2023 Memorial Day Weekend – Daytona is Tuned

With a season pass with Track Time in the Pacific Northwest, I went up for my first weekend with them to The Ridge Motorsports Park (aka ‘The Ridge’). I did the usual drive in 2 days, stopping off to stay with my good friends Julia & Michael in Bend, Oregon. In an effort to make the trip as practical as possible I did a detour en route to Shelton by going over to Kirkland to visit 2 Wheel Dyno Works and Nate pulled the Daytona into the dyno room to finally get a tune built for the Daytona, important now that it has its full Bodis exhaust.

Nate from 2 Wheel Dyno Works doing his magic. Wait until the end for some fireworks.

Alan Schwen and Ken Hill own and operate Track Time which runs 2-day events exclusively at The Ridge. I’ve mentioned them before but they run high quality, low headcount track days (30 riders per group). The track is amazing (super technical, awesome grip, continued improvements). Their clients seem to be focused on quality riding and passes are almost always clean and safe. I really cannot say enough good things about Track Time–the days run so clean, they put more of a real emphasis on safety than any other provider I’ve ridden with and they have proper coaching available. If I recall correctly, there was only one red flag on one day which resulted in shortened sessions.

Having a good working relationship with Ken means that he’ll often take my bikes out to get some reference data. This is part of the reason I’m so adamant about having comprehensive data logging on my bikes.

Amateur video but listen for Ken riding the Daytona 765, particularly as he goes under the bridge.

Since I’ve got the season pass with Track Time and their events are held between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, I’m leaving the Daytona up north with Counter Weight Motorsports (CW Moto) and will be able to fly-and-ride for a few of the events. They will also do any necessary bike maintenance between events and pick up and deliver the bike to the Track Time events.

Back to the trip itself–It was a lot of miles. I also thought I’d try out using a rental pickup courtesy of Enterprise. Turns out that the cost to rent the pickup was a little less than the depreciation for the same 1,800 miles on my pickup. The Nissan Titan I got was okay, I like my truck better but the Nissan worked fine, other than some over-eager stability control which was a bit terrifying. I came to realize that I was best off disabling the stability control if the road got a bit twisty though that also disabled the cruise control, but it was fine. The Nissan was only a 5-1/2′ bed versus my Ford’s 6-1/2′ bed but I made it work.

My trip was right about 1,800 miles when said and done, I did a couple of detours from the Google Maps.

Since I was driving to Kirkland, I took the back route there and had a few minutes so I did a small detour to see lots of the Twin Peaks filming locations around Snoqualmie, WA. In addition to the Daytona, I’d brought the Tuono V4.

Sunday and Monday were the riding days. Ken was working with a client but he was able to squeeze in a few laps (Tuono on Sunday, Daytona on Monday) and we made some considerable adjustments to the rear setup on the Tuono (he was pretty happy with the front). No changes were necessary to the electronics and he was able to run comfortably under 2:00 (with chicane) once we got it dialed in. We increased the Daytona’s rear preload by +1 turn.

Our setup on the TV4 was Track 1 (defaults) with the following suspension adjustments (2022 Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory, Manual Mode for the suspension): Front Preload: 7.25 turns in from full soft, Rear Preload: 13 turns in from full soft. Then on the electronic bit of the suspension, Front Compression: 17, Front Rebound: 19, Rear Compression: 1 , Rear Rebound: 8; Steering Damping at 11.

Ken’s final suspension adjustments on the Tuono (preload is mechanical and manual, so read above text for details).

In riding the Tuono, I was immediately able to move along at an okay pace, even with moist conditions (running SC3 TD tires, with warmers). Ken went faster and came back after his first run saying, ‘Is the shock broken?!’ Ken isn’t always subtle. We made the changes, he rode a few more laps, we made some more changes, and he was happy with it. I lack the ability to really discern differences but if Ken’s happy with it, I’ll ride it that way. Most importantly for me was that I had data from a trusted source and can use that to improve my own riding.

Summer weather at the Ridge is often fully overcast with slight misting in the morning, and that often burns off by early afternoon. This set of days was no different and since I wanted to get some seat time with the Aprilia, as well as the fact that it has more sophisticated electronics, I took it out for the first few sessions. It’s a big bike but it’s super stable. It’s just fun to ride to feel the torque and hear the roar of the V4 engine. It’s a very visceral experience.

In the afternoon I took the Daytona out for the first time with its new tune and it was outstanding. Power delivery was buttery smooth and the new front end just encouraged me to keep pushing my trail braking. The Ridge is such a good track for working on trail braking too–huge grip, some corners that simply require a lot of trail braking to go fast, and some of them are cambered enough that the likelihood for someone at my level losing the front is quite low.

On the second day I started the damp morning on the Tuono and got a session on Max’s Street Triple RS to give him some data which made me miss mine. I even got a session in on Ken’s FZ1. It gives me even more respect for the pace he can run on that thing. It was a very analog experience–no quickshifter, no electronics, funky handlebars and didn’t feel particularly fast but well before the bridge I caught a glimpse of the speedometer rushing past 120-something MPH. It’s a sneaky fast. I rode 2 bikes on day 1, 4 bikes on day 2 plus a bonus session.

A garage full of goodies.

I ended up a couple of seconds off my lap time at The Ridge almost 9 months prior but I’m sure I’ll get back to that time and possibly improve with my next outing now that I have data and have re-established my feel references and am getting comfortable with the newfound power on the Daytona. The Tuono will make another visit in July for those dates since that will be a driving trip with the family. I’ll get to work one-on-one with Ken for a day in June as well.

It was a fantastic trip–a few of us went to dinner each night, I got to see old friends and make some new ones. I even enjoyed most of the drive.

Photos by Gavin Powers Photography.

360° video of Ken on the Daytona. For best results, view on the YT app on the phone and set resolution to maximum (2160). You can drag and move the vantage. It’s fun to watch Ken’s right hand too.