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Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

  1. #1
    Member tucktuvak's Avatar
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    Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    As I do more track days, I find myself spending a lot of money on tires for my big bikes. I also really want to get into racing, and the prospect of a new set of tires every weekend is pretty financially unappealing. From what I hear, if I can pick up something like an nsr125, rc390, or similar small bike, or pick up some supermoto wheels and slicks for my dirtbike, I could possibly get into racing more affordably (from a season cost perspective). As a larger person (6'3", 190 pounds) what do these small bikes feel like at track speeds? Also, is it better to go the supermoto route or the small sportsbike route for LRRS?

    100% of my on-track experience is on 1000cc twins so that would be my point of comparison. I've ridden my dirt bike on the street, and it feels very fast but I probably haven't been over 55mph on it.

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    WMC original sdog30's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Motard is not cheaper necessarily. I just bought a set of Michelin supermoto tires for $500. That was the "hook up" price.

    You definently don't go through tires as quick, but you'll use that elsewhere. Lol

    Like an engine build/rebuild, suspension, brakes, exhaust.

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    14 Triumph Street Triple R, 18 TM 450SMX sumo, 15 Husky 250SXF tard, 14 KTM 250SXF and Cole's Grom
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    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Yeah if you're looking for cheap racing go with the small sportbikes. Motards get expensive quickly maintenance wise.

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  4. #4
    ^ It's my bike and my car tls25rs's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    I'll leave the finer points of racing small bikes to the current racers. As far as roadracing a true supermoto, 450cc dirtbike based, they are sometimes considered to be a less expensive alternative however having "raced" one for a short time I'm not 100% sold on that.

    Crashing, yes they are much less expensive when crashed as there isn't much to break on them. New bars, pegs, sliders if they are really needed at all and usually good to go.

    Tires, yes they use tires less quickly than a middle or heavy weight bike but at the lower lap times they still go through tires, that's racing.

    Initial cost, probably a toss up here. A well set up used motard can be had however not knowing the previous owner's maintenance habits means you are buying a grenade with a fuse that was pulled sometime in the past and you don't know when. A new motard will cost a pretty penny to get set up properly. The bike, the suspension/geometry. the wheels, the brakes etc.

    The biggest issue cost wise with them is more the motor maintenance schedule needed. Replacing major motor parts before they break is key. Blow up a motard motor and things can get expensive quickly. Some of this has been tempered with bikes like the new Husqvarna/KTM 450 motards as their motors seem to be much more stout than motards of the past but even they blow up as happened the last race weekend to one of them. You are talking periodic pistons, occasional cranks, valve train maintenance etc. to make them less likely to grenade themselves. When a motor does go it is typically not easy to get a replacement motor and if you buy the parts to rebuild it the costs go up very quickly.

    Keep in mind this is when roadracing a true 450cc based motard at places like Loudon or larger tracks. Small dedicated supermoto tracks are a little less taxing on the motors and therefore they can last longer in the environment.

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  5. #5
    Member tucktuvak's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Am I underestimating the tire use of small bikes? I talked to a guy with an nsr125 who said he ran one set of slicks for an entire season, which is what got me thinking about it. He may have been exaggerating. How much more tire will a mw/hw bike use than a an ultralight at race pace?

    As far as motard maintenance I guess I would be doing a new top end @ $150 on my two stroke every 10-15 hours if I was racing it.

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    Last edited by tucktuvak; 08-26-19 at 04:11 PM.
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    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Depends how fast you get. Novice pace that might be possible.

    Expert you're going to go through a set in 2 weekends or so I'm estimating.

