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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks, long time no see. As the post below this one outlined, I found a project 2004 GSX-R750. After about 7 months of work, the bike is operational, and I am dialing it in. But that isn't exactly the topic I wanted to talk about and get some input on.

To you folks out there who have more bikes than just the 300 and/or have ridden more bikes than just the 300, I would like some advice on riding maturity.

I had a late ZX-6R 2 years ago, and I wrecked it in 2 months of ownership. Looking back, I see all the mistakes I made, which lead up to the crash. And not just things that day, that ride, but just general judgement mistakes I made. I was just not ready and not mature enough to use it and enjoy it responsibly. I broke my leg, and gave the bike up to insurance. FYI I am in my mid 20's too.

Fast forward to now, where I have now had 2 crashes so far, the one I mentioned and another on track on my 300. My track crash I had no injuries, and my airbag saved my bacon. Best purchase. And I feel like the crashes have greatly improved my maturity and decision making. Living through the consequences, feeling and knowing how human and mortal we are, and seeing how it affected people around me was eye-opening. Obviously I felt invincible until I had my first wreck, and it is useful to know what 'too much risk' actually is like.

This also brings me to the part that at least I can take the most comfort in. The common misconception is that 2 wheels is just so insanely dangerous that you will just die riding anything. Of course, most of us seasoned riders know that is not quite the case, but that it is inherently more risky than driving. But the thing I have come to learn is that the most dangerous thing to me as a rider is myself. Just about every crash, near miss, close call, incident, or thing that happened was almost entirely my fault. I chose to go too fast, or I chose to make a dangerous pass, or I chose to try and do something outside my skill level. Not that everything is my own fault, other drivers make mistakes too, but we as riders can do a lot to keep ourselves out of harm's way by just using your head.

And that brings me to my new bike. It's a restored 2004 Suzuki GSX-R750 K4. It's smack dab in the middle of what many motorcyclists believe is a really golden era for motorcycles, due to the technology, lower emissions restrictions, and simplicity of bikes. The K4 750 rides wonderfully, and checks all the boxes. Suzuki really has done a good job at making 150hp drivable, usable, exciting, fast, smooth, and sound awesome while doing all that. The bike has outstanding balance, stability, drive, and maneuverability. It really is a fine work of engineering, and I love everything about it.

Although, being that old, it lacks features like ABS, traction control, and rider modes of course. Every motorcycle I've owned to date has had ABS until this one. But this is the first time that I know for certain that my skills are not good enough to handle the whole motorcycle. Not that I ever relied upon the electronics or their features, but having them in the background was definitely a plus in sketchy situations.

As you guys know, the 300 doesn't have any stock features available except ABS. No real need for traction control. But this 750 is an absolute monster, and the thing I feel I got shorted on in my 4 years of riding with the 300 is respect for the throttle. Even on track on a tight course, you still are full throttle a large portion of the time. And now on my 750, I start to get my front wheel fully unloaded/off the ground at over 100mph in 3rd gear at redline, and that's just such an insane difference. Point is though, I need to better my skills and control over the vehicle, and that the limiting factor isn't just me making good choices alone.

For those of you who have ridden faster bikes out on the road and track, how did you learn to respect the bike, and make safe choices, and have fun and excitement at the right times? I'm looking to obviously avoid the mistake I made on my ZX6, but also to fully enjoy this motorcycle for what it's worth. I have a firm grasp on what actual rider skills I need to work on and how to work on them, but how do you guys keep a clear head when making choices with so much power?

To be extremely clear, I am not one to speed through town, lane split above 20mph, pop wheelies in traffic, weave through cars, or any of that stuff. Absolutely zero. I have no trouble respecting the rules when there are people around, other drivers, tight spaces that are unpredictable, or anything of that type. I would never even get a ticket riding around town. But when I am out in the boonies or out in the open country, I like to have a bit more fun when it doesn't affect other people nearly as much.

Any thoughts or advice from you experienced folk would be greatly appreciated.

-Mike
 

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Sparky, I believe acknowledging that your bike requires maturity, good judgement and responsibility is a great first step! While this applies to all bikes, it's even more important as the power jumps way up.

I can't help with your question as I bought my first bike (my 300) at age 50. I will readily admit that had I ridden a powerful sport bike while in my 20's I would have made poor choices and probably wouldn't be here today!

Back then, pre family, marriage and kids, I did everything faster...and to more extreme. Life goes on and things slow down. The urgency to always go faster tends to subside. For me it was time, age and maturity that came together.

