Below is the culmination and end-result of a project that began in 2011, specifically Marky Mark’s Suzuki GSX-R600 build that started out as a kit of parts strewn around his flat-dweller-mandated lock-up garage in Bramhall (the former ‘Area 51’) and finished up as a complete bike on display at what is now his country estate in Hyde.
It was quite the journey.
The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when Mark, Gino and I were at the Motorcycle Live show at the NEC. I saw a set of gold-coloured OZ alloy wheels on sale that drew me in like sirens of speed. Re: gold wheels – anybody with even half a sense of style knows they look good on any bike that is either black (think John Player Special), dark blue, red, Italian, German, or has a large engine (Ducati 1098, Kawasaki ZZR-1400, BMW K12/13 etc.).
Gold wheels, for lack of a better word, are good. Gold wheels are right; gold wheels work; gold wheels clarify, cut through, and capture the essence of motorcycle style.**
So when I saw these circular temptresses at the show, I decided there and then that if I couldn’t have them, then Mark was damn well going to get them for the Gixxer, as it would not be a finished bike until it was so. The obscene cost was irrelevant. There are far more important things in life than money.
Now, it’s finally done. The universe is in balance:
I’d always read that one of the best value-for-money upgrades you can do to any bike is putting magnesium alloy hoops on it, because it offers such a massive instant hit of handling and steering improvement through weight reduction. Also, with the amount of other bits on this thing, retaining the standard steel Fred Flintstone wheels would be an insult.
Of course like all performance upgrades and improvements, fixing one thing unlocks the door to a new set of issues that were previously masked by the shroud of crapness. In this case, vastly reducing the Gixxer’s unsprung weight caused the whole suspension to require readjusting.
For a full explanation on that, it’s over to Mark:
Ok, the Gixxer:
I took the beast out to Mallory Park following a full-on weight loss programme over last summer. If truth be told, it was a weird experience. The morning was basically a full wet session and I was a touch rusty from not doing any track riding for a stretch. I did notice a very small reduction of weight when accelerating and braking but noting to write home about. It is still significantly lighter than the 169kg as standard but when I put the new OZ wheels in once the track had dried it became a totally different riding experience altogether.
It really was a totally different bike, I had to change the gearing, change the suspension (front and rear), adjust my riding position, my braking points were fucked up and where I turned in was often far short of where I was turning in earlier. What was really startling was how much I could make up just under braking. It turned in so much faster and before I knew it I was running over the inside kerb. How I exited a corner was also affected and once I got used to the new wheels the bike was revving-out faster. This made the quickshifter’s time-lag too long between gearchanges so this will need sorting on a rolling road.
I think having titanium rotor bolts and titanium parts in the unsprung areas of the suspension and the new wheels means the suspension doesn’t have to work as hard either. I had to stiffen up all the suspension and alter the Ohlins steering damper a couple of clicks. The experience was amusing and although this bike is no longer eligible to race due to it not meeting homologation rules, it is an awesome experience. Formula 600 rules exclude wheels like these and yet modern stuff has 20bhp+ more?! It would make a bit more sense allowing this modification when racing new machinery (as long as they don’t follow suit!) and in my opinion would make it more of a level playing field…
For the full story on this build and all the previous entries on it, click here for the full index.
[**after Gordon Gekko’s famous quote in Wall Street, but you knew that didn’t you..?]