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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  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


Ducati Variable Valve Timing

By Admin Admin
on April 15, 2015

By Rob Evans

In a piston engine, the valve timing is the precise timing of the opening and closing of the valves. Opening and closing the valves at certain intervals gives an engine a definitive power delivery curve and character. In this article, we’re going to scratch the surface as to what affects valve timing has on engine power and the compromises that need to be made when choosing valve timing.

To create a very torquey and smooth engine, the intake valves aren’t opened until the exhaust valves have closed. This creates a very clean combustion event, but limits the speed intake air can come into and exit the cylinders, restricting maximum power output. To have an engine make more power at high engine speeds, the intake and exhaust valves have be open simultaneously for a short time. The time that all valves are open together (when the closing of the exhaust valves overlaps the opening of the intakes) is called valve overlap.  

When the exhaust valves are still open during the intake stroke, the exiting exhaust gases create a vacuum in the cylinder, forcing the incoming air to a higher velocity. The faster the air can get into and out of the engine, the more power can be made. The drawback to large-valve overlap is at low engine speeds the exhaust velocity is too low to create an advantage. When this occurs, the engine will be very rough and produce less torque as some of the intake charge escapes through the open exhaust valve.

Honda introduced their variable valve timing system VTEC to the world in the 1990 Honda NSX. This revolutionary system worked flawlessly and is still in use today. VTEC does however, have limitations. Honda’s idea was to have an engine that could burn very cleanly and be easy to drive with minimal fuel consumption at low engine speeds and also have high horsepower at higher engine speeds. In the 80s when this system was being developed and designed, fancy electronics were not yet around, so a simple solution was hatched. A small lift and small duration (the amount of time the valves are open) camshaft is used for great low speed performance and efficiency; at high engine speeds, a separate cam lobe and rocker arm was engaged to lift the valves higher and keep them open for longer.

The orange ‘vtec’ camshaft lobe is engaged at high rpm, using more lift and duration than the standard blue lobes.

The limitation to this design is that there are effectively two camshaft profiles and a switch that actuates them; there is no inbetween setting. Ducati’s solution to this compromise is incredibly simple and effective. Borrowing technology that Audi has implemented in its cars for many years, an infinitely variable timing control solenoid is used to alter valve timing within a given range, not only ‘on’ or ‘off’ as with VTEC. This enables the DVT equipped machines to have little or no valve overlap at lower engine speeds providing a smooth riding experience with abundant torque. As the engine speeds increase, the solenoid is constantly increasing overlap based on throttle position to give a smooth increase in power. The variable adjustment means the timing changes will be imperceptible to the rider. Anyone that has ridden Honda’s VFR can attest to the near violent change in power when the timing is altered with VTEC.

The available timing adjustment can be measured with the range of the slots provided on the camshaft wheel. As the wheel slides one direction, it advances the camshaft timing opening the valves earlier in the stroke. In the other direction, the timing is retarded, opening and closing the valves later in the stroke. There is one actuator per camshaft working independently from one another. Another benefit to this setup is the reduction of part count. There are few mechanical pieces to fail meaning this will be a very reliable system. In a worse case scenario, should one of the DVT components fail, the camshaft timing will simply be locked in one position and not prevent the engine from running. Aside from pneumatic valve actuation, which is atleast decade away from production in cars and well beyond that for motorcycles, this as uncompromised as a valvetrain can get.

Super-Lil-Vespa; It’s all about the back-story…

By Admin Admin
on March 05, 2015

During Amerivespa 2014 in New Orleans, TTRNO and some members of ScooterWest in San Diego customized a Silver 2007 250cc Vespa GTS, pulled out all the stops to soup it up and “twin” it to the 2014 Ducati 1199 Superleggera special edition racing bike that was getting a lot of press and awe in the motorcycle world. Ducati is known for it’s neon red racing color, but they had it specially designed, it’s wheels and body frame are magnesium, hence the Super Lil’s magnesium colored wheels. Ducati is also known for it use of carbon fiber fenders, etc.

The result of the “twin” custom was this excellent Vespa. I loved it when I saw it during Amerivespa and I didn’t even know the story behind it! It’s the only neon colored bike I’d ever consider riding, and that’s only because of the paint job and carbon fiber touches. The black LED turn signal kit is wicked cool and I hadn’t even heard the pipe they put on it… Until the other day when a good friend of mine was looking at the bike. Of course we started and had to rev it a bit. Not just for him but kinda’ really because there are several of us who love that little bike. (any excuse to rev it!) I did take a little video so you can take a little listen for yourself (video and pictures below).

