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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed

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Hidden Data Hidden?

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I was looking for an article I saw some time ago - I have done a search but couldn’t find what I was looking for. The article was about Holden Commodore onboard diagnostic/trip computers and the extra info you could get out of them and different configurations you could have. I’d appreciate if you could dig this article up for me.


The article you’re looking for is... VT/VX Hidden Data


In an article titled 2004 Engine Epic - Mitsubishi Engines a V6 MIVEC engine was mentioned... “This is a highly sought after engine in Magna tuning circles.” I was wondering if you know of Magnas with this 6G72 MIVEC conversion successfully completed? If so, is there any information that you could provide? I've thought about this for my TF Mitsubishi Magna but was worried about the fact that it was designed for an automatic car - I plan on keeping my manual transmission. The other issue would be about the engine management system side of things.

Great article BTW.

Peter Cook

Unfortunately we have never seen a MIVEC V6 transplanted into a local Magna. However we've seen plenty of discussion about it on various Magna and Mitsubishi forums. We’re not sure on the complexities of the swap but as always, we suggest starting with a half-cut. That way you’re assured that you’ve got everything that’s necessary.

3T Song and Dance

Re Kick-Ass Corona!...

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The Toyota 3TGT-EU is one of the least known Toyota engines, primarily because it was so closely guarded – it first appeared in the Celica GT, which was Toyota’s first attempt to turbocharge the Celica. They homologated this car and I was lucky enough to get one of the homologated engines. I've had it in a TE-72 4 door 1982 Corolla since 1985, complete with AE86 front struts with disc brakes all around. It was the fastest accelerating car in Jamaica, and in those days on a stock ECU ran 12.1 seconds on the 1/4 mile. The next day I would drive it to work in air conditioning and my tie...

Dan Gurney ran this engine in the Toyota GTP race car in the Miami Grand Prix in the USA, making 600hp at 9000 rpm in a 12 hour endurance race.

Great article - thanks for doing justice to such a pedigree of an engine.

Horatio Williams

Re Slow Bikes #11

I'm responding to the article by Julian Edgar about "Why are motorbikes so slow around corners?" Driving Emotion.

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I ride a motorbike and also consider myself a reasonably good driver. There is no doubt that a decent high performance car can out-brake a bike and hold a higher corner speed. After all, it has a lot more rubber on the ground. If you compare lap times of a V8 Supercar to a bike they are about the same. Given that a bike will hose any car in acceleration, the only way a car can do this must be in braking and/or cornering. So, the car should have higher speed into a corner. However, as soon as the bike gets on the power at or after the apex, you can wave goodbye.

Julian mentioned in his article a particular corner in the Gold Coast hinterland signposted at 70 km/h, where he would do 110 "as hard as (he) dare(d)". I know the GC Hinterland very well - it's one of my favourite places to ride. On a recent ride there, a mate on a ZZR250 was maxed out through most of the corners (~160-ish) trying to keep an R1 and a Fireblade in sight. Many of these corners are signposted less than 70 km/h. Which makes me wonder how good a driver Julian really is.

As an example, I just got back from a trip to Victoria. I flew to Melbourne, got a new Falcon auto hire car and drove to Warrnambool along the Great Ocean Road. In a stock car I was easily, and mean easily, doing twice the advisory speed through pretty much every corner - with a damp road surface (some of it very wet), bits of dirt and gravel in places, on an unfamiliar road, driving an unfamiliar car, with a cig in one hand and mostly in the dark.

There's no way I would have done that on my bike. The dirt and gravel in places would have made me come unstuck for sure, not to mention the damp/wet bits and the sections that had tree branches and sh&^ everywhere.

On a recent trip to the Oxley Hwyon my VFR750 Honda motorcycle, I was taking signposted 70 km/h corners at ~150 without much trouble at all. Now, I consider myself a decent rider - better than most - and have done a braking and cornering course on a track to improve my skills. So, perhaps I'm not representative of the riders Julian has come across. My bike is certainly not a cornering weapon like many pure sportsbikes, yet I still manage to waste riders of much better machinery.

A bike is much harder to ride fast than a car, and the consequences of getting a corner wrong are much worse. Some bikes don't like 'difficult' roads, if by 'difficult' he means bumpy and less than a perfect surface. Some riders haven't a clue how to setup their suspension either, which makes a hell of a lot more difference to a bike than a car. I've had my suspension setup properly, though the rear still needs some work. I've also had some decent rider training and I'm yet to find a car/driver combination that doesn't hold me up in any situation. The closest was an R33 Skyline over Mt Tamborine, though the only corners he pulled away were blind and/or over a crest where I wasn't prepared to risk my life. I suspect the driver knew that road a lot better than me, yet he still held me up.

The car vs bike topic will always attract a lot of attention, but let's face it - it's all up to the person controlling the vehicle. As far as bang for your buck goes, a bike will win every time. I paid $6300 for my 11yr old bike and nothing short of a 6 figure car (new price) will beat it in a straight line. As a bonus, I get more enjoyment from being banked over in a corner on my bike, even at slow speeds, than I've ever got from driving a car fast. There's nothing like doing 140+ through a corner with your knee an inch off the ground (or even touching).

Peka Lika

Re Slow Bikes #12

Re Driving Emotion...