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    -Christian LRRS/CCS HasBeen ECK Racing
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  7. #7
    ^ It's my bike and my car tls25rs's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by tucktuvak View Post
    As far as motard maintenance I guess I would be doing a new top end @ $150 on my two stroke every 10-15 hours if I was racing it.
    If you are talking about trying to use your 2-stroke TM for roadracing as a motard at place like Loudon you may want to discuss with Kurlon what that might entail as he is the only one I know that has done something similar. All other comments to this point are based on 4-stroke 450cc based motards. If you are talking about supermoto racing your 250 2-stroke then yes it should be fairly typical 2-stroke maintenance. Also not too sure how competitive the 2-strokes are vs. the 4-strokes in either race discipline.

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  8. #8
    Lifer Kurlon's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    I'll second that, when I started on my FZR I was putting tires on more 'cause I had Bridgestone bucks to burn than actually wearing the life out of them, turning 30s, then high 20s. In 2017 turning low 20s I went through two fronts and three rears in a season. 2018, hit my first 19, one front, three rears, and that was only running about half the season.

    My R6, at a pace slower than most Ams, two rears over the course of 4 rounds, only doing one race per round plus practices.

    - - - Updated - - -

    On the smoker motard at Loudon option, I can give the long nuanced version, or the TLDR plus caveat of ultimately ride what you want?

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  9. #9
    Member tucktuvak's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Thanks for all the advice so far, it's definitely a lot to think about. In general I shouldn't worry about my size preventing me from being competitive on the smaller bikes? Also, if I get a smaller bike like an rs125 or similar, the ergonomics would be ok?

    I did find this picture: https://imgur.com/Az834

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    Last edited by tucktuvak; 08-26-19 at 06:01 PM.
    YouTube: The Motorcycle Room 2015 R1 - 2009 KX250f

  10. #10
    Rookie Rada's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    At 6'3" you are going to have an interesting time on small bikes. The ergos can be overcome but expect your knees to protest a bit. If you want to race and have a fun time it's hard to beat the LW classes and a SV650. Tires last well. A decent bike can be had for short money and likely sold for about the same. But that said a RC390 or Ninja 400 will be a good time.

    Best thing is to pick up something and have at it.

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  11. #11
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Ninja 400 or sv650. Either one will be a blast and way cheaper than a big bike.

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    Paul_E_D


  12. #12
    Lifer
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Data point, for whatever it is worth:

    I outweigh you by somewhere in the vicinity of 50 lbs.
    You are taller than I am.

    In June 2013 I bought a beat to hell gen-1 SV650 with some bits for pennies on the dollar. At my first track day with the bike I put on a brand new set of Dunlop Q2's.. not even race rubber. I then ran that same set of rubber for 2 more years with probably 6-8 track days until I went racing in October, 2014. I raced that first weekend on the Q2s. For the Sunday races I felt the tires were sketchy but wound up riding them anyway as I failed @ time management and didn't get to swap the tires.

    The following year I raced an entire season including practices and 3-5 races per weekend and a couple track days thrown in for good measure. I replaced my rear tire every other weekend and the front every 4th. 4 rears and 2 fronts for the season. One of those rears got spent on a 2-day session @ NCCAR down south which simply destroys tires.

    I was turning back-marker AM times. I saw a 1:23 @ Loudon, I think. Not very impressive.
    I replaced tires half because I felt like it and half because I thought they were worn. I found fresh tires contributed a lot to my confidence on track. I'm not shy about admitting that I bought some black-rubber confidence now and then that season.

    Moral of this, in my opinion is that the SV is one hell of a cheap date, even for a larger guy. Nice compromise between cheap to buy, cheap to run, comfortable enough, etc, etc.
    It helps that I am a big fan of how V-twins go. YMMV here, of course.

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  13. #13
    Get Weird! maxim_X's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    There is a lot of good in the thread already. I'm currently racing motards almost exclusively, at loudon and true supermoto, after starting on normal bikes. I've been called a big dumb animal and I'm easily one of the largest racers at LRRS. Cost is so variable, it's hard to give an easy answer. One crash on a sport bike with minor damage can cost more than a refreshed motor on a motard. As far as racing costs, I go through a rear per weekend with 3 races and a front every other weekend, a heavy half of a can of 110 leaded, an oil change with the good stuff, plus and air filter. Seasonally I have the motor(s) fully rebuilt with a new crank and piston. It pains me to admit it, but with the cost of the bike if I were to build my '18 crf450 to the motard it is right now, it would cost near $20,000. With my R1 I would probably do about the same tire use, but I'm not as fast on that bike compared to my motard, it runs on 93 and I can do weekends without changing the oil or air filter. Also, the stock motor will probably last as long as I would ever race it.

