Coast to Coast (and back?) with an Italian Supermodel

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by AntiHero, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. NitroRoo

    NitroRoo Been here awhile

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    Awesome stuff man - what a chance of a lifetime to experience that!:clap
  2. cmacfar

    cmacfar Adventurer

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    MOTHER FUCKER this is an awesome thread. I read the first part of this thread around December and now just read the rest. What an amazing story. :clap

    Can't wait to read about the riding the R.
  3. AntiHero

    AntiHero Long timer

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    And then it was my turn (that's my bike on the end):

    [​IMG]

    I've posted my review of the R several pages back, but now that it's chronological, here it is again:

    When I first saw the specs of the R motor during the press launch PowerPoint (the only PowerPoint I've probably ever paid attention to in my life), the differences in weight between the S and the R flywheel and connecting rods were listed in grams. Being a retarded American who has to google “gram to ounce conversion” every time a metric unit of weight is encountered, I dismissed the figures as being measurable by sensitive scales only. One bit of data that I did understand very well was this:

    Pole position for the 1199R at Phillip Island: 1:30.795.
    Phillip Island Lap Record (set by Hayden on a MotoGP bike): 1:30.059.

    Granted, MotoGP hasn't been to the track since the repave, so the record will fall, but the fact a largely undeveloped (for WSB) 1199R, based on a production bike with a base price of $30k, came so close to a MotoGP bike record makes you realize how glorious the Panigale is.

    The first hardware details you notice about the R that sets it apart from its more plebeian siblings: aluminum blanks instead of mirrors, a larger, crystal clear, lightly smoked windscreen hiding a tiny GPS sensor under its nose, a full sewer-pipe-diameter Termi System and all sorts of carbon bits. Graphic/design highlights include the “Ducati Corse” graphic on the fairings, which tastefully breaks up the rather expansive demonic red surfaces on either side, the exposed aluminum tank and the perfectly textured new seat cover that grips on the track as well as it looks in the paddock. I’ll admit that the heat shield looks rather obtuse in pictures, but it’s fairly innocuous in person. The lack of rim stripes also gives the bike a more dedicated, singularly purposed appearance, but unfortunately the stark white ‘spider leg’ decals on the nose and fairing detracted from the elegance and simplicity of the rest of the bike. Why sexy and purposeful solid white number plate-graphics were reduced to peripheral traces deducts points from the allure and impact the R versions in the past have had. (The brushed aluminum tank is a nice consolation, though.)

    Blindfolded, you’d never know the difference between the R and any other Panigale variant. That is, until you gave the throttle a blip. Those grams that threw me off as being academic during the presentation actually equate to almost 3 lbs less rotating mass, which remarkably changes the responsiveness of the engine. Whereas the base engine builds revs with brutal, explosive, mechanical fervor, the R motor responds with an synaptic, hyper, explosive fluidity.

    While sitting on pit row waiting for green-flag-permission to enter the track, I got to enjoy the unapologetic, snarling sounds the engine makes exhaling through the revised Termi exhausts as the journalists launched onto CotA (with no speed limit in the pits). As I hurtled off the line the exhaust note thundered off the pit wall like a THX-optimized version of a solid-fuel space-shuttle launch from afar. The alacrity of the engine, combined with the new gearing made the R feel significantly lighter than the S or Base versions even under partial throttle.

    That Ducati doesn't claim any additional HP over the base is the first indication that they might just be sandbagging and have made more changes than they're admitting. Two weeks prior I’d been on the track with my 41T S, so the violent forces associated with full throttle acceleration out of corners and onto the straits were fresh in my mind. The R, despite the standard HP claims, is noticeably more powerful. Granted, my S did dyno lower than the average Panigale, and some of the increased forward momentum could have been a result of the increased rate at which the R’s Superquadro motor revs, but seat-of-the pants is what thrills, and there was no mistaking that the R motor is all R. So much so that the front tire just skims the pavement under full throttle at 150+, causing a ‘weave’ in your line.

