My name is David Abraham better known as 'Spike' to my friends. I've been a partner in Cambridge Motorcycles for the past fifteen years.what started as an all consuming hobby when I was sixteen,turned into a way of life at the age of twenty five .I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to indulge my passion for all sorts of bikes and even at the age of forty the fun ain 't over yet.
I have a lot of bike related history,british ,american,japanese and lately italian.My knowledge of bikes has been hard won by practical experience,from building choppers in the garden shed ,to 7 second dragbikes and so far one championship winning four hundred supersport. I am lucky enough to have my own dynojet 150 dynomometer,which is kind of handy when you want to prove your own tuning theories and cut through some of the sales bullshit that surrounds many performance products.Lately my time has been spent learning to circuit race.My involvement with circuit racing all started three years ago , when I met a new customer and friend called simon morley.He was just starting his racing carrier having spent years riding sports bikes and cruisers on the road. He'd started on track days ,got the bug and bought a ZX6R to race .Unfortunately he took it to a bike shop to get it prepared and while trying to sort the wiring loom they stripped it back and couldn't figure out why the bike wouldn't run.This caused him to loose faith in they're abilities and I gained a good customer and friend in the process.
While I was sorting his bike out simon suggested I mite like to come on a track day with his mates at team ixion( T.IXION is an internet bike racers / riders site ,run by a lot of helpful friendly types,good for advice if you are thinking of track days or racing).
The track day did it for me,at the ripe old age of forty ,I thought I was quite a good all round rider and a bit handy round the bends when I needed to be.Well it was a real eye opener .I went out in the slow group on what turned out to be my evil handling TL1000R .James Denning (another TI member and all round good guy)said he would give me some instruction and show me the way around Cadwell park a very demanding circuit.He hung cooley of the side of his bike while waving encouragement while I sweated and struggled to keep up.
What I learn 't on this day was vast,how to approach a corner,how hard you could really brake when you have to,just how sticky modern tyres are and what an evil handling beast my streetfightered TL really was .I persevered with the TL for a few more track days ,but after some nasty moments decided it was high time for something better .I had been doing some work for a customer and as payment he offered me an old 1988 FZR400,it was stripped to the bare bones ,but made an ideal first track day bike .I can't describe the satisfaction you get from blowing away people on high power sports bikes on it.
Now out the back of the workshop was a 1992 ZXR400L which had a lump missing from the frame where it had been crashed written off and abandoned by the insurance company.Now these little bikes might not be the fastest thing on the block but they sure do handle even with stock suspension.It was about this time I decided to I'd had enough of dragracing. I'd had a fair bit of success over five years of racing .I came second (first loser)in the UK ACU Funny bike champs after a points debacle. Competed in a few euro rounds and won some money.This is were my engine tuning experience came from (turbo's,nitrous oxide and high octane fuel) ,so I Thought why not apply this experience to tuning circuit race bikes,that's how ZXR400 race bike project got going.
I bought some race plastics for it, fitted race exhaust can ( luckily it already had titanium down pipes),race rev counter and generally stripped off unleaded items .I did a few track days on it and thought it would make a great race bike.It was at the end of 2000 that Martin Wright a riding instructor and rookie 600 super sports rider suggested I might let him race it in the British motorcycle racing club's 400 super sport championship 2001.My abilities as a rider were not up to race pace as yet,but I'd started to do some tuning work to the engine,so I thought this would be a good way to find out if I had what it took to be a circuit bike tuner. so we headed into 2001 full of expectation.Our agreement being I provide the bike and Martin paid the race entry fee's & tyre bill.
Our season together had plenty of up's & downs. Martin not known to mince words , was not very complimentary about the handling , but this was a whole new ball park for me and we set to work putting it right , fitting an ohlins shock and changing fork springs and oil.Now suspension is a black art with some right old bollocks flying about , but we found our way through the minefield by a lot of trial & error , our main constraint was budget.As the season progressed we came on in leaps & bounds . I had tuned the engine to the point where it was almost the fastest bike out there ( very reliable as well , same motor whole season). Martin had gone from being 8/10th to winning races & coming 4th in the championship.So we figured we did well for our first attempt .
While this was going on I did more & more practice met lots more racers & generally got caught by the bug.Now having watched all the classes race,the 400/600 supersport were by far the most aggressive ( full of young men who mean to make a career out of racing).So I thought this is no place for a 40 year old irresponsible father , so I went for Supertwins ,where there's a bit less paint trading.
