Let the Good Times RACE! Part 1
Team Green racer comes out of the crate swinging
Getting with the program
Steve Brammer is a track day fast guy and recently licensed WERA racer. He's also a big fan of the color green. This is especially fortunate, since Kawasaki has a program in place to help grass roots racers get a leg over some competitive machinery. Steve decided to build himself a 2013 Kawasaki ZX6R for both competition and trackday use. He applied for and was accepted to the Kawasaki Team Green Racer Rebate Support Program. This entitled Steve to a $3000 rebate on his new machine; quite a healthy incentive to start with something brand new!
New bike, used parts
Steve wasn't playing around. As soon as he received word that Kawasaki had accepted him into the program, Used_parts_stashhe snapped up a sweet cache of very gently used parts for his soon-to-be new machine. Steve knew of another rider who'd built a ZX6R but had then decided that he should have bought a literbike instead. This person had put the smaller bike back to stock, sold it and was then looking to liquidate its race goodies. The stash was impressive, including GP Suspension fork cartridges, a complete Bazzaz reprogramming system with traction control and auto tune, Attack Performance rearsets, a Cox Radiator guard, an M4 full exhaust system, an exhaust servo eliminator, Spiegler brake lines, a BMC air filter, a Vortex gas cap and a full set of mounted and painted but never used Catalyst Composites bodywork. We estimate the total value of the package when new to have been way north of six grand. Steve paid $2600 for this awesome box of goodies, a sum which wouldn't have bought the fork internals and electronics at retail. Sometimes it pays to be lucky!
You'd figure that such good fortune couldn't hold but Steve must have a horseshoe up his leathers. To round out his bike's suspension, Brammer found an Öhlins TTX shock on eBay. It was advertized as having been used for one day of testing and went for $898.88 as the winning bid. That's a $1500 damper if purchased new. So far, Steve had spent approximately $3500 of his $3000 rebate but the incredible collection of lightly used (perhaps pre-tried would be a better description?) goodies he'd amassed were in total worth between eight and nine grand when new. All this and he hadn't even taken possession of his bike yet!
Breaking her in
Steve picked up his spanking new Kawasaki ZX6R from Thompson's Motorsports in Terre Haute, Indiana on a Thursday afternoon. Come Saturday morning, he was unloading it into the garage area at Putnam Park racetrack, in Greencastle, Indiana. Initially, the plan had been for Steve to turn the bike and parts over to the TrackdayMag.com staff for assembly back at our shop; however, some unforeseen circumstances changed that. Brammer's other Kawasaki, an older 636, had been suffering transmission difficulties. Steve thought he'd fixed them by replacing the shift forks and drum but within a session or two at Putnam, it was clear that the machine needed further attention. This left Brammer with nothing to ride, so out came the blue painter's tape to cover the new machine's lights and mirrors. Befitting its mission as a racebike, the Kawasaki would run its break-in mileage at the track.
The transformation begins
Even on its street tires, Steve managed to ride the new ZX6R to a lap only one second slower than he'd run on his older machine while it had been suffering the third gear issue. Of course, it had never been in the plan to run this bike in street trim, so we knew what an awful risk it was to turn laps with the stock bodywork in place and no crash protection for the rest of the bike. By day's end, we were tearing the 636 apart. Off came the mirrors, lights, turn signals and plastic fairings. We also removed the front forks and hauled them down to Ken Hall of Superbike Suspension to have the GP Suspension springs and cartridges installed. We also attached the Cox Racing Group radiator guard and Vortex gas cap. One disadvantage to riding at Putnam Park is that camping is not permittted. If it was allowed, we'd have worked all night!
The next morning, we picked up where we'd left off. While waiting for the forks to be finished, we installed the Öhlins TTX shock and began to fit the Catalyst Composites bodywork. Dave Moss was holding a suspension class just a few feet away and once the front end was back on, we had him wave his magic hands over the suspension. Time to ride some more! The addition of race-quality suspension made a good bike that much better. The installation of race fiberglass had lightened the machine up by a good thirty pounds or so. Additionally, the race bodywork took a load off Steve's mind since there was no longer a possibiMoss_ministerslity of damaging the highly valuable OEM fairings; the sale of which will help to offset the cost of this bike's transformation from street to track. Because the ZX6R was still wearing its street Bridgestone tires and had not yet been fitted with engine case protection, Steve was still leery of crashing it and was running something less than a race pace. In spite of this, he really had a great time and reported that the bike shows significant potential.
Brammer's box of goodies is still full of things to install. Key among them are the exhaust and electronics. The other significant modifications will be in the area of crash protection. We've ordered up a full compliment of Woodcraft items to armor the bike's frame, swingarm, engine and handlebars. Steve plans on installing the M4 pipe at home, after which the build will continue over Labor Day weekend during an STT event at Autobahn Country club. If it seems strange that we'd spend our spare time at the track building a new machine, then consider this: The racetrack family is spread out across the country and we only come together when it's time to ride. Aside from dragging knee, the thing we love most is assembling and modifying our two-wheeled steeds. What better way to pass the downtime during a racetrack weekend than to do some wrenching with your friends?