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2001 RC51, 2018 Aprilia Tuono
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

Not sure where to put this, as it covers a lot of different subforums, so figured I'd try here first...

I just picked up a rough 2001 model, and am planning on making it into a trackday bike. Priorities are handling and durability, and I'm less interested in chasing hp except to keep the engine reliable and tractable. This is a bike for me to learn on, with the door open to race in some old farts heavyweight twins category in the future if the inclination exists. I'm also a big guy, so grunt is more useful than top end horsepower.

The bike has ~47,000 km (I'm Canadian), or just shy of 30,000 miles. Planned maintenance includes a valve check (hoping it's easier than my Aprilia V4!), fluid refresh, new chain and sprockets, and new track-biased brake pads.

To make it track worthy, I'm thinking I'll need the following:

  • track fairing (leaning towards Armour Bodies)
  • Fork upgrade, revalve and respring (likely K-Tech cartridges and springs?)
  • Shock revalve and respring (I have an older Penske 8987 I'm putting in)
  • crash protection (not sure what the best frame slider is. I've found Sato, R&G, TRex and Ladybird options, sadly the Durbahn version seems to be extinct)
  • updated fuelling module (has a rusty non-USB PC3, would like to at least put a PCV on to allow easier mods and quickshifter)
  • gear indicator (HealTech?)
  • new braided brake lines (existing are old and yellow and poorly installed)
Beyond need, I have the following 'want' list:

  • slipper clutch (Sigma/Yoyodyne seem to be the only readily available options)
  • rearsets (Sato, Moriwaki, possibly Gilles?)
  • quickshifter (assuming Dynojet works best with PCV?)
  • master cylinders for both brake and clutch (Brembo?)
  • possible radial brake conversion (not sure if this is worth the cost)
Obviously these bits are getting harder to find as time goes by, so any advice about where to look would be much appreciated. Also, any input on the above list would also be very helpful.

Thanks very much in advance!
 

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Good for you to get the old RC onto the track!!

I did five race weekends this year competing in CCS against newer machines, and an AHRMA race. With lots of practice and set up, I ended up on the podium a couple of times late in the season in CCS and a podium in the 1000cc twin class for AHRMA.
Your ”need” list is perfect. You do not need the gear indicator. You wont look at it. Just count the downshifts while you are braking. The upshifts will happen naturally. You will barely look at the tach. I had to remember to look at the temp going down the straightaways.
Your “want“ list is good too. I killed my clutch on my last weekend. I haven’t gotten it fixed yet, but will be on it in the next couple of weeks. I dont think you need a slipper clutch. I did not have any issues with locking the rear tire on down shifts. You will get used to it easy enough. I only weigh 158lbs, and I never touched a foot peg to the ground. Rear sets not needed unless you drag them. You will know once you start racing. I think the quick shifter could be very cool. I may look into it also. All of the new machines seemingly have it. I have a Brembo front brake master with stock calipers and rotors and stainless lines. No issues what so ever. Save the money for the severe cost of tires and track time. My rear brake master plugged its fluid return hole (very tiny) and my rear brake applied pressure, got hot and killed my seals and pads on my underslung caliper. Check your master or rebuild it for cheap to make sure you dont have issues. Especially if it has been sitting around for a while.
I ran slicks for the first time. You will need tire warmers and a generator. Seems to be standard issue for all the racers. Massive difference in traction. I ran Metzeler TD (track day) tires. The front lasted all season. Initially I couldn’t get the TD for the rear, so I ran the K2 full race tire. They wear out fast and I was faster on the TDs eventually. Plus the TD rear could last for two weekends. Saved me lots of money!!
Plan on handle bars, levers, pegs, and exhaust for crash spares. I have a custom exhaust that is routed up to an under-tail muffler. Maybe not the most HP, but it wont cost me $800 if I low side. Just bought a header system to modify over winter and I will see if a new tune can get me a horse or two.
I have the thermostat system deleted. I run water. No fans. No issues. 95* day I only hit 207*. I actually have to add tape to the radiators on cool days to get it up to temp.
You will get your gear tech’d first. Good suit, gloves, boots, and a helmet that is less than 5 years old is mandatory. Follow the rule book for safety wire and fluid requirements.
I get lots of compliments on it being a cool bike, but also a lot of comments about why something so old and heavy and low hp. The modern 600s are a much better bike. I went with my heart on this one. I love riding my RC! I have owned one since May of 2000 #1063.
BTW, my SP1 street bike and my SP2 race bike are set up with similar suspension settings and engine mods. The SP2 is by far a much better track bike related to the much quicker steering and handling. Wider handlebars my give you some extra leverage for the the SP1 to steer. Raise your forks in the triples a bit too. Raise the rear. I assume you know this already.
It’s a great track bike. Lots of fun. Still plenty fast. Uber cool! Looks and sound different than everything else there. Have fun. Good luck.
J
 

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2001 RC51, 2018 Aprilia Tuono
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the help!

