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The MARRC Roadracing School Bike Prep Guide

This text is from the Manual for the MARRC RRS, an accredited motorcycle roadracing school. It is provided here as a guide to students and as a service to motorcyclists and racing enthusiasts.

Table of Contents

    Preparing Your Motorcycle
    Typical Tech Inspection Requirements
    Safety Wiring Techiques
    How to drill
    How to wire

    Preparing Your Motorcycle
    Any vehicle that is raced undergoes serious stress. It does not matter whether you ride a 250cc two-stroke, a stock 600, or a 1200cc four-stroke fire-breathing monster. When you race a motorcycle, you will punish your machine. Being competitive in a race means that you push your machine to its absolute limits. This applies equally to the motor and the chassis. Because of this, you need to make sure that your bike is in the best condition that it can be. You might be able to ride your bike on the street with a swingarm or steering head that is a little loose or worn, or with brake pads or tires with a few thousand miles on them, but on the race track any one of these things could spell disaster.

    Everyone knows that racing is a dangerous sport. Racers accept and manage the risk. A critical part of that risk management is proper bike maintenance. Don't add to your risk by riding a motorcycle in poor condition, or your bike could wind up hurting you or someone else.

    Proper preparation and maintenance are the keys to getting the most enjoyment from your investment of time and money. A poorly prepared machine is unsafe. You can expect the tech inspector to be very unsympathetic when examining a dirty or neglected motorcycle.

    Sloppy mechanical work quickly deteriorates a racebike's performance, overwhelming any advantages gained by expensive aftermarket performance modifications. An unreliable machine will cause you to miss races that you have paid good money for.

    Get the factory service manual for the machine you are racing and bring it along to the track. It's also a good idea to get a notebook and bring it with you to record adjustments, repairs, mistakes made, and lessons learned as the season progresses. If you have the complete MARRC Roadracing School Manual, be sure to read the section on bike maintenance and modifications to understand all the adjustments and changes you can make to your motorcycle.

    Before your first race, prepare your motorcycle according to the standards in this manual and the CCS rulebook. The process of drilling and wiring a bike is very time consuming, so allow for several sessions to complete the work. Start this project as early as possible; it is not good to do this work at the last minute. While you are going over your bike for safety wiring, thoroughly inspect your bike and correct any problems uncovered. Even a brand new motorcycle can hide poor adjustments or damaged parts. You will become more familiar with your machine by carefully checking it. Below is a list of things to check and look out for during each inpsection.

    Follow this checklist for going over your bike in detail:

    Besides making sure your engine in running, it needs to be running reliably. When the instructors say that you'll be pushing your bike to the limit, it means that you'll be magnifying small problems hidden on your bike. Check these areas before you get to the track:

    Unhook both ends of any cables. Replace the cable if you see any broken strands. Use a cable lubrication device (available at any bike shop), and clean the inside with a solvent. Re-lubricate the cable with a light penetrating oil (we recommend a cable lubricant or WD-40). Make sure the cable is routed as shown in the service manual. Lubricate the ferrule with grease. Make sure the cable moves freely in the housing with light pressure on one end. If the housing is cracked or split, replace it and also buy a spare. When you reinstall the cable, adjust it so there is proper free play in the lever.

    Check your brake and hydraulic clutch fluid levels. If the fluid is over two years old, replace the fluid and bleed the system. If the hoses are more than four years old, replace them with new brake lines, using a braided stainless steel type if you can. Use brake fluid from a brand-new, unopened can. Does your brake feel mushy, or like a clutch? The lever should come to a firm stop before reaching the handlebar. It should not slowly continue moving under constant pressure. If it does, there may be air in the system, or you may have a leak. Find it and fix it right away! Your brakes are the most important performance part on your bike.

    Typical Tech Inspection Requirements
    The figure below shows a motorcycle with major requirements for racing pointed out. Remember your motorcycle must be clean and without serious damage.

