the TTRNO Speed Shop garage to make the transformation from street bike to race bike! I took off the mirrors and license plate, taped up the lights and I was done…that’s it...I was determined to keep it simple, keep it stock. I rode it to the tech inspector and explained my story. He passed me with a bit of skepticism, but wished me the best of luck. By the time I got into my leathers I had already wasted too much time to make it to practice, so my first fast ride would be a race.






Race 6 was my first race of the day, it was Formula 2, mostly Suzuki SV650s, I was using it as practice to see what would fail me first. Before I knew it I was on my warmup lap, trying to to get a little heat in my tires. I pull up to my grid position...row 3...center. I look to the left where spectators have lined up against the cement wall waiting for the launch. They look perplexed and a bit surprised to see a stock bike on the grid. Tall bars, turn signals and a big ugly tail light make it look like I’m on my way to the grocery store so I verify their suspicion with a honk and a wave. The 2 board comes out at the start/finish tower indicating that the last rider is in position for the launch. 1board,1boardsideways,greenflag. That fast, the race has started, I’m at 6,000RPM as I feather the clutch out to launch as quickly as possible while keeping the front wheel just an inch or so off of the tarmac. 2nd gear, 3rd gear, 4th gear, I’m in the lead. The 300 ft board flies by and I’m on the binders at the 200. It’s just after turn 2 when a pair of the more powerful SV650s take the inside line, soon after a 3rd passes. From here on out I hold position as I try to figure out my bike. The suspension is bouncy but not as bad as I thought, in fact the smoother I am with my bodyweight transitions and throttle applications the less I even notice it. When the foot pegs catch the ground it’s jarring. The bike feels as if it lifts slightly, loses traction and begins a cycle of rhythmic bounces front and rear suspension. I hang off of the bike farther using the high tall bars to push myself away and the bike seems to like it. It wiggles but complies with my requests and finishes the turn right where I want it. This is what breaking a wild horse must feel like. I’m letting it try to buck me off but with just the right inputs it abides. The pegs hit a few more times until the “feeler pegs” finally break off. Every lap is faster as I get used to how the bike moves and likes to be handled. Fastest lap is 2:11.159 as I pass under the checkered flag finishing 2nd in a race I didn’t even plan on being competitive in. I ride back to my garage, put on tire warmers then try to contain my excitement for the real reason I’m here, the Thruxton Cup.

 

Before I know it I hear “3rd and final call for race 9.” Frantically I put in ear plugs (needed around all of those loud Thruxton Cup bikes), throw on my brand new Bell Star Carbon helmet (I’ll brag about that one soon enough) and squeeze my hands into gloves. Off with the tire warmers and onto pit out. I feel at home knowing the grid is filled with bikes just like mine, a bit more tricked out but with the same DNA. I have pole position for Thruxton Cup since I won the regional championship last year but we share the track with a few more classes in front of us.Photo Credit: Zayas Image That puts all of us British hooligans at row 9 and back. Same as before the boards go flying by and the green flag has been thrown. Walt Bolton, #552, has an amazing start along with Paul Canale ,#112. They are ahead of me instantly and lead the way into turn 1. I hit traffic from the classes that started ahead of me, so the gap is now getting larger. That’s it, I can’t let this happen, not even 1/8 of the way around the track and they’re almost out of sight. I change my approach into turn 2 by turning in later for a deeper apex and more drive past the blockade of bikes keeping me from the other Photo Credit: Zayas ImageThruxtons, and it works. I pass 3 riders all before the braking zone of turn 3 and with Walt’s rear tire in my sights I brake later than I ever have setting me up for an overtaking of #552 entering the turn and an overtaking of #112 exiting. Turn 4 approaches and I’ve already upshifted to 3rd gear and back down to 4th within a matter of seconds. The tire chirps and steps out as a tip into the right hander all while being certain Paul will overtaking me on the inside, but he wasn’t there. Turn after turn I never look back, I’m yelling in my helmet. The bump in turn 7 sends me wide over the rumble strips and I yell “YeeHaa!” (cheesy as all hell but true). My smile fills every bit of the visor making it almost difficult to see through my squinting eyes. Lap after lap I get more comfortable. The bike wallows and slides and grinds parts off but it feels like it was meant to do this. As I turn laps my mind drifts to what this bike’s life was before. 8,082 miles of weekend rides, maybe a few rides to work, maybe a 2-up date night ride, a few bike nights, maybe a poker run or two. I’m giving this bike a whole new life, a new chapter and both the bike and I are loving every second of it. As I come down the front straight the last time I lay on my horn in celebration, look to the right and see the rest of the riders way behind, 27 seconds behind to be exact. I had consistently run low 2:08s where the lap record for a fully race prepped Thruxton Cup bike is 2:04 flat.

