Long-Term Yamaha R1: Fast Frank Captured Racing Wheel Spacers

Captured spacers for race track use: Waste of money or totally worth it?

There’s nothing quite like changing wheels a half-dozen times in two days to make a racer extra sarcastic in photos. Thumbs up game so strong I blew out the nitrile glove!Photo: Julia LaPalme

Wrist: Zack Courts
MSRP (2015): $16,490
Miles: 3163
MPG: 33
Mods: Captured wheel spacers

Some might argue that if you've never fought to remount a rear wheel you're not a real motorcyclist. Just like a slow, lonely tip over in a parking lot or getting your visor douched at a stoplight by the person in the Toyota Corolla washing their windshield in front of you, it is a struggle unique to motorcycling. As much character as it builds (or so my dad used to say), it's a pain. It's also something much more common on track bikes, because the wheels are constantly being taken off and replaced with fresh rubber, in some cases multiple times in one weekend. This means crouching behind your bike and fighting to align the sprocket carrier, rear brake caliper, and wheel spacers, all while your pit-mate (who races a KTM RC390 and doesn't need new tires all the time) laughs and eats a sandwich. Hypothetically.

This image from the Fast Frank site illustrates the innovation perfectly. Note the lip on the inner circumference of the spacer—that keeps it in place when the R1’s wheel is free of the chassis.Photo: Julia LaPalme

Frank Shockley, aka Fast Frank, knows this battle all too well, and after decades of roadracing all over the country began fabricating a few pieces of his own design to solve classic racer problems. The part of the rear wheel war that can be most frustrating is the wheel spacers—just when you think you've got everything lined up one of them falls out or misaligns and you have to start all over. Fast Frank sent over a set of his parts for my long-term R1 project, and man have the wheel spacers been clutch. It's as simple as can be: For $45/set (www.fastfrankracing.com) they clip into place where the stock spacers would reside, with a little lip on the inside rim that holds them in place. Voila, the wheel goes in or out without the spacers falling out of the wheel. Same deal for the front wheel, for the same price.

The outside of the capture caliper bracket system, with bolts holding the whole assembly to the swingarm.Photo: Julia LaPalme

The other piece that Fast Frank shipped was the Captive Rear Caliper Bracket ($160), which essentially holds the brake-caliper bracket in place via two little hex-head bolts that run through the chain adjuster block and pinch the swingarm. It’s a nifty piece, because it allows the aluminum block for the chain adjustment to slide back and forth in the axle hole of the swingarm, but doesn’t allow the parts to separate and fall away from the bike. Again, it’s like having an extra hand when mounting the rear wheel.

The inside of the captured caliper bracket system. A dab of threadlock of those long bolts keeps them in place, allowing the system to slide in the axle slot without falling away from the swingarm. Nifty!Photo: Julia LaPalme

Overall, the pieces for the R1 (and, indeed, many other common sportbikes) from Fast Frank totalled around $250. In the case of this R1 project bike, a race weekend meant burning through one front tire and two rears over two days. That’s around $600 in tires alone (if you’re a club racer on a big supersport bike you probably know this all too well), and makes Fast Frank’s bits seem well worth it to me. After all of the “character” I’ve built over the years of racing, it’s hard to put a price on making wheel changes easier, quicker, and more sanitary each and every time. Thumbs up to Fast Frank.