So the decision has been made. I am now going to buy a bike, get a set of leathers, road race boots, a fresh full face helmet and take myself to a track day at the nearest road course, Carolina Motorsports Park here we come! At EDM we have a weakness for buying rough bikes and restoring them to their former glory, or making them into purpose built bikes for the type of riding we plan to do. This track bike would be no different. We didn’t have a particular bike in mind, the only criteria was that it had to be a middle weight. I’m a bit afraid of too much horse power. The bike of choice would need to be either a 600 or a 750 and the price tag could be no more than $1,500. Our total budget for the bike was $2000, with $300 of that going to tires. The idea behind the price was to keep it low just in case I crashed, the financial blow wouldn’t be too great. If you decide this is the sort of thing you want to do and have a larger budget, it will make finding the right bike quite a bit simpler. Our budget is very low which means we will have to search high and low plus find something in pretty rough condition, or a bike with no title, or both which kind of sucks but it is what it is. On Craigslist I found several beat/ stretched GSX-R’s in my price range. I also found a few CBR600’s, however they were also stretched. But I found nothing that looked to be our candidate. I did find a few SV650’s which would have been great but they were just outside my budget.
In between the hours spent scouring Craigslist for a bike, I did some research into what it takes to actually get on a track. It’s actually really simple. From what I have found you can either go to a performance school where they formally instruct you on how to ride on a track, some even provide the bike and leathers. Look for Keith Code California Superbike School. Or you can do a “Track Day” where you go out in groups and run laps, it’s a bit like an open practice day on a MX track – but not really, see below. In my searching I found there are many companies who run Performance Courses and several who run Track Days at road courses across the US so it should be easy for you regardless of the state you live in.
A friend of mine has been doing track days for several years and he suggested I go to one that Performance Riding Experience (PRE) puts on. They are on the Eastern Side of the US and they run track days once a month at three or four tracks in my region. Check their website for more details Performance Riding Experience. It looks like getting onto a track will prove simpler than finding a cheap bike.
While finding a Track Day to participate in is pretty simple, it turns out it is quite a bit different from showing up at a motocross track, paying your 25 bucks and having at it. Track Day riding is run very differently from track riding on a motocross bike. To start with your bike has to go through the scrutiny of tech inspection. You can’t run coolant in your radiator and the oil drain plug has to be safety wired. Additionally, mirrors must be removed and lights have to be covered with tape. Beginner/ novice riders have to attend mandatory riders meetings/ classes before and after each session and there will be two or more control riders who go out with your group each time. One rides at the front of the group to set the pace and one rides at the back as a sweep in case anyone has trouble keeping pace. As the day progresses the control riders move around and will provide feedback about your riding, entirely different from a track day at a MX track. Most of the open practice days I have gone to at MX tracks are a free for all with the grouping determined only by displacement not skill – it’s actually kind of sketchy…