Two Cars, One Bike


S2000s love corners with their great balance and ability to quickly rotate.  Check out how wide the track is and all the runoff room.  You know, just in case you mess up.

Being RWD, power oversteer can be had making for big grins.  The openness of the race track allows for a lot of hooning and pushing the limits without getting in too much trouble.  To go fast, the S2000 demands a lot of work to get the most out of the engine and that means keeping it above 6k rpms; of course, the tranny is geared perfectly for that.  Even better, the S2000 has one of the best manual transmissions made.  I slot it one step below the bike for on-track fun.

Still on the stock springs and shocks, the Evo had a lot of body roll.

At the track, the Evo is in last place in this crowd (in my opinion of course).  The Evo is a supremely easy vehicle to drive fast, but it’s almost like playing a video game.  The AWD and inherent 60/40 nose heavy weight distribution of the Evo makes it terminally understeer (hence my suspension mods to combat this tendency).  Once past mid-corner and getting into the throttle, if the car understeers then all you can basically do is lift off the throttle.  With the S2000, and CBR even, adding more throttle can get them to rotate more and point you in the right direction.  With the fat torque of the turbo engine, the 5-speed gearing is wider spread making for less gear shifts around the track and a less involved drive.  As an example, at Streets of Willow and Buttonwillow, the Evo can get around both using only 3rd and 4th gears because of its relatively widely spaced gears; 2nd gear can be used in the really low speed corners but it’s not required.  In the S2000, 2nd thru 5th gears must be used to get around at a decent clip.

Since I’m comparing a sport bike to street based sports cars, I should go a little bit into how they compare in performance.  In cornering, bikes and street cars pull roughly the same lateral Gs.  Acceleration is the strong point of a sport bike due to their obscene power-to-weight ratio.  A sport bike with rider weighs in around 550-600lbs (assuming the rider isn’t a complete lard ass).  A 600cc bike makes about 120hp and the latest liter (1000cc) bikes are pushing almost 200hp; you do the math.  The major advantage of a car is on the brakes.  A car has four wide tire contact patches to manage the braking traction. 

S2000 hard on the brakes.  Look closely and you can see the G-meter hanging from the rear view mirror.  Gotta love the power of the StopTechs combined with the traction of the Bridgestones.

When a sport bike is at the braking limit in a straight line, it only has the narrow front tire providing grip.  Lastly, if you lock up the brakes on a car, you just end up sliding.  Lock up the front wheel on a bike and there’s a good chance you’ll end up sliding on your leathers.  Exploring the limits on the brakes of a bike requires a lot more skill and caution, especially outside of the racetrack.

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