Preparation Before Acceleration
The Superbikesupply.com Ryhno Racing project bike build is well under way. Currently, I’m taking time to tear down the Yamaha YZF R6. The first step of this project is taking off all of the street plastics, mirrors, turn signals, etc. since these parts are not needed nor allowed on a race bike.
My friend Elliot has been assisting me, and as we’ve worked through this process I was reminded how much simpler track bodywork is to work on compared to the street plastics. I removed more fasteners than I care to count. Every time we think we got them all and started to pull the plastics off the bike, we would always seem to find one more we missed. In comparison to track bodywork, which is minimal, there are maybe half a dozen fasteners to take off the entire upper and lower set. Needless to say, this was quite a learning experience.
Once we had this finished, our next step in the process was to remove the suspension. My plan for the forks is to have the internals replaced with GP Suspension racing cartridges. For the rear, I removed the factory shock and will be replacing it with a nice Öhlins TTX rear shock. Both the race forks and shock are being set to my weight and will be as close as possible to match my main race bike. The goal is to have both bikes feel as similar as possible so I can easily hop on one without having to make any changes.
Stock bodywork is so labor intensive to work with.
The front forks were easy enough to remove, simply loosening the bolts around the upper and lower triple clamps once we had the fender, front wheel and calipers off. Everything was fairly straightforward compared to other motorcycles I have worked on in the past. When we got to the rear shock however, that is where we ran into some challenges.
First, in order to access the shock linkage bolts and remove them easily, we had to take the exhaust off. This ended up being a good thing because I will be replacing the stock exhaust/slip-on combo with a full Graves racing exhaust. Next, we needed to put the bike on jack stands since the rear swing arm would no longer hold up the bike with the shock removed. Typically I will place jack stands on the rearsets to hold up the bike. However, the stock rearsets on the R6, like many street bikes, have folding pegs. This meant we had to be very particular about where we placed the jack stands.
With the stands in place and exhaust removed, we began loosening up the bottom rear shock bolt after loosening the shock linkages and moving them out of the way. The next and largest challenge came when we went to remove the top shock mounting bolt. The bolt is in a very inaccessible place and after a lot of awkward angling of tools and staring, I consulted the shop manual.
Out with the old …. In with the new.
I discovered a top shock mount bolt that can be accessed through the subframe under the seat. However, the best way to access this is by also moving the fuel tank. Much like the exhaust, I planned to remove this anyway so this ended up being an unplanned step but one that would need to be done nonetheless. After I loosened the tank, I had Elliot hold it just high enough so I could access the top bolt. Once I had the nut removed it was a matter of wiggling the shock downwards through the swingarm. This took some maneuvering of the swingarm into a slightly higher position as I slowly slid the shock out. I have had to do similar things on other bikes but the removal of the top bolt through the subframe was new.
In the future, I’ll either be rotating the shock so I can access the mounting bolt from the side, or by drilling a small hole in the subframe so I can access the bolt with a hex socket.
Even though this took longer than I expected, with this being a new bike for me to work on, it was a positive learning experience. A lot of the things I’ve experienced will be streamlined when the bike is in race trim but I always try to learn a bike as best as I can, so I can take care of as much of the maintenance as possible. On my previous race bike, I did everything other than the full engine modification build, but I did tear down an engine to fix a transmission gear and put it back together. It all adds up to experience.
Rear shock removal was a challenge, but a worthwhile learning endeavor.
Next on the list of tasks to tackle is removing the brake system on the bike to replace with stainless steel lines and also get rid of the ABS system. Yet another new thing I get to learn about since none of my past motorcycles had anything remotely close to ABS.
Beyond the project bike, I am still working hard to try and find financial partners and sponsors for the upcoming race season. I have been contacting and reviewing potential partners and also working on my tentative race schedule, pre-season testing dates and also apparel designs for the team. A lot of logistic items to be taken care of but I’m glad I’m doing it now as opposed to the month before we go racing. One phrase I started saying a few years ago is “preparation before acceleration”. We’ve got a lot of prep still to do, but it’ll be worth it in the end, when we line up for the first time on the MotoAmerica Supersport grid!
Stay tuned for more to come!
*Here’s our video review of the tear-down so far-