Track School Advice

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by ganze, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. ganze

    ganze lone biker of the apocalypse

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    I am gearing up to participate in a Ride Smart motorcycling school sometime in the next months.

    I have a few questions: mostly related to budgeting.

    1. I am a novice: I know. I have ridden for a long, long time but need to learn about riding smooth and fast. My question is how long will I likely stay a novice if I went to three of these things a year for a few years. The answer has to do with what kind of riding suit I will buy.

    2. Question 2: How fast will these events use up my tires? Will a single weekend event mean new tires will be needed afterwards?

    3. Question 3: I ride a 2003 FZ1. I wish I had the funds for a smaller track bike but that's just not in the cards now. Aside of obvious issues with keeping a pretty fast bike under control, are there any unforeseen issues with riding a big, fast bike for my first track experience?

    I welcome any other input for a guy getting stuff set up for a track school:
    Thanks
    #1
  2. steiny

    steiny Adventurer

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    It is hard to say how long someone will be in the "novice " class ...... Don't worry about that -just ride and learn as much as possible.

    You will probably get a couple weekends (maybe 3 ) out of your tires.


    This is my track bike on Left ( 500 lbs of ZRX ) Your FZ1 will do you just fine on the track . ( it fun passing "sport bikes " )


    If you have not done so , Please read the Twist of the wrist books or Total Control By Lee Parks . It will pay off.

    Look for a used race suit , You can always upgrade later if you still want to do trackdays later.


    FYI , you will get hooked the first time,I learned more on my first track day than I did 10 years riding on the street.
    #2
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  3. Mtneer

    Mtneer Been here awhile

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    Don’t worry about which group you’re in, a good organization will bump you up when they think it’s time, the first time you go just get comfortable with a good line selection, practice good throttle control, be smooth then as your comfort level goes up, so will your pace, concentrate, have a plan, get a copy of Twist of the Wrist 2 or Sport Riding Techniques, they are good references and will help prepare you mentally to think about what you’re doing. Try to get as much feedback from the control riders. Your FZ 1 will be fine to use, tires should last 2-3 track days plus you can still use them on the street afterwards, the center get very little wear as compared to the sides, any of the hypersport tires, should take you through to next group, Q3’s are a good tire and many people use them, and don’t forget to use lower pressures on the track than the street.
    #3
  4. rd400racer

    rd400racer Long timer

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    Most important thing to do with your FZ (I had an 04, know them well) is to get your suspension dialed in as best you can. That is the most important item on your bike for the track at this point. I'm hoping that you made sure your brakes are in great shape too. Tires is the final part of the equation...buy the best you can afford and be prepared to face the fact that they will be shot.

    Do not have any expectation of being fast. When I started racing there was no such thing as track days...I took my initial class in the morning and was on a grid racing that afternoon. But the individual that taught the class was none other than John Ulrich...look him up, he's a legend among the road racing crowd. His magazine is Roadracing World! Anyway he was quite harsh with us, stating that none of us was going to amount to anything like a World Champion so go out and enjoy what you're doing but do so with realistic expectations.

    Watch your closing speeds at corners, that's where new riders get into trouble. I've raced medium weights my entire career (RD400, RZ350, FZR400, MZ Skorpion) but I did race a CBR900RR once and holey hell that thing got to the corners fast. And your FZ has more HP than that.

    And on your novice question: I've been to one actual track day in my life at Putnam Park and it was simply to get my son some track time before he started racing (he did one track day and went racing the next weekend). You will improve your riding skills tenfold by racing, not attending track days. Look for a cheap Kawi 250 that is already set up and race the damn thing. You'll learn more in one weekend than 10 years of track days. The WERA Forum is your best friend when it comes to anything racing. They even have the best motorcycle racing classifieds on the internet. Hell, I just bought another race bike off them last week. Most important, have fun. Let me know if there is any other questions you have...feel free to message me and I'll be glad to help. http://forums.13x.com/index.php?forums/bikes-for-sale.48/



    Oh, and depending on your size I've got a couple of race suits that I'd let go for cheap if they'll fit you.

    Neither of these suits fits us any more. We were both about 6' 190# at the time. Both are Teknics, the blue is a two piece.

    putnam.JPG
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  5. ganze

    ganze lone biker of the apocalypse

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    Appreciate the input.

    i would love to find a small track bike but that's just not in the cards for us. Maybe in a year or so, the wife is just not in tune with how the whole motorcycle thing would drive most of my decisions if I was not married to her. As it stands, we have a nice compromise that works to keep us happily married and also individually fulfilled. Give me a little time and I will add to the stable.

    But I hear what you are saying about racing being the best teacher. I also appreciate the offer of a suit. I am 6'1 and a solid 240: built like a tree trunk. If those suits fit like anything I have tried, which is a size 48 and 50 Sedici that neither would come remotely close to zipping around my chest and shoulders, I doubt they would work, but I really do appreciate the offer.
    #5
  6. rd400racer

    rd400racer Long timer

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    I totally understand what you're saying. Racing is a big commitment but you'll find that it really isn't much more expensive to race vs track days. But definitely check out the used gear on the WERA forum. I've bought everything from that site. Also the CMRA runs at a lot of tracks in Texas...might want to check them out.
    #6
  7. anotherguy

    anotherguy Long timer

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    #7
  8. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Now with more sarcasm

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    There are a lot of RideSmart videos online. Look at the information on their web site too. As has been said, prep your bike. Make sure everything is in good shape.

