Unleashed...For The First Time
After 20 years of conducting...
After 20 years of conducting top secret research and development for all manner of Honda automobiles and motorcycles (as well as our top speed and acceleration testing), the Honda Proving Center of California will be shut down due to budget cuts. We'll miss the place.
In order to find out what Sims' 'Busa project could do in a safe environment, we ventured out to the controlled high-speed confines of the eight-mile oval at the Honda Proving Center of California. Not only would the oval allow us to safely run at top speed, but also one of the lanes is concrete, offering excellent traction for acceleration testing (our highly accurate Stalker radar acceleration setup would measure the quarter-mile time/speed).
213 mph on a warm-up run,...
213 mph on a warm-up run, with no nitrous and not even in sixth gear yet.
We decided to do top speed testing first, out of concerns that the heavy and powerful 'Busa would likely spin the tire on the rear rim during a hard launch and throw it out of balance-a major issue at 200-plus mph. After changing the gearing for an estimated 230 mph top speed, I ventured out for some warm-up runs to get acquainted with the Sims 'Busa. It should be noted that this would be the first time the bike would ever be ridden in anger; its only previous forays were some short shakedown street rides around Sims' shop, and a day spent at the Bazzaz Performance SuperFlow dyno dialing in the fuel maps.
Sims wanted me to give it a run through a few gears to make sure the air shifter was working properly; Ron Thibodeaux of Bazzaz Performance also wanted me to check kill times between each gear (the Z-Fi can alter ignition kill times in each gear for optimum shifting smoothness). So after a couple of warm-up runs shifting manually and a quick stop to check everything out, I took off with my left thumb poised on the horn button.
The first two shifts went fine; but when I hit the horn button for the third-to-fourth upshift, nothing happened. Sims thought he traced the issue to inadequate clearance between the shift shaft arm and the air cylinder bracket. A little down time to disassemble the air shift linkage, a little grinding with a Dremel wheel and reassembly, and I was back on my way.
Bazzaz Performance's Ron Thibodeaux...
Bazzaz Performance's Ron Thibodeaux (left) adjusts fuel mapping on the Z-Fi unit, while Ryan Sims waits to bolt it back up for another run.
Thibodeaux wanted to get some air/fuel readings, so I made sure to wick the throttle wide open. The bike lept forward ferociously as I pinned the throttle in first gear, and the first-to-second shift went smoothly. But as I stabbed the horn button for second-to-third...nothing. A few more fruitless attempts, and I quickly slowed and turned to head back.
As I was riding back, I noticed that I couldn't even shift manually with my foot; the bike was basically stuck in third gear. A concerned Sims carefully went through the whole air shifter system, and couldn't find anything wrong. He even did a short shakedown cruise to manually shift the bike to make sure it wasn't a problem with the transmission.