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Going Racing

Started by The Prophet of Doom, October 15, 2011, 04:39:21 AM

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The Prophet of Doom

Iain and I have decided to go racing in pre '82 post classic (250cc-600cc).  He is going to strip down his road bike (he doesn't think he's going to crash), I'm going to assemble a new one out of parts we both have and leave my touring bike unmolested.  Since I am building from scratch, I can let my imagination go a bit wild with modifications - within reason there are some rules.

What would you do to your XZ if you were going racing ??

Here are all the Mods I am considering:
Green = Done
Strikethrough=Not doing
Bright Green = Done (Maintenance Item)

1. Cylinder head
YICS removal & cap ports
YICS replacement (Malossi Boost Bottles x 2)
Relocate breathers to catch can
Iridium sparkplugs
Index sparkplugs
82-83 gaskets
Use two rear valve covers for better crankcase venting
Cut 0.5mm from cylinder surfaces
Smooth intake ports
Polish Heads

2. Cylinder
Rebore to 650cc
Powdercoat Waterpump Joints
Replace Waterpump seals
Polish external cases

3. Crankshaft – piston
Bore and Stroke to 750cc
Uprated Rods and bearings
Wiseco pistons
Harmonic balance crank

4. Balancer
Balancer removal

5. Camshaft – Chain
Replacement race cams
Twingle cam timing
Replace timing chains

6. Valve
Grind / lap valves
Set valve lash

7. Water Pump
Set thermostat
Clean and powdercoat
New ceramic seal, bearing and oil seal

8. Radiator Hose
Replacement fan motor eg Triumph Tiger 800
Silicon hoses
Fan sensor bypass switch
Trim pointy bits off radiator shroud
Trim Vanes off Shroud
Debadge shroud
Alloy radiator grill
Alloy Overflow Bottle
Remove / replace radiator shroud with alloy
Waterless coolant

Sand and heat polish plastics
Powder coat / paint

9. Oil Pump

10. Oil Filter
Oil Cooler
Weld scrape hole in cover
Powdercoat black

11. Air Filter
82->83 Flapper assembly
Replace filter material with K&N or similar
Intake trumpet extensions
Pod filters
Remove Flapper / Open Air intake
UNI air filter
Blockoff flapper hose

12. Carburetor
Replacement Carb (Weber dual throat, Single slide, single downdraught)
Polyurethane fuel lines
Fuel line magnets
In-line fuel filter
Electric fuel pump (K&N, FuelFlow or similar)
Intake restrictors
Strip, ultrasound clean and powdercoat
Replace accelerator pump diaphragm
120/120 Air jets
140/140 Main jets

13. Exhaust
Flanges welded to Y piece
Replacement exhaust (Predator, Spec2, Cycleworks, Wolf, Marving, Macs, Supertrapp, Custom)
Exhaust baffle removal
Exhaust baffle added

14. Crankcase
Semi-synthetic oil

15. Crankcase Cover
Cooling fins
Engine crash guards
Crankcase thermometer
Powdercoat crankcase covers

16. Generator
Ricks Stator
Honda 30 Amp stator
550 -> 400 Flywheel swap (or lighten stock flywheel)
Waterproof stator connector
Drilled Flywheel bolt
Stator removal (total loss)

17. Starting Motor
Replace Nose Seal with spring-lip design
Starter Repair kit

18. Starter Clutch
Longer bolts and peen

19. Clutch
Heavy duty clutch springs
EBC Heavy Duty Clutch Plates

Euro -> US -> XZ400 gearing swap

20. Transmission
Replace transmission with RD400 6-speed

21. Middle Drive Gear
Chain drive conversion

22. Shift Cam – Fork

23. Shift Shaft
Replacement shift lever (XZ400D Alloy)
Replace Gear Lever Rubber
Powdercoat Linkages

24. Frame
Improve Bolts (Straight through with nuts)

Full frame replacement
Grab handle removal
Remove main stand
Powdercoat frame & Mounts
Relocate mounting for R/R
Carve excess material off exhaust hangers