    For your first track day RideSmart will provide you a suit rent free - I would take them up on it. I wouldn't worry about anything except having fun, learning as much as possible and trying to be smooth and consistent.

    Don't do anything that puts additional pressure on yourself.
    #8
  9. Huzband

    Huzband Team Dirt

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    Concentrate on being smooth. Fast will take care of itself.

    Oh, and don't run off the track on your warm-up lap. Seriously, I've seen it. :lol3
    #9
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  10. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Souped-Up Weasel

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    1. Check Ebay every morning for a used riding suit. My first one cost $125 (I sold it for a case of Heinekin). My second one cost $50. You just have to be patient and keep your eyes open.

    2. I'd plan on getting new tires for this if I were you. They won't be "used up" after a track day. They'll be perfect for thousands of miles of street use.

    3. I've never had an FZ-1. but I did one track day on an S1000RR. It's frighteningly easy to generate appalling closing speeds on a liter bike. Be smart. Be careful.
    #10
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  11. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son? Supporter

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    If you're going to do a few track days/year, then that alone dictates the gear. Buy a quality leather suit. If you don't fit off-the-rack stuff, then save up and have one made. I promise you that if you ever have a get-off you will forget all about the couple of hundred bucks you saved by cheaping out on gear.

    As for how long you'll stay novice and how fast you'll use tires, that is entirely an individual thing. When I was a WERA expert and STT instructor I met people who went from novice to advanced in the same day. I also coached people who were in the novice group perpetually (but not many). The point is, don't over-think this. Track days are really fun. Get a suit, good race gloves, a real racing back protector, and good race boots with real lateral ankle support. Go ride. Have a ball. Repeat.

    Also 100% right re: Jim Moore's comment re: getting new tires.

    If you've read all of this and are thinking 'I can't possibly afford any of that' then I would suggest maybe doing one track day, with a plan to move on to something else from there. The sacrifice you'll make when you crash in half-assed gear is roughly a zillion times worse than saving up a few hundred bucks to do it right. My hope is that you've already decided to do all of this stuff, and if so I can't wait to read all about your super fun track day adventures! You'll have a ball, do things you never thought you could do, and meet great folks all along the way.

    Have fun!
    #11
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  12. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    1- You can be a novice for as long as you like. I like riding track days in the novice (slow) group. Riding in the novice group gives me a longer opportunity to set up for a corner to improve smoothness. Learning threshold braking is not something that has to be mastered in the first 3 corners. Take the time to learn slowly so as to savor the experience and build good habits.

    2- Tires will wear as skills increase. When skills increase, the load on the tires will increase and the tires will wear a little faster. In the novice group, new tires will last a bunch of track days. Take recorded tread depth readings before and after each track day to see what your wear rate is.

    3- A rider's ability to keep his/her bike under control is a direct reflection on how well the rider can keep himself under control. The ability to be able to force oneself to slow down to a speed that allows real learning is especially critical to the first experience. This is why track days will have control riders leading groups of first-timers for the first session of the day. There is a lot to learn the first time out. Before speeds can increase the rider needs to know which way the track goes as a whole. Instead of having each first-timer sort out everything all by himself for however long it takes, control riders can give a lot of help in showing the decent line at a speed that over several laps everyone will get a descent start for the day. Don't even think of going fast until later in the day.

    That said: There is a real distinction between track day riders and racers. Racers use track days to hone their skills right at 10/10ths which is where they race. Track day riders are often not riding at 10/10ths all the way around. One corner may be too problematic and scary for racing speed until a LOT of slow passes are made while learning what it takes to go faster there. Asking a much better rider but not a racer for help could be the way to go. Racers tend to use 'racing language' which is not always understandable to riders with lesser talents/experience. Some (older?) racers who have been around a long time and have been through helping first-timers many times might have the patience and the 'basic' language needed for novice riders and can be a great (near miraculous?) help. Learning threshold braking at slower speeds (60mph?) and moving up from there is not nearly as scary as trying to do it the first time from 140mph.
    I love track days and used to do one every year and always rode my bike to and from the track (20yrs). There are no trophies for speed at track days. You either come away with an increase in skill and satisfaction or not so much. Keep a journal of everything you did at your track days. Its the only way to know if you are getting better in ways that you prefer.
    The track is addicting and I know several riders who quit street riding for the track and racing. Lots of street riders like the track as it is a laboratory to test skills and learn better ways to ride w/o having to deal with traffic and police. The track will also let you get your ya ya's out well enough to appreciate patience on the street and the calming effect a good street ride brings. It takes time for all of this to happen. Enjoy the journey.
    fran

    ps; Best compliment I ever got at the track was, "You don't look fast... but you are."
    pps: If you ride the bike to/from the track, pack a set of 'not quite done' brake pads to get home on.
    ppps: When you get going fast enough to be thinking of buying better protective gear, there is no such thing as 'too expensive'. If you don't crash much, amortize it out every time you go to the track.
    #12
  13. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Now with more sarcasm

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    Just curious, which track?
    #13
  14. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    Ride slower to learn to go faster.