Having realised my TL1000 was never going to handle properly , I bought myself an Aprilia RSVR for the road ( one of the best handling out the carte bikes ever all for 8.5k).It was another total revelation,you could tell it was a corner hungry beastie the moment it moved and a few track days at mallory told me you've got to race this .I set about preparing the bike,but didn't tune the engine as I didn't want to affect it's reliability and figured I'd be better off figuring out suspension & tyres first.Due to the price of Aprilia parts I found some suzuki 750 s/rad wheels to modify to put intermediate& wet tyres on.As I've got a good deal with Michelin I decided to run they're tyres ,despite a lot of people telling me they gave no warning when they were going to let go .But I reckon Michelin new a bit more about tyres than they did .
Meanwhile Martin was lured away from riding the ZXR400 by offers of greater things .So I asked some T.Ixion members for riding suggestion's and the general consensus was a lad called Chris Foster ( better known as Fozzy ).So a phone call later and he agreed to give it a go. Unfortunately he'd been feeling under the weather for a while and had just found out he had kidney failure,but this only seemed to increase his determination, despite the fact the ACU were unlikely to grant him a license.We set up a test at mallory park to see how he'd get on .On arrival I found a very grey looking Fozzy .who informed me his dialysis set up wasn't quite what it should be and that he'd spent the previous night in hospital ,despite being told he wasn't allowed out to play he had discharged himself ,but once the test was over he was returning to hospital.He got on well with the bike and you had to give him 10 out of 10 for grit and determination , but it did worry me .A week or so later it became apparent that the ACU wouldn't give him a license.
As there were only 4 weeks to go until the season started , I had to search for another rider and Simon Morley said " I've got just the man".There began my racing partnership with Ric Ballerini.Now Ric had been a top bemsee club rider for years and normally road GP 250's ,but unfortunately his garage burn 't down with all his bikes and gear in it (uninsured).This was a major blow for him as he obviously wanted to realise his potential as a top national rider.He had many generous offers of help, but they didn't quite add up to a competitive GP 250 ride.So rather than not race he did have just enough funds to race our ZXR400 in the bemsee nationwide championship .I was well pleased because although he hadn't ridden diesel's ( 4 stroke's) before he would prove if the bike could win a championship.
|ZXR 400 Riden by Ric|
Because time was tight the first time he road the bike was the practice day before the first race at brands indy circuit.It was obvious from practice he was quick.He managed second in both races which got him off to a good start.This proved the bike for me ,Ric said he had to fight the front end all the time ,I think this is probably because the ZXR is only a road bike and would never be as good as a GP250.He went from strength to strength in first part of the season and won the next 4 races,but he decided to have a ride on a GP250 at Lydden hill and while battling for the lead came off and broke his hip.This caused him to miss 4 of the 400 races which dropped him right down the points.He fought back and the No1 result is shown in these Bike sport News clippings.
. While all this was going on I was all set for my first race at Snetterton I entered the nationwide round of supertwins as it would be handy if Ric had any problem with the 400 and also meant I would get some moral support and advice .Having never been on a starting grid before in my life I knew I was in for a shock and it was a big grid 30+ bikes .What I couldn't understand was how I ended up 21st on the grid when I'd never raced or qualified .I presume there were others like myself out there and the positions came out of a hat .I would much rather have been at the back of the grid , then if I stalled from nerves at least I wouldn't get run down.The first corner was complete mayhem with the 4 bikes in front of me all leant on each other,but after that because Snetterton is such a big track it all seemed to settle down a bit .I made loads of silly mistakes but thoroughly enjoyed myself and came in 26th.
Over the remains of the year I did just enough races at different tracks to get my clubmans license and I spent my time learning the tracks ,getting my tyres & suspension setup and improving my riding technique.Ive tried to take the no pressure approach because when I get the bit between my teeth and push that's when it all goes wrong .I came off at Lydden trying to hard ,or as Jason Holland put it "you went into the corner & ran out of talent". I shall have to work on my fitness as well because at the moment I'm very glad to see the last lap flag .By the end of the year I' de managed a couple of 4th places and felt I was beginning to develop a smooth technique.Ill find out if I'm talking a load of bollocks in 2003.
I will try and write regular updates for this site as the season progresses , but I get very busy in the summer so may not have the time .Emails may not get answered for the same reason , as this is my home site.but you can contact me regarding work on 01223 560176/360176.
One of the highlights of the racing season was the Team Ixion dinner dance .There's nothing quite like getting pissed and singing really badly with a load of like minded individuals .I was honored to receive the rookie of the year award a finely broken KTM barrel hand crafted onto a piece of plywood .I did feel there were more worthy recipients there so I'm all the more grateful and solemnly promise not to take myself to seriously.