Once again, given my continued frustrations with capturing my own footage, CaliPhotography has come to the rescue with some excellent stills. I had mounted a GoPro 360 on a Gecko Stealth as far forward on the tank as possible, went out for my first session, pulled in after 1 lap and took off the mount. I'm going to try a horizontal extension next time to make sure the camera itself won't intrude with my tuck, and see if the mount has a low enough profile to not bother me.
Ok, on to the track day. This is my second ever time riding the H2R and the first ever at Big Willow. Based on my first impressions at Auto Club Speedway
, I wanted to work on my suspension settings to eliminate that nasty head shake I had while accelerating down Fontana's back straight, and reprogram my ECU's throttle map to smooth out its on/off transition. For the former, I softened up the front end damping a couple clicks but, due to poor planning on my part, I ran out of time to get my ECU flashed. It's now in the hands of a tuner as I write this, but I had to suck it up and continue to deal with a hair-trigger throttle this time around.
As expected, my experience at WSR was far, far better than Auto Club. This fast, flowing track is exactly what the H2R was built for although the conditions weren't ideal. It was cold and windy with a chance of rain at any time, and the track was recently sealed (ie, painted) with only one weekend's-worth of cars to wear in some grip on the racing line. In fact, I had a puckering 10-foot front end slide going into Turn 9 as a friendly reminder pay attention. Even with these dismal conditions the chassis felt great. I had no uncontrollable head shakes and the bike inspired confidence everywhere in the corners. Even the throttle was easier to manage (although it still desperately needs to be smoothed out) compared to Auto Club.
I've done Willow with a number of different bikes, but the H2R flipped reality on its head here. The corners were a place to relax while the straights required maximum focus and effort. Every twist to full throttle unleashed such pure, unadulterated violence that I struggled to keep things in line. What normally felt like a very large, expansive racetrack on my past bikes now felt compressed and short with corners approaching way-too-quickly. Seriously, I think I saw Jesus so many times that I started using him as a brake marker. I have to tip my hat to Kawasaki. This animal is the most incredible piece of engineering I have ever experienced, and I am forever grateful they had the balls to produce it.