      1. Tires should be racing compound in good condition, metal valve stem caps are required. Axles and pinch bolts must also be wired.
      2. Must have operational front and rear brakes. Lever must not touch bar when squeezed.
      3. Must have a functional kill switch.
      4. Must have a self-closing throttle.
      5. Remove all turn signals, luggage racks, and mirrors.
      6. All lenses and instruments must be taped or removed.
      7. Remove center and side stand.
      8. All hoses (including oil, fuel, coolant) must have hose clamps.
      9. Oil coolers must be securely mounted.
      10. All vents and breathers must be routed to a catch can. Catch can must be vented to air box.
      11. Oil filler and any drain plugs (including fork drains) must be wired.
      12. Kickstarter must be removed or wired.
    Technical inspection will also check your bike for these general points:
    • Rear fender must extend past the rear axle.
    • Each fairing must be mounted at a minimum of three points.
    • No streamlining may be attached to the rider.
    • All Suzuki GSXR engines must have heavy duty side covers to prevent breakage and oil leaks. Yamaha R1s and 2000 to 2002 GSXR models with OEM style bodywork require a case guard on the left side only.

    Every bike that is roadraced must pass Technical Inspection, or tech, before venturing onto the racetrack. Bikes usually get inspected on the Saturday morning of each race weekend. If you crash your bike during the weekend, you must get the bike re-inspected.

    There are two reasons that motorcycles are inspected before they are raced. The primary reason is your safety. The second reason is the safety of everyone else racing. Safety is paramount and you should take tech requirements very seriously.

    You will have to remove the antifreeze in a liquid-cooled bike. Antifreeze is very slippery and impossible to clean from the track when spilled. You must run only water or approved additives in your cooling system. Racers found with antifreeze in their bike may LOSE THEIR RACE LICENSE AND FACE A POSSIBLE FINE! We cannot stress this point enough, and it is taken very seriously by every sanctioning body.

    All vent, breather or overflow tubes coming from the engine, transmission, or radiator must be routed into a heat-resistant catch can of at least 350cc capacity or the air box. If the air box is used, any drains from the box must be routed into a catch can or removed and the box sealed. The primary purpose of this rule is to prevent oil from being spilled out onto the racetrack. Do not seal your engine, as this can force oil through a side-cover gasket, not to mention decrease horsepower output. A good spot to locate the catch can is next to the battery. Be sure to mount it securely. Tie-wraps work very well. As for the can itself, a fork oil bottle or large vitamin container is sufficient. Run your battery overflow into the catch can too. Check the catch can often for excess liquids.

    The water overflow can be vented into the air, but you want to route it so that it does not soak your rear tire in the event of boil-over. Endurance teams often route this line to the front of the bike so that it demands the rider's attention when spitting water or steam. The gas overflow hose should be routed to the ground.

    All engine, transmission, and final drive unit drain plugs and filler caps must be visibly safety wired. Oil filter bolts must be secured with safety wire and spin-on oil filters must be secured with a metal clamp and safety wire or other acceptable means. At a minimum, this includes the oil drain, oil filler, and oil filter. Remember, if you change your oil during the weekend you must re-wire all of these points or face possible fines. Fuel and radiator caps are exempt from safety wire requirements.

    Front fork drain screws must be safety wired or taped. This is best done with the wheel off; just wrap a few turns of duct tape around the fork lower to cover the screw. Safety wire them if you can since the tape can mask any seepage.

    Kickstarters, if retained, must be secured at two points. You can wire the top up or use some type of bracket. Most organizations, including MARRC, prefer that you remove it completely.

    Put a strip of tape over your instruments to prevent the plastic from shattering in a crash. Cover only the areas the needle doesn't register. Also, put a strand of safety wire around each handelbar grip, add a few twists and trim, then push the remainder into the grip. This will prevent the grips from coming loose and spinning freely.

    The cooling system must not contain ethylene-glycol. If you think racing over an oil slick is tough, then you won't want to find antifreeze on the pavement. Worse, it cannot be cleaned up when spilled. Please flush your cooling system a couple of times, basically until it flushes clear, and fill it with water. Water and "wetting agents" are the only things approved for use in your radiator.

    Valve stem caps must be used on both wheels. Metal caps are required.

    In addition, exhaust header bolts and muffler mount bolts should be wired. Most tech inspectors will check these. If your exhaust baffles are removable, then they too must be wired as well.

    Safety Wiring Techniques
    Safety wiring is not mysterious or difficult. It really only takes some time and practice, and will soon become second-nature for you at the track. Safety wiring should always be done to keep bolts or nuts from backing out. That means always wire in the direction that will tighten the bolt. Safety wiring is also done to prevent any part that does come loose from falling onto the track and causing damage to another bike or rider. It never hurts to safety wire any critical part of your bike, such as controls, beyond the requirements in the rulebook.