The bike looks rad, by the way. Colin Edwards Stars and Stripes is one of the all-time classic liveries. And you're not missing the apex, you're going in for a late one, I'm sure!

I'm building it for trackdays to start, but any mods I do would be with an option to race later. Hoping to avoid slicks and tire warmers for now, just to keep things simple.

I'll be rebuilding the rear caliper, as I suspect it hasn't been touched since the braided lines went on long enough ago to now be quite yellow. Thanks for the heads up!

I'll lower the front and raise the rear increments, starting with a 55 section tire and extending the rear shock a few mm's. I tend to prefer mid-corner stability to flickability, and don't mind a bike that needs a bit of wrestling (obviously within limits), so will go bit by bit on that, especially as I don't have a steering damper installed just yet.

As for a quick shifter, I've been spoiled by the up and down one on my Tuono. It's so smooth, I really only use the clutch to pull away and stop. I'll have to get my rev matching skills back up to snuff, as it's been a while.

Appreciate the input, and I'll update as the bits come together...
 

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+10000 to everything Jordan mentioned above. The RC51 is very capable and I would spend the money on suspension and tires. Best of luck and feel free to post any other questions or concerns.

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Congrats as well! My SP2 (also purchased rough) is always an attention getting at the track.

I purchased my 03 wrecked and I’ve pieced her together over 3 years. She ain’t pretty, but certainly has character.

Here’s my list of upgrades:
  1. First and foremost, as mentioned above, suspension, suspension, suspension. I went with K-tek front and rear and then had the sag set up. The most notable change was lowering the frontend as far as she’ll go with the catch-ring in place. Amazing turn-in for such a heavy sled; i still have a little under-steer issue, but predictable drift. No issues on high speed straights.
  2. Front master cylinder. Brembo 19x18... I could not get over the change. She does not stop like a MotoGP bike, but the feel is simply perfect for me and ZERO fade.
  3. Renthal (spelling?) clip-ons... 20mm offset with 7degree down angle. Again, leverage is key on this big girl
  4. Rearsets were a must as i was dragging with stock... and much more comfortable with the rear sets
  5. Stomp tank grips
  6. Dynojet tuned (allows for super smooth on/off throttle transition)
  7. I did put a gear indicator... it’s nice... but, as mentioned above... once the novelty wore off i stopped using it.
  8. Shogun frame slider (have not used it yet ... i’m ok with that)
  9. Dunlop Q4s... O.M.G! just sayin’

Like i said, she was a wreck, so i’m still running factory plastic with the lights taped over. I may go race plastic for 2021. OR spring for a set of OZ wheels (gulp $$$)

Anyway... i love my RC51... Fun reliable machine that shifts like a dream!

Good luck with your project!
135292
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Discussion Starter #7
Congrats as well! My SP2 (also purchased rough) is always an attention getting at the track.

I purchased my 03 wrecked and I’ve pieced her together over 3 years. She ain’t pretty, but certainly has character.

Here’s my list of upgrades:
  1. First and foremost, as mentioned above, suspension, suspension, suspension. I went with K-tek front and rear and then had the sag set up. The most notable change was lowering the frontend as far as she’ll go with the catch-ring in place. Amazing turn-in for such a heavy sled; i still have a little under-steer issue, but predictable drift. No issues on high speed straights.
  2. Front master cylinder. Brembo 19x18... I could not get over the change. She does not stop like a MotoGP bike, but the feel is simply perfect for me and ZERO fade.
  3. Renthal (spelling?) clip-ons... 20mm offset with 7degree down angle. Again, leverage is key on this big girl
  4. Rearsets were a must as i was dragging with stock... and much more comfortable with the rear sets
  5. Stomp tank grips
  6. Dynojet tuned (allows for super smooth on/off throttle transition)
  7. I did put a gear indicator... it’s nice... but, as mentioned above... once the novelty wore off i stopped using it.
  8. Shogun frame slider (have not used it yet ... i’m ok with that)
  9. Dunlop Q4s... O.M.G! just sayin’

Like i said, she was a wreck, so i’m still running factory plastic with the lights taped over. I may go race plastic for 2021. OR spring for a set of OZ wheels (gulp $$$)

Anyway... i love my RC51... Fun reliable machine that shifts like a dream!

