We set out at the beginning of the 2011 to dispel one of the oldest myths in scooter tuning -
“Tuning a 2-stroke engine to racing standard compromises reliability.
Choose which you want….a reliable bike, don’t tune it, or a tuned bike that constantly needs rebuilding.”
Well we can quite safely say we’ve knocked that one on the head.
Many of you may have been following our exploits on the track. The SRT183 Runner is a “road tune” easily replicated and sold to customers for their every day bikes. We completed 100 ¼ mile sprints over the season (not including a few demo runs we did at Scooter Shootout) without the engine being touched once. Carb settings were played with, as was the transmission, but the engine has not been split since it was last built before August 2010.
When we first set out, we were not expecting to win every round, if any at all, just wanted to compete and see how the engine held up. The first round was at Santa Pod, a notoriously tough track. Although the surface is smooth and well maintained, there’s always a headwind, and the stickiness of the track did not suit our fat road tyres. However we were pleased to get a 13.86 E/T (elapsed time) and a speed of 90.47mph, beating the previous class track record of 14.14. We managed to get 12 runs in despite not starting racing until after lunch due to rain throughout the morning. The engine showed no signs of trouble, we just played with a few different clutch settings to see how speed would be effected under real racing conditions.
Round 2 at East Kirkby was possibly one of the most fun ones of the year, where we did our first four runs within a space of ten minutes, with Jay riding back down the return road and almost immediately running back up the strip. We completed 19 runs that day with pleasing results again; an E/T of 13.45 and a top speed of 95mph. The previous record was 13.70.
The next 2 rounds we entered were both at Elvington, and we did a further 20 runs in total. Still no signs of any trouble from the engine, but still trying to set up the clutch to give Jay enough power to pull away well, but not so much that he couldn’t keep it down. Various unintentional wheelie photos are proof we didn’t get it quite right each time. It took a little experimentation to find the right compromise. We got a 13.59 beating the track record of 15.18.
For the next round we went back to East Kirkby again. We took our daughters with us this time for the first time, and were glad we did as they were there to witness the day Daddy’s bike broke the elusive 100mph barrier….101mph in fact. They even got their picture in the paper to show all their friends at school. We managed 21 runs that day. Needless to say, the girls have come to every round with us since then.
North Weald was a different day altogether. Word got out that the racing was coming south and over 30 scooters turned up to race, which along with the usual Straightliners bikers made the queue to go up the strip unbelievably long. We only managed 4 qualifying runs, and then the elimination and finals runs, so 6 all together. After having achieved the much sought after 100mph run, we had decided to fit a bigger carb to see if this would affect the performance as much as people claim it does. Everyone assumes bigger is better, but we had stuck to the 28mm flatslide thus far as this is what is fitted to customers bikes and we wanted to prove that spec worked. We would not recommend fitting larger to a road going every day bike, but thought now was the time to try it out to see if there would have been much gain. As it turns out, over the ¼ mile distance our times and speeds were hardly affected. We hardly saw Jay all day as he was sat in the never-ending queue, but Shiny was kept busy fixing virtually every other auto that was there lol!
The next round, at Elvington yet again, turned out to be in almost hurricane force winds. You could hardly stand up straight at the start of the strip, let alone thrash a bike down it. One guy on a motorbike got flipped off, whether that was inexperience, bad luck or the wind, I’m not sure but after 6 runs I called it a day as it just seemed too dangerous to continue. We of course still had to do the eliminations final, taking it up to only 7 runs that day.
For the final round it was back to Santa pod, where it had all begun. It was Extreme Bike weekend so we travelled down on the Friday and made a weekend of it with the girls and various friends we had made throughout the year. Both days had the usual Pod headwind, and despite telling Jay to take it steady, he still managed to sneak in a 13.44 run at 90.87mph. We also experienced our first breakage of the year…..Jay managed to snap the throttle cable! Luckily our Lambretta racing neighbour Tim had a spare (we didn’t!) which got us out of trouble and saved the day. Drama over, phew! Over the weekend we did 15 runs ( if you include Jay’s display run in the final lol, doing a celebration wheelie the length of the strip).
The day was rounded off with a session of burnouts, still not managing to kill the engine though, and a lot of pats on the back.
As already mentioned, we did not set out with the intention of winning, but more to prove what the engine was capable of. As it turns out, we won every round *blushes* and in fact scored the most championship points out of every rider (including motorbikes) in the whole Straightliners series. We now have a nice little collection of trophies to show for the year’s effort and a bike that is still running as well as it did in the first race.
It’s been fantastic fun, although a lot of travelling involved. Wish there were more rounds down south, although even the Pod is a 3 hour trek for us. We’ve met a great bunch of people, particularly Tim Lee who raced against us at every round on his JB Tuning Lambretta and of course Danny Grundy who brought his SRT172 along to the last few rounds after catching the bug at North Weald. It really is an addictive sport, and hopefully we have succeeded in attracting a bit more interest in it.
It’s not all about getting 100mph, although that was something we had hoped for but not expected when we started. It’s not even about winning. Deep down, racing is what we all want to do on our peds. Every time you sit at those traffic lights, what’s going through your mind? Now imagine being able to thrash it away, for a whole ¼ mile (it’s longer than you think when you get there), no on-coming traffic, no pavements/bollards/pot holes to hit, no speeding ticket or sirens, and as a bonus you get an accurate read out each time you do it of your time and speed. So even if you’re not the fastest there, each time you can race against yourself and try to improve on your previous best.
We could have gone for an all out race tune, who knows how long the engine would have lasted. It’s something we’ll have to experiment with. But we’re happy to have proved the standard of the every day work we produce. There may be bigger and better things to come as far as racing goes.It was a steep learning curve, having never even attended a drag race before we turned up at Santa Pod in March, but it was a cracking year, certainly one to remember.