All of this back story because I was scoping out the bikes in the garage the other day and noticed the heated hand grips so I wished I could test ride it to work and back on a couple of these freezing temperature days we’ve been having and posted a couple pictures.

I’d like to own this bike but I don’t want (and have no need for) two scooters. But ohhhh, it would suit me, I mean… it being so unique.

Come see it if you want, we love revving the engine, and I figure it needs a good rev every now and again.

By Andrea Calloway

The 1199’s Torque Deficit

By Admin Admin
on March 04, 2015

By Rob Evans

Ducati made their name in racing using the Ltwin engine. Most of Ducati’s competition produced inline 4 cylinder machines of slightly lesser displacement. The Ltwin’s benefit is mid-range torque and grunt in corner exit while sacrificing top end horsepower to the 4 cylinder machines. The Ltwin couldn’t rev as high as the competition and the lack of valve surface area meant the 4 cylinder machines were faster on longer straights. In an effort to close the horsepower gap, Ducati has redesigned its engines continuously in the pursuit of higher revs and top end power. The culmination of this research, development and evolution is the 1199 Panigale that is capable of revving to an insane 12,000rpm in ‘R’ trim level. However, the top end power seems to come with a caveat that the engines no longer produce huge midrange torque they once did. Journalist and forum members alike are quick to point out that the oversquare nature of its engine (meaning the bore is larger than the stroke’s length) is the cause of this strange delivery of power yet, a little bit of research shows that isn’t true.

The original 851 superbike used a 92mm bore with a 64mm stroke, giving it a 1.39:1 bore/stroke ratio, oversquare, but not extreme by today’s standards. The redesigned 955cc machine utilized 96mm bore and 66mm stroke for a 1.45:1 bore/stroke ratio, all the while producing more horsepower and torque everywhere. The 996R got another bump in bore size to 98mm, stroke remained the same increasing the ratio to 1.48:1. The 999RS won the WSBK manufacturer’s championship 3 of the 5 seasons it competed. However being pushed to keep up with the now legal 1000cc 4cyl machines, Ducati used its shortest stroke ever, 58.8mm coupled with a bore of 104mm. This was the most extreme rod/stroke ratio to date of 1.77:1. Once Ducati was allowed to use 1200cc engines in WSBK, the 1098R was designed around a very oversquare 106mm bore and 67.9mm stroke (1.56:1 ratio). Each step in bore size allowed for larger diameter intake and exhaust valves to better fill and evacuate the cylinders at high rpm, a key to making horsepower. All of these models were praised for their intense torque delivery and usable power on corner exits. When the 1199 was introduced, Ducati pushed the boundaries farther with an even more radical bore/stroke ratio of 1.84:1. The bore was now a massive 112mm and stroke an incredibly short 60.7mm. While this ratio seems extreme compared to models past, if we dig deeper, it isn’t the first to use a ratio as wild as this. The same ratio was used by famous Cosworth racing V8s that had decades of great racing success in Formula 1, partially because of their very linear torque delivery making the power more accessible more of the time. How is it then, that the Superquadro engine has a reputation for a lack of midrange torque and a very peaky power delivery?

1199 and 1198 dynograph comparison

The dyno graphs don’t lie; the 1199 makes less power and torque than its predecessor until the very top of the rev range, with a very obvious dent in power from 4,000-7,000rpm. Most journalists tout the Superquadro engine as being very peaky because of it’s oversquare design implying oversquare engine design has ruined Ducati’s legendary bottom end torque. So why has the new engine lost some of that flat torque curve?  In the late v-8 era of Formula1, most teams’ stroke ratios are approaching 2.5:1 and maintained flat torque curves and excellent power delivery.

