ADVICE FROM THE FIELD

Staff Sergeant Stephen Incledon

Since purchasing his first street bike in 2007, Staff Sgt. Stephen Incledon has risen through the ranks of amateur motorcycle racing to become the WERA superstock champion in 2016. Going on to achieve his dream of becoming a pro racer, he placed fifth in the 2018 MotoAmerica superstock national Series. A self-described “adrenaline junkie all my life,” Incledon has tried parachuting, base-jumping and rock climbing. “The first time I entered a turn at 130 mph with other racers, I knew this is what I’d been looking for,” he says.

WHY YOU LOVE IT
Motorcycle racing for me is much more challenging than many other sports or activities I have tried. There is always a next higher level; bikes are constantly changing and the technology keeps growing. The harder you look at something on the bike—tuning, technique, etc.—the more possibilities you have to shave off another tenth of a second. Not to mention that riding a 200-hp bike on a track is an experience in itself that is really indescribable. I consistently see 2 to 3 Gs (gravitational force), whether its acceleration, braking or lateral movement. It’s better than any roller coaster or skydiving, I can promise you that.

YOUR BIKE AND HOW YOU MODIFY IT
This last season, I raced a 2016 R1 in the MotoAmerica superstock 1000 season. We immediately change forks, shock, exhaust, rear sets, clip-ons, controls, levers, battery (replace with a lightweight one), brake pads/lines/rotors, and intake system, along with required items such as fiberglass racing bodies, engine 
case covers, racing slicks, etc. In addition to all of this, we add an on-board data logging system that has pressure sensors, potentiometers for suspension, and a CAN (controller area network) bus directly linked to the ECU (electronic control unit) for all sensors. This system is a GPS plus accelerometers/gyros for track placement and timing. This just touches on a very light bike preparation for this level.

RACE DAY PREP
A typical race day preparation depends on whether we are doing a pro event or club racing. Either way, the bike is completely torn down to frame/motor, and everything is cleaned, checked, and tested. Roughly every weekend of racing (four hours on track) requires about 15 hours of work on the bike. As far as actual race day, club racing is pretty straight forward: I wake up around 5 am, roll the bike out of the trailer, and get tire warmers on. Racing slicks have a minimum operating temperature of +140 degrees, so we use electronic tire warmers to heat them to 180 before I go out. Typically, when I come back in, they are between 190 and 210 degrees. When I come in from practice, we look at what changes need to be made, and that’s when the real work begins, the least of which being the usual tire changes. I generally run through three to four rear tires and two fronts in a light weekend. Pro weekends obviously take A LOT more work, but it is all worth it.

CLOSE CALL
Back in 2014 at a club event at Roebling Road, I had three crashes in two days and no idea why it was happening. We were checking everything and kept finding nothing. While I was constantly checking the status indicator to make sure it was on and touching the tire to feel if it was hot, it turned out that the
front tire warmer had a break in the internal wiring and was heating only half of the tire! What I learned from the experience was to take care of your equipment and always inspect everything fully, not just one part. Never assume that something simple is working.

TOP TIPS FOR NEWBIES
DON’T PUSH TOO HARD TOO FAST. Start out doing track days and really learn to be safe out there. Everyone wants to be the fast guy or win races. Don’t worry, it will come. Take your time learning technique, being smooth and going fast safely. When you are going your fastest, the last thing you will be thinking about is your lap time. When you are pushing hard, you are probably going slower.

 

BUY QUALITY GEAR. You don’t need all the fancy track parts for your bike. Good leathers, boots, helmet, chest and back protector, etc., as well as good tire warmers, will get you faster lap times than a cool, adjustable bike part.
 

DON’T HESITATE TO CHANGE YOUR TIRES. If you’re questioning your tires, just change them; rubber is cheaper then leathers, body work or your health.


YOUR NEXT RACE
Once I leave Korea, I’ll be going to California. There, I will probably be running around the club racing scene until I get a new pro program going, which takes a lot of time and money. We will be putting together a program for the 2020 Daytona 200.

Want to read more about Staff Sgt. Incledon’s motorcycle racing career, check out the following sites:
Facebook (Superbike Unlimited Racing)
Instagram@sbu247
Youtube @ channel superbike unlimited (search for Stephen Incledon)
https://www.eglin.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/391130/airman-begins-motorcycle-race-series