25. Fender
Shorten front and rear fenders
Discard under-seat covers
Discard Tool Box
Relocate licence plate holder

Upgrade tookit
Warrant of Fitness (Safety Cert) Holder
Registration Label Holder
Custom battery box in rear cowl for LiFe Battery

26. Side Cover
Discard Side covers
Discard Battery Box
Discard Radiator Overflow
New Radiator overflow attached to radiator
New Blowby container attached to radiator

27. Swing Arm
Bronze swingarm bushings
Powdercoat swingarm
Replace swingarm bushings

Lengthen Swingarm

28. Drive Shaft
Chain conversion
Clean and lube

29. Rear Shock
82->83 swap
82 Shock Rebuild with Nitrogen Valve, Gold Shock Insert
Replace with R1 (early model) Ducati Paso or Triumph shock with relocated mount
New shock from YSS, Wilbur, Works Performance, Progressive etc)

30. Front Fork
Additional spacers
Progressive springs
Racetech emulators
82->83 Air caps/Stanchions
Air Valve
Fork Brace (Tarozzi)

Full front end conversion
Blacken fork tubes between triples
Air balancer tube
Powdercoat lowers / triple tree
Polish fork tubes
New fork seals
Bel-Ray W10 fork oil

31. Steering
Tapered roller bearings
Steering Damper
Raise headlight ears
Shave Badge
Add Vision badge

32. Fuel Tank
POR 15 Liner
Drill Neck
Replace filler with flush cap
Add fuel level viewing window (flush mount)
Add electric fuel sender
Replace (eg custom alloy, modified off another bike)
Re-shape - trim bottom off tank rear
Insulated lining on bottom
New Tank Cap
Petcock Repair Kit
Fuel filter (glass)
New Fuel Line

33. Seat
Corbin seat
Carved foam
Gel Insert
Add XZ400 strap
Modify seat pan to be flush with tank
New underseat rails
Single race seat
Fill voids in cowl
Remove hinges - Replacement mounting on sub-frame

34. Front Wheel
82->83 or XZ400 slotted disk rotors
R1 Bigger diameter rotors (& Caliper swap)
Aftermarket rotors (EBC or similar)
Increase tyre size up to 110 - Trim Mudguard to fit
Virago Wheel
Wheel Balance
Speedo cable blanking cap
Powdercoat - Black rims
Upgrade Rim tube-type to tubeless (Euro, Australasia)
Replace wheel bearings

35. Front Brake – Caliper
82->83 Dual disk front brake (US Only)
82->83 Dual disk master cylinder (US Only)

Stainless Braided Brake Lines (1, 2 or 3 line kit)
Large 4-pot calipers & adapters
Sintered pads
Brembo ceramic pads
New seals and dust boots

36. Rear Wheel
Increase tyre size up to 120
Powdercoat - Black Rims
Upgrade rims tube-type to tubeless (Euro, Australasia)
Replace wheel bearings
Virago Wheel

37. Handlebar – Cable
82->83 risers (US Only)
RG250 Clip-ons (cut stock risers)
Bolt-on risers and traditional handlebar
Foam / gel grips
Handlebar end mirrors

Hand protectors
Replace Ignition key with RFID sensor

38. Front Master Cylinder
Replace with aftermarket
Drill and re-tap for socket head screws
SS Brake Lines (Goodridge)
Replace Sight glass
MC Rebuild Kit

39. Stand – Footrest
82->83 swap
Swap with 400D/550D Alloy
Shave (Cut/replace) exhaust hangers
Replace brake pedal

Remove rear stand
Aftermarket rearsets (Raask)

40. Meter
Complete replacement (Digital dash etc Motogadget Mini)
Complete replacement idiot lights (custom home made)
Temp gauge relocation

