I can now say without reservation that I effing love this bike!
I have ridden her for 3 years and although she has brought me championships and has been a great performer, I would not say that I was loving the bike. My main gripes have been that it felt heavy to steer and simultaneously nervous feeling which is an odd combination. It did not inspire confidence and was a very exhausting bike to ride. Turning while trail braking would always go wide (and I had to compensate). We tried unsuccessfully to tune these things out over the past few years. I stuck with the bike because all of these things could be overcome and because the chassis was stable (despite a little chatter) and the motor is simply superb. It outshines everything else in the middleweight class.
Flash back to a month ago; I was instructing at the Penguin school when one of my fellow racers had some concerns about their bike and asked me to take it out since we had the same bike. I took it for a few laps and was amazed at how different it felt than my own. It was practically falling over due to bad geometry but it really got me thinking. I asked if he would mind if I got some measurements from his bike and he kindly agreed so I took it to my amazing sponsor Computrack: Boston who has a laser measuring system at the track. I already had my own measurements so I took this new data home with me to ponder.
I spoke with Pete at Computrack during the month about building what is essentially a hybrid between the two vastly different geometries to take the best of each and put it into one workable tune. Fast forward to Friday where I was once again teaching at Penguin. I went out for my morning sessions with my students and had about a 2 hour break for lunch and when we take the advanced group out on a track walk so I dropped my bike off with Pete and waited.
When the time came to go back on the track I admit that I was a bit nervous. This was a massive change in geometry and I was wondering how it would behave and if I would be able to adapt to it...or if it would even be a workable geometry. A few millimeters off in any direction can make a massive difference. I know my way around suspension and geometry, but Pete is a fucking magician.
I immediately felt more confident. The bike was simultaneously more stable and yet so much easier to steer. It was perfectly stable but also far more agile than it was before. Turning went from a massive effort to nearly telepathic. I still need to muscle the bike a bit but nowhere near as bad as before. I actually almost went off on the inside of a turn because it just...went. Pete also managed to tune out the nervousness that I was experiencing before.
It...was...AWESOME and this is just a start. I am sure that there is a little more fine tuning that can be done as I get more seat time.
I was so elated that I rode for the next 4 hours with only a handful of short breaks for fuel which was not something I could have done on my previous setup and now I can't wait to get back on the bike.
I have said multiple times here and elsewhere that if I could have taken my previous GSXR bike and transplant the ZX6R engine into it that I would have the perfect race bike. I can happily say now that this is no longer the case as the ZX6R has surpassed every aspect of my former race bike. It is truly the weapon that it was meant to be.
My next time at the track will be at the 2 day Penguin school in June followed by the Loudon Classic where I will actually return to racing. I am very excited for this and I can say that this excitement has been missing for some time.
**EDIT: before someone (everyone) asks me for my setup numbers: don't. I haven't raced on it yet so it has not been thoroughly tested in my book. What I can tell you now is that the bike likes lots of trail, to be tall in the front, and have a longer wheelbase than most other bikes.