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Exactly what Duckman said. It's not that I'm "not getting it". I just don't agree with you. I've been doing this a long time, I've seen plenty of novice track day riders crash and it was never because of suspension.
Well, you're mostly right about that. But it's not tires either, it's because they did something dumb.
There is a reason every track day organization has "good condition tires" as one of the tech requirements, but nobody has "good setup or aftermarket suspension" on their list.
That has nothing to do with importance and everything to do with enforceability and liability.

Really, this isn't about not crashing, which 99.9% of the time has nothing to do with the bike. It's about having a platform that makes it easier to learn on. All I'm saying is that, with a limited budget, spending your money on suspension and running crappy tires is a better compromise than good tires and crappy suspension. Again, with the goal of learning, not chasing lap times.
I started racing (there were no track days back then) on a '93 EX500. 16" wheels, and by that point (1998) not only weren't there any race tires there weren't even any real sport tires available in that size. So I slid my way around tracks on some BT-17s, bias ply sport touring tires. Ended up doing pretty well later on an SV, especially for an old guy with no discernible talent. :)
And this isn't just my take on things, even Keith Code advocated for using sub-optimal tires, saying that good tires would make it harder to learn.
 

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8 hr endurance race, two other riders, and the chain came off the worn out Aluminum sprocket at the 6.5 hr mark...NOLA racetrack! Never again!
I used to run the CMRA endurance series, and got a lot more life than that out of Sprocket Specialist aluminum rears. O-ring or non-O-ring chain?
 

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Teammate put it on 3hundy with a new chain, and it didn't last the 8hrs, the chain came off at 6.5hrs because the sprocket was worn badly! We were in 5th place out of 30 teams.
 

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8 hr endurance race, two other riders, and the chain came off the worn out Aluminum sprocket at the 6.5 hr mark...NOLA racetrack! Never again!
Wild! What brand of sprocket was it? Was it new before that? 415 pitch or 520?

I've only ever used aluminum sprockets on every bike I've had except for the RSV4...I think it came with a steel sprocket and never changed it since I didn't keep the bike very long. On the 400 I've done well over 3000 track miles on the same Vortex 41T sprocket. Probably could do another 2000 by the looks of it.
 

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I started racing (there were no track days back then) on a '93 EX500.
Well your opinion makes a lot more sense now. You should've started with that sentence 🤣

Most bikes in the 90s, especially something like an EX500 had absolute garbage suspension. Of course you had no confidence in that. Nowadays suspensions aren't THAT bad, even on a cheaper entry level bike. I've ridden some older street bikes with crap suspension like that and yes I definitely see the need for upgrading at that point. I barely had enough confidence to ride those in a parking lot, certainly not on a race track. But a ninja 400 has MUCH better suspensions than that. And if you're a lighter person, around 100-160 lbs, it's really not too bad at all. Main downside with it is neither the forks or shock are adjustable, they're too soft for a heavier person, and the shock is too short.
 

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Well your opinion makes a lot more sense now. You should've started with that sentence 🤣

Most bikes in the 90s, especially something like an EX500 had absolute garbage suspension. Of course you had no confidence in that. Nowadays suspensions aren't THAT bad, even on a cheaper entry level bike. I've ridden some older street bikes with crap suspension like that and yes I definitely see the need for upgrading at that point. I barely had enough confidence to ride those in a parking lot, certainly not on a race track. But a ninja 400 has MUCH better suspensions than that. And if you're a lighter person, around 100-160 lbs, it's really not too bad at all. Main downside with it is neither the forks or shock are adjustable, they're too soft for a heavier person, and the shock is too short.
I don't know I would want to have the best combo of tires and suspension from the start. In our situation though my son pretty much only races which is totally different than just doing trackdays so I do get the argument for tires before upgrading the suspension. Stock suspension is just so limited in its capability though and if it were me I'd want the confidence that comes with great tires and good suspension even if I wasn't capable of using it which I'm not :). I tried a compromise at first and went with an ohlins shock and andreani fork cartridges which was was a pretty cheap setup.. He went really fast on it but the shock we could never get dialed in so I upgraded everything to Ktech. He said the improvement in feedback and feel from the ktech shock compared to the ohlins is like night and day and he was going faster on a damp NJMP track than he had ever gone in the dry there. I can't even imagine the difference between stock and a good suspension setup. It all depends on your goals and budget I guess but for me regardless if it was just trackdays or racing or both I'd try to get the best combo of suspension and tires from the start if you can. Our original setup wasn't crazy expensive and he was able to go pretty fast on it. You don't have to start off with a 3000 dollar setup.

@sbk1198 who is racing a 400 as an expert on stock suspension and running junior cup pace? Have we raced against him? That is impressive.
 

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@sbk1198 who is racing a 400 as an expert on stock suspension and running junior cup pace? Have we raced against him? That is impressive.
You haven't and you don't know him. He races in the Midwest region with CCS and has been in the top 3 overall in that region for quite a few years. In the little bike classes he pretty much wins like all the races there. Last time I raced with him was at Road America in 2020 and he ran a 2:43 on his 400. That's about the same pace Joey was running in MotoAmerica. Gus and some of the top guys were doing 41s though. So pretty impressive for an adult on stock suspension.
 

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A friend of ours is pretty much the top CMRA racer on both the 400 and A Superbike, JC Comacho. At the start of this last season he brought his brand new showroom stock 400 to the track just for fun and some brake in time. Showroom stock. Tires, suspension, everything. He was sliding the bike all over the place and torched the stock tires. Literally destroyed them. And all the while running about 10-15 seconds a lap faster than me on a fully prepped bike with slicks. 😂

Experts of that level are from a different planet and can ride anything.
 

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A friend of ours is pretty much the top CMRA racer on both the 400 and A Superbike, JC Comacho. At the start of this last season he brought his brand new showroom stock 400 to the track just for fun and some brake in time. Showroom stock. Tires, suspension, everything. He was sliding the bike all over the place and torched the stock tires. Literally destroyed them. And all the while running about 10-15 seconds a lap faster than me on a fully prepped bike with slicks. 😂

Experts of that level are from a different planet and can ride anything.
I totally agree. We worked with a coach like that and when he'd work with Chris I'd let him borrow one of our bikes with suspension setup for an 80lb kid on a bike he'd never ridden and he'd ride it to the limit like he had been doing it his whole life. I guess some guys are like that. I don't think their his preference would be to race a stock bike but he definitely can do it well.
 

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I totally agree. We worked with a coach like that and when he'd work with Chris I'd let him borrow one of our bikes with suspension setup for an 80lb kid on a bike he'd never ridden and he'd ride it to the limit like he had been doing it his whole life. I guess some guys are like that. I don't think their his preference would be to race a stock bike but he definitely can do it well.
Fast guys are fast on anything. The rest of us take some time to get used to another bike and even then we're still not that fast. I'm very particular on bike setup. If it doesn't feel "just right" I don't have much confidence to push it. That's why I can't ever go fast on other people's bikes, especially if it's a model I've never ridden before.
 

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Fast guys are fast on anything. The rest of us take some time to get used to another bike and even then we're still not that fast. I'm very particular on bike setup. If it doesn't feel "just right" I don't have much confidence to push it. That's why I can't ever go fast on other people's bikes, especially if it's a model I've never ridden before.
I am definitely the same way. If the bikes not feeling right I won't go fast but I guess I was never very fast anyway:LOL:
 
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