Curbeater Test, Thunderhill Raceway Park: September 16th, 2018
Weather: 82F ambient high, 125F track high
2009 Yamaha R6/450 AFM ‘A’ race bike
Ohlins 30mm NIX cartridges, Ohlins oil at 22 hours of track time
Ohlins GP TTX rear shock, Ohlins oil at 22 hours track time
- carry case
- instruction booklet
- 3 heaters with cables
- power box
- US power converter
*** My race bike had not been started nor ridden prior to metal temperatures being taken
Ambient temps when the kit was tested: 75F
Fork metal temp 80F
Shock reservoir temp 74F
Curbeater shows an ideal period of one hour in the instruction manual to preheat the forks and shock metal/oil so I stayed within those limits.
Temperatures were measured in 15 minute increments by removing the Curbeater heater for a few seconds and using an infra red gun on the metal surface that was being preheated. The test was to assess via infra red readings, how much the temperature of the metal surfaces increased during the time span.
*** there is no way for me to measure how oil temperature changed via the heating process
0-15 saw a change from 80F to 103
15-30 saw a change from 103F to 136F
30-45 saw a change from 136F to 145F
45-60 was stable at 145F
A little perspective as we need context at this point:
The longer you leave fork and shock oil in place, the thicker it gets when it is cold. Therefore it takes a while for the oil to heat up:
- The forks are out in cooler air so sometimes it doesn’t really heat up much at all
- The shock is heated by the engine so the oil gets hot very quickly indeed with the transfer of ambient heat from the engine and potentially exhaust depending if you have an undertail type.
Most crashes are low sides in the first few laps, so if cold tires were not a factor, all we are left with is cold oil not moving fast enough and the tire being over powered OR the tire losing contact with the ground once it travels over the high spot of a bump creating “hang time”.
Prior to going on track, power was disconnected to the power block and the clamps were removed from the forks and shock. The power wires on each clamp were not disconnected from the power block. Once the clamps are removed, they need to be set on the ground apart from each other to cool off.
Test #1: warm ambient temperatures
I have ridden my race bike in a vast diversity of track and ambient temperatures, so running a seasonal test with afternoon temperatures was a good starting point. I know what the forks feel like when oil is cold, and I also know how my forks “change” as heat gets into the oil via laps in a race or via testing time on track which is slightly longer in duration but with lap times that are slower by 2-3 seconds.
With the oil preheated in the forks and shock, there was no initial harshness in the first 3 laps from the cold and relatively old oil (30 hours is the service limit). Instead, the forks felt vaguely firm for the first lap and then smoothed out completely.
If I was racing, this would give me a significant advantage as I could make the forks work harder much earlier in the race knowing that fork action would be much smoother and getting away in the first two laps is the key to a strong win.
For the track sessions, the bike is much easier to ride in the first 3 laps as you have far less tension waiting for the oil to heat up and the bumps to lose their intensity! For those riding on bumpy tracks, Curbeater would be essential in ensuring a much better handling bike in the first three laps.
As we turn towards Autumn and the Fall season, I will test Curbeater on a very cold morning to see how the heaters work with ambient temperatures in the 50-60F range and with speeds in excess of 125mph, review the fork and shock metal temperatures when leaving for the session and when returning to the pit. This should define the difference between a heated shock and a set of forks being cooled by wind chill.
As the Curbeater time span is one hour, we have 3 x 20 minutes session per hour so as soon as I come off track I will be able to put the units in place and set them to work immediately.
In reviewing this product for ideal applications around the Globe, it would seem to be very valuable in cooler climates where hot fork and shock oil is far more valuable throughout the day. That being said, knowing your fork and shock oil is warm for track days but more importantly for each race, puts your mind in a different place as you go out on track to grid.
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