41. Headlight
7" Lucas Bucket (Ammeter converted to Temp Gauge)
7" Round headlight
Headlight Mounted digital temperature gauge
Headlight mounted voltmeter
Headlight Mounted Single LED Idiot Lights
Headlight modulator

Angel Eyes
LED Conversion

42. Taillight
LED Conversion

43. Turn Signal
Stumpy Stalks
Complete replacement

44. Electrical
Ignitech replacement TCI (Programmable or non programmable)
Throttle Position Sensor (for use with Ignitech TCI-P4)
Replacement Connectors
Ultraloud Snail Horn, 136db Stebel Nautilus Horn, or similar
VW 6Volt horn
Volt meter
Cut TCI rev limiter
Toggle switch for cooling fan & indicator
Relocate r/r to outside bike (or some other place)
Replace r/r with mosfet shunt or series type (FH0012A)
LED Licence plate lights
Replace fuse box with blade type

Daytime Running Lights
AGM/LiFe Battery
Accessory outlet
Full re-wire
Motogadget m-unit, m-lock,m-button
Aftermarket coils ( Nology)
Silicon spark leads (FBG)

45. Handlebar Switch - Lever
Drilled Lever ends
Aftermarket levers
Euro Flash to pass swap

46. Fairing
83 Fairing
83 / Sports / Shark Fairing

Aftermarket fairings
Trim windscreen
Extra length windscreen

47. Other
Hard Luggage (Shoei, Yamaha)
Pack Rack

Non-standard paint
Digital/Analog clock, Radar detector, GPS


lose the stock exhaust. beef up the suspention & brakes, remove the guages, lights, most of the seat, coolant bottle, body work, center & side stand.  smaller tank. drop the bars. 

might also want to look at replacing those 10mm(?) bolts that hold the right side frame piece on with 12mm.  frame seems to flex there.. a light thin fan maybe too..
1982/3 XZ550 Touring Vison, Gold on Black


If you think you need a fan on a race bike, you aren't going fast enough.
Whale oil beef hooked!


Quote from: roro on October 15, 2011, 04:39:21 AM
.......there are some rules.

What would you do to your XZ if you were going racing ??

:) Start with what the rules allow/specify for a race bike and go from there.

Stand back and take a long hard look at the Vision you are going to use...and then take off everything that is not needed...OR...can be replaced with better/lighter/modified parts ;)

Engine service and tuning are going to be needed...a dyno would be a great help here 8)

                     8) ....... TIGER ....... 8)
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming HOOOOYA lets go again baby !!!!!!

'82 Vision, Pearl Orange finish, lots of up-grades!!!


I'd also suggest some mods to yourself like stretching and strength training. It will help on the bike and in the event of a "off the bike" excursion. Don't forget to upgrade your protective gear. If your helmet is more than 5 years old, replace it.

Regardless of your riding ability you can always benefit from the advise of the pros. High performance riding classes could be a good investment. Also, there are numerous books on the subject. Keith Code has a series called A Twist of the Wrist. I'd be inclined to recommend the followup Part 2 for your purposes if you didn't want to read both. There's a DVD based on Part 2 that's very informative. I'd recommend it to street riders as well. A little instruction can go a long way to improving your skills and boosting your confidence thus allowing you to more fully enjoy the experience.
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is then to persist in delusion, however satisfying or reassuring.  Carl Sagan


Study the rulebook and class structure of the racing organization with an eye toward being able to compete in several classes. The more track time you can get, the more fun you'll have and your racing will improve more quickly. Enter multi hour endurance races if they have them. Both of those strategies worked for me when I raced the WERA circuit in the '80s. I ran 5 to 6 classes at each event and endurance races on my RZ 350 and my teammate's TT 500.

