Top 10 Motorcycle Track Day Tips
So you’ve decided to take it to the track. A wise choice no doubt, as track riding offers something the street doesn’t: forgiveness. Where else can you get the opportunity to push your limits as a rider with medical services and car-free runs offs? Nowhere but the track – and be sure, while there you’ll meet people and bikes of all shapes and sizes.
But now that you’ve found a track, and secured your date with the organization of your choice, let’s talk about some basics that new track day riders should be aware of. Here are our Top 10 Motorcycle Track Day Tips.
1. Be Prepared
Don’t wait until the day before to inspect your motorcycle. Go over every inch: Are your tires in good condition? How are your oil levels? Did you oil your chain recently? Are there any leaks? Make sure everything is snug and no loose bolts lay in wait for you because the track has a nasty habit of making sure they hamper your day.
Bring enough food and water to keep you going throughout the day. Tracks are nowhere near civilization – they have a strong tendency to be in hot, miserable areas, especially in Southern California. That means you’ll need to take in extra fluids as well as meals to keep you going. Poor hydration and nutrition will impact your riding, causing extra fatigue that the track doesn’t allow for. When in full gear, in nearly triple digit summer temperatures, you will absolutely need it.
Study the track. All organizations have a topographic map of the track design. Learn it. Know it. Don’t walk into the situation blind.
2. Read the Rules
This seems simple but every track riding organization has its own requirements. There is nothing worse than showing up to a track day, especially your first one, and being ill-prepared. Make note of check in times, and if the organization recommends being 15 minutes early, be 15 minutes early. Be aware of inspection requirements and gear requirements; it is the track-day organization’s job to call you on it. Often times the organization you’re riding with will require all lights to be taped and mirrors removed, some will require tie wire on oil filters and other components, some might require decibel killers on exhaust systems or glycol free coolant. The lengths to which you need to go depend on the track and the organizers, it’s up to you as the rider to know what’s required.
Even as a veteran, the rider meeting is something good to take part in and absolutely essentially for someone new to track days or that specific track. Again, each track has their own rules, flags and guidelines regarding passing. This is where you’ll learn those rules, break them and you could be forced to sit the day out.
5. Know Your Riding Level
Taking on a track day will, without question, make you a better rider. But for the uninitiated, starting in the novice class is key. It doesn’t matter if you happen to be one of the fast guys through your local canyon, fast on the track and fast on the street don’t compare.
As a new rider, many track day organizations strongly encourage even the most basic rider development schools and though you may be an experienced rider, well aware of more advanced techniques in riding, there is no substitute for being able to have the guidance of professional riders. They will target in the most cordial way possible and quite literally aid you with every corner, every braking point, throttle control tip and riding mechanic available.
6. Spare Parts and Tools
Chances are you’re into motorcycles a bit, if you’re going to invest money into this. You might have swapped out your foot pegs, maybe a spare set of clip ons. Bring them and along with that, all the basic hand tools that you need that’ll allow you to take care of a quick fix if need be.
Fuel is often not sold at tracks, you’ll need to bring an appropriate gas can. Generally, on a good day, plan for burning through one to two tanks of fuel. That’s very subjective but having a fun day interrupted by running around the paddocks begging for fuel is never entertaining.
Check your tire pressure often. When you roll your bike off the truck, set your cold pressures and throughout the day, set the tire pressure that you wish to maintain. All tires are different and have their own sweet spot for aggressive riding which you’ll have to research on your own but be aware: Improper tire pressure can have dire consequences.
So bring a pump and a quality pressure gauge. If you aren’t using tire warmers be conscious of that. Don’t pull out into your session and hammer the throttle on. Let your tires get some heat in them before really diving in.
8. Make Use of the Knowledge Around You
No matter the skill level of a rider, everyone is there to help. Track days are inherently positive places and if you have questions, ask your instructor, an official or simply someone in a faster class than you. If life is about experiences, than you’re missing out by not taking advantage of the encyclopedic knowledge that many riders have.
9. Ride Your Own Ride
Yes, it’s true. Even at the track, those mantras still have their place. While riding beyond your limits will allow you to meet some of the fine medical staff on hand, who by the way are incredibly great people, it unfortunately means that you get to meet the medical staff. So don’t worry about lap times, don’t worry about getting passed and only focus on your form. You’re there to learn.
10. Have Fun!
Make the best of it, keep a cool head and don’t let your ego trip you up. If you can follow these guidelines you’ll be well on your way to leaving with the best possible outcome, taking what you’ve learned here and applying it to every aspect of your riding outside the track.