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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Brad Gavey VS the VFR1200

When I was a part of Brad's race team and school, we had our own expression that got used often. To "Gavey" something was to destroy or otherwise damage a mechanical device. If you overtorqued a bolt and stripped some threads, you Gavey'd it. If you just finished rebuilding the motor on your racebike and blew it up on your first lap out, you Gavey'd it. Plenty of Ducati transmissions have eaten themselves and become Gavey'd. It isn't neccessarily ham-fistedness or abuse... Brad is a smooth and fast rider... it's just that he takes things beyond their limits. In a 7-round race series this year, he entered 4 different bikes... not because he had the luxury of a multi-bike race fleet, but because he couldn't keep one running for more than 2 consecutive races. And he still won a championship.

In spite of his history of mechanical molestation, everyone wants Brad to try their bike. They want to hear that their bike is the greatest he's ever ridden. I guess I'm no exception. His opinions mean a lot. He has ridden hundreds of different bikes for probably hundreds of thousands of street miles and thousands of race laps. He knows what he's talking about, and he shoots from the hip.

Yes... in spite of his history of mechanical massacre, I wanted Brad to have a ride on the VFR. I trust him not to wreck it, and I trust the big Honda's ability to take punishment. I had a rare day off work today, and an even more rare warm weather forecast, so I went out for a spin and followed Brad around for the a few hours; he on my VFR1200, and I on his 2010 ZX-10R, then his B-King.

He was quite pleased with the VFR. Here are some of his observations:

-smoothest most comfortable bike he's ever ridden

-tires are shit. Good for protecting the rim and that's about it. He was spinning the back tire all over the place. He recommends the Michelin Pilot 2CT instead.

-falls into turns. (an observation I've also made) This effect is multiplied by the squared-off profile of my worn back tire

-sounds great, looks great. Flawless fit and finish

-carries its weight well and feels lighter than it is

-great brakes, though he would like to disable the ABS

-more likely to lose his license on this than his ZX10R... never feels like it's going as fast as it really is

-plush suspension, good handling but could benefit from a heavier rear spring

-barely noticeable shaft drive... but would still prefer a chain

-feels the throttle "hunting" a bit at steady speeds

-perfect bike for a trip down the west coast.

We had fun afternoon. Brad was impressed with the VFR and I got to try some pretty cool (and fast) motorcycles.
No motorcycles were Gavey'd in the making of this video:


Switchable Power Modes Part II

A member on an enthusiast board had some questions and comments about my power mode switch. I thought I would repeat our conversation here... maybe it will be informative to others.

Warren's words in italics:

So... Looking at your blog, it appears that the VFR is doing what so many other high power motorcycles have done in the past with restricting the lower gears to prevent early termination of it's riders. Namely, the GSX-R and the 1000RR.

That's my best guess. I've pondered about the restriction being some sort of mechanical failsafe, but I really don't think that's the case.

Both of these bikes have products that do essentially what you do with your switch, however they have "smarts" built into them so that the instrument clusters continue to read the correct gear.

For example, Ivan's make a smart TRE:


The company that make the speedo healer has the X-TRE:


But more interestingly, Bazzaz has a product called the Z-Bomb:


But as far as I can tell when looking at the installation instructions, it attaches to the Throttle Position Sensor. What are your thoughts?


Thanks in advance,


The wiring layout in the VFR1200 makes it difficult to avoid the gear indication error when the bike is in de-restricted mode. There are 7 individual gear position wires which run directly from the gear position sensor into the ECU and transmit 7 individual gear signals. It's simple, so it's easy to hack. After that it gets tricky. The ECU interprets those individual signals, decides what throttle and ignition map to use, and then encodes it and sends an encoded digital pulse signal through a single wire on the serial link to the combination meter (instrument panel) to be displayed on the gear indicator. To get an accurate indication on the gear while in de-restricted mode, you would have to decode the serial link. I think that's what Ivan has done with his Smart TRE chip for the gixxer. It's a complicated solution. It can be done, but it would take some work and savvy computer skills. On a bike like the Gixxer with its enormous market base, it's worth it for someone like Ivan to put in the time. With very few VFR1200s on this side of the pond, it's hard to imagine anyone bothering.

The Z-bomb is a little different. Honda programmed the American market 08 CBR1000RR to retard the timing at high RPM at full throttle, robbing it of 7 or 8 peak horsepower. It was suggested that this was to pass noise tests which are measured at a percentage of maximum RPM at full throttle. As far as I can tell, the Z-bomb tricks the ECU into thinking that the throttle isn't fully open, therefore allowing the full ignition advance and replacing the stolen horsepower.

The Gixxers and CBRs use a timing retard to limit power, but I still think that the VFR is limiting power through its "throttle by wire". (which the GSXRs and CBRs don't have yet) If I'm correct, that would mean that there are 2 throttle maps, one restricted and one unrestricted. The ECU is interpreting the gear position signals and telling the throttle valve motor which map to use. The gear position sensor is a crude but effective bypass.

There may be a more elegant solution but I'm just not smart enough to crack it. Studying the wiring diagram, there are a pair of wires which I suspect may contain the answers. There are 2 wires that run from the ECU to the TBW motor labeled TBW MTR+ and TBW MTR- on the throttle valve side, and labeled TMOM and TMOP, respectively, on the ECU side. If my hunch is right, these could be the wires that send the throttle map signals. My guess would be that TBW MTR- could transmit the restricted map. If that were the case, you could cut that wire and splice it to the TBW MTR+ wire so that the throttle valve motor never recieves the restricted map.

Again, I'm just guessing... and I don't want to be the guy to test it. If I'm correct though, this type of mod would de-restrict the bike without giving a false reading on the gear position. A switch could be installed easily with this mod as well.

I just need somebody smart to review my theory. Where's that Dutchgixxer guy?

Here is the wiring diagram and the wires I'm referring to. The wires I'm talking about are circled in red:

Edit: TMOM and TMOP appear to be the power supply for the throttle motor. (wires A9 and A10 coming off the ECU. Cutting or altering them will cause the throttle motor to quit. Not advised. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Honda CrossTourer Official

From Asphalt and Rubber:


Man what a beast!

Those forks sure look wimpy.

Crossrunner 800 Official Release

From the good people at visordown.com:


I jumped to conclusions on the brake pedal... it definitely has one.

Unless I'm wrong, this is basically new packaging for the VFR800. And it will probably be a great street bike. It's about time the VFR stopped posing as a race bike... it hasn't been one for many years. This makes more sense.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Honda CrossTourer Concept and Crossrunner

Honda have said that they will unveil 2 V4-powered adventure-style bikes at the Milan show this week. (opens Nov 2)

There is the VFR800X that I posted about earlier and a rumored VFR1200-based adventure bike. The VFR800-based model (CrossRunner) is supposed to be production-ready, while the 1200X (Crosstourer) will probably be a 2012. Other moto blogs have mistaken the 1200 Cross Tourer for the 800X Cross Runner.

Someone at Oliepeil (Dutch moto mag) got a hold of some spy pictures today before the show has opened. One of the pictures shows the "Crosstourer Concept" which is clearly based on the VFR1200.

The image of the Crosstourer has some interesting clues. It seems to have the (a version of) VFR1200's frame, swingarm and final drive. (and presumably engine) There are hand guards, extra running lights, lots of ground clearance, a big gas tank and spoked wheels. If they include a sophisticated electonics package and all the gadgets, it could be a serious competitor for the R1200GS and Multistrada 1200.