    Even with an SV650 to be competitive, a built motor and fancy cartridges are not cheap, where a modern 600 can be competitive with more stock components. I'm sure it's similar with a 400. All that said I think a built, race ready SV650 or 600 is probably the cheapest way to race.

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  14. #14
    Lifer Kurlon's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    So, starting out, bike choice really doesn't matter.* Of the options you threw out there, and others mentioned I'd skip the NSR125 unless you can get it for a song. Ninja 400, SV650 are both low cost to get into, low cost to maintain, and have classes they're strong in. Lots of them running around so lots of setup and troubleshooting experience for them running around the paddock. You'll have no problem fitting on either. If you decide to motard the TM the primary stumbling block will be getting info on making the motor happy in road race trim. I can share what I've found in general, but I've no TM specific experience. The EN is an enduro yes? The wider ratio gearbox I assume it has will require being SPOT ON with your shift points or you'll fall off the pipe when geared for Loudon on the faster sections. Chassis setup you should be able to get from the folks racing them in Europe? That motor should be in the 44hp range, which is down on paper compared to the modern 450s dropping 60+, but my 250 didn't seem that far off as long as I shifted at the right times? In short, you'll be swimming against the current. The TM 300 does get used at the top level in Sumo in Europe but their tracks are shorter, it should survive the abuse as well as a thumper but weather or not it can be competitive at the top level, no idea. As a novice, if the cost of wheels, bigger brake, retuning for sustained pulls and long periods of closed throttle and a bucket of spares doesn't scare you I wouldn't tell you no.

    * You can shoot yourself in the foot trying to learn on something that just doesn't want to play along or is hard to tame on track, or just isn't reliable.

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  15. #15

    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    The benefit of an SV: plenty of used for cheap $ now. Tires last a while. Endless supply of parts, knowledge, support etc.

    Motards are fun but not cheap

    You can race a 600 and do tires every other weekend until you become fast”ish”

    In the end if tires are the deal breaker about racing or not you may wanna consider if you want to get in the sport to begin with. But honestly don’t stress it. Jump in. The water is fine, the fun is endless and your bank account will never be the same again.

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  16. #16
    Lifer isaac_'s Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    He's not on here but my teammate Shawn is >6 feet and 165-170 lbs racing R3s. He's one fast dude placing 1-2 in expert ranks. His competition is Ricky who is short and probably over 200 lbs if I had to guess (or close to it). Ricky as we all know is one fast dude. Moral of the story. Height. Weight. It doesn't matter. Little bikes are plenty capable for a guy your size/weight.

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    Isaac LRRS/CCS #871 ECK Racing | Spears Enterprises | GMD Computrack Boston | Pine Motorparts/PBE Specialists | Woodcraft | Street & Competition | MTag-Pirelli | OnTrack Media
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Crconnor18's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    +1 on grabbing an SV.

    I first did track days on a ZX6 to find out how fast tires go on it and how much i was compensating with throttle control for my poor form before jumping on a LW.

    Last year I ran one of the biggest “whore bikes” on NESR which was a clapped out 1st gen for a season on one set of Pirellis at back of the pack AM pace. That thing hit everything but the podium and only cost me ~$500 for the year in forks, clipon tubes and rearset pegs. The bike was $1000 with the typical shock, hard parts and emulators up front.

    I’m still on the same set of tires that I put on for the classic and have run practice each round, the 2hr endurance race and 4 races/wknd at mid 20’s and have only flipped the rear last round after Saturday.