One suggestion I disagree with is about older helmets. Their protective value doesn't deteriorate with age. If the outer shell, the inner impact absorbing material, and the retention straps aren't damaged, it's OK. The comfort liner does deteriorate, but it can be repaired. If you want a newer helmet for other reasons, do it. Replacing helmets due to age is a popular misconception that some manufacturers and riders repeat. The head protection analysis and testing experts don't support it. Reading up on the Snell and DOT head protection standards is a good idea, too.

fret not

Make sure your equipment fits you well, especially your helmet, boots, and gloves.  'Race fit' is generally a bit more snug than one would normally choose for comfort on the street because it is meant for performance and protection first, comfort second. 

Better carbs would be a plus but would need serious time and effort to fit and finagle.  Tuning is an obvious area of importance.  The best suspension you can afford and the best tires will both help, neither of which are inexpensive.  You will go through tires quickly.  Careful attention to all the mechanical details like condition of cables, lever pivots, axle fasteners, safety wire, tire pressure, engine adjustments, etc.   

The previous advice is good: track time, school, physical conditioning, watch videos, read, etc.  You will have a steep learning curve if you want to be competitive in a short time.  Hot dog street riding is not like actual racing.  Be careful, this can be addictive and hazardous to your wallet. 

Contact John Clemens re getting more performance from your V. 

I started road racing in '64 here in California and last raced in '75, so what I know may not be of value these days, but I think there will always be some general good ideas.  Build your skill, experience moments of terror, build your ego, more terror, work on skill, more terror, etc.  Rinse and repeat as necessary.  Try to brake later, gas it sooner, steer with your weight (not the handle bars), look as far ahead in a turn as you can see (that is the place you are aiming for), and be smooth.  Smooth will get you around the track faster, with less terror, and with less exertion.  It's still a real work out.

A good rider on a mediocre machine will often beat a lesser rider on a better machine.  You need experience to get there.  Let us know how it unfolds.
Retired, on the downhill slide. . . . . . . . still feels like going uphill!


Run light oil.  Fret Nut, what's wrong with countersteering?


Quotesteer with your weight (not the handle bars),

Yikes, this is really bad advice.  :o  No offense fret nut, but shifting your weight to steer will bring about slow, lazy arcs at best. It's a common misconception and even some racers still believe it so don't feel bad.

Since I'm on my soap box let me address the helmet replacement interval as well.  I was recently on the Shoei site and they recommend 3 years, not 5. I read Bell now also recommends 3 but have not confirmed that. I realize they are trying to sell helmets but there is more to it than that.

The same mechanism that deteriorates the comfort lining also effects the energy absorbing material. Sweat and heat for instance are big factors. A visual examination will not tell you much. If you drop a helmet, it's compromised to some degree - both the shell and the expanded polystyrene lining and there is usually no obvious signs. Parking it on a turn signal stalk or mirror effects the EPS lining as does the simple fact of wearing it over many hours and years. If you've left it in a car in the summer (which can exceed 150 F) the helmet has been compromised to some degree. Also, if it's not the current SNELL rating, I wouldn't race with it but that's just me.  ;)

Yes helmets can be very expensive and that's the biggest reason people resist believing they deteriorate and need to be replaced. Not necessarily with the passage of time, but with use.
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is then to persist in delusion, however satisfying or reassuring.  Carl Sagan


Helmet deterioration - replace due to age or not?
This question has been around for years. I looked for a definitive answer about 18 months or so ago and settled on checking with a motorcycle safety colleague and head protection expert. His opinion is what I based my prior post on. I'm inclined to trust his expertise and opinions. His background and credentials go back to working with Dr. Harry Hurt and the well known "Hurt report" at USC and are impeccable. See for yourself -

fret not

Of course counter steering is used to initiate a turn,  :-[   it's so automatic I didn't think to mention it.  What I mean is once you have your line, to steer with your weight.  There was no one dragging their knees in my time of reference. ;)
Retired, on the downhill slide. . . . . . . . still feels like going uphill!