I hope you make good decisions and understand the responsibility of riding a powerful bike. It sounds like you're on your way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advice! That is reassuring.

I know many folks my age just have this almost angry, rage-fueled need to just go fast all the time. I would say I definitely do not have that characteristic, but I, like most other bike enthusiasts love a bit of speed from time to time. All things in moderation I suppose.

I feel like I already enjoy the things about riding other than goin fast plenty, so it is absolutely not like a ride is not enjoyable unless you go fast. Maybe I should budget out more time at the track next season.

Thanks for the input! Any more input is appreciated.
-Mike
 

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If you thought that much about it, you already have the biggest part of it.

Pay attention to close calls. They are telling you you're screwing up and crash is near.
Left turners is your enemy #2 (your enemy #1 is yourself). Always look for them when approaching an intersection.
 

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I've been there, and luckily lived to ride another day. I'm coming up on 45 years of street riding, and another 4 or 5 on the dirt with some MX and road racing thrown in, back in the day.

My advice would be to get as much track time as possible, and ride dirt bikes if you can. Dirt bikes are always on the edge, and it helps to get the feel for making instant corrections to keep things from getting away from you. They still will, but speeds and impacts are less.

A faster bike will certainly make stepping over the line easier, but it's all about judging your ability and setting your limits. I personally ride most of the time at a "spirited" pace, probably about a 5 out of 10, 10 being at the limit of my ability.

There are times when I will take it up to something like a 7, or maybe an 8, for a brief period, but I have to feel very confident I know where the road is going, my tires are hot, the surface is predictable, and there are minimal other factors that may bump me up into an unwanted higher level. After you have spent time on the track, the need to get into those higher range diminishes. Back in the day, I ran in at those higher levels (sometimes 11) more often. My Ninja 750 didn't help, as I was not a real mature (mentally) rider, just lucky enough that I had built up enough skills to keep myself alive.

Now, quite a bit older and riding my SV650, I don't feel the "need for speed" as often - and the SV isn't exactly a rocket.

If you find you are opening up the GSX-R a lot, and scaring yourself, you may need to reconsider your choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the input.

I don't find myself scaring myself with the bike, and I didn't scare myself with the ZX-6R I crashed either. I very rarely get actual 'panic' moments anymore, and I feel comfortable enough with this bike and my other bikes that the natural things about riding bikes don't scare me anymore. Things like little wobbles, wet patches, a bit of tire spin, etc. I think I can realize I've made a mistake or wrong choice before it actually makes me panic in the moment.

Also to be clear, I haven't had any scares on the GSX-R either yet, even when I open it up once or twice a ride when there's a nice wide open spot. I feel I am still just learning not so much the how, but the when to allow myself to have a bit of fun.

In other words, I feel like I will soon enough have a decent skillset at driving the faster bike safely, but I just want to make sure my mental skillset will also be up to par. I am a pretty conservative and safe driver I would say, and the times when I am rolling around town I have a high degree of confidence I won't run into trouble. Pretty rarely do I have any incidents with other drivers for example, even on the GSX-R.

I would agree with your sentiment of how much to push when having fun being about a 5/10. I am probably in a similar boat. I think when I am rolling around town, I drive probably a 2-4/10, and when I am having a bit of fun, probably a 5-7, depending on the conditions.

I think you are right though, I just need more track time, and I also have been eyeing picking up a nice starter dirtbike to really feel the traction. Coming from the 300, I just haven't learned how to really handle a bike that can power wheelie and loop itself without the clutch, or spin tires on dry clean road, or get a tank slapper from going full throttle.... Always more to learn.

Thanks for the input. More is welcome, I appreciate it folks.
-Mike
 

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In the end, you can't take the risk off the riding. You can be as safe as possible, but there is always the chance of someone losing control or being distracted and take you.

An interesting exercise to do is:
- Obey every single traffic law (posted speed limits being the most important)
- Be predictable. Avoid quick changes in direction and speed (reckless driving),
- Practice defense driving:
- Keep monitoring what near vehicles are doing and try to predict what they could do.
- Avoid driving behind vehicles that carry a load or seem more likely to drop something or have a break-down.
- In a highway, be particularly aware of entrances and exits. Be ready to yield to cars entering the highway and avoid ones that make a last second decision to exit.

Every time I try that, I feel that my chances to crash are zero, although I know they are not.
Also, you realize that very few people drive that way.
The first thing that comes to my mind is that if everyone drove like that all the time, insurance companies wouldn't exist.
Second thought is that many people would stop buying fast vehicles. Imagine if the government had the power to ban the sale of vehicles that go above 70mph! A billons dollars industry would disappear only in reduction of accidents that lead to insurance claims, repairs, medical attention and lawsuits.

