Welcome to a new series of RSBFS articles outlining Track Days and how to get involved. Many riders have thought about this, but don't know where to start. RSBFS will walk you through the hows and whys about track days, bike prep and more. Join us for the journey!
Why should you consider taking it to the track?
The lure of a track day, often despite appearances, is not to prep you for a racing career. In fact, track days are not really about racing at all. Track days afford the rider an opportunity to ride further into the motorcycle's envelope of performance in a safe and controlled environment. Gone are the intersections, pedestrians, texting cagers, and the like. No driveways, no oncoming traffic, and no cops. Only a well-maintained track surface, the opportunity to attack the same set of corners multiple times, and the chance to build up some valuable muscle memory. Track days are all about learning. And having fun. And we all like to have fun, right?
Riders of all skill levels are welcome to track days. Riders of like ability and experience are grouped together to reduce the volatility of mixing pros with beginners. Most track day organizations employ skilled riders to participate in each session and ensure safety; if they see a rider struggling, they can pull them in for a discussion and some guided laps. The bigger schools offer a full curriculum over the course of day, including classroom sessions intermixed with track time. You are there to learn - in the safest environment possible. And to have fun.
A good track day is a bit like a bike gathering. Over the course of the day you will see all kinds of bikes (from cruisers to full-blown racers), meet more people from various walks of life (from pro racers to celebrities, from blue collar to white collar workers, from youngsters being encouraged by their parents to retirees), and generally have a great time doing so. Riding on the track is an addictive experience, and you cannot help but come off the course at the end of your session pumped and completely elated. Maybe you didn't ride quite as well as you would have liked, but you will still have had a great time.
Aside from the fun, the result of a track day is a rider with more confidence in his or her skills. Riding ability is enhanced through experience with braking harder, cornering faster, and generally riding in a more focused manner than you can on the street. The schools will run particular drills around use of the front or rear brake, body placement and weight shifting, and counter-steering maneuvers. Guided sessions help build your confidence and capability. Everything you pick up at the track is applicable to your daily riding on the street. Track days make you a better rider, regardless what you ride.
So are you ready to become a better, safer rider? Stay tuned as we help you select the right track day, and help prepare for your adventure!
Your homework assignment:
All track days require bike prep and safety gear. These topics will be covered in future articles, but you are welcome to peek ahead. Do you have the appropriate personal safety gear? If not, here is your chance to shop around a bit.
We will assume that your full face helmet is newer than 5 years old. If not, this is an easy place to start. You should not be riding on the street with an older helmet, so this is something you should address regardless of whether you participate in a track day. You need your head; invest wisely and take care of it. Update your brain bucket.
RSBFS recommends one-piece leathers for the ultimate in safety. There are several different brands, but Dainese is recognized as a longstanding, quality brand and is a safe choice. Shop for track day leathers here. If thousand dollar bills fall out of your pocket every time you sneeze, consider a newer air-bag equipped suit (although this is overkill for most riders).
A spine protector - while not required by every track day organization - should be considered mandatory. You only have one spine, and back protectors have come a long way in the past few years. Many suits will have provisions to incorporate a spine protector, making them both more comfortable AND safer for your key bits.
Boots are an area that you likely already have covered. You do NOT need the latest MotoGP lambskin leather whizbang booties with toe sliders. Sure they are cool, but if you already have a pair of sturdy motorcycle boots that fully cover your ankle save your pennies for something else.
Finally, take a close look at your gloves. Do they cover all of your fingers (no shorties allowed)? Are they - at minimum - double-layered at the palm and over the knuckles? If so, you are probably OK. However for ultimate in safety you should consider a gauntlet style glove that rides up higher and helps protect the gap between the suit sleeve and the glove. The gauntlet style integrates more tightly with leathers, and provides that added bit of protection in this critical area.
Pick your track day
Prep your motorcycle and your gear
What to expect on the day of your ride