I'll give you an interesting example. There is a road racing track, 1.6 miles in length near Denver, Colorado. On weekdays you are able to rent this track for semi-private testing. When I called to reserve time I was told that there would be a couple of racing bikes also using the track but, if I wanted to share, I could get a reduced rate. I agreed.

The bikes were both 1000+ cc 4-cylinder full road racing bikes. Not street legal with no lighting or number plates and minimal mufflers. They were both equipped with competition road racing tyres front and rear and their riders were wearing full leathers and race gear. The longest straightaway on this track (called Second Creek Raceway) is 1300 feet (or 1/4-mile). There is a tight decreasing radius turn before the straightaway and a banked sweeper at the end of the straightaway. The acceleration of the bikes down the straightaway was AWESOME! They were able to come out of the tight turn at the head of the straightaway at a maximum of about 25 MPH. They were probably well in excess of 100 MPH before braking for the sweeper. I WAS ABLE TO BLOW THEIR DOORS OFF IN MY 125CC SHIFTER KART! They were turning lap times of approx 1m,15sec. and I was doing 1m,11sec. Oh, and one of the guys on the bikes is the current Colorado motorcycle road racing association points leader!

I think it has a lot to do with the amount of rubber on the ground and the fact that if I 'loose it' and spin out, it hurts a LOT LESS than if the bikes 'loose it'. Now, if only I had 1000cc's!

Jim McNaul

Re Slow Bikes #13

Just read your bikes/cars article (Driving Emotion) and I would consider myself reasonably qualified to answer the question - I've been riding since I was 7 and driving since I was 10 (grew up on a farm). I currently own three cars - Audi A4 quattro, Daimler Double Six (Jag V12) and a '63 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 (the WRX of its day). I also own two bikes - one a touring bike (Suzuki Bandit GSF1200) and one a sports bike albeit a little older - '89 KR1- 250. I've owned a variety of reasonably quick cars and bikes over the years.

Ok, so the answer to your question, IMNSHO has a couple of facets.

The first is that for a bike to go quickly through corners, it is 95% rider and 5% machinery (of course any idiot can twist the grip and go quickly in a straight line). I know of several riders who have taken 35hp 175kg learner-legal, $2500 250cc motorcycles to Eastern Creek and happily and easily rounded up people on $25-35,000, 140- 160hp, 180kg supersport weapons. The big difference between bikes and cars is how little the machinery compensates for lack of skill. I personally have been able to lap Eastern Creek quicker on my 15yr old 250cc race replica (60hp, 150kg primitive suspension) than people on new sportsbikes costing 10 times as much and with double and triple the hp. Mick Doohan I ain't - there's heaps better riders than me around (but there's also a few worse).

The next issue is one of physics, all things being equal, a high-end car (Mclaren, the Porsche 911 AWD, Ferrari, etc) will always be quicker than an equivalent bike, say a Ducati 999R or Yamaha R1. 4 wheels, AWD, heaps more rubber on the road, heaps bigger brakes and, far more importantly, aerodynamics (down force greater than 1g for a car, but bikes can't have that because they tilt in the corners). The best of the cars are quicker than the best of the bikes. Compare F1 lap times to MotoGP lap times where they run the same tracks.

Having said that, the best of the bikes cost a tenth or less of the best of the cars - and generally you'll be seeing on the road the bike equivalent of a Ferrari (an R1 cost $18K brand new...) being put up against far less exotic machinery. Generally speaking you'll need to spend *at least* $100K on a car to get equal performance to a $20K bike

Another factor is suspension and inertia. Inertia comes in on rough roads and it's very noticeable when I swap between the Daimler (2 ton+) and the Audi (relatively lightweight) on a rough road. The Daimler feels relaxed and easy to drive and the Audi feels very skittish. Similarly a bike is a helluva lot lighter again and hence more easily disturbed by rough roads generally. Heavier bikes like the Bandit (240kg) aren't particularly phased by rough roads but as a touring bike it has less ground clearance (comparatively speaking) and hence the maximum lean angle is affected by the fact that it has a centre stand (for example) that sports bikes don't. Once metal touches down you can't lean any further.

Last thing is suspension - modern sports bikes have wonderfully good suspension. Older bikes and cheaper less sporty bikes have lesser kit. The funny thing though is a lot of people with the modern sports bikes don't know how to set them up correctly, and it's not uncommon for people to make the handling *worse* on a multi-adjustable suspension (there's about a million combinations you can come up with from the preload, rebound and compression damping settings on a modern bike). Most of the highly focussed sports bikes come out of the factory setup for the race track, which is WAY too stiff for Australian back-roads, a significant portion of their owners don't realise they need to soften up the settings a little when on the road, adjust the settings according to their weight and adjust the settings if they add or remove a pillion etc.

A good rider on a modern sports bike should leave a good driver in a modern sports car costing less than a $100 grand behind on a windy road, however the quantity of straights will also be a factor (advantages the bike- acceleration and top speed) and fast sweepers will advantage the car (assuming it has effective aerodynamic kit), along with the willingness of the driver/rider to ignore the speed limit (top speeds tend to be higher for bikes)....

The explanation of your Adelaide Hills incident is very obviously that you came across a very poor rider given that he managed to fall of the bike in an unforced error.

In short, the biggest factor in bike performance is the rider. That's how Rossi can take a bike that's been languishing in the lower half of the top 10 and win 7 out of 10 races on it. While driver skill is very important, not even Schumacher could take the Jaguar to a win in F1 (for example).

John Littler

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