Research 'defensive driving' and you'll find more about this.

Back to topic, when you go on your familiar rides, do a critical evaluation of the objective hazards and you'll know where you can have some extra fun without risking too much. And when you're in non-familiar places, be double cautious.

One of the many reasons why I sold my fast bike (BMW S1000RR) is because even though I'm 50+, have kids and should be more mature, every time I rode it, I would start slow and speed up bit by bit and it was a matter of time before I was riding fast. it's the bike itself that puts you in that mood.
When I was riding, I felt invincible, which I know I'm not, and later, back home, I would think 'what was I doing?' So I sold the thing, got the 300, later a DRZ400 and became a 'downgrader'.
I still miss my liter bike though, and I may get another one in the future. 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the tips! I believe I already abide by most of the defensive driving tips, and it has served me well as a driver and rider, having never had an accident with another party. I wouldn't take nearly as much risk if there are other drivers or riders in close proximity to me, but if no one is around, I may opt to have a tad bit more fun lol.

Yeah I am noticing a similar effect from the bike like you did on the BMW. I think part of it is I still need to get used to it. But I also probably need to budget more track time out. Perhaps I'd buy a beater 1000 and dedicate it entirely as a track bike.

Would you guys recommend any parts or configuration that might make the GSX-R more street and safety oriented? I put a set of Michelin Road 6 tires on it for the rainy season, but I won't take it out in the rain too much, but just in case I get caught out. I was thinking about a progressive throttle tube as well, it's pretty touchy as is. I have stock mirrors, and a Yoshimura slip on with a dB killer in it, perfect volume.

All this reminds me too, I really gotta fix up my 300.... Bodywork exploded at my last track crash in the rain. Motor and frame didn't even touch the ground, rode it home, but it looks real ugly. The GSX-R has made me come to respect how well a bike like the 300 is optimized to just ride well and easily, and allow a great deal of fun with an entirely manageable amount of power. I think I will still use my 300 a lot on street to be economical and safe. What a great motorcycle.

Thanks for feedback!
-Mike
 

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Sparky, you asked for some thoughts from experienced riders.

I am 65, my first bike at age 18 was a Kawasaki H2 750 triple 2-stroke, the original “widow-maker”, absolute fastest bike at the time. Every bike since has been a 1000cc sport bike. I have owned Kawi’s, Suzukis, Yamahas, Honda’s, Ducati’s, etc. I currently have a 2005 ZX-10R (1st Gen, also appropriately was called the “widow maker”), and GSXS-1000 naked, and now as well a 2014 N300.

I was #1 Plate AFM California Open Superbike Champion and then raced National AMA Super Bike for three years in the early 80s.

I have crashed many times, done unbelievably stupid shit on the street, I am lucky to be alive today. With older age comes less desire to feel the pain of skin against asphalt and the ensuing recovery time of broken bones. Oh - not to mention the pain of seeing your bike mangled and the downtime and cost of repairs.

But I still do and always have loved power and brutal acceleration. I love to do power wheelies

Four thoughts come to mind if you are asking for advise …..

1) Never, ever, EVER ride without a helmet, even if you’re just going to the corner store.
2) Only open up the throttle wide open if you can see far into the distance and you know there are no side streets ahead
3) If you are wondering what the idiot in that car is going to do, always assume he WILL do it
4) If you catch yourself daydreaming while riding (thinking about other shit) slap yourself and focus on the road ahead and all your surroundings. You must always concentrate 100% and focus, constantly scanning left, right, behind, ahead. Riding is like being in a video game and everything around you is trying to get you, FOCUS and CONCENTRATE always.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for the advice. Sounds like you've had a lot of experiences in your riding career.

I would agree that my interest in healing time and bone break recovery has definitely dropped a large amount since I started riding as well.

I find I can usually focus pretty consistently, and manage other cars and their dumb whereabouts.

But especially since you've always had such powerful bikes, what in your opinion was the best way to learn how to really handle the power correctly? Anyone can just grab a fistfull of throttle, but how do you get more finesse and learn the limits when there is so much power and no assisting tech? I've just never had a bike that wanted to power wheelie so easily, and I just haven't been exposed to the tank slapper opportunities as much as now. I can wheelie a bicycle all day, but I just don't have the throttle control to do much more than close the throttle once the front end starts coming up. I also haven't had as much experience with this much rear tire spin, if you're not coming up on a wheelie it can just spin and leave a trail of rubber... How did you learn these lessons without getting into too much trouble? I want to practice and build the skills to literally handle the bike and power, and also to help me in low traction situations and prevent myself from upsetting the suspension and whatnot.

