Modifying our motorcycles is an essential part of owning and riding them. From personalization through aesthetics, to hunting horsepower and slashing lap times, it's as much of an art form as it is a complete pain in the wallet Times are hard though, and methodical selection of any extra is critical to gain the most amount of bang for your money.
For many sport motorcycle owners carbon fiber wheels are the ultimate indulgence. 100,000 THB is a whopping amount of money to be spending on some set of wheels for your motorcycle – and carbon fiber wheels aren't the easiest things to hide from the missus when she's after a new car, telephone, or want to go shopping with her friends at The Emporium in Bangkok. But, if you're serious about going quickly using effective modifications, the truth is you can't afford not to go for carbon fiber wheels.
Levers, screens, end cans and seat units are all pleasing on the eye, but do very little to nothing for lap times and performance. Full systems and engine tuning boosts the ego and helps the rear tire spin more, but you won't get the instant success, and gratification, against the stopwatch. Likewise, unless you spend a huge amount of money on new suspension, you're unlikely to reap any benefits from slinging stuff in. In scientific terms, every kilo saved in unsprung weight equates to around 5 kilograms shaved from the rest of the motorcycle. With a set of carbon fiber wheels you could be saving 2kg at the front and 3kg at the rear easily. In common sense terms, if the suspension has less mass to punish the stroke, ultimately the springs and damping can be controlled in a more superior fashion. It's no secret the OE wheels weight is a massive handicap on the race track.
Also worth talking about are the acceleration properties. You'll need roughly 5 horsepower on top of standard rims to match the carbon fiber wheels acceleration from 0 to 200km/h. Terminal speed at the race track with our motorcycle was 205m/h. The carbon fiber wheels were clocked at 210km/h, just by being able to accelerate faster out of the corner and carrying less inertia through corner.
Ditching the science and GPS for a while, when you break down a corner into segments, it's clear to see where the time is saved. The GPS showed that the carbon fiber wheels saved around a tenth in every corner. Braking, turn-in, apex and exit were all raised to another level with the carbon fiber wheels. Extra confidence to trail brake is not a free by product, with the fork having to work less and the front tire under less strain. You don't have to a Grand Prix racer to figure this one out. As the GPS shows, you can carry more apex speed through turning in later and quicker without having to scrub anything off. Tedious chicanes were transformed; it was like I was riding another motorcycle. Instead of a sluggish road hack drowning in spring movement, the motorcycle was much more lively in caparison.
It's more than just lap times and GPS numbers, although it's always a good subject to talk to riding buddies. The positives exuded from riding sensation and the confidence that the carbon fiber wheels bring, are added bonuses to the quicker lap times. Riding closer to the limit is easier, with more feedback through the springs and handlebars. Slides are dealt with sooner, too.
Road riding necessitates far less physical exertion, too. Dodging drains, bumps in the road and changing lines in general is far easier.