Front Brake, Rear Brake, Petroleum Replacement And More - Answers - MC Garage

Free Advice

I've been street riding long enough to remember when you needed both the front and rear brakes just to slow down, so I nodded when I read "Learn to use both brakes [to] calm a nervous chassis" in your "50 Ways to Save Your Life" strategies for street riding. Then I read Boehm's Kevin Schwantz track school article and the "32 Track Tips" sidebar, number 15 of which said "Ignore the rear brake." So, assuming the same bike and tires, similar pavement and a "nervous-chassis" corner entry, what's the difference? Or is there just basic disagreement about using the rear brake during hard cornering?
Steve Shepherd
Millersville, MD

Well, there is some disagreement about rear-brake usage, even among world-class roadracers. The difference between the street and track comes down to speed and the intensity of the lever-grab. There's typically a significant velocity differential between the street and track environments, so when the front brake is used relatively vigorously on the track, the forward chassis pitch that occurs is dramatic, which usually has the rear tire skimming the pavement-and sometimes hovering inches above it. The rear brake isn't of much use then. Really fast (read: not smart) street cornering-and commensurate high-intensity braking-would result in a similar situation, meaning the rear brake wouldn't be of much use, especially during the first 75 percent of braking, which is when most deceleration occurs. Most of our staff uses the rear brake all the time on the street, mostly because we leave true, track-spec speeds (and braking) for the track. And most of us ignore the rear brake on the racetrack, but again, there are racers who use the rear brake to affect the chassis and traction at racing speeds. They're better men than us, for sure.

Monsters, Apples, Oranges, Etc.
Maybe I'm reading your article (MC, April, 2006) wrong, but it states the '07 Ducati Monster S4Rs has 118 horsepower. It has 130 horsepower. Later in your article, you state it has 10 horsepower less than a standard 999, which has 140 horsepower. So in that part of the article you are correct. Here's the excerpt from your article:

"Merriam-Webster's definition fits Ducati's Monster as well as any and better than most. But you won't find a Monster more worthy of that name than the 118-horsepower, hlins-suspended, blood-red '07 S4Rs, which is a very good thing."Just letting you know. I ride a 695 and find it to be an awesome middleweight bike. Can't wait to ride the S4Rs!
Jack Watson
Via e-mail

Apples and oranges, in this case, don't mix, especially when you toss in a typo. Excuse the mathematical mistake in our test, but the spec chart is correct: The '07 S4Rs makes 117 peak horsepower at 9750 rpm. Ducati's 140-horse reading is measured somewhere between the brochure writer's frontal lobes and an actual motorcycle. And though Ducati specs give the '06 999 140 bhp at 9750 rpm, our rear-wheel dyno says it makes 131.6 bhp at 10,000 rpm-exactly 14.6 horses more than the maximum Monster.

Precipitous Petroleum Replacement
I bought a used Honda ST1300. Looking over the service manual, I noticed it says to change the oil and filter every 8000 miles. I have never changed the oil in any of my bikes much past 2500 miles. Is it possible to wait 8000 miles before changing the oil? If so, how is that possible?
Joe Biswell
Tacoma, WA

You can bet the proverbial farm Honda isn't about to throw down with a three-year warranty without putting scrupulous testing behind something as vital as oil-change intervals. If it makes you feel better, changing oil every 2500 miles won't hurt anything as long as you're recycling the stuff properly. Otherwise, any solid 10W-40 synthetic should go the recommended distance as long as you stay away from automotive blends marked as "energy conserving" in the little American Petroleum Institute circle on each package. But short trips, urban traffic and high engine temperatures are hard on engine oil. Assuming all of the above, we'd probably split the difference, changing oil and filter every 5000 miles. We've heard of new 1300s being overfilled at the dealer, so make sure you see at least three bars on the temp gauge and then give the oil 5 minutes to return to the bottom of the engine before pulling the drain plug. MC