Neil, I will certainly concede this is a contentious topic and there as many experts as there are opinions. I too have done research so I guess it's a matter of what you're comfortable with. Here's an interesting article on how the tests are conceived and carried out. It compares various standards and even brings into question some of the Snell ratings and methodology. Dr. Hurt, Dr. Newman and others are quoted.

I may have come across as being preachy but it's out of concern. Having been in an accident resulting in a concussion and a permanent flaw in my right retina, helmet safety became a bit of a passion. I guess my point was if you plan on participating in a sport where the idea is to go really fast on a motorcycle, don't scrimp on safety gear and particularly your helmet.  :)
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is then to persist in delusion, however satisfying or reassuring.  Carl Sagan


Ian/roro - is there a web page link you can share outlining the requirements for your intended racing venue? I'd be curious to learn what mods are allowed & required, safety gear requirements etc.

Do they require catch bottles for coolant and carbs for instance? How about belly pans for engine oil containment?
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is then to persist in delusion, however satisfying or reassuring.  Carl Sagan


Rik, I understand your concerns, don't think you were preachy, and am sorry to learn of your retina. That stinks. Fortunately, during years of racing and riding I only had one head injury, a mild concussion with no long term effects. I was unconscious on the race track and didn't get run over - whew!

Regarding using older helmets, I'll stick with what I learned from head protection expert, David Thom. The opinion he gave me was based on his impact tests of both new and old helmets. In the article you referred to, the writer concluded his two paragraphs on Dave's background and expertise by writing "In other words, he knows what he is doing."

The article is about the helmet testing Dave did for the article, helmet standards, and standard setting organizations. It doesn't address whether using an old helmet is a good or bad idea. The same writer's follow up article in the New York Times doesn't either.

There is more information about that article - I'll put that into a separate post along with the links.


The helmet article was written by Dexter Ford for Motorcyclist's June 2005 issue. Who or whatever "West Coast Weasels" is, it appears they pirated the copyrighted article and deleted any reference to its writer, photographer, and publishing magazine. All of which is illegal. Here's a link to the full article. It was posted on Team Orgeon's web site. (They are Oregon's Rider Ed program.) Coincidentally, David Thom had sent me that link a few years ago.,%20Motorcyclists%206-05,%20D.%20Ford.pdf

These are the links to Snell's two responses to the Motorcyclist article:

This is a Q & A about the article from Motorcyclist:

Dexter Ford's follow up article in the New Youk Times:

Snell's response to the NYT article:

David Thom's testing reported in the Motorcyclist and NYT articles clearly showed lower priced helmets did as well or better than high priced ones.  Your point about not scrimping on safety gear, particularly helmets doesn't fit with that data. Of course, our lives have been filled with the marketing message of higher price = better. We are all influenced by that. Certainly, most of the more expensive helmets have better fit, comfort, venting, size choice, paint jobs, etc.

Bottom line? It's a very personal choice and one that can be based on the latest and best data.


Not sure I wanna stick my nose in this helmet thing, but as a new rider with lots to live for, I did a lot of research when I chose my helmet.  I think the new vs old debate is very tough, because it's not a decision that occurs in a vacuum.  An 8 year old helmet that had never been so much as dropped, that fits your head well, and has good visibility, and stays put at any speed is going to be better than a brand new 800 dollar techno marvel that doesn't fit your head.  I read one article that did show that an 80 dollar helmet had the highest safety ratings of any on the market, but to work properly you really needed to have a spherical shaped head.  I have also read (may be linked in the thread already) how the snell and DOT testing methods did not give a good approximation of the actual benefits of the helmet.  I went to a bunch of motorcycle shops, and just started putting on helmets (any that weren't black, being a new rider I wanted a hi-vis color) and wearing them for a few minutes.  I found that very few fit my head well, and I think that is possibly the most crucial element in determining a helmets effectiveness.  I got down to 2 models I liked best, and wore each for about an hour in the store.  (Its easy to kill time in a motorcycle showroom)  If everything goes according to plan, I will never drop the helmet, and I'll use it for years. 

