Track-day addicts and racer types look for every possible advantage that will elevate their on-track and in-pit experiences. Race-style bodywork definitely falls into each category.
Race bodywork replaces a stock motorcycle’s dizzying array of internal and external panels, brackets and fasteners, allowing it to be removed or mounted in minutes, greatly simplifying bike maintenance. Ridding bikes of their Rubik’s Cube-like fairings also yields weight savings.
For our 2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R test subject, Hotbodies’ complete fiberglass race bodywork kit comes in just four pieces that are designed to work with the stock fasteners: an upper fairing, lower fairing, tail section and front fender. Unpainted, this set hit the scale at just 9 pounds, half the weight of the ZX-6’s maze of panels, headlight (4.5 pounds alone!), taillight, turn signals and 71 fasteners.
To further simplify things and save another pound, we replaced the stocker’s plastic-and-rubber ram-air duct/gauge bracket/fairing stay with a trick fiberglass, aluminum and carbon-cloth Motoholder unit from Yoyodyne ($205, www.yoyodyneti.com).
Hotbodies’ purpose-built, track-only bodywork looks pretty slick. On the Kawasaki, it eliminated the gaping holes where the DOT-mandated lights resided. Although we have yet to test it for crash survivability, it’s said that race bodywork is more flexible than stock body panels, making it less likely to shatter to bits when hitting and sliding along the tarmac. Also, fiberglass bodywork is easier to repair after the inevitable crash and when sliding, doesn’t dig in and cause additional damage as readily as do plastic panels.
With so many positive Yins, there must be a few negative Yangs. Although it is model-specific, most aftermarket bodywork needs to be fitted and its mounting holes drilled in just the right spots. Then, it needs to be painted!
Lucky for us, a pair of aces stepped up to perform some skilled labor. First up was Renard Fiscus, who just may have ignited America’s track-day explosion by starting SoCal-based Track Riders, in 1982. Since then, he’s track-prepped many bikes and became a well-known rider coach with Sportbike Track Time East.
Even with his experience, it took five solid hours to properly mount and drill the Hotbodies pieces and cut holes to accommodate a pair of Woodcraft Technologies frame sliders. Along the way, Renard was impressed that each mounting point had a dimpled drilling guide and all of the pieces lined up perfectly, but he did he have to file the upper’s edges to clear the frame just aft of the steering head. Also, a small bit of cutting was required inside the upper to clear the frame-slider mounts, but that’s no fault of Hotbodies. While a selection of stock Allen-head bolts and Kawasaki’s slick, plastic buttons were utilized to mount the fiberglass, we had to source a set of six quick-release Dzus fasteners. Woodcraft Technologies ($30 from www.woodcraft-cfm.com
) helped connect the upper and lower.
Painting was performed by DC Paintworx, in Easton, Pennsylvania ($350; 610-360-8037). In the past four years, co-owner Ray Clausnitzer has painted nearly 400 sets of bodywork for racers and track-day riders across the country. In addition to laying down a simple, tasteful design and a few coats of high-quality green and black paint, he offered up his expert opinion of our bodywork: This Hotbodies stuff was relatively easy to prep because the finish and gel coat came out of the molds with few major imperfections.
So, all told, Hotbodies’ race glass gave this track-only bike an authentic, track-ready look, made it easier to work on, saved a ton of weight over the stock pieces and got rave reviews from a pair of professionals. Nonetheless, taking into consideration the initial expense, drilling, prep work and painting aftermarket bodywork requires for mere mortals, this writer isn’t totally sold on it. Maybe after throwing his yet-to-be-crashed bike down the track for the first time he’ll be convinced of non-OEM bodywork’s value.