We're not ones to gloat, but when you look at the stack of land speed records we brought home from the East Coast Timing Association's speed trials at Maxton airstrip last season, well, it's hard not to feel a little excess pride. I mean, c'mon--that's 20 records, pretty much every last one for normally aspirated (no turbo, nitrous, or other power added) motorcycles under 650cc, and most of the 750cc records, too! To say project Quicker Gixxer was successful is something of an understatement--we killed all comers with this bike.
When we launched this project last fall we didn't necessarily intend to own the 650cc land speed category. Our goals were less lofty: We just wanted to show how a variety of carefully considered performance mods could produce instant and effective improvements for modern 600cc sportbike enthusiasts. That we were so wildly successful with this simple project says loads about the value of tuning and modifying your sportbike (not to mention the superiority of Suzuki's latest-generation GSX-Rs and the capabilities of the aftermarket suppliers and tuners we partnered with).
We took delivery of our 2004 GSX-R600 as soon as it hit the showroom early in '04 and immediately prepared to chase some speed records. Studying the record books from Bonneville, El Mirage and Maxton, we found most of the sub-650cc records were in the neighborhood of 171-174 mph, save for one incredible 177.515-mph record held by Chip Ellis and Team Kawasaki. Well within our reach, we decided our goal would be to perform a series of systematic modifications to the GSX-R600 and document the improvement on the dyno and at ECTA-certified speed meets at Maxton, which measure ultimate speed in a standing-start, one-mile sprint.
We showed up at the first Maxton meet in April with what was effectively a box-stock bike as delivered from the showroom, except for the required safety wiring. In stock form the bike ran 151.853 mph in the standing-mile course, but after making some quick (and cost-free) aerodynamic improvements (removing the factory blinkers, mirrors and huge rear fender) we were able to coax out a more respectable 155.346 mph. Still not satisfied, we tweaked the gearing and employed a smaller, lighter jockey (Thomas Chronan), which netted us a cool 160.279 mph. Almost nine mph for less than $100--now we're talking!
The next Maxton event was only four weeks away, and since many of the engine performance parts we wanted were not yet available on the market, we decided to leave the bike's internals untouched and instead chase some easy records in the naked classes. This meant all the bodywork in front of the rider had to be removed, including the headlight. With no changes to the bike other than stripping off the fairings, we were able to get a best pass of 150.637 mph. Despite some minor timing issues that resulted in the eight new records we set at this meet being recorded at slightly lower speeds than we actually ran, we were still happy with speeds ranging from 148.2 to just over 150 mph. But the lesson learned here is that the factory does a great job designing aerodynamic packages for modern bikes. Removing the GSX-R600's fairing cost us almost 10 mph.
Our sister publication Sport Rider reported 102.7 hp right off the showroom floor for the Suzuki GSX-R600. Not bad for a stock bike and enough for some very high speeds (as our first few records demonstrated), but to get deep in the record books we needed more power--a lot more power. Typically, the first performance modification is to the exhaust system, so this was where we started. On went a Brock's Performance/Hindle exhaust system along with a Dynojet Power Commander PCIII ignition module to allow us to alter the fuel-injection mapping. While we were wiring up the PCIII we also tied in a Dynojet Quick Shifter. A brilliant addition to any sportbike, the Quick Shifter replaces the factory shift linkage with a new linkage that responds to pressure on the shift lever. At the exact moment you stab the lever, the PCIII interrupts the fuel supply to the engine for a predetermined time (60 milliseconds in our case) and allows an instant, nearly undetectable upshift. No clutching or cutting the throttle necessary--all you do is watch the tach and bang the next gear.
Brock Davidson of Brock's Performance Products supplied us with his own custom map for the PCIII, and we were amazed to see 118 hp on the dyno at KWS Motorsports in Charleston, South Carolina, after making these simple, bolt-on mods. You read that correctly--the Brock's exhaust, a PCIII with a custom map and a tank of VP-U4 race fuel made more than 118 hp on the Dynojet 250, an increase of almost 16 hp over stock. With all this extra power in our pockets we returned to Maxton for the next meet to go after even more records. With Chronan in the saddle again (and the fairings back on) we got a new ultimate fastest speed of 168.092 mph. Final gearing for this setup required raising the front sprocket to 17 teeth while the rear ran a 43-tooth ring. Remember, the head had still never been off the bike at this point--chalk up another eight mph for simple bolt-on parts.
The ECTA suspends competition during July and August, which gave us ample time to drop the engine and get serious with KWS Motorsports (see sidebar for complete details on the engine build). As happy as we were with 168 mph, it was still a long way off Team Kawasaki's 177-mph record we had our sights set on. We had high hopes our KWS-fettled 132-hp engine would be just what we needed to compete for top honors in September. Unfortunately, headwinds plagued us the whole meet, and while the bike ran great with its new motor, there was no way we could overcome 10-mph headwinds to approach the Ellis/Kawasaki mark.Fortunately, we'd have one more chance before the 2004 Maxton season wrapped up, at the final event in October. That date rolled around and we arrived with a new, lighter 520 chain and sprocket combo from Kneedraggers.com in an attempt to trim as many grams as possible. We also replaced the stock front fender with a fuller-coverage Hayabusa piece to reduce drag even further and hopefully smooth airflow around the front wheel. When we looked at the flag we were relieved to see that for the first time in months we wouldn't have to battle headwinds! We knew the record books would be filled with entries from the Super Streetbike project GSX-R by the end of the day.
Of course, our KWS Motorsports-powered Suzuki was up to the challenge, and when the sun set we owned nine new speed records (bringing our total for the season to 20), many in the 750cc displacement class. Best of all, we eclipsed Team Kawasaki's mark. Our highest-speed run on that day was with former pro Kawasaki dragracer Chad Millholland at the controls, clocking in at an incredible 178.376 mph. After the run Millholland commented that with another tooth off the back sprocket he felt 180 mph would have been within reach. Maybe next year. For now, that 178-mph run lies in the ECTA record books as the fastest gasoline-powered, naturally aspirated, non-streamlined 650cc at any sanctioned land speed event anywhere. Mission accomplished.