    Now that you know what you need to safety wire, you're probably wondering how to do it. First, go out and get the following items:

    How to drill
    Except for a few places on your bike where bolts are already drilled for a cotter pin, the nuts and bolts on your bike will have to be drilled before they can be wired. There are various ways to do this. It is best to use a drill press and a small vice to hold the fastener or part. Whether you have a press or a hand drill, here are some tips. First, go easy with those little drill bits. It takes very little force to break one. Lubricate the drill bit periodically with light oil. This helps it cut faster and also cools the bit. When the bit is about to clear the far side of the item you need to be careful that you don't snap the bit. Many nuts and bolts are surface hardened and that last section takes the longest. Throw out a drill bit when it gets dull.

    Straight drilling Most bolts can be drilled straight through the hexagonal head, as in the first figure. Drill from flat to flat, and keep the hole centered. For the studs of some mounting bolts where a portion of the threads protrude, you might opt to drill through the shaft and wire in the fashion of the cotter pin found in most rear axles. If you do this, put a nut on the bolt first so that you can clean up the threads by taking the nut off. Banjo bolts (used on brake and oil lines) are hollow and cannot be drilled straight through. These must be corner drilled, as shown in the next figure.

    Corner drilling Hexagonal nuts are drilled across one of the corners. This is a three step process. The drawing shows the drill bit pointed at the flat of the nut. Drill straight in until the bit is in about 1/16 inch. Then turn the nut in the vice about 15 degrees. Continue drilling until the bit is in about 1/8 inch. Finally, turn the piece again so that you can drill all the way through the corner.

    Allen head bolts may be drilled through either one or both sides. Be sure to drill though the flats of the allen or you will weaken the grip offered the allen wrench. Drilling through both sides will make wiring the bolt easier.

    How to wire
    Once you have the nuts and bolts drilled and reinstalled, you need to wire them in place. You should first ensure that everything is torqued properly. Over-torquing a fastener will weaken the threads, and repeated over-torquing can lead to failure. Your bike's manual will have the torque and thread treatment specifications for each fastener. If appropriate, loctite or lubricate the threads first. You then need to wire the item as an insurance procedure.

    When wiring nuts or bolts, there are several techniques used. The first is to wire the nut or bolt to a convenient fixed object, such as the frame or a fork tube. Another common technique is to wire two or more fasteners together so that none of the fasteners can back off. A third approach is to wire the head of a bolt to the nut on the other end. The figures show the first two of these techniques. Most drain or fill plugs will be wired to a frame member or engine part. Brake caliper nuts and bolts are usually wired together. Fork pinch bolts can be wired together or to a fixed item. A muffler mounting bolt is usually wired to its own nut.

    Wired to fixed object The figure on the left shows a nut wired to a fixed member. It is best to start by looping the wire around the member and twisting the wire together. Continue twisting until the twisted part reaches just short of the nut or bolt. Thread one piece of the wire through the hole on the nut or bolt. Pull the wire tight and then continue twisting the wires together. Leave about 1/2 inch of twisted wire and cut off the rest. Throw the ends in the garbage can immediately. Tuck the end around so that you can't cut yourself on it. Tension should be kept on the nut or bolt in the tightening direction. The diagrams here show the wire in a loose fashion so that you can see the idea. Your completed wiring should be neat and tight.

    Always discard your excess wire in a trash can. Those little pieces of wire can flatten a tire in no time. Always use caution when working with safety wire. The ends are very sharp and can easily cut your fingers. When you have finished wiring a nut or bolt, bend the end of the wire so that it doesn't protrude and create a hazard.

    Wired together This figure shows two nuts wired together. The procedure is similar to wiring to a fixed object. Loop the wire through the hole of one of the nuts (or bolts). Twist the wire and maintain tension on the wire in the tightening direction of the nut. Continue twisting until the twisted wire reaches just short of the hole for the second nut and wire that nut. The wire should pass between the nuts to maintain tension on both nuts when the job is done. This process may be continued to wire additional nuts in succession, such as an oil filter cover, sprocket nuts, or water pump.

    If your bike has a spin-on type oil filter, it can be wired in place by placing a hose clamp around the filter, then running a piece of safety wire from the clamp to the frame or another fixed object.

    Another area which requires special techniques is fuel and water lines. You can use the spring loaded clips that come stock on most bikes, or use small hose clamps. If you use safety wire, be careful because you can cut through the hose by using too much tension. Small zip ties will also work.

    Water lines are usually clamped with standard hose clamps. One precaution you can take is to thread same safety wire through the slot on the screw of the clamp, then attach the wire to the clamp. This will keep the hose clamp from loosening.

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