A TRACKDAY FOR YOUR MIND.
Over the past few years, I've been calling Dan Kyle at kyleusa.com when I needed parts like power commanders, Ohlins springs or an oddball HRC part. When I called, Dan would usually answer the phone or take the call. I was able to get the parts I needed (or didn't if Dan said so) but I would also get some valuable advice or knowledge from one of motorcycling top tuners. I kept calling and learned so much each time I did. It was so refreshing to have someone not sell me a product that he did not believe was going to solve my problem.
If you didn't know, Dan Kyle was the tuner behind factory Honda teams, Two Brothers Racing and Erion Racing back in the 90's. 5 AMA National Roadracing Championships were awarded to his teams. The experience, knowledge and understanding that Dan has dwarfs a very many motorcycle professionals.
Anyway, Dan's parts business has been growing well over the past few years. He has become known as THE man to buy ohlins parts from. I think that he is the #1 US distributor for Ohlins and Sato, I'm not sure. Well, a few months ago Dan hires Joey, formerly with Ohlins USA. Joey has spent a few years as the Ohlins go to guy at AMA pro races. He also has spent time at and trained at the Ohlins factory in sweden. Joey also has a vast amount of experience setting up race cars.
Things seemed to change then from my perspective. They both seemed to have more time to spend online. They were both posting on various forums that I go to, druming up business and discussing odd topics. They were talking with the people and seeing just how little the people knew, even the most experienced riders. Not that it was anybody’s fault, but nobody is putting the really really good advice out for public consumption.
Back in December or November, they hosted a suspension and chassis tuning seminar. This was posted online, and the price of $250 was balked at by most. They conducted the seminar with every seat filled anyway. I was not able to make that first seminar and really regretted it.
Another seminar was announced for January 14 and I immediately jumped at the chance to sign up.
The day started with me driving from Fairfax to Sand City, a 3 hour drive. I hate long drives, but after I found out that one couple at the seminar had flown in from Chicago, I felt a bit better. I got in just before the 9am start time.
Te first thing that you notice about the building that Dan has been running his operation since 1997 from is nothing. I had to look at it for about a minute before noticing the tiny kyle-usa sticker at one of the corners. LOW KEY! I walk in the door meet Dan in person, finally, and do a little chit chatting with the other attendees.
It was a group of about 8 or 9 people. Just enough to feel comfortable but not too small. Each person had a deep desire and serious conviction in learning as much as they could about motorcycles for their own reasons: experienced racers, new racers, track junkies, and just plain riders.
Dan started with a little tour. It is a pretty big shop by most measures. Very clean. A few very late model bikes on stands with about $20,000 worth of brand new parts on them. A full machine shop with a CNC mill was in the back. A chassis dyno by the door and a shock dyno at the side. Work benches and sinks were everywhere.
Surrounding the shop on the walls were signed pictures, awards, trophies, and the rarest of factory racing parts from days recently past. Lots of eye candy.
The lecture started at the beginning, springs. We discussed everything about them and dynoed several steel and Ti springs. We then talked at length about damping. We pulled a set of forks and shock apart. We then put them together with Dan and Joey explaining the "secrets" to making them work better. We ran a few different forks on the dyno showing problems and the results of changes.
After a very short lunch, we got into geometry and chassis adjustment. Every question was answered and it was incredible to see the level of sophistication they go through when they set up a bike.
At all times Dan and Joey would explain things in a very easy to understand way, but without once dumbing anything down and treating each subject with the utmost respect.
We got a quick tour of the warehouse and shipping. One very cool thing is that for each part that Dan sells, he has it in stock if possible and all the spare parts to support it. So if you buy from Dan, he will support you later when you need the small parts.
I have spent a lot of time around racing and machine shops. But this experience blew me away. Dan is on another level. He has tools I have never seen before in person, like ceramic gauge blocks, a 6 foot digital caliper, 2 different viscometers, about 20 inclinometers that are to accuracies I have never had to use. This does not even begin to list the variety and specialty of his tools. You just don't see this kind of stuff every day.
Dan recently purchased a new track support van. He or Joey will be attending Pacific Track Time track days and AFM races this year. Make sure that you stop buy and have them help you. You can go to a lot of guys out there for help, but not many are at the level that these guys are at.
If you ever have a chance to buy from Dan, have Dan tune your bike, or use track services by Dan or Joey, you will be using one of the best guys around. For sure.
WIN! WIN! WIN!
Not all of the trophies and plaques were on display. These were the ones we saw.
Just another shop filled with clutter. This is Dans. Joey says that it is 100% period other than the V&H sticker on the tail.
Tools of the trade.
Your basic chasis dyno.
One of dans bikes. He loves that bling. Gold. Just gold.
CNC Mill with 35 programed tools. "Just in case."
The shock dyno with a spring in it. Spring testing is job #1. All of the shock springs coming out of Dans shop have been dyno'd. the crappy ones are shipped back to Ohlins.
Dan called this a "Fork Leg". Now we know what to call it.
Every good tuner takes good notes.
The details. Nothing was left out.
Parts, parts, parts. Cabinates of small parts were everywhere.
Some RC51 forks on the dyno, ready to test.
This shit moves fast.
Dan called this stuff "elbow grease". I have yet to find it for sale. Joey looks on, marvelling at this process. real science here.
