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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-22-2008, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Trackday FAQ

Thought i'd write up something about track days for those of you who are interested.

PART 1

Taking it to the track

Introduction

I'm sure most of us have watched a race or two in our lives--seeing guys leaned over, dragging knee at 130 mph, mixing it up with 20 other riders at Laguna Seca or Sears Point. From the couch, it seems like a world away from our everyday reality of daily commutes, watching out for left-turners, or hoping we don't get fix-it tickets for the plate mounting on our undertail.

But the reality is, is that anyone can take their bike to a real race track, pull out all the stops, and try to do laps as fast as they are capable. You don't need to be Valentino Rossi, or even an accomplished canyon rider to do it. And once you start, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it...

Why bother?

Seasoned canyon riders have probably seen enough smashed ABS plastic, Meatwagons, lifeflight choppers, cops, debris, and otherwise unpleasant things on the road. I know the big turning point for me happened last summer, when two of my friends crashed into each other head on, on ACH (Angeles Crest Highway, a legendary road in the SoCal area). Now, no one really knows what happened, and I don't know who's to blame: but i do know that both of these guys were not out-of-control idiots with a deathwish. Both were level headed riders, on a road they rode almost every weekend--yet both of them are still recovering from their injuries. They'll never be the same again, though both are trying to get back into the saddle. Ever since then, every bad accident i hear of on ACH reminds me that the canyons are not a place to test the limits of traction, try to get a knee down, or work on anything beyond the most simple of riding principles.

There are too many unknowns, too many variables, and too much potential for serious injury to even come close to touching your limits as a rider.

And if you're lucky and are still in one piece after riding like a suicidal maniac, the police are all too happy to remind you that there's a real cost for doing it.

But at the track, there are no cops, no unattentive drivers drifting into your lane, no signals, cross traffic, opposing traffic, and there's always EMT on-site. I'm not saying you won't go down--but a lowside at the track is much less dangerous than a lowside into opposing traffic and an impromptu date w/ a big rig. There are no speeding tickets, no squids trying to wheelie for you, and no blown out tires in your way. you can go as fast as you can manage, and see just how much speed/lean you can apply. you can push yourself and your bike, without worrying too much about the consequences. But don't think just being at a track will make you superman--you can fall, because physics is still physics.

What you need

generally, any sporty bike in good mechanical condition is fine for a trackday. Mechanical prep is pretty easy:

1. drain your radiator and replace the anti-freeze mix with distilled water and water wetter

2. make sure your brake fluid isn't ancient and your brakes work fine.

3. make sure your chain is correctly adjusted

4. no sticky throttle, dangling bits, and other common sense things that should seem pretty apparent.

5. remove your mirrors and tape up your lights/signals

you also need a leather suit (1pc or fill circumference zippable 2pc), gloves, boots, full face helmet, and a back protector.

Last edited by badmonkey; 07-22-2008 at 08:27 PM.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Part 2

Depending on where you live, there are probably some track day organizations around you who put on trackdays. I'll include some links to resources that list the trackdays in some regions at the end of the post. Once you find out who puts on trackdays, go to their website, pick a date, pay for your spot, and get ready for the day. Read their FAQ and rules (just to make sure that you're ok on bike prep--in case my list was incomplete or too involved) and start counting down the days.

In general, a trackday will cost around $150 for 1 day of riding (depending on the track, the day, the group, etc). Most of the time, every hour of total tracktime is split amongst three groups into 20 minute "sessions"--so for your $150 you get about 160 minutes of track time. To put that into perspective, that's about 80 laps at a long track like Buttonwillow, 110 laps at a shorter track. It's a lot of seat time. I doubt that you could even ride that much (b/c i know i can't)the value for your $ is high.

Tires

Looking at the first post, you'll notice that i didn't mention tires. Tires are a huge part of going to the track, and riding in general--and they generally represent the highest consumable cost for this hobby. Your tires need to be in pretty good shape, with lots of tread depth. They do not need to be DOT race tires or slicks, you can run on the track with pilot powers or BT-014's or Metzeler M3's if you want--but again, they shouldn't be worn down and on their last legs.

I won't get into what tires are best, because everyone's preferences are different when it comes to that--but i will suggest that if you have a street bike and want to keep it that way, but also want to ride alot of track that you pick up a spare set of wheels. one for track rubber and one for street rubber. it makes it alot easier on the wallet when you switch to stickier tires that are just for the track.

Transport

The most common way to get your bike to the track is to throw it in the back of a pickup truck or cargo van. Riding to the track is never recommended, because you'll have alot of stuff you need to bring with you, like chairs, an ice box, clothes, etc etc--and it probably won't fit in a tank bag. If you don't have access to a truck/van, you can rent a trailer from U-haul or borrow a trailer from somewhere. a small bike trailer is small enough and light enough to be towed by most sedans and SUV's.

Tying down a bike in the back of the bed will be tricky at first, but it'll get easier with practice. A wheel chock makes life much easier for the loader--but they are either expensive or require some work to install. Ratcheting tie-downs also help alot. I won't get into the gritty details--but i will say that i prefer tying down bikes by the triple tree. Canyon dancers always have spotty results for me.

