by Dale Walker, 4-time national drag racing champion
I guarantee you lower your ET's and be more consistent using my technique at the strip. This is how I ride the V-max only, not necessarily other models.
I could go on all day on how to launch a V-max at the strip. Iíll give you a few tips. Before I go into that, hereís a couple of other points.
Iíve run in the tens 10:50 to 10:90 on several V-maxes well 6 or 8 anyway. Two for magazines and others where on customerís bikes. I weight 170 lbs race ready in leathers and helmet.
Keep in mind Iíve made over 20,000 passes and have set over 50 production records on variety of motorcycles so donít be hard on yourself for not posting those big numbers. I also ran a drag racing school sponsored by Kawasaki in the late 80ís.
The V-max pee wee Jay Gleason rode was a pre-production bike that was positively massaged. Jay also at the time weighed about 130 lbs suited and could ride equal to myself. So power to weight ratio is a biggy.
I have found that when you can milk everything from a production bike with your riding talent that every ten pounds is worth about 6-8hundredths.
Many of the magazines these days correct the times for sea level. I wish they would post the numbers on the time slip then tell you the temperature, track and altitude where the test took place. This would be much more of a real world test in my opinion. All the ET's I ran were on the scoreboard not corrected. The tracks were Fremont raceway and Sacramento Raceway in California. Both can be very fast or 3 tenth slow depending on tail wind, temperature, day vs. night, etc. There are many factors...
Most riders get too eager and turn the throttle too early and slip the clutch when they launch. This causes you to spin up the RPM, burn up clutches and wheelie or get sideways when the clutch does engage or just plain be inconsistent.
Do your burnout in second gear to heat the tire. Be sure to let the clutch out quickly with the front brake clamp tight and apply throttle. Start with the tire in the waterbox then roll forward to the edge of the dry pavement before letting the clutch out. WARNING: never get the front tire wet. Always back in to the bleach box.
Get in your launch riding position early not while staging. Feet back a little near rear foot peg area on the ground, arms slightly bent leaning upper body forward. Your body should be in a straight line from a side view with a lean forward look.
Clutch and throttle control: I call my V-max technique the loft out method
Pre-load the clutch just so the bike does not creep. Do not hold into the grip. By doing so, you have no clutch control whatsoever.- try to launch from 4000 to 6000 RPM. Start at 4000. Keep the throttle very steady. Do not blip the throttle or let the throttle creep up!. This is crucial. When the light comes down start to slide the clutch out aggressively. This doesn't mean dump it or slip it. Do not turn the throttle yet! When you hear the exhaust, note pulling down its time to let the clutch engage fully and at that exact moment begin to roll into the throttle and drive through the bog. If you feel it bogged too much then try 500 RPM higher on the launch until you find that sweet spot for your weight and track surface. Remember clutch first then throttle. This is the key to control the front wheel lift, wheel spin and consistent launches without clutch damage.
Be sure to let your Max cool down between runs and do not let it run in the staging lanes waiting to make your pass.
If the fan kicks on or you let the temp gauge climb too high, you take the clutch out in a heartbeat.
I know a lot of you are probably sold on some type of synthetic motor oil. Well good luck at the strip. The clutch will go away much sooner when running it.
Remember to be smooth when rolling into the throttle not just snap it open. The V-max is pretty torquey and this can ruin a good launch.
The rest of running a low ET at the strip
Be tucked in by the time you get in second gear. I call this getting under the paint. This really helps ET and MPH especially on a non-fairinged bike like the V-max.
A properly tuned V-max with a 4-1 exhaust will pull up to 10,000 RPM. I know your saying: but on the Dyno my peak power is 8,900 RPM so why turn it so hard. Well this is why: the trans has too much of a gear drop from each gear and they shift much better if you buzz the motor up. I've found 10,500 is unnecessary. 10,000 to 10,200 seem to be the sweet spot on the ET and MPH.
Shifting techniques: Power shifting will run the best ET's. But unless you have a very good shifting bike, it can be hard on parts. Also if you miss a shift you could tag a valve. Power shifting is when you hold the throttle full open and fan the clutch just enough to complete the shift. I've ridden a few V-maxes where I could power shift 1-2-3 but had to back off and use the clutch to make it hit 4th. These were new bikes as well.
I highly recommend my Electric Powershifter 2 with reversed shift linkage. This allows a one up four down pattern that's much more positive. My Powershifter allows full throttle clutch-less shifts by interrupting the ignition momentarily. This allows for a fast smooth gear change. The clutch stays fully engaged saving clutch plates and the basket from getting hammered during shifts.
Stay tucked tight through the last MPH light then slowly roll out of the throttle and sit up. Once you've reached about 110 MPH apply gentle even braking.
If you ever hit something on the track or develop a speed wobble never clamp on the brakes. The best thing to do is pull in the clutch and keep a tight grip on the bars until you come out of it.
Go change your underwear.
I hope you consider this a good contribution to the list (Vmaxtech). I have a drag racing riding instructional video and booklet set if anyone is interested.