The problem that no one seems to be pointing to stems from how effectively air gets into and out of the cylinders. At the most basic level, the camshaft opens, and closes the valves. To increase the efficiency at high rpm, both the intake valves and exhaust valves must remain open simultaneously for a short period.  The reasoning behind this is that by opening the opening the exhaust valves the pressure in the cylinder decreases, helping to ‘pull’ the incoming charge in past the intake valves and into the cylinder; this is known as valve overlap. Ducati Superbikes have continuously increased valve overlap boost high rpm power. The trade off is the ability to fill the cylinder at low rpm, where very little to no overlap is beneficial. The road based Multistrada  uses an engine called the ‘Testastretta 11 degree’ sporting a narrow-head with 11 degrees of overlap, while by comparison the engines in the 1198 and 1199 use  41 degrees of valve overlap. This helps to explain the shape of their power curves.

Multistrada and 1198 dynograph comparison

As demonstrated in the dynograph above, the 11 degree overlap of the Multistrada makes it out punch even the 1198 in torque and horsepower until 6500rpm. Past 7500rpm, the small overlap limits the Multistrada’s ability to get air into and out of the cylinders fast enough thereby torque begins to downturn where the 1198 pulls ahead.

With equal valve overlap, the 1198 trounces the 1199 in power delivery until very high engine speeds. To determine the reason we must look at other compromises made during design. The most important of which is the exhaust system diameter and its routing. In an effort to centralize mass and lower the polar moment of inertia, Ducati routed the exhaust of the Panigale so that it exits beneath the bike. This makes the bike easier to tip from side to side and overall positively effects handling characteristics. The compromise is that it doesn’t leave very much length for the exhaust piping. The exhaust pipe length is determined by many factors and specifications of the engine. Pipe diameter and length play an important part in maintaining exhaust gas velocity. The higher the exhaust gas velocity is, the easier it escapes the system and the more effectively it creates a low pressure area that helps pull the intake air into the cylinders during that huge valve overlap period. Imagine a vacuum cleaner sucking at the exhaust of the motorcycle, helping the intake air reach higher velocity than it could on its own; a very well designed system creates a similar effect. A carefully executed exhaust system takes crank angle, valve opening and closing events, rpm and several other factors into account to take advantage of exhaust pulses the engine produces to make the most horsepower and torque everywhere in the rev range.

Shown below is a photo of the exhaust system of the WSBK Ducati team compared to a road bike with the standard exhaust routing. Notice the pipe on the outside of the swingarm near the rider’s right foot on the WSBK machine? The original equipment exhaust system, and even most on the market are not designed this way.


             2014 WSBK Ducati 1199                                            2014 1199 road bike

Nicholas Udstad, a technician at TTRNO designed an exhaust system around the same principles the WSBK team used to get the most power possible out of the 1199. By choosing to have longer primary exhaust pipes than standard, along with tapered sizing as the exhaust temperature decreases, the exhaust gas velocity remains high for a longer period, escaping more quickly than the standard exhaust as well as assisting in pulling fresh intake air into the cylinder. This increase in gas velocity and faster cylinder filling is especially important at lower engine speeds where the majority of torque is produced. The obvious question to this design is ‘what are the downsides?” The main reason all the aftermarket manufacturers don’t make their exhaust systems this way is cost. It is expensive to perform the R&D necessary to find out what the best overall design will be rather than just making a standard type exhaust bigger and slapping your logos on it. It’s also more expensive to manufacture because of the tight confines the pipes have to fit within. Tighter tolerances add cost to quality control and the making of the pipes themselves. The results of Nicholas’ exhaust translated to an increase of torque by nearly 15ft lbs and 20hp at the wheel. Most importantly, no longer does the torque abruptly increase near 7,000rpm making the bike more manageable during corner exits.


N.Udstad designed full exhaust vs. Termignoni full exhaust

As this dyno graph displays, exhaust tuning is very important on high performance engines and rarely are stock systems optimized from the factory. Improvements may be difficult, but a well thought out and designed exhaust system is a fundamental way to make the most of what the engine is already capable of.

If you would like to know more of Nicholas Udstad’s exhaust designs please contact




Rob Evans

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 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






By Zachary Materne
on February 03, 2015

There’s no better, faster way to get around town during Mardi Gras than on a scooter. Parking on the parade route and getting from Zulu to St. Anne and running back home to use your own bathroom is suddenly a posibility. Here are some dos & don’ts while scootering through Carnival.

Do decorate your bike safely. Cable ties and magnets are good, flowy scarves, dangling beads and masking tape are bad. Extra lights and reflective stickers can only help you be more visible to all the especially crazy drivers during this time.  

