Racing the Harley-Davidson XR1200 — Motorcycle USA

5 Фев 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Racing the Harley-Davidson XR1200 — Motorcycle USA отключены
Harley-Davidson XR 1200 Concept

Racing the Harley-Davidson XR1200

was invited out to New Jersey Motorsports to race in the all-new Hines XR1200 spec as a guest of Harley.

The track lies in front of me is completely open; a massive sea of pavement as I strap my helmet and a microphone is into my face. A quick with the trackside announcer and another for Speed TV and it’s to close the visor and focus. said than done, as I sit and try to my head around what is to come.

I’ve qualified on the row for the first time in my AMA career. And aboard a 520-lb Harley-Davidson.

I’m racing the Vance Hines spec class at New Jersey Park and what was initially to be a relaxing and fun weekend of riding and just got pretty serious all of a With a definite shot at the one of the few things I have yet to accomplish in racing, it was time to lay it all on the line!

up a bit, it all started at the 2011 XR1200X press introduction this year. While the XR far from a “racing” or even “sporting” machine at first the Milwaukee crew who produce V-Twin decided to launch the at Road America. Choosing one of the premiere racetracks to introduce a street-based machine had many of us somewhat perplexed. Turns out knew something we all had yet to figure

The XR was far better on the track than the eye. And because of this, Vance, the founder and head of Hines (exhaust manufacturer and many times over of professional racing teams), had an Why not get back to AMA’s racing

Back to the days when the brothers and many of today’s top got their start in the Harley 883 but do it with the XR1200 in a basic series aimed to provide racing and a stepping stone for youth as well as a place for V-Twin-loving riders to shine.

As per the are allowed to add the Vance Hines kit as well as internal fork and aftermarket shocks, plus and a few other basic mods. everything else must stock.

To promote this the boys at Vance Hines up with Harley and the HOG (Harley Group) and prepped an XR racebike to the specifications and then invited journalists or magazine representative to of the five rounds in this running of the series. MotoUSA was the opportunity for the New Jersey round of the AMA and as the only staffer here to ridden the XR in stock trim, not to the tiny bit of racing experience I yours truly was drafted in as the

But don’t mistake the term for unwilling or forced, as after the amount of fun I had riding the bikes in OE the thought of racing the all-new was more than enough to get my glands pumping out excessive of endorphins. Variety is the spice of they say, and this surely not be akin to anything I had experienced.

In an effort to keep down, the XR class only on track Saturday and Sunday, no practice like the rest of the AMA This was done to try and entice competitors by making the class as as possible; it allows riders to less time off work, one night in a hotel, reduced bills and so on.

And in a class where the bikes are all identical with the amount of tuning and set-up changes very limited, an extra day of become far less critical. The people it really hurts are new to the track at which the event is held. Thankfully we previously had seat time around though limited, having a pair of Jordan Motorsports in a one-day test this last year.

First Saturday (11 a.m.)

First rolled around and it was time to see these beasts were all At over 520 lbs and less than 90 the rear wheel, the XR has the power-to-weight of a clapped out Honda Civic; with the series’ spec DOT Dunlop tires. we knew sliding of any kind would not be from the rear end. If was going to break traction it was to be the front.

Not an area you want to losing grip, though the tire’s prowess we figured wouldn’t be an issue either. (More on that later…)

on the gas exiting the final corner at New Motorsports Park, Atlas his head down in an effort to see the XR behaved like when to its limits. The results were scary.

After a couple reacquainting myself with the and attempting to wrap my head some of the bikes nuances and (this would turn out to be a endeavor) it was time to put my head and see what the XR behaved like at Whoa, damn!

I’m sure of you have read stories we moto-journalists refer to a bike as “hinged,” which is common a motorcycle’s chassis flexes in the lateral direction, relaying to the a twisting feeling, especially as the is pushed closer to its limits. this is usually a very amount of flex, something an inexperienced rider may not feel at on the Harley it’s so apparent one can see the entire bike twist the engine is revved – at a standstill. Due to the V-Twin powerplant being mounted in the frame and the transmission directly attached to the swingarm with rubber mounts), the end is, well … let’s just unorthodox.

It’s for this that when first the XR to its limits the bike starts wiggling, twisting, (insert any word for of a violent snake-like here), which then up your arms almost – mine did at least. I never get arm on a road racer. Never. is a totally different story, but on the not even 220-hp Superbikes can the blood from flowing in and out of my properly.

Three laps in on the and I felt like my arms the size of watermelons; I was in serious

Some of the modifications allowed an aftermarket gauge cluster vented front number and oil cooler relocation behind it and shotgun-style exhaust (bottom). All are from Vance Hines.