    The timing required to keep a standard Panigale surging forward through the gears uninterrupted, save for quick stab on the quickshifter, was hopelessly inadequate for the R. Despite an additional 500rpm redline, I hit the limiter before even thinking “shift” several times during the first session. Normally towards the end of the tach stratosphere you can feel a motor begin to struggle. It’s that moment when the engine nears its operating limits and the mechanical precision distorts into aural and tactile mechanical disorganization, causing a simultaneous dip in power. You can feel the change on the Panigale around 10,250 rpm, which cues a snikt on the shift lever. On the R, this second law of mechano-thermo-dynamics-type dissolution near redline simply never happens. In a hypothetical study that I made up just now to prove my point, 10/10 motorcyclists, when asked to estimate at what RPM the R motor was at, underestimated the RPM by 3000-4000 revolutions. And when told that the engine was actually spinning at 12,000, 9/10 people estimated that the redline surely would have to be 15-16,000 rpm, based on how smooth it was. (The other 1 person dropped out due to ‘health’ reasons. We referred to him after that point as “orgasm man.”) Ever hit a false neutral while giving your bike full throttle? That's about how fast the R motor revs when driven in anger.

    Similar to my thinking the engine was spinning at far less RPMs than it was, my sensitivity to lean-angle demanded some serious adjustment, too. Flicking the bike (and I do mean flicking, it felt so light) into a corner I found my knee would slap the pavement far before I expected. The engineers had indicated the adj swingarm pivot was set at 0 deg., confounding me to wonder why the bike transitioned from side to side so fluidly. (Wasn't until later that day listening to a conversation between Kevin Duke and the Pirelli rep, that the Supercorsa SPs were a brand new compound, explaining at least part of the mystery.) The rest of the changes I’ll chalk up to the track surface and the overall bad-ass-ness of the 1199.

    During the past several months living with the Superquadro, I found it impossible to imagine how Ducati could improve on the Panigale. That they did so soon after launch shows you just how fanatical the engineering team is. The end-result of all the subtle changes made the R feel like it was two versions beyond the standard models. The change in engine characteristics that would definitely be noticeable on the street become more profound on the track--and the extra range of adjustment to the swingarm will make exponential differences on the WSB circuit. The R clearly pushes Ducati forward in the moto-arms-race and provides mere mortals the opportunity to experience World Superbike levels of performance without requiring WSB-like abilities (or budgets).

    The Good:
    Motor, motor, motor.
    Seat material is so good I will be swapping out for one soon
    On/off throttle less abrupt
    Slipper clutch works more effectively than mine
    Gear selection not as critical as on the base models

    The Bad:
    Having to recalibrate up-shift points
    Shorter throttle pull with a rising rate would help when trying to unleash the wrath of Satan while trying to hold on (that last 10% of the throttle required an awkward wrist extension)
    Full-throttle front end wander at 150+ speeds (how much steering can you do when the front wheel is barely skimming the pavement?)
    Stock pegs still don’t inspire confidence, but Sidi boots make up for a lot of the deficiency.
    Graphics don’t leave you in awe
  4. iamchris

    iamchris Adventurer

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    Hmm, seems like they missed one detail...

    "Breakpoint" should be "brakepoint."

    This is about all I'm good for. :)
  5. Trane Francks

    Trane Francks Been here awhile

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    Pretty f'in clever, actually. The Ducati guys were facing a serious potential disadvantage compared to Honda (3 days @ COTA) and Yamaha (2 days @ COTA) due to their private testing. Getting 30 or so laps on the hottest Panigale, while not being a MotoGP bike, helps to offset the deficit. Even the smallest of advantage gained is still an advantage.
  6. fritzcoinc

    fritzcoinc Enjoying my last V8

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    Try expressing interest in Moto Guzzi.
  7. AntiHero

    AntiHero Long timer

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    When I first received 'my' bike, I wasn't exactly nervous, but neither was I Hindu Cow calm. All these guys are fast and smooth. And they all had a session to familiarize themselves with CotA.

