Eric Wood

Woodcraft Yamaha R6 Rearsets
This is a guest post by Eric Wood who owns Woodcraft Technologies.

When Woodcraft was founded in 1996, the very first product that we offered was a set of rearsets for a Kawasaki ZX7.  Although this was a popular model back then, the real reason that we started with this bike is that I had been riding ZX7’s for several years and needed something for my own bike.  Unlike today, there were very few choices for rearsets back then.  The only options that I could find were too expensive and many of them were quite fragile.  In spite of this, my biggest concern was that even if I found one that I liked I would never be able to find a spare piece if I crashed (which I did a lot more of back then).  These were all issues that needed to be addressed.

The real reasons that I was motivated to find rearsets back then were very much the same as they are today.  I had been racing for many years on stock rearsets, and as tires were getting better the lean angles were getting higher.  This led to the destruction of several pairs of road race boots and an occasional bleeding pinkie toe.  It got bad enough that I started cutting up old face shields into little rectangles and duct taping on a fresh “toe slider” before every race… I knew that there had to be a better way.

OEM Rearset Weaknesses

I also noticed that the stock folding footpegs had a couple weaknesses.  First, they did not offer very good grip.  The condition of the end of the footpeg seemed to have the biggest effect on the ability to hold the riders foot in place, and we would use that information when we designed our own pegs.  As my riding progressed, I learned to use my legs as my primary means to move on the motorcycle.  This effort would often cause the pegs to fold up at inopportune times and would slow me down (the ZX7 was heavy and required a lot of effort to turn).

The last weakness of the stock rearsets was the complete lack of crash protection.  Even with folding pegs, the cast bracketswould easily snap.  The pegs were so long that even when they were folded they had considerable leverage to break the bracket if they caught on anything while sliding.  As for protecting the motorcycle, we found in a static test that when we leaned the bike all the way over to the ground the pegs were always the first to touch.  However, once they folded up it was my very expensive Muzzy titanium exhaust on one side and my polished swingarm on the other that took the brunt of the abuse.  Not good.

With all this in mind we set off to design a set of rearsets that would have proper ground clearance, superior grip and improved durability when compared to the stock units.  The first consideration was material.  Billet aluminum is readily available, has an excellent strength to weight ratio and was the obvious choice for a place to start.  After considerable research we narrowed our choices down to 2 alloys, 6061 and 7075.  The 7075 alloy had a higher tensile strength and was our material of choice until further study revealed a couple key flaws.  First, 7075 is not considered to be weldable while 6061 is quite easily repaired in this fashion.  For racers who needed to make emergency repairs, this was an important factor.  Second, 6061 Aluminum can be bent considerably and remain structurally intact but when 7075 bends it tends to crack.  We knew that no matter how well the rearset was designed, a single piece of Aluminum was not going to be able to take the force of a 400lb motorcycle slamming to the ground without yielding a little bit.  In the end, 6061 was the obvious choice.

Design Considerations

When looking at footpeg design, Woodcraft considered the use of several different solid mount pegs as well as folding versions.  The pegs need to be light, able to withstand a crash and provide both good grip and feedback.  Our track experience led us to consider several different factors in the design.

First, active riders use their legs when moving on the bike and can cause folding pegs to flip up inadvertently.  This factor alone was a major strike against folding pegs.  Second, folding pegs provide no protection for critical (and more expensive) parts of the motorcycle.  Through stress analysis we found that if the rearset bracket is made robustly enough it will be able to survive through many common crashes, even when attached to a solid footpeg.  We considered foot size, ground clearance and bracket bending leverage when looking at peg length.  If the solid footpeg was made shorter than the OEM units then it would not only have more ground clearance but it would also have less leverage to bend the rearset bracket.  They only needed to be wide enough for riders to comfortably secure their feet.

The next design considerations were shape, surface finish and attachment method of the peg.  After looking at both flat and round pegs, Woodcraft went with a round footpeg because it was both easy to manufacture and provided the best strength at the lowest weight.  In an effort to create grip Woodcraft incorporated a raised lip on the end of all of our footpegs and gave both the main surface and the lip an aggressive knurled finish.  When considering the attachment method there were two main choices.  We could either use a through bolt from the back side of the bracket into the peg or we could create a solid round section on the peg that slid into the bracket and was secured with a pinch bolt.  The factory Ducati rearsets of this day were set up with the pinch bolt, and we had noticed that when they were crashed hard that the bracket would often twist considerably and bend beyond repair.  We concluded that the strongest and most cost effective method was to through bolt the footpeg.

The last design consideration for our rearsets was perhaps the most important.  We knew that no matter how we designed these kits that racers were going to fall and break them.  However, in most cases the pedals are the most common thing that breaks.  A rider can get through on a slightly bent rearset bracket or a ground down peg, but if the shift pedal breaks it’s game over.  Most rearset manufacturers make their own shift and brake pedals that are unique to their kits.  So, if you ride a GSXR and use Brand “X” rearsets and break your shift pedal, someone needs to have a Brand “X” spare lever or you’re sunk.

Universal Peg Attachment

Most pegs in the 90’s had the pedals mounted right on them and therefore need to be unique for every model.  Having your own special pedals as a manufacturer would be convenient because it allows you the luxury of having a universal footpeg.  However, footpegs tend to be pretty tough and are not usually what breaks – the pedals do.  On all of our early rearsets (and many of our latest models), we made the decision to make our rearsets accept stock shift and brake pedals whenever possible.  Although this made for several challenges when doing our individual designs, the results were that riders could always have easy access to spares since most everyone has stock pedals around.