After a quick stop in the and conferring with my crew Matt King, he said all the riders had the exact same initially and it wasn’t until learned so loosen their on the bars and just let the bike do its that any kind of relief was to be I needed to try something, and fast, or was going to be one seriously long Time to get loose, baby.

said than executed, as the squirmed between my legs a lap dance from an epileptic releasing my kung-fu-…-grip not only got rid of my it actually aided in slightly the amount the bike moved the more I fought it the more she back. (Hmm, strangely of my home life…)

Next up on the list was the amount of weight (or thereof) on the front end. the seating position of a standard, modified to be as high and far forward as Hines could get without the frame apart, the rider sits very far back almost no weight on the bars. The is that to go fast on these trains one has to carry as much speed as possible and really the front end, as getting a corner-exit drive consists of dumping the throttle wide-open as you the apex, something which very little riding as highsiding with throttle feels nearly impossible.

trying to get my brain wrapped the following, um, quirks, we were to get in a few flying laps, the best of being a low 1:34. This was to put us in the top-five, though not far out of fourth. said, sixth through weren’t far behind us, so being out of the question.

We knew more was

Qualifying: Saturday (4:15

With only 40 minutes of under our belts it was time to already. Short and (hopefully) was the theme of the weekend in Jersey. The session would be 45 minutes and a new set of tires mounted and the bike with just the right of fuel, it was time to see if we could go that coveted front-row spot.

My teammate for the weekend was own media relations manager James (talk about one PR guy) who has been running the series on his own dime, so we devised a which would hopefully us both. Since the bikes run a fairing and weigh so much, the can provide a huge advantage, worth several tenths of a Because James was a couple back of where I was in first he was looking for someone to tow him around the

And as Paul isn’t the smallest guy in the the hole he punched in the wind for a perfecting drafting partner.

(72) and teammate-for-the-weekend Paul (70) paired up in qualifying to advantage of the draft. The result was a drop in lap times for both and a grid position for Atlas, the of his AMA career.

The plan was for James to lead me right on his rear wheel as we the pits and began the out-lap. He stay in front as we got our bikes and up to speed and tires at optimum Then coming through the series of esses that onto the straight to complete the lap, James would the hammer and ride as hard as he while I simultaneously dropped ever so slightly.

This allow a slight buffer and me the ability to get a run though the final and onto the front straight, past Paul to start my lap. He would then in behind me and I would become his as I pushed as hard as I could for the of the lap. This would me a draft and him a tow.

The plan perfect. But you know what to perfect plans, right? they never go as planned. this time that is! For must have been one of the times in my racing career, an plan actually went off the slightest hitch.

We actually ran team-drafting tactic several the second of which turned out to be the After dropping back enough and catching his draft was we clicked into top gear, I past with a head of unlike any other pass the straight all weekend. Not surprisingly I had the trap speed of anyone in

This was followed up by the hardest I had all weekend, the XR bucking and snaking me to the point it actually started to me in spots.

But the result was a drop of two seconds, getting into the low and qualifying fourth, which the outside of the front row. bucket-list box was checked: Qualify on the row for a professional race. James was as happy, dropping over two off his practice times and qualifying this put him directly behind me on the opening things up for yet another plan.

Race: Sunday p.m.)

After a quick practice to shake things out we ready to race. Everything great and after a quick lap and a couple grid interviews for TV, I sat, a long stretch of track sitting in front of me. been since my club days that a front row greeted me prior to battle, the sea of waiting is almost eerie in a No one but I could mess this up.

I had a shot into Turn 1 and due to the way AMA out the grid, qualifying on the outside of the row actually meant I was on the inside of the GEICO Racing teammates Jake and Kyle Wyman joined me on the row in the first and third spots, split by young flat protege P.J. Jacobson in

I’m not sure if it was my position on the front row or a complete brain fade, but as the red went out and the green flag I just sat there. Though for a split-second, it felt like I an anchor and completely parked it as else flew past me. my brain quickly kicked into gear, however, and I the clutch and got the beast rolling.

A lack of power and its weight the XR from wheelieing hardly at all and off we

Atlas gets interviewed on the prior to the start of the AMA Vance XR1200 race in New Jersey.

By time my nap on the line had allowed the second row to pull alongside me, a pulling well ahead as we down into Turn 1. had decided to try and wheelie halfway the front straight – I still no idea how he did it – meanwhile I was floundering in an attempt to make back up the lost. At one point in the drag to the first corner I was as far back as or eighth, Holden right in of me. Luckily, though, with the of Jacobson and Wyman up front, else decided to brake early into Turn 1, Holden and I to dive up the inside and just barley into third and fourth, – a few elbows may have been to accomplish this, but these are we’re racing, so rubbing is part of the game!

Holden quick work of the leaders, Jacobson in the third corner and by the end of the first lap. Initially I had to follow him through, but both and Kyle were over a quicker than I was in qualifying and even further in front, so by that I had to come to grips the fact that a podium probably a pipedream.

Harley-Davidson XR 1200 Concept

But come time, the two youngsters in front me a tow, the lap times dropped in an V-Twin-powered haste. From 1:32s in qualifying we were all in the low 1:31s from the first lap on; over a second dropped again and things felt quite comfortable at that In fact, without a lap timer on the I had assumed we were actually slower than in qualifying.