    I’ve seen some guys out there put some pretty low numbers on a superstock SV. High teens from some of those ECK folks if I believe.

    MotoAmerica twins cup raised the prices on 2nd gens but you can still get a well suited one for 3-4K with All the bells and whistles. If you’re handy with carbs or willing to take some time learning I bet you can find a 1st gen for cents on the dollar and parts are even cheaper. There is one than needs some tinkering on this forum that would be a great start.

    Another great thing of riding an SV is that there are plenty of folks with them at the track so chances are if you don’t have the spares you need from a tumble, the racer next to you has 2 of them.

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  18. #18
    Lifer
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by Crconnor18 View Post
    Last year I ran one of the biggest “whore bikes” on NESR which was a clapped out 1st gen for a season on one set of Pirellis at back of the pack AM pace. That thing hit everything but the podium and only cost me ~$500 for the year in forks, clipon tubes and rearset pegs. The bike was $1000 with the typical shock, hard parts and emulators up front.



    Biggest benefits of the SV is they are dirt cheap and a $1500 bike can be competitive into the AM ranks. After that it is probably an arms race $$$. Although some (Gaboriault) seem to buck that trend.

    I'm sure 300's and 400's are just as solid fun. Problem to my mind is the lack of (really) cheap used ones out there as they are a newer bike.
    I bought a pretty clean street SV for $700 a couple years ago. Recently heard of folks bringing street examples home for as little as $400. They all need the same things to run; carb clean/rebuild, brakes, tires and a new battery.

    Hard part about dirt cheap SVs is gen-1 parts are starting to dry up. Tanks are probably the hardest to find now. I expect forks to become a thing before long.
    Not that gen-2 SVs aren't affordable either.

    Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes-moment-talk-lord-2560906-png

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  19. #19
    Lifer
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    I have yet to replace a set of tires on my nsr after nearly 3 years. I will be putting new ones on this winter as they are starting to crack.
    You do end up paying more in other places on an nsr though. The initial cost is very high and top end kits get expensive after a while. It's a piggy on fuel too. I go through it so fast just riding on the street. I think I get about 20mpg, maybe 30 if i putt around. Track use is about 1 session per tank. Maybe 30 minutes of full throttle antics.
    An nsr would not be my choice to save money while racing.

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  20. #20
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by tucktuvak View Post
    I did find this picture: https://imgur.com/Az834
    I was realllllly hoping this was going to be the photo of Adam sitting on Jakes 125. MFF.

    I thought a motard was gonna be cheap. First season was. I sold my street bike and funded an entire season with it, including the bike purchase.
    Then I ran out of money/time half way through my second season, failing to completely fix/rebuild the bike all winter.

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  21. #21
    Lifer
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    This was easier to find than I expected it to be.

    Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes-316230_10100220700616233_1258096083_n-jpg


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  22. #22
    Wizard loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    I sat on Degsy's old RS125. I did not allow photographs at that time.

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    I went to MMI I know what Im doing here chief

  23. #23
    Lifer
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    I'm not as large as some of ya'll. I rode a 125 around the pits once... I felt the pain.
    I don't understand how Ricky can win races on one of those things. .. But then I don't understand how most of you fast guys do what you do anyway.

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  24. #24
    Rookie Rada's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    This was easier to find than I expected it to be.

    Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes-316230_10100220700616233_1258096083_n-jpg

    Really not sure why the rear stand did not just fold up..
    With helmet on it would have hit the wind screen. There was zero chance of shifting either. Lol I suppose if you put the footpegs back by the rear axle it would work

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  25. #25
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Racing Small Bikes vs Big Bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rada View Post
    Really not sure why the rear stand did not just fold up..
    With helmet on it would have hit the wind screen. There was zero chance of shifting either. Lol I suppose if you put the footpegs back by the rear axle it would work
    And that's WITHOUT gear on. hahaa

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    Paul_E_D


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