Photo Credit: Zayas ImageThen it hits me, I’ve been planning on writing these articles to say how this bike is pretty good stock but desperately needs additions to really enjoy it on the track, but I was dead wrong. Sure I’m still going to upgrade suspension, exhaust, tuning, etc. but it’s not necessary at all to go out, have fun and kick some ass!

The sun rises on the second day revealing that the track is soaking from an overnight storm, it’s going to be a wet race. This time Paul Canale’s not racing but my brother, Zach, is. Zach and I line up next to each other on the grid and both of us have a great launch. Lap 1, lap 2, lap 3 and Zach is right on my tail, our times are slower due to the conditions but we’re sliding the rear tire through turns as we lose then regain traction. The race between Zach and me becomes simply one of endurance, who can hold on to our sliding pace longer. I finally pull away in the last lap and take gold one more time.
Photo Credit: Zayas Image
What makes someone fast is not what they ride, but how they ride it. How willing they are to push. How late they brake and how early they twist the throttle. How smooth they are and how they respond to all of the little bits of data the bike sending back to them. Photo Credit: Zayas Image

I’m not done with this bike yet, next thing up is suspension. If I plan on beating the Thruxton Cup lap record at NOLA I’ll need to have more control than I currently have. There are many options out there and I’ll be doing my research to make sure I’ve got the best available.

Follow my progress, as we have miles and miles, and laps and laps to go

Maxwell Materne

   

 

                                                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Zayas Image

 

 

 

 


The Birth of a Thruxton Cup Bike

By Maxwell Materne
on January 28, 2015

Thruxton Cup racing is the kind of thing that gets in your veins.  Imagine getting off from a long day's work, grabbing an overstuffed backpack and hopping in a van jam packed with race bikes.  You're excited to participate in Vintage Fest, a bit scared to race in it but dreading the 5 hour night time drive.  At about 10PM you arrive to the gates of the Barber Motorsports Park and drive the hilly access road to the racer pit area.  Pull up to your pit spot to find that a party has broken out, excited racers, amazing barbecue even umbrella girls.  The people you're meeting now will become family to you for the rest of your life.  

 

This was the initial experience I had back in 2013 and ever since the moment when all of the Thruxton Cup racers welcomed me there was no way I wouldn't live this experience again.  The camaraderie, the competition, the racetracks, all of them made me excited to race in the 2014 season.  Both British Customs and BES Racing were kind enough to sponsor me for a number of races throughout the year, including Willow Springs and Barber Motorsports.  With the last race of the 2014 season at NOLA I was able to take home a few trophies that only made me want more for 2015.

 

This year started with purchasing my very own Thruxton in order to compete in more races, but the first of the season is fast approaching, this weekend!  Without enough time to prepare my bike for battle I've decided to race it bone stock, see how I do then modify based on my needs.  Here's where I'm starting:

An unadulterated 2008 Triumph Thruxton.  It has some accessories so far and a few of them will be just what I need.

A steering damper is required in all racing so fortunately the previous owner had the intuition to put one on already.

LSL engine sliders are a perfect addition to both race and street bikes as they keep the case covers from being punctured if the bike was to go down.  

 

A few more trinkets were added and fortunately none of them were illegal for the spec class of Thruxton Cup.  There was only one thing I needed to change to make race ready, and I certainly wasn't going to be making any exceptions on and that's tires.

 

These new tires are still DOT street tires but a bit grippier than the Metzlers that came stock.  A Continental Road Attack II for the front and a Bridgestone BT003 rear were my first choice as they were the ones I had raced on all last year with not one hiccup.  

 

Here's the first dyno run of the bike.  62 hp isn't bad but those bumps will require some tuning to remove.  Most Thruxton Cup bikes run between 65 hp and 70 hp so I'm starting with a bit more of a disadvantage but as I tune I'll keep writing more articles that share horsepower, lap times and race results.  

There are just a few small changes I have to make to pass tech and they are as follows:

  • Safety wire oil fill
  • Safety wire oil drain
  • Safety wire oil filter
  • Safety wire bake caliper bolts
  • Safety wire axle bolts
  • Safety wire axle pinch bolts
    • Install belly pan from British Customs
    • Tape up all of my lights

    There are a few more things I have to do in order to pass tech for an official Thruxton Cup scheduled event, but for WERA this'll do just fine.  After this quick work I'm ready to race!  Make sure to come out to NOLA Motorsports Park this Saturday January 31 and/or Sunday February 1 to see how I will stack up on a bone stock Triumph Thruxton against an arsenal of fully prepped, engine tuned, suspension upgraded race bikes.  Should make for an interesting show. 

     

     

    Max Materne

     

     

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