Fitness, Nutrition, and Day of

As the trackday approaches, make sure you start hydrating early. Chances are, it'll be hot, and your 20lb leather suit and helmet are only going to make you sweat more. I like to begin hydration 3 days before the event, continuing to do so throughout the day of. Also, make sure you're eating healthy and get enough rest. Get to the track early, 1 hour before the rider's meeting and setup your space in the paddock. Being rushed and flustered can distract you, and you want to be alert and ready for the morning meeting, where the trackday org/track personnel will discuss important rules with riders.

Track riding is some of the most strenuous physical and mental activities around, so don't take it lightly!

Your Riding

No one expects you to be lightning fast at your first track day. It will take some time to learn the track, and the right line--so basically, don't put so much pressure on yourself to be "Fast." Instead, keep an open mind and soak up as much advice and information as you can. Concentrate on riding safely and smoothly, and the rest will come to you with time.

I strongly suggest that you enroll in a "New Riders" Class, as many track orgs offer something of that kind. They'll go over the basics of cornering, passing, being passed, performance riding and give you pretty personalized feedback throughout the day. This is the FASTEST way to get fast--and is a great resource that you should take advantage of. Also, if you find that you like this whole trackday thing, there are schools that will focus on helping you get faster, like Jason Pridmore's STAR school, or Keith Code's California Superbike School.

What's important is that you ride safely--which doesn't mean slow, necessarily, but within your limits. You can be hurt at the track, as motorcycle riding is a dangerous sport, so don't engage in stupid activities like playing grab-ass with your friends down the front straight. Also, don't think of track days as racing--you're not there to be faster than anyone, and there are no prizes for First Place. You're there to have fun, get faster, and do it in a place that's safer than your local canyon.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 08:06 PM
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Pretty good write up IMO! We'll make this a sticky.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-04-2008, 10:06 PM
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nice monkey.. i have been thinking about going to jennings gp and trying it out. Your info is very helpful..
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-21-2008, 03:18 PM
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Wait a sec - where are the links?
Quote:
I'll include some links to resources that list the trackdays in some regions at the end of the post.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-21-2008, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-13-2008, 11:04 PM
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Thanks for the info. I'm hoping to do my first track day next summer at Loudon, New Hampshire. I gotta start saving up for it, it ain't cheap!
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2009, 02:46 PM
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Good info! I'm hoping to goto a trackday sometime!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-09-2009, 02:01 PM
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What do you set your tires at for the track?

I heard 32psi in the front at 30psi in the rear. How would you set yours and why?

I'm riding an R1 if that makes a difference.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-09-2009, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tdubb View Post
What do you set your tires at for the track?

I heard 32psi in the front at 30psi in the rear. How would you set yours and why?

I'm riding an R1 if that makes a difference.
what tires are you running? every tire is a little different.

cold pressures, i generally run on:

Bridgestone BT-003 DOT race: 29F/26R
Dunlop D209GP-A: 29F/25R (iirc)
Pirelli Dragon Supercorsa DOT Race: 30F/26R

But, every tire differs. for instance, i think the recommended pressures for pilot power 2ct's is something like 34F/36R--but 2ct's are very strange in that way.

06 Daytona 675 (track)
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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there's a kick ass list of trackday providers, nationwide, here:

http://www.socalmoto.org/forum/showthread.php?t=6338

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 01:54 AM
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I'll update this a bit on things to bring with you to the track that are necessities/helpful.

At a minimum you will need extra gas, at least basic tool to work on your bike. Duct tape/painters tape, zip ties, rear stands are super helpful, tire gauge, I have a battery operated air compressor that also helps if you let a bit too much air out. Ez up shelter or similar is nice, a cooler with plenty of water/snacks, trailering is way easier than in the back of a truck. I bring oil/brake fluid/mighty vac for brake adjustments. Folding chairs are also great for during sessions. I was so damn tired last track day I missed the final session.


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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-30-2011, 04:13 PM
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this was an awesome thread! I learned tons from your posts and now am that much closer to getting on the track.
I did have one question though concerning the suit. I have a Full fledged leather racing jacket already, if i got bottoms to go with it does that count for a suit? Or are suits a completely separate entity?
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-13-2011, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Razor View Post
this was an awesome thread! I learned tons from your posts and now am that much closer to getting on the track.
I did have one question though concerning the suit. I have a Full fledged leather racing jacket already, if i got bottoms to go with it does that count for a suit? Or are suits a completely separate entity?
This:

Quote:
Originally Posted by badmonkey
you also need a leather suit (1pc or full circumference zippable 2pc)
So if your jacket can zip into leather pants to become a "one piece" then that would be sufficient. (Correct me if I'm wrong though)
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-13-2011, 11:03 PM
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Your suit needs to zip around the waist to count as a full leather suit.


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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-19-2011, 06:06 PM
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Do you have a complete list of prep needed for the bike? Such as what needs to be safety wired and such.

Also, why replace the coolant in the bike with distilled water and water wetter? I was under the impression that a good 50/50 mix of water/anti-freeze was more effective at cooling an engine.

This does sound like it could be a useful way to tune a bike. A lot of FI bikes have those O2 sensors built into the exhaust now, and a Power Commander V is one of the most tunable controllers I have seen.

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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 07:15 PM
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Thunder Hill Track Day

For anyone looking for a track day, see below. This track day from Superbike-coach.com and is for EVERYONE...from cruisers to sportbikes...groups made accordingly and prep work is minimal. The date is March 20th, 2016. For more info, go to the link below or visit their website at:

superbike-coach.com

superbike-coach.com/portfolio-item/track-day
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