Don’t do Jello shots or drink anything that will impair you operating your scooter safely. You don’t want to spend Mardi Gras in the hospital OR O.P.P! Besides, your lack-of-hungover self will thank you the next day. Make sure your passenger is at least able to remain upright for the duration of your ride as well.

Do carry an extra helmet. You never know who you might run into that you might have the privilege of giving a ride to.

Don’t park just anywhere. Tuck in tight up against a building and don’t block the sidewalk, wheelchair access, or even a bicycle rack. In the Quarter, I like to park by the fence at the Mint (where I have been ticketed twice), in front of a vacant building, or behind the Courthouse on Royal. But even if you get a $20 ticket, it’s still better than waiting for a cab or walking, right? Here’s a link to the city’s parking guide, although there’s no mention of scooters or motorcycles (this is

Don’t be afraid to hop on I-90 to get in “the box”. I’ve done it on a 150cc Vespa while my passenger was eating a slice of pizza - it goes slow. Take Baronne down past Howard Ave, turn left to go up on I-90, stay in the right lane, then immediately exit at Tchoupitoulas. Voilà, you’re in the box.

Do enjoy the freedom to get away from the craziness and take a nice quiet ride along the lakefront.

Have fun out there and show off your bike. Tell all your admirers that they wish they would have gone to the Transportation Revolution before Carnival!

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



    Understanding suspension | Upgrading your Triumph modern classic

    By Maxwell Materne
    on December 04, 2014

    The point of a motorcycle’s suspension is to both absorb the road’s imperfections and keep consistent traction with the asphalt.  But how does it work?

    To understand the principles of suspension there are 2 different things to discuss: springs and damping.  The springs used in both front forks and in rear shocks are the same type of coil springs you would find in a pen or in a mattress, just much stronger.   What prevents the spring from continuously oscillating is the suspension’s damping characteristics.  

    Let’s look at a VERY simplified diagram how suspension works:




    There are 3 main components in this image to pay attention to; the oil, the valve and the damper rod.  The valve is on the end of the damper rod and is pushed through the oil as the damper rod is moved up and down.









    As we push the damper rod up into the shock we can see that oil is passing through the valve.  The rate at which this oil passes through the valve is determined by the size of the holes in the valve and by the viscosity of the oil.










    The effect is the same in reverse for most stock shocks like those found on the Triumph Bonneville.  With shocks like these the rate at which the valve plunges through the oil is not adjustable nor can the oil be changed in order to get a different amount of damping from the shock.  
















    Now let’s add the spring into the mix.  For every action (hitting a bump and the shock compressing) there is an equal but opposite reaction (the spring returning to its original length - rebounding).  

    Let’s discuss the Triumph modern classic line specifically.  The Bonneville, Scrambler and T100 have absolutely no adjustability while the Thruxton only has fork preload adjustability.  Preload is the amount of tension that is put onto the springs in order compensate for rider weight.  Our TTRNO Level 1 suspension package addresses the issue of preload adjustability and spring rate.  

    TTRNO’s Level 1 suspension kit for Triumph Modern Classics consists of:

    • Preload adjustable front fork caps
    • Progressive fork springs
    • Hagon preload adjustable rear shocks

    Preload adjustability is the first step in getting a motorcycle set up for you, but this Level 1 kit goes a step above by installing a spring with a progressive rate.  Let’s discuss spring rates…


    The above spring is a standard flat-rate spring.  These springs are  used in stock applications because they are cheap to produce and easy to tune.  They work great for setting up a bike for the track, but are not ideal for a comfortable street ride.  That’s where the progressive springs come in…



    Progressive springs are wound at a different rate throughout the length of the spring.  This allows for an increase in suspension “stiffness” as more force is applied.  On the road this allows for small bumps to be absorbed under a very light spring rate and more aggressive bumps to be controlled at a higher rate.  In other words, a soft ride without bottoming out.  

    Suspension level 1 price with parts and installation $920.