Thanks for the advice, let me know what you think.
-Mike
 

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How do you learn the things you ask above? Time. Hours on the seat. When I was 18, I used to take my bike into the local Southern California mountains every day after school and ride the twisties. I was consumed with my bike. I think it just takes “flight time”, like a pilot logging thousands of hours flying. And of course, getting on a track is the safest place to go fast.

do you have any good roads nearby to ride with not too much traffic? Practice!

you mentioned rear wheel spin, are you a light person? That doesn’t sound right to me. Are you using sticky sport tires? Too much air pressure possibly? Also, setting up your bike suspension is the critical first step. Go on YouTube and learn how to set the SAG and damping and rebound on the front end.

sorry I don’t have more specific tricks to pass on. I think it just takes time and putting in hours on the seat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah I figured, and that is how I learned to turn just by riding twisties everyday on the 300. It was great.

Indeed, I am 150lbs, and I am running street pressures on street tires in the cold and wet PNW winter. Lol. If it's clean and dry I don't get wheel spin, but going from the 300 to this, this is a whole new level of possible wheel spin.

My local shop who rebuilt my forks and shock did baseline my suspension setup recently. Feels quite nice and planted.

I am looking to do an ECU flash and dyno tune this winter as well, in the hopes that this will (most importantly) smooth out the power delivery, and smooth out cracking open the throttle. More power would be a nice touch though, but I want it to have a bit less snatchy throttle if possible.

Downshifts are still a bit tricky too. Maybe 3 years ago I rode my first 600, and it was a late model CBR600RR. And It rode great! But I was just insanely shocked how sensitive the throttle was, coming from the 300. Doing a 300-style downshift on a supersport does not go the way you'd hope when learning... Of course I don't have that exact problem anymore, but it's still tricky getting smooth downshifts with blipping, it's just so fast on the throttle.

And alas, here at my home town, there are not very many great roads for learning on time and time again. When I was in college in Arizona, there was a few absolutely epic roads that were always open, always clean, predictable conditions, and I knew every turn. Wish I had that here....

Thoughts?
Thanks again.
-Mike
 

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Regarding the twitchy throttle, I would recommend you join the Suzuki GSXR 750 forum. i’m sure if there’s a fix for this year model, you could find it there.

That was the case with the early model 2016-2017 Suzuki GSXS 1000 (my bike) had a very twitchy throttle.
There were a couple of fixes for it. One was adjusting the throttle position sensor. Many of the bikes were off spec. And yes, an ECU FLASH might help too, but why don’t you research it on the GSXR Forum if you have not already done so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Indeed I am a member there, and have stirred up many threads. I tracked the entire restoration on a build thread over there, and the folks have answered many of my questions.

That is a good callout though, I actually checked at least my secondary throttle position sensor, and didn't quite get in-spec resistance readings. Interesting you say that. Maybe I will go measure them both, and replace as needed. Thanks!

I mostly figured I was just inexperienced with that throttle though. My buddy with the exact same bike rode it and found it to feel relatively normal.

-Mike
 

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The “twitchy throttle” definitely has to do with throttle control. Many were complaining about this with the 1st Gen Suzuki GSXS 1000, I didn’t have a problem with it at all. I even prefer
a “quick turn” throttle!

but yes, go back and check your TPS.
 

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Like others have said, I think it’s a good start that you’re even thinking (and posting) about this. It’s the riders who never ask themselves these questions that you have to worry about. :)

I’ve ridden a ton of bikes at this point in my life, and almost all of them offered some characteristic that I was not comfortable with. Might be power, balance, weight etc. None of them have been perfect for me. I would like to think that I have learned to adapt both myself to the bike - but also the bike to my style of riding.

By that I mean, accept what the bike offers, and figure out what needs to be done to work that back towards your comfort zone. That might be mechanical (ECU flash, checking throttle body positions, suspension setup etc), or mental. It could just be an awareness of what you need from the bike and figuring out how to embrace it’s character to bring it back to a comfort zone, by wrangling those characteristics.

I’m probably not explaining this well. But I find that sometimes I need to adapt the bike as much as I need to adapt my riding - to find a balance that works for me.

In the short term, I would think something like the motion pro (or others) throttle with progressive cam could help tremendously. moght help tame that initial snatchiness.

