The electrical setup isn’t quite as hectic as this stripped tail shot would indicate.
The airshifter and shift light are additional mods to help keep each run consistent and smooth.
The lever stop is another device to assure the clutch engages perfectly every run.
After a quick scan of the aftermarket parts list there’s probably a little confusion as to why this lightly modded 2009 ZX-14 would even catch our attention. On paper it might not hold a lot of weight against some of the more focused performance machines, but at the strip it’ll easily holeshot the majority of the heavy hitters.
Big turbo bikes, all motor monsters and nitrous huffers all have one thing in common—they’re hard to get down the track. Get it right and you have a seriously fast time with plenty of bragging rights, but blow the tire loose or shred the clutch and you’ll be scoring slips that belong under a 600’s belt. Huge horsepower bikes require a lot of skill to ride, even more to set up, and lots of money to build and maintain.
The Herrera Racing built ZX-14, on the other hand, repeatedly goes extremely fast without the headaches, stress and cash involved with a heavily modified bike. And it does it consistently—time and time again.
It’s got a trick up its sleeve that makes this possible, and it’s one that can be used on the street with equally successful results. The secret is in the MTC Gen II lock up clutch. In it’s most basic explanation, the lockup arms are driven by RPM instead of input shaft speed, which means clutch slippage won’t slow down the application of the arms, resulting in more consistent runs.
After determining what launch RPM works best you simply set up the clutch so that it’s possible to dump the lever and let it progressively feed in the power. A big bike like a ZX-14 would normally flip straight over backwards or break the tire loose, but with the Gen II it’s virtually impossible to screw up a launch.
Imagine eliminating the stresses of holding your RPM steady and then manually slipping the clutch during the launch. It’s a whole new ball game really. And, it’ll work just the same on the street as it does at the strip.
For the best result it should be matched with a two-step rev limiter though, which is exactly where the MSD SB6 ignition box comes into play. With the launch rev limit set at 5500 RPM you can literally hold the throttle wide open to the stop, drop the clutch and then just punch the shifter button when the shift light ignites. It’s that’s easy to run eight-second passes over and over again. Try launching like that on your bike and you’ll be on your keister quicker than Snookie can slam a plate of boardwalk fries.
Power comes in smooth and steady but doesn’t rip arms from sockets or shoot the front end skyward. Instead, the bike simply drives forward aggressively and digs out of the hole a lot harder, smoother and more consistently than the majority of riders could ever manage on their own.
It’s so easy it almost feels like cheating, in fact. There’s a reason it’s so predictable however; the bike is designed for bracket racing where the sole purpose is to tick off the same time, lap after lap. Team Owner Glenn Merchant explained that it could certainly go quicker than racer Aaron Pine’s best pass of 8.68 at 154 MPH, but to do so they’d end up chasing variables such as grip and front end lift that hurt consistency.
But there’s more to a good pass than just getting off the line, and a few other components show their worth just moments after the light goes green. Herrera Racing modified an airshifter and attached it to a Pingel shift button so that gears are “clicked” off with a simple thumb of the button on the left bar. If you’re searching for the air tank that’s responsible for hammering home the air shifter you’re out of luck. An ingenious design, the McIntosh swingarm houses nitrogen in a chambered area towards the front of the assembly. Merchant told us that they run nitrogen to power the air shifter as well as in the tires because the temperature never fluctuates and is easier to monitor.
Sure there are a lot faster bikes around, but can they call out the numbers on their time slips before they’ve even made a run? Unlikely. Herrera Racing’s ZX-14 is the epitome of “grip it and rip it” racing, and actually makes the entire experience a lot safer because it’s so predictable. But please don’t misinterpret “consistency” with “boredom.” High eight-second quarter-mile passes are fast as hell, and considering the bike’s short specs list that’s a pretty spectacular result.
2009 Kawasaki ZX-14
Front End: World Wide Bearings ceramic bearing kit, Lucas grease, Shinko Hook Up tire, GPR stabilizer
Rear End: Penske shock, McIntosh swingarm, Shinko Hook Up tire, World Wide Bearings ceramic bearing kit, Lucas grease
Motor: MTC Gen II clutch, Muzzy exhaust, MSD SB6 fuel box, Lucas oil
Accessories: Dynatek shift light, Spider grips, Vortex rearsets
Bodywork/Wrap: Catalyst Composites bodywork, Madrid Motorsports wrap, Puig windscreen
Owner/Builder: Glenn Merchant / Herrera Racing
Rider: Aaron Pine
MTC Gen II
The cat’s out of the bag; to go consistently fast with very little drama you’ll need some help from your clutch. The MTC Gen II works like magic for hard launches, and really has to be ridden in order to understand how beneficial it is if holeshots are your passion. It costs a pretty penny, but would probably pay for itself after a couple of Sunday grudge races.