Dan polishes the shaft.
Joey is convinced that these Ohlins superbike forks are worth $11,000 because they are made of solid gold. State of the art gas forks for god knows who.
Dan says that gold parts are better for bling.
The rear end of the bike
Discussing progressive rate wheel travel, springs, and links. This board got a lot of use.
The Ohlins 25mm cartridge kit you here so much about. It's not that good 'cause it's not gold.
Joey explaining the damping circuits.
Dan sell lots of parts, but only the ones worth buying.
Half of the class watches as joey and kyle perform their new River Dance routine. We tried to be supportive of their efforts.
It's all about the little changes.
Joey explains the rear shock. Joey is what you call, an expert.
Guts. I love the internal top out spring.
Shim stack and valve.
One side of the valve.
The other side.
Dan's own valve. Just like the ohlins valve, but with different port sizes.
Laying out the parts.
Dan took the time to show me some of his more special tools. This is a digital viscometer. He had another one, but this one is nicer. Incredible. A warehouse is his toolbox.
The chasis and geometry measurement section of the lecture. Dan is very eager to pass on his hard earned knowlage.
Special, super accurate surveying equipment is used on the special stand. This may look like a computrack setup, but dan explained all of the shortcomings of the computrack system and why his is a vast improvement. I've witnessed some computrack shops. I'll trust dan.
The biggest digital calipers I have ever seen. He has another set, 1 foot shorter.
Crazy bling for tool whores. The inclineometer and "special" tool case.
Ceramic guage blocks.
Military grade titanium wrenches.
Works showa shock. You cannot buy these. An HRC kit shock in the backround.
HRC kit Shock.
Another review of this seminar:
I gotta say that this was the best thing I could have done to get a good working knowledge of suspension- Better then any book, "hanging out" around the bike shop, or spending time at the track.
Among the many things Kyle Racing does in the course of the day is take actual suspension components along with racing suspension components and physically dissect them in an understandable way - literally, takes them all apart piece by peice in front of you explaining how each component works (and how to adjust it if possible), along every step of the way. While the dissection process doesn't allow you to become a master suspension mechanic - and that's not the point - it does allow you to understand how the internals of the suspension work together to accomplish the particular goal(s) at hand.
At the same time they test applicable parts on the suspension dyno and produced real world, understandable results for us to witness. One of the things I found most informative was when we tested various springs on the dyno and got the results of each. After spring theory was fully explained, including progressive versus linear rates and coil lock, it was very easy to see what we really want in a spring because they have the testing equipment right there to tell them- they send all springs back to the manufacturor that aren't up to par and each spring they have in stock has a spec sheet attached to it since they dyno all of them before they sell them.
There was "super cool" stuff sprinkled all through out the day as well - the $11,000 Gas Charged Ohlins Superbike Forks had me drooling - but one of the things that I got the most out of was witnessing the difference on the dyno that a titanium spring and bearing can make on a rate graph- it all translates to what you're going to feel when out riding, that's the really great part. Joey also completely took apart an Ohlins rear shock and explained/performed a re-vavle at the same time. One of the coolest things was witnessing the installation of a cartridge kit on stock RC-51 forks. We dyno'ed them all along the way and the results just kept getting better and better. And where stock components aren't producing or aren't producing enough, Kyle Racing is manufacturing parts that work better and again the dyno proved that as well.
Dan and Joey take a "no secrets" approach to the presentation and a lot of times when they weren't explaining things we didn't understand we were in a discussion like format of Q&A with them. They talked about everything - and I mean everything- to the very last detail and they made sure it was understood. They work directly with the teams/team riders and that level of the industry was ever present the whole time; while we were there Jason DeSalvo's coach even stopped by.
The way to sum it all up is Kyle Racing takes a world reserved only for race teams and riders and allows the privateer to get involved in it, which makes the time, effort, and money required to get there totally worth it.
It was good to see fellow 1000RR members stu and PVD there as well... STU came all the way from Chicago. Last but certainly not least, lunch was an absolute feast: Shrimp, sushi, sandwiches, chicken, too much to list ....
|Low Speed Damping
|High Speed Damping
|Ride Height & Sag
|Squat & Jack
|Choosing a FDR gear
|Chains & Sprockets
|Oil Filter Testing
|Understaning The System
|Gasoline & Octane
|Rider Position & Controls
|Breaking in a New Bike
|About Torque Wrenches
|Books to Own
|2005 Honda CBR600RR
|All Crashed up
|Yoyodyne Slipper Clutch
|Tapered Roller Head Bearings
|PAIR / SMOG Removal
|Power Commander & Map
|Double Bubble Windscreen
|AIM Laptimer & Mount
|CRG Shorty Levers
|TCM Rear Rotor Modification
|1000RR Radial Master
|Factory Evo Star Shift Kit
|2001 Honda CBR600F4i
|2004 600RR Shock Disassembly
|Forums & Links
|Dan Kyle Suspension Seminar
|PVD Pro Slalom Trucks
|Bearings & Lubrication
|Skateboarding and the Law
|Removing Skate Prevention Blocks
|Shimano Mineral Oil
|HollowTech II Bottom Brackets
|Chain Cleaning and Lube
|Choosing One-Speed Gears
|Wheel Components and Disk Wheel Lacing Patterns
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