I'm back and the Versys did great at the track. It actually did better than my Gixxer 1000, but I've been chasing brake problems with that bike for a whole season and this past weekend was no different. In fact, I packed up early and came home at lunchtime on the first day.
Back to the Versys, it did quite well. We were riding on the smaller VIR South course. There is a fairly long straight that runs uphill. While the speedo on my Gixxer would regularly show well into the 160s, the Versys maxed out at an indicated 115 mph. I definitely had the the slowest motorcycle in a straight line, but I was not the slowest motorcycle on the track by any means. It is fun to have a motorcycle on the track where you can basically turn in, crack the throttle to put some weight on the rear and then just go WFO at the apex. Fun!
For braking, I was expecting fairly poor performance because they seem fairly weak on the street. A nice healthy progressive tug on the brakes produced very good stopping performance. Here, the softer initial bite of the brakes allowed weight to transfer before the majority of the braking force was applied. Stopping from only 115 was not taxing and I experienced no fade during the 20 minute session.
The suspension is very soft on the Versys, so being smooth is a BIG plus in transitions. There is a hairpin turn on the back side of the course that leads to gentle right hand turn transitioning to an uphill left hand turn. If I rode aggressively through the transition the motorcycle would bob and weave through this section. By riding in "rain-mode" I was able to transition in a much smoother manner and keep everything composed. This would make an excellent rain riding (racing?) trainer.
The Versys also turns in with very little effort. I was able to ride hard from the drop of the hat and felt like I could drain a whole tank of gas at a time. On my Gixxer, riding in August), I'm soaking wet after 20 minutes. The Versys was a pleasure!
On my second lap, I was scraping pegs on both sides and having a ball. As an FYI, you still have a 1/2" (~1 cm) of tire tread once the pegs start to scrape. I was not able to drag a knee on Versys because of (1) short legs and (2) only one session with peg feelers still installed. I may try again at my next trackday.
The tires were fine and I didn't even lower the pressures to track-appropriate levels.
So, In summary, the Versys was a ball to ride at the track. Plus, faster riders won't feel pressured into a banzai hairball pass because they know as soon as the road straightens out, they can just blow by.
Pics as soon as they are available, I promise!
"ride more, worry less"
2005 Suzuki GSXR1000 (slightly bent) - Track
2000 Honda VFR800 - Street