    One of the most common mistakes guys make on the track is worrying about what is behind them. If half of your mental focus is devoted to what's in your non-existent mirrors, only half is left for what's in front of you. Though we weren't racing, there wasn't a guy onsite without octane in his blood. Though I'm no different, this wasn't my bike and I was not going to do anything stupid. Priority number 1 was: restrain warfare personality. No competing.

    Even in pit lane, my impression of the track was that it was resurfaced using razor blades. I've never been on a smoother or more communicative surface. I also wasn't used to having tires that had been warmed, so even though the bike felt wickedly planted, I didn't trust 'em the first lap.

    Turn one: the approach, even out of the pits, is uphill. Left turn, 1st gear, apex as the track flattens and drops downhill. Snake left to prepare for sweeping right, on the throttle up and under a footbridge after which the track just disappears. I rolled off the throttle, then saw a huge expanse of red/white/blue. It was stunning and unlike anything I'd seen at a track before. The track surface is painted? A moment of momentary confusion.

    We tend to think that our mind follows black asphalt, but more likely I think most of us use borders to determine which direction the road goes. On the track, especially an unfamiliar one, side-reference points, such as grandstands, barriers, gator strips, sand/gravel, walls are typically what guide us through the course when memory can't. Coming up to turn three the whole track just opens wide up, with nothing but some crazy colors in front. Only problem is the track goes left and I was heading straight at speed. If they analyzed braking data for all the bikes I believe my braking maneuver recorded the highest amount of G forces....I stayed on track, but three turns in I'd made a mistake. It wouldn't have caused any issues, as it's just painted pavement, meant for running off safely. But I don't like mistakes and I'm sure Ducati doesn't appreciate them either.

    That would be the last dumbshit move of the day. I picked up the layout of the track midway through the first session, but spent most of my energy trying to figure out the proper lines. Normally it's pretty easy if you do your research. Any track that's been around long enough has plenty of videos and turn-by-turn PDFs. Being so new, I was on my own. And CotA is by no means a simple track to figure out. With its share of blind, increasing radius and decreasing radius turns, turns with odd entry points and turns that require 'backward-planning' lines, it's more challenging than any other track I've been to. L

    Still, a good session. Had a blast, loved the bike, loved the track, felt like I was the luckiest guy alive.

    I returned to the paddock and just sat there soaking it all in. Prior to getting out on the track I was in a "look but don't touch" state. Then after the ride (not sure if the first was to be my last session or not) I entered the "touch, but don't taste" state....ARRGGHHH!!! A very real example of the process by which satisfaction of desire increases desire.

    [​IMG]

    But happy, still. Very happy.
  8. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    I hope you caught the motoGP race there this weekend (on TV). You shouldn't feel bad blowing a turn, or trying to figure out a good line...looked to me like even the best of the best had a hard time with it. I think a couple guys blew the same turn you did :deal
  9. lurw

    lurw Adventurer

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    Hell for Leather did an interesting review of COTA. Wes writes about the corners with the painted runoffs and how difficult they are.
  10. daveknievel

    daveknievel Long timer

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    Roadracingworld mag did a write up of your day there also. Few pages long. No pics of you shredding the track.
  11. AntiHero

    AntiHero Long timer

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    Very interesting perspectives on the track. I read Lorenzo's take on CotA and I wish I could find where I'd read it, because it was a great description of how challenging the track is. Fortunately, I wasn't doing a time attack and in the second and third sessions I focused on being smooth and having fun.

    [​IMG]

    Though I never really felt comfortable with the track, the R just got more and more brilliant. It did whatever I wanted it to, whenever I wanted it to. "Video game" motorcycle is not an exaggeration. The journos had been talking about how you could brake as hard as you wanted to right to the apex....and with the bike responding to every input (nay--thought!) and I began exploring braking later and later at shallower and shallower lean angles down to the point where I could feel the front end 'creeping' sideways at/near full lean. Pretty cool. So much traction, so much feedback. Sublime. Totally sublime.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The film crew Ducati hired are the ones responsible for that GoPro. They were also out with a slo mo cam (like the one used for that Casey Stoner video) and, of course, all their other gear, getting shots of me missing apexes and being passed. Final edit should be done soon.