Good luck with your project!
Nice lid! Doohan was the man when I started to pay attention to racing. Last of a generation who dealt with some seriously crazy bikes...

Thanks for the advice! I'm starting to gather up bits to do the build over the winter. Didn't get to take the unmodded version out this year, as the one track day I had lined up got rescheduled, and I couldn't make the new date. Everything is done for the season here...

So far, for suspension I've picked up a (very cheap) used Penske 8987 triple-clicker shock and will be getting it rebuilt, revalved and resprung along with a K-Tech piston kit and new springs up front.

I bought some bits on here from @BadToTheBown , most notably an SP-2 swingarm and Scotts steering stabilizer, so that'll help bring my older model up to speed.

I've also found some SP-2 wheels that I'll be using for dry days, and saving the SP-1 set for the rain. Just need to throw some rotors on, will likely be EBC to keep the budget reasonable.

A Power Commander V will be installed, though I'm not sure if a quick-shifter is necessary. I've gotten super spoiled with the ultra slick up/down quickshifter on my Tuono, so we'll see.

The last major purchase so far was some Flexi-Glass race fairings, as I wouldn't trust the eBay specials that came with it to stay attached on the straights. They're cheaper than Armour Bodies, but similar quality.

I might do the Brembo master cylinder upgrade this winter as well, though what was supposed to be a budget bike has spiraled quickly, so that may have to wait. I'll be rebuilding all the calipers at least.

I won't add rearsets or clip-ons until I've done at least one track day to see what changes I want.

Lots to do, just need to be smart about doing it so I'm not tearing things down more often than necessary. It went up on the lift for the first time today, and I'm hoping to be done the big stuff before it gets too cold in the garage...

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You want the quickshifter, they go on all my bikes now, which is no longer so many...I personally like the piezo ones as they work up and down shifting and they have proven very easy to install...best of luck...
 
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Agreed regarding Doohan! Back when the only way to appreciate the riders was by reading RoadRacing World and buying the VHS tapes to watch the year in review 🤣

Love that exhaust... thanks for the advice re the flexi glass. Its going to be a long winter which means lots of time to address “what to do next”.

Keep us posted on the progress.

P.S. Super jealous: RC51 and a Tuono... sigh (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You want the quickshifter, they go on all my bikes now, which is no longer so many...I personally like the piezo ones as they work up and down shifting and they have proven very easy to install...best of luck...
Thanks for this. Was looking at quickshifters and thinking about push/pull, but none would work with the cheap solution of using a VFR shifter to get GP shifting. This would work on all of the above. HealTech seems to be the most popular. Any experience with brands?
 

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I've installed both Starlane and HealTech on my bikes, both have phone apps to tune, are ECU agnostic, shifter agnostic and I recommend interupting the coil(s) over the injection but that's probably very debatable...HealTech is cheaper (less expensive) than Starlane...good luck....
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Love that exhaust... thanks for the advice re the flexi glass. Its going to be a long winter which means lots of time to address “what to do next”.

Keep us posted on the progress.

P.S. Super jealous: RC51 and a Tuono... sigh (y)
The exhaust is original, and definitely appropriate if you followed Nicky back when AMA racing was amazing. I did hear rumours, though, that his Jardines were rebadged Akrapovic units. Not unheard of in the racing world. A friend of mine worked for an IndyCar team back when that was serious business (Andretti/Unser/Tracy/Fittipaldi years), and the main sponsor was an oil brand. They used to work late transferring oil from another brand into bottles from the sponsor, as they liked the other oil better.

Flexi-Glass fairings is a small Canadian shop in British Columbia, where I used to live. He makes quality stuff, and lots of the locals use his gear. Armour Bodies are (were?) also Canadian, but are now distributed by Woodcraft, so we have to order via the US for a Canadian made product. Total insanity. Flexi-Glass is about $200 cheaper than Armour for us because of that, but I think slightly more expensive in the US, especially when you add shipping. One other detail is the Flexi-Glass unit keeps the stock seat, which may be a positive or negative, depending on preference.

As for the Tuono, mine is a 2018 RR with K-Tech shock and IDS cartridges. Best bike I've ever ridden, love it to bits. Did a few track days on it this year with Pirelli DRC II's and it was great, but it's also comfy for all day riding. Now that I have the RC for the track, I'm probably going to get some removable luggage so I can tour to some serious twisties, as there's not much worth riding that's not insanely crowded within a couple hours of where I live near Toronto. I've heard great things about southern Ohio and Pennsylvania, and I'm hoping Covid gets sorted so I can get down there next year.

Mid-Ohio is supposed to be a great track, and I've heard good things about NJMP among others, so dragging the RC down there would be fun, too...
 
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