    TTRNO’s Level 2 suspension kit for Triumph Modern Classics consists of:

    • Preload adjustable front fork caps
    • Rider weight specific flat-rate springs
    • RaceTech Gold Valve front fork cartridge emulators
    • Ohlins S36DR1L shocks

    What makes Level 2’s components more advanced is the ability to adjust not only the spring preload but also the rebound damping.  Remember how damping is controlled by the valve on the damper rod?  Well, the rate at which the shock compresses and rebounds can be tuned by the size of the orifices in the valve.  RaceTech’s Gold Valve kit is able to tune both compression and rebound damping by both changing the size and shape of the valve orifices and by changing a series of shims that sit on both sides of the valve.  These shims help tune damping by their rate of deflection as fork oil passes them.  For simplicity’s sake I’ll leave it to RaceTech to explain the rest:

    The rear shocks for Level 2 are made by the world-famous Ohlins suspension company.  They are preload, rebound and height adjustable with larger and more advanced valves than those used in Level 1’s Hagon shocks.  Adjustability is externally done meaning that changes in road conditions can be tuned quickly and easily.  

    Suspension level 2 price with parts and installation $2,300.

    TTRNO’s Level 3 suspension kit for Triumph Modern Classics consists of:

    • Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 Axxion cartridge kit for front forks
    • Rider weight specific flat-rate springs
    • Ohlins S36PR1C1LB shocks

    The set of components in Level 3 is all you need to make your suspension FULLY adjustable with preload, rebound and compression.  One of the largest advantages of the AK-20 cartridge kits is that rebound and compression damping can be externally controlled unlike that of the RaceTech Gold Valve kit.  This allows suspension tuning to be as simple as turning a few screws rather than taking apart the front forks.  Ohlins’ S36PR1C1LB shocks have an external “piggy back” reservoir to keep oil temperature and viscosity consistent.  All of the adjusters on these shocks are a simple turn of a knob with no need for difficult spanner wrenches and the damping control is so intricate that any and all traction characteristics can be tuned perfectly.  The amount of adjustability provided in this kit is the same as that of full factory race bikes and these components are by far the best on the market.  Take it from me, if you want the best suspension components on your Triumph Modern Classic, this is the kit!

    Suspension level 3 price with parts and installation $3,900.

    Maxwell Materne

    2014 WERA Thruxton Cup National Champion


    Back to Tech Center

    Scrambler Ducati Officially Launched

    By Nick Napoda
    on September 30, 2014

    Ducati has officially launced it's new Scrambler to the world at the INTERMOT motorcycle show in Cologne. The 2015 Scrambler comes in four models which use an 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine.

    For the full experience, head over to

    The first of the four variations is the base model Icon ($8495 for Red-$8595 for Yellow)

    The Urban Enduro ($9995) features a front mudguard, headlight grill, handlebar cross-brace, spoked wheels, ribbed brown seat, fork protectors, sump guard and 'Wild Green' paintjob.

    The Classic ($9995) recreates the look of the original Scrambler with metal mudguards, spoked wheels, brown leather seat and classic wing logo tank.

    The Full Throttle ($9995) is inspired by flat-track racing and features a two-tone paint scheme and road legal Termignoni exhaust. 

    ABS is standard on all four models. The seat height is 31 inches. The front wheel is 18 inches and the rear wheel is 17 inches. The Ducati Scrambler Icon weighs 370 lbs dry. Power is at 75hp and 50ft lbs of torque. 

    We will start seeing the Scrambler in Spring 2015, with the Icon being the first to arrive. We are accepting deposits now.




    For the full experience, head over to






    Ducati Multistrada 1200S review by Nick N

    By Nick Napoda
    on September 22, 2014

    Zach was awesome enough to let me and Adam experience the Multistrada 1200S this weekend.  Previously, I had only ridden the Multistrada on short spurts during work hours. I decided to spend my time with it the same as if it was my own bike.

    On the way home we stopped to celebrate the closing of beloved Lucky Rooster restaurant and discussed our expectations of the bikes.  Up to this point I hadn't been convinced on the merits of Ducati Skyhook electronically damped suspension over a quality traditionally damped suspension, and vocalized my opinions on it's unfamiliar nature.  In true Italian style, the next stop for the evening was at Angelo Brocatos for espresso and cannolis.  I was already taking back some of my previous judgements.  Later as I followed my familiar ride home, I noticed that I hardly felt all the bumps I'm used to cringing when I go over.  #skyhooked.