I know of our pace until the race and my crew gave me the I was surprised.

Atlas decided to a nap on the line, just to be sure to everyone else a fighting

As Holden slowly pulled at the front, though to the tune of than half-a-second a lap is all, Jacobson and I were glued to tail. None of us had made any for position but just being to run their pace was promising. But Lap 3 and we nearly threw it all away. At our pace I was riding the front quite a bit more aggression in practice or qualifying and when the was brand new this wasn’t an

Though as it started to go off a few front-end ensued, one fairly big one entering 3. This had allowed the pair in to get a four or five bike-length

Having just lost draft I was unsure if I had the pace to the gap back up. I knew I could with them, but could I it up and reel them back in? Had you me before the race I would told you definitely not, but why we race, and I was quickly glued to Wyman’s rear wheel; had made his way past for second on the fifth lap.

This changed everything. just made up nearly a deficit to a pair that I had would walk away me, and not feeling like I was totally on the edge yet (I was definitely pretty to the edge, though), something and my goal quickly changed. All I was to get by one of them and a podium was mine; yet huge check for the bucket For the next three laps I Wyman, sizing up where he was and where I would make up

Where could I make the I could make up quite a bit of on the brakes into Turn 1, so a ripping drive through the final corner and a solid I knew I could out-brake him the first corner.

Atlas had his full off the start in the XR race at New leading a multi-rider pack in the going, one which he would pull away from.

Lap 8 for the race began and it was time. looked to be getting away at the of our group ever so slightly so it was now or I made sure to ride as as possible for the first three-quarters of the staying as close to his rear as possible without making any

Leading onto the front is a long, mini-carousel-type left shoots you into the esses and through the rippin’-quick final turn.

I had lost a tenth in the right that leads the mini-carousel left, so to be sure I was enough to get a run in his draft I charged the a bit harder than the lap prior, not all that much harder. we were already on the limit the lap and my added speed put me well it, the front proceeded to completely go into one of the longest, slow-motion I’ve ever had — up on my head.

Somehow I didn’t go (I still have no idea the front end regained traction as I the edge of the track. I stood the up with such violence I highsided over the front Whew!

Luckily, what was a crash I somehow managed to through a serious dose of and my trusty left knee But as my front tire slid off the distance so did my shot at the podium, the moment allowing Jacobson and to pull away by over a in one lap. They continued to gap me for the couple laps as I worked to get my back in the game.

I was able to get into the 1:31s with two remaining and make some of the back up on them, but it was too little too With over 30 seconds in in front of fifth place, I it home fourth. It may not have the podium we had hoped for, all things considered it turned out to be one of a weekend.

Cranked over and the final series of corners at New Motorsports Park, Executive Atlas puts his head in an effort to try and get that elusive career AMA podium. After tech and the RMR team caught that podium was his!

With a front-row qualifying and finish, this would go as the most successful weekend in my racing career. Sure it may been aboard a wobbly, and squirming Harley-Davidson. And sure the competition might not be as deep as of the others.

But considering our best lap were within a tenth of young-gun Jacobson and less half-a-second back of former AMA race winner Jake who has been racing an XR all to finish where we did far exceeded our

Oh, and did I mention, it was an absolute riot the time! Harley-Davidson’s XR1200 not be as fast as a Suzuki GSX-R1000 or like a Yamaha R6. but racing the XR a feeling of nostalgia mixed modern technology to make for a unlike anything else out one which provides a new sound and to road racing, a feel our sport could benefit greatly. Right now grids are a thin, hovering around regular riders.

But add another 10 regulars, plus a few wildcards and there, and a 25-rider Vance XR grid would without provide some of the closest of the weekend.

Here’s hoping 10-15 people put teams together for and Harley still has that VIP available for one-off rides. I’m itching for that elusive AMA (nevermind, we just got it!) and I kill for another shot at it on the XR season! It was that much

UPDATE: In a surprise turn of the bucket list has just checked again! Both winner Jake Holden and finisher Kyle Wyman from the race following a inspection of parts sent to AMA Pro Racing’s headquarters in Daytona Florida. As a result, second-place P.J.

Jacobson has been awarded the his first in AMA competition, while truly inherited second another career-first AMA Pro Racing We may not have done it on track close), but cheating is cheating, the AMA that RMR Racing (who riders rode for) had modifying their ECUs to for additional revs, giving machines a definite performance a direct violation of the rules.

So as MotoUSA takes its first-ever racing podium, the only publication to ever have a staffer finish in the top-three in AMA Pro competition. Considering how hard we on-track, on a bike totally new to us, you can bet take it and soak up all the possible we can — looks like time to get some champagne and the office!

Harley-Davidson XR 1200 Concept
Harley-Davidson XR 1200 Concept
Harley-Davidson XR 1200 Concept

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