Also, if the suspension wasn’t set with you there on the bike - like Rapido said, make sure you do the sag yourself. It can be an absolute game changer, and give you a base setting to really dial in the rest of the suspension (comp & rebound) for how you ride.

And getting to the track seems like the best place to work all these things out, without the concerns of all the shenanigans we deal with on the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Indeed, thanks for the advice!

Luckily my suspension was done with me there, they used me to set the sag and it is a very marked improvement in planted feeling.

I think you bring up a good point, and it's especially something I hear echoed from a lot of track folks. The idea of "adapt the bike, not yourself" is probably a tad bit flawed like you said, but also there are a ton of cheap/free/easy ways to make the bike more comfortable, more controllable, and thus safer. The bike has a radiator leak currently, one of the fittings had a good deal of pitting on the hose fitting, and even after I smoothed it down a bit, it was still too rough, so the hose leaks. Once I get that sorted out, I think a Rev3 throttle with the progressive cam will help.

I have gotten a much better grasp on the throttle control as of late, riding in the rain and such. It can still be snatchy, but it has gotten better, especially after I redid my throttle sync and added real heavy bar ends. Smoothed out the vibrations, and really helped make cracking the throttle open feel very.... "once". So I will continue my efforts to get the bike 100% dialed in.

As for the self adjustments you mentioned, that is a really good way to think about it that I have not thought of before. Indeed, my mindset and decision making has to change to maintain a level of comfort, safety, and risk between say my 300 and the 750. I feel as though the 300 had (at least until I even rode anything with more than 100hp) almost cheated me out on fine throttle control. Even with the 300 on track in the rain, a pretty rapid and abrupt- but continuous- opening of the throttle won't make you lose traction. It will get you a good lap time, lol. The hardest thing I am finding on bigger bikes is just the 'cracking open the throttle' action. Once the engine is loaded onto the rear wheel and I am applying positive power to the ground, the smooth roll on is not too difficult. But cracking open the throttle mid corner right when I want to without delay, and without being abrupt is just a skill I need to master more. On the 300, it is very easy to crack it open at maximum lean angle and have the most buttery smooth engine engagement when cracking open the throttle, but I just haven't got that down on the big bikes yet.

That brings up a new question I have, especially for you folks who like quick turn throttles. How long should I use the progressive cam in the Rev3 kit to aid in my throttle control? I don't think I'd want to leave it in forever, it would make me worse off at throttle control in the long term I'd think. Maybe after my first track season on the 750 I could take it out if I have gotten better control? I hope the progressive cam won't make it hard to control my roll on out of corners say if my rear gets a bit loose. Some folks still think there is too much travel on modern supersport bikes in the throttle. Although, I had a late gen ZX-6R, and I do think the throttle on that was a good deal less sensitive than this one on my 750. Maybe it was computerized stuff, but still.

Thoughts? Thanks folks!
-Mike
 

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Seems to me if you go with the easier throttle cam insert, you’re going the wrong way. When you go back to stock, it’ll seem even worse for you. I think you just need to keep practicing with what you have.

you did bring up a good point, in that throttle play is not good. Take the tank off, so you can see the cable actuating and remove every millimeter of play even though they don’t recommend that. I hate any slop in the throttle maybe you have too much play? Obviously, you can try adjusting it at the cable by the throttle, but it helps if you can see underneath when the throttle cam starts moving. In other words, as soon as you turn, the throttle, it moves. Even though it seems there is no play, you know for sure the throttle mechanism is closed. I’m not sure I’m explaining that well, hopefully you get the idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've actually done that already. Yeah looking at the actual cam on the throttle bodies, and where the cables meet up, I made it much tighter than the manual recommends. Still the tiniest bit of play to ensure it still closes and doesn't open when I move the bars all the way, but yeah.

It definitely helped. Especially blipping for downshifts, it makes that much more predictable. Right now that is one of the biggest challenges is smooth downshifts. On my old ZX6 it was quite easy to blip, it was somehow more manageable. But alas, I wrecked that bike before I could get more familiar with how the throttle worked. I did have to tighten up that throttle cable set a lot too to make it usable as well. Must just be how high performance engines with throttle cables work....

I am beginning to think you are right about getting used to stock more. It does get better every day, and I find my grip is relaxing more as I gain more control over the throttle. My throttle is as old as the bike, and one of the OEM throttle cables is not available anymore, so I may still get the Rev3 throttle (along with a nice RH control set) and set it up similar to stock at least, just for the replacement.

What do you think?
-Mike
 
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