So here is a little look at the Bazzaz Z-Fi TC unit, fitted to the ever-sturdy Suzuki GSXR1000 which, unlike its competitors at the time, didn’t come with traction control or a quickshifter as standard.
It’s a brand new, 2016 GSXR1000 which came in MotoGP colours with a few Yoshimura toys. Seeing as this is my dedicated track bike, I decided to treat it and myself to what I believe will give me a little more peace of mind when the inevitable happens. The inevitable being someone overtaking me, me riding up to and beyond my limit in a bid to reclaim my manhood and take him back.
I collected it from Daytona Motorcycles in a van and delivered to the Suzuki Grand Master that is Gavin Reed at MSG in Aylesbury, to be transformed into a budget-friendly track toy. The bike itself is a somewhat aging design now, not having much in the way of an update since 2009, but I got it for a low price and their popularity trackside doesn’t just come from their easy pace, stable and light-handling but also solid reliabilty, a never-ending and purse-friendly parts and upgrades supply and 180bhp out of the box. It had no miles on the clock and Gavin was going to stick some miles on the dyno before its first outing at Silverstone a matter of weeks away. We decided on what bits I wanted (and what I could afford) and the number one item was the Bazzaz Z-Fi TC, fuel control, quick shifter and traction control.
The Bazzaz – what is it and what does it do?
The Bazzaz traction control system is a piggyback system that is fitted to the bikes ECU and ignition. It uses RPM data and not wheel speed sensors to determine any lost traction and wheel spin on the rear. As traction is lost, the system measures spikes in the fuel mapping and can cut the ignition for milliseconds at a time to limit power to the rear wheel and maintain traction, keeping everything tidy and expert-looking.
It is designed to feather in the control rather than a rudimentary power shut off, allowing a degree of spin for those power slides out of the corners that I will never achieve. It comes with two switches attached to the handlebar that can adjust between two preset maps (I had a wet and dry map installed) and the other switch allows you to increase or decrease the level of control you want. This can be done on the go so finding a decent setting should be straightforward. Most importantly, especially on a 1000, its there as a safe-guard for me and my eager wrist, limited talent and complete disregard for my own personal wellbeing.
The system works seamlessly with the Bazzaz fuel control that acts in the same way as a Power Commander and the Bazzaz strain gauge quickshifter. It’s all very tidy and, once Daniel had spent many hours with the dyno getting everything set up and ready for me, it was my job to take it out and try it, for real.
First outing – Silverstone
In reality, I hope I never have to find out but I’m off to Silverstone, a track I am yet to ride, on the Suzuki, a bike I am yet to ride, on a freezing cold morning hoping to see if my traction control works. Wonderful. Anyone who has been to Silverstone (there will be a full Silverstone track day review in 2017) will know its long, wide, tricky to learn and I was told the morning of the track day that the surface “is a little iffy in places”. Well then, just what we wanted, cold tyres, new track, new bike, questionable track surface conditions and I’m supposed to see what this new traction control system is like.
Getting the sighting laps and first session out of the way didn’t help to ease my nerves. The track is long, there are two start/finish straights and two pits, both with a right hander at the end of them that meant I got “lost” on more than one lap. As the day progressed though, the temperatures slowly crept up, my confidence in the bike was soaring, and I’m pretty sure I can remember which way to turn, so, time to push on.
Now, I have to take a moment to talk about the bike. I can see why they are so popular, it just surges on, so easy to ride, easier than the 2007 Yamaha R6 it replaced. Bundles of torque and drive out of the corners see me pulling past BMWs on the straights, and, while the stock Brembo brakes needed a little bedding in until their full potential was realised, they then came on strong. The initially bite wasn’t as sharp as some (or as I would like) but they have progressive strength that sees you loading the incredibly stable front end without fear. It really is a solid bike, great chassis and in someone else’s hands, an absolute weapon. I won’t mention any lap times, I’ll blame the weather amongst other things but let’s just say, Lorenzo doesnt need to worry just yet.
First proper moment
By the afternoon I felt good and was starting to push a bit more, and that’s when the Bazzaz really came into play. Through the Maggotts and Becketts turns, a hint of rain appears on my visor, not too much to worry about but as I take the Chapel Curve onto the Hanger Straight with a big fistful of right hand I feel the back end let go. Now, this has happened to me before and its usually a snatchy affair as the rear wheel finds a degree of traction again but this time it was softer, almost lazy, I heard the engine note change, the sound of a stutter almost and before I could even react (get scared, bum twitch) it was all back to normal and I was on my way again. The rest of the day went without any drama before rain stopped play all together; onwards and upwards.
Test two was at Donington Park – still cold, and the chances of rain turned out to be constant, never-ending misery. Yes, I could have fitted wets and flicked the switch to the rain mode but decided I’d wait for the sun. I didn’t fancy binning my new toy especially as my ever-smug, I’ve-got-traction-control-don’t-you-know face had been strong since Silverstone and I didn’t fancy getting mud on it. We waited for sun and finally sun and wind came, and watching Leon Haslam testing his ZX10R while we were on lunch spurred me on. Track dries, sun is out, it’s go time.
Once again the Bazzaz kept me sunny side up. Coppice corner, the nasty, blind right-hander had taken a few scalps that morning and I had my biggest moment here. The back really stepped out this time and once again, the engine stutters but I kept the throttle on (trying to out-run my ever-closing friend) and it just drove forward, no nasty snatch back, not even a twitch, just a slip back into position and a thank you very much. This is when became a full believer in the Bazzaz’s ability. I’m almost certain that without it, on the dampish track on slicks, I would have ditched and picked up some grass on the way out.
The Suzuki is the first 1000 I’ve ventured on track with. Learning to get to grips with the power has definitely been helped by knowing that the Bazzaz has been lurking in the background, always ready to just pull things back into place when I try and highside for shits and giggles. It is not only a technological comfort, it almost certainly helps inspire confidence, which is a huge benefit when playing around at speed on a race track.
I won’t dance around it, it’s £850 give or take. Now, you can look at this as being a very large outlay but consider what you get for that -a quickshifter alone could be £300+ and a fuel management system could cost £500+ with a dyno set up. That’s your £800 already but then, on top of that, there’s a very effective, fully adjustable traction control system.
It’s a very slick, high-tech piece of kit and I love it. When you get it set up by someone as capable as MSG, you can be sure you will have a great addition to your bike that can rival all but the very best factory fitted systems.
Author: Ben Wiskin