That being said, the materials in the helmet degrade and become brittle.  I don't think anyone would argue otherwise.  They say 3 years, whether that is true if it never leaves the shelf, or three years of use, or 3 years in the trunk of a car, I have no way of knowing.  As the chemistry gets more advance, you cannot always tell by the look or feel of it to know how it will react in a crash, or how much useful life it has left.  I do not expect my helmet to be a life long companion, however, even on race day, If you have a good comfortable helmet, with all risks of the day, I wouldn't put it being a few years off expiration high on the list. 

In the end, the message of "don't skimp on safety" is the most important point. 


John, you make an excellent point in that the proper fit is crucial to any helmet's effectiveness regardless of price.

Neil, I'm aware of the article and it's origins but thanks for including the links. My link was a bit of a synopsis from a "Harleyesque' big twin site archive (?) and as I recall they gave full credit to the Motorcyclist article on the page where it was linked from. The Motorcyclist article is also referenced in several places in the write up. Snells responses are also within there and start on page 5. I realize the article does not mention new vs. old helmet testing and that wasn't the point of my including it.  It's just one article with some interesting info - some contrary to my beliefs - that I thought some may find interesting but hardly represents the entirety of helmet R&D. If there's enough interest, I can post again with several pages of links to a myriad of helmet testing articles....  anyone? No?  ;D  :D

Depending on where roro and Ian race, the decision of how much to spend or how old the helmet is may not be up to them.  For instance, here in NJ, for track days -not racing mind you, a Snell 2000 or 2005 rating is required. New Hamshire on the other hand requires "... an undamaged (!!!), full-faced helmet with DOT, SNELL, or BSI rating...".  But I don't really care to get wrapped up in a helmet or gear debate. I'd much rather hear from them on what the bike requirements will be.  ;) Then we can focus on the point of the post.  :) Who was the idiot that brought gear and helmets into the discussion anyway!!??
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is then to persist in delusion, however satisfying or reassuring.  Carl Sagan


Rik - Good points & good sense of humor! :)  FYI - I recall the Snell double hit against a convex anvil test standard is rooted in the car racing that Snell died doing. It was designed to simulate a driver whacking his head against the roll bar of his race car. Dexter Ford's two articles criticized the Snell standard and how it doesn't apply well to motorcycling, but didn't mention these roots.

John  - "That being said, the materials in the helmet degrade and become brittle.  I don't think anyone would argue otherwise."  
I, among others, do think otherwise. My thought on this is based on the tests and opinion from Dave Thom that I mentioned earlier. Are there tests, research, or qualified opinions to support the "degrade & become brittle" point of view?


Rikugun, I am on my first bike, don't even have my M class yet, so I have little input on racing mods.  I know one idiot who is a sucker for a debate, regardless who brought it up  ;D

neil, In answer to your question, I wouldn't call the idea that plastic and polystyrene degrade a point of view, I think it would more likely fall under the law of entropy.  I didn't think anyone would argue it, because its just a fact, and not the point.  The point is, how quickly do they degrade, what factors can be controlled, and how will it effect the properties of the materials.  Your saying it doesn't effect them at all, Snell says 5 years and lists many reasons, among them degradation of the materials.  I am saying the truth is probably somewhere in between.  That is my point of view.  I can't site any tests or credentials, I came up with it on my own. YMMV   :) 

Lets assume Iain and Roro, have the best helmet money can buy and its 50 years old, freshly refurbished and custom injection molded to their heads and was permanently installed by Darth Vader's helmet installer device, moments before the death star explosion and both survived without a scratch.  Let us also assume, and pray, that it will never be tested.   

I wanna hear more about the bikes and the racing.  ;D


The Prophet of Doom

The helmet debate is useless, since all helmets over 10 years old are impounded.

The rules are here
Most interesting are Chapter 10 (Technical) and 25 (post classic)