    In between sessions 2 and 3 Ducati came and asked me if I could do an 'interview' with Nicky Hayden. Sure....but what the hell do I say? "Just talk about your trip." Sounds good. I peeled off my leathers, then I think I drank a bottle of water and took a leak. I might have sat staring into space while eating one of the delicious snacks they had in the paddock and I could have possibly taken some pictures of my toes. Then, as I went to find Gabe, the head camera honcho, he finds me. "Hey we're waiting." Shit, we're doing this NOW? I went outside to find they'd set up in front of a paddock door, and from Hayden's expression I think they'd been waiting for longer than convention typically allows. As we talked about what the hell we should talk about, No. 69 takes over and says, "I got it" and starts asking me questions. Content problem solved.
  12. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    and the story just keeps getting better :D
  13. fritzcoinc

    fritzcoinc Enjoying my last V8

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    The interview by Haden will be good.
    Got a time line on that for us?
  14. RacineWI

    RacineWI Adventurer

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    I have been following this ride report from the beginning and as guys were jocking how awesome AntiHero's pictures/philosophies/stories are I was thinking "quit sweating AntiHero and just enjoy the adventure". I was flat out wrong. This RR is truly special and I am impressed, truly inspiring stuff Anti. I am one of those guys that is too "responsible" to go and do something like this....and my PO wouldn't let me leave the state that long anyway.....I do make time to take my bikes out and ride them like I stole them, even slow down enough to grab a pic once in awhile. Thanks for sharing...
  15. KGBz

    KGBz Been here awhile

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    Really Enjoying The Ride Report! Only On Page 15, But It is Making Me Giddy For My Own Road Trip This Fall.Safe Travels IF You Are Still On The Road.
  16. fritzcoinc

    fritzcoinc Enjoying my last V8

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    Congrats Dennis.
    I don't think I have ever seen a thread attract so many new ADV members as yours.
  17. Trane Francks

    Trane Francks Been here awhile

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    No shit. :D
  18. rico2072

    rico2072 Been here awhile

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    Really like to see your interview. Was it on Roadracing World?
  19. 5 speed

    5 speed Been here awhile

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    As others have said, quite a fabulous report and viewpoint on life. Having lived through some life changing experiences certainly helps. I think giving people hope and truly showing that anything is possible and your points about sweat equity are right on the money. My few college years were about partying and getting laid. Never graduated. Didn't have the right mindset and as others have said, we might not be cut out for it. However, I never gave up working hard at doing work and doing the best I could. You do your bosses work BEFORE you ever get paid for it, there is no 'entitlement'. So today I actually have a job thats a global role most people would consider to be pretty far up the ladder and am sure in a small class of people to achieve this in the professional world today with no degree. Sure I still have self doubts and that self defeating type of voice in my head but I do my best to beat it back and your points are so valid- the only limits are those we set on ourselves.

    Having said that, I purposely went to a shop today to look at Ducatis and sit on a Panigale. She is one hot (I love red!!) seductive beauty. Well, its very impressive that you did what you did on that bike, I doubt I really could make it more than a couple of hours (buldging disc L5,6). Hats off to you!!! Having said that, I definitely want a Duc at some point but more like a Multistrada to share the stable with my KTMs.

    Basically your right on and people have read this thread for all things it does say about life and attitude and living!!!

    I think one of the things you point out and I have found out- I always wonder what is on the other side of the horizon. Truth is, its another horizon and another and another. Which is; its all about the journey and not the destination. You came back changed but it didn't change what is.

    Terrific and thanks!!! Right on brother :super:super !!!
  20. manban9888

    manban9888 Adventurer

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    Dennis, Your RR continues and is finding new lives to touch. Ride free brother