    We planned to ride in the morning along route 90 / Lower Bay Rd to Cannellas for lunch.  This is a familiar route I take often.  A moto pet peeve of mine is wind noise and buffeting from most stock windscreens.  I could tell this was going to be a problem for me and decided to remove the screen.  Four easy bolts and 30 seconds later, I had free flowing air to my head and torso.  I packed the side bags with beach towels and flip flops, I flicked the bike into Touring mode (electronically selectable engine/suspension character) and took off.  Mergining onto the highway, I felt the wind blast on my chest immediately but decided I chose the better of two evils (more of this later).  The Multistrada is perhaps the most calm and confident bike I've ever ridden on interstate.  I had a commanding view of the nearby traffic while following I-10 out of town.

    Once out in the country going through long sweepers, I started to appreciate the effortless, neutral handling of the bike.  Skyhook gives you the taught, surefooted handling of a sportbike while absorbing bumps and yielding a comfortable ride.  Skyhook is stiffness while simultaneously having softness (If a normal suspension was set to offer this level of comfort, it would be very plush and wallow in the turns, under acceleration and braking, also sacrificing feel).  4 bikes in one?  I was beginning to think so, but what I hadn't foreseen is that the Skyhook enables it to be more than one bike at the same time!

    The Multistrada 1200 engine has a surprisingly gentle disposition that is well suited to long distance riding.  In Touring mode, throttle response is progressive and has no harshness.  Launching from a stop is so effortless that it almost seems deceptive.  The motor is a pleasure on the open road; I was already retracting my allogations that the 150hp powerplant is overkill.  Furthermore, Urban mode makes the bike feel absolutely benign.

    Flick the bike into Sport mode (can be easily changed while moving by rolling off the gas) and the bike is transformed again!  Throttle response is increased to a level I'm accustomed to with traditional Ducatis.  Here, the Multistrada's heart of a superbike came out and the engine howled with life.  It felt like it was always chomping at the bits, begging for more.  This is one of my favorite feelings of a motorcycle.

    I pulled up meet Adam and is girlfriend Catherine at the restaurant.  Whereas I am typically stretching out all my cramps and soreness from this same hour plus ride, I was utterly fresh without even a hint of fatigue.  I felt like I hadn’t even left town!  Meanwhile, Adam had thoroughly enjoyed the Multistrada two-up.  The extra power, load-adjustable suspension (configures suspension for passengers and luggage) and comfortable seating resulted in a fantastic biposto experience.  

    Adam commented that the stock windscreen buffeted his helmet badly resulting in shaking and wind noise.  I was glad I removed the screen as a band-aid fix, but having so much air on my chest wasn’t ideal either, especially on an upright bike.  The solution?  A small screen such as the Puig Racing Windscreen available at TTRNO (or choose the Pikes Peak).  It alleviates wind blast on the torso but leaves the head above the buffet zone.

    What more fitting way to spend the day on Multistradas than to go to an Italian-German restaurant, whose owner is a Ducati nut? Roberto of Cannellas not only cooks amazing food, he rides a Diavel and Monster and has Ducati paraphernalia decorating the cozy space.  After a delicious meal, I took off to hit the beach.  My helmet and jacket easily locked securely inside the panniers while I was swimming and getting some sun.

    Another glorious ride back home with the setting sun along the water and I was becoming even more enthralled with the Skyhook. The responsiveness and rigidity of the geometry actually results in great feel and confidence through the turns.  This bike is just effortless through twisties in situations where I would have been put to work on my bike.

    The next day I took the Multi on a couple errands through the city.  I’m a primarily urban rider, so I appreciated how the panniers held my groceries from Whole Foods.  I do wish they didn't always have to lock with the key (there is no need to securely lock a muffin).  The upright riding position and functional mirrors let me cut through traffic with confidence and awareness.  The Multistrada can feel mildly cumbersome (compared to a small bike like a Monster) while negotiating a parking spot, due to the higher seat height and center of gravity.  However, once under way this disappears and it becomes easy and relaxed through the city.

    At the end of my weekend, I had experienced three of the four bikes the Multistrada claims to be:  Touring, Sport and Urban (the last is Enduro).  Do I believe in this slogan?  Absolutely!  This is the only motorcycle I’ve experienced where you can have your cake and eat it too, with very little sacrifice.  I have always loved the Multistrada, but I walk away from it, most of all, with a deeper understanding of what Skyhook electronically damped and adjustable suspension has to offer.  If you love to ride and want one motorcycle that can truly adapt to any environment, this is it.  The best part of all?  It still has the personality and charm of a Ducati!

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