Next time we’ll talk about some of the more technical aspects of rearset design and we will explore the R6 rearsets in particular. If anyone has any questions/feedback on this or any other design topic, feel free to email us at

I want to start off this series by saying thanks to TJ Kastning for contacting Woodcraft about getting involved with  I always appreciate the opportunity to give back, as the motorcycle industry has been very good to me throughout the years.  Through a number of conversations TJ & I came up with an idea to produce a series of articles that discuss the design process for producing the products that many of you have on your motorcycles.  We will discuss what each product does, the primary design considerations and how these changes affect the bike.

My name is Eric Wood and I am a mechanical engineer, a 20 year road racing veteran, and  the President of Woodcraft Technologies Inc.  I am also the lead instructor for the Penguin Racing School, the oldest motorcycle racing school in the nation.  During my racing career I was fortunate to have ridden for several factory supported teams at the AMA level and was able to gain insight from some of the brightest minds in motorcycle racing.  I also spent several years racing the national circuit as a privateer, working on my own equipment and building motorcycles from the ground up.  During this time, I got to see the best (and worst) of both worlds, and that experience has been extremely valuable to me as I began to develop parts on my own.

We will spend a lot of time talking about function when it comes to the parts we will be breaking down in this series.  Aesthetics are a concern for everyone  (manufacturers and consumers alike), but in the end it is what the product does that really matters to me, and that really matters to most riders who hit the racetrack (both literally and figuratively).  In my opinion, if a product doesn’t do it’s job or it if falls apart the first time you crash, it’s worthless.

The primary design considerations that Woodcraft puts into every part are (1) function – does it do the job it is intended for, (2) durability – will this part hold up in a crash, and (3) repair-ability – making the part so that it requires less labor and is less expensive to replace.  We will talk about these factors with every product we discuss.  Especially today, riders cannot afford to replace expensive parts every time they fall down.

The other equally important consideration that we put into every part is marketability.  For many companies, this process consists of establishing if the a demand for the product and then making sure that they produce a part that is within the expected price range for that particular product.  If they build a decent part and advertise it well, then the product should sell.  At Woodcraft, we like to take this one step further.  The philosophy we adopted here is one that has been used by the very best companies in virtually every industry in the world.  If we can’t give you a logical and persuasive reason why you should buy our product over someone else’s, then we shouldn’t build it. There is no reason to build something unless you can improve on what is already available in the marketplace. Function, ingenuity (coupled with customer service) always win in the long run.

OK, enough about us for this installment.  Our goal in these features is provide both interesting insights into the design process but to also impart valuable information that the readers of R6blog can use.  For this month, we will discuss something that is on a lot of racer’s minds this time of year – sponsorship.

Sponsorship is an interesting topic that is treated differently by many companies.  The original concept, which is lost on many riders, is one of a partnership.  In exchange for a product discount (or free product for some top riders) the sponsored rider needs to take his/her belief in the company products (this is very important) and impart that belief in other riders.  In the end, the relationship should be one in which the rider provides a value that is in excess of the investment (discount or otherwise) made by the company.

There is no doubt that a portion of sponsorship is given out of pure benevolence and a love for the sport.  Many of us who make products intended for the track are current or former racers and we know what the costs are to run a successful program.  However, having stickers on the side of most bikes does not produce the couple thousand dollars in sales that it takes to pay for free product.  This type of sponsorship really makes sense on a team or rider that finishes up front at the highest levels of racing, or for an individual who has the ability to send someone a regular stream of customers.  Woodcraft was fortunate enough to have our products on several different winners of AMA races this season, and we will be using those results in our advertising next season.

For the club racer there are definitely still opportunities available.  Woodcraft, like most companies, has several different tiers of sponsorship.  The discount level is proportionate to both the results on the track (credibility), reputation and character (this is really important in this small community), and the ability to create sales.  I am a strong proponent of building long term relationships as this builds trust and a valuable identity with the companies you work with.  How credible is the endorsement of a rider who is with his 3rd helmet company in 5 years?  I only represent companies I believe in and many of my personal sponsors have been with me for 10 years or more.

It doesn’t matter if you have an outstanding resume or not, any proposal should always be framed in terms of what you can do for the company.  If there are no winning race results yet, then think of what else you can do.  I had one rider years back who was a mid pack guy, but I was continually impressed by his ability to send us customers our way every month.  It doesn’t take too many “John Smith told me to call you up and order this” calls to impress a sponsor.  Other ideas involve handing out flyers, writing up product reviews on forums, and watching out for posts & such that you think a company would want to know about.

For any company worth it’s salt, constructive criticism is often even more valued than lavish praise.  We all need testimonials, but I also really appreciate a rider who gives me real feedback on how to make my products better.  I work hard to get it right the first time, but no one is perfect.  You can quickly get in the good graces of a company if you are willing to help offer useful feedback that improves a product.

If you are sending out resumes for the first time, remember that you have about 15 seconds to make an impression.  Resumes do not need to be 30 pages long.  It’s better to be clear and right to the point.  Take a few minutes to make your presentation look great.  Focus on what you can do for the company and make your proposal one that makes sense fiscally.  Many great sponsorship deals start out as an entry level discount that grows to something substantial as you prove yourself.  If the company is one that you truly believe in (if it’s not, then pass on it), take whatever you get offered to start.  You’ll then have opportunity to prove that you are a valuable asset who exceeds their expectations (a rare person indeed) and build a better program for the future.

Until next time, enjoy the holiday season…..