    Ride at a pace that lets you learn, not one that has you frightened, sloppy and nearly out of control. Testosterone drives us to do the latter, which is why the ladies tend to make better students.

    Tires will be fine at the slower pace. You may not even notice any wear the first time.

    Your skills and progress will dictate how long you stay a novice. For some, in fact most, novice is what you will always be. Few folk can really push the traction limits of their tires on a bike. At least with any skill or consistency. And that's ok. Doesn't mean you can't be a rather quick novice eventually.

    Good brake pads and fresh fluid ain't a bad idea for a track day/weekend/class. It's never fun to have fading brakes.

    As well the rest of the bike. Clean, squared away. If a sprocket is worn, or a radiator cap gasket cracked and such, get it fixed before you hit the track. It's not that a track is inherently hard on these things, just that it sucks to get flagged or have to drop out because of maintenance items and repairs.
    #14
  15. molochnik

    molochnik Cold Deist

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    I can only echo the advice provided. Like rd400racer, I also had to put new numbers on my bike to get on the track. WERA school in the morning and on the grid that afternoon.
    Don’t get too caught up in defining yourself as a given skill level...I can understand the impulse to do so.
    I raced an 86, then an 87 GSXR750 in WERA vintage and fought to not be last.
    For tires, Q3s are astonishing especially compared to the 591s I rode on in the 80s &90s. You don’t have to worry so much about warming up Q3s, especially at C class speeds.
    Get your bike in solid running order and learn how to get your suspension sorted. That’s going to be ticket to getting better. Bikes have become amazingly good and fast in the last 20 years.
    I ride the B class so I can haul ass but take a break if I need to and not be in anyone’s way.
    I dunno where you are but if close to southern CA, “Let’s Ride” is the best track day organization I’ve ridden with yet. They offer schools and have coaches to give you a hand. Very laid back and well run.
    In terms of leathers, I had a set made by Z custom leathers-$1800 for a two piece and they’re worth every penny. Crash tested them in turn 9 at Willow. If you’re hard to fit off the rack, custom is actually very reasonable when compared to something that may not fit very well.
    #15
  16. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

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    "Track Day Tires" are vastly better for your intended purpose than full-on R Compound tires. Track day tires are designed to survive lots of heat cycling at the cost of a small bit of traction, whereas R Comp tires are designed for maximum traction at the cost of durability. The heat cycling is half of the reason racers use tire warmers.

    Lots of good advice in this thread, I'll chip in my two-hundredths of a dollar...

    **On your first visit to any new track, follow the motto "Easy in, hard out."

    You can recover from bad lines or blown braking markers if you intentionally go into the corner at 85-90% instead of 95%.

    **The way I learn a new track is to break it into three successive concepts: where the hell does it go (rights, lefts, turn radii [increasing/constant/decreasing] straights, hills, and bumps), where do I want to start picking up my throttle (apexes & exits, pavement conditions), then and only then do I start trying to optimize my braking points.

    For one thing, if you get your line and throttle-up points in order FIRST, then you are less likely to have butt-puckering moments at turn entries because your entry speeds will vary less.

    **If you find yourself struggling - i.e. things feel like they're happening too fast, that means you aren't looking far enough ahead. It's really and truly as simple as that.

    Last one:

    **If you get lost at a corner - i.e. you haven't memorized, have momentarily blanked on the details, or think you're going in too fast, look for the entry and put your eyes on it. When you're ALMOST there, like 1/2~1 full second ahead) turn your head and put your eyes on the apex of the turn. When you're ALMOST there, lift up your head and look out of the turn, and put eyes on the exit. It won't be pretty, but it'll keep you from crashing.

    It's shockingly hard to make yourself turn and look when you're having an "uh oh" moment.

    On of the most educational things I ever did was make my damn head turn: On a couple of occasions, I thought I was goign way too fast into a corner, and I stared at my brake marker like it was Cara Delevingne nekid. The *INSTANT* I turned my head, I realized that not only was I not going to crash, but I'd braked MUCH too hard, and was actually entering the turn much more slowly than I had previously. That told me a couple of things: a) stay focused b) look ahead c) I was leaving time on the table on the brakes.
    #16
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  17. dirty_t

    dirty_t Been here awhile

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    1. It depends how fast you learn.
    2. It depends how fast you go.
    3. It depends on how fast you learn and go.
    #17
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  18. AwDang

    AwDang Long timer

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    As Ed Bargy so eloquently says; “when you get to the corner, TURN! Even if you think your going in too hot, turn!”
    Odds are better the bike will make the turn. If not, your closer to the ground and the low side hurts less.
    #18
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  19. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Souped-Up Weasel

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    As an aside, I've been to a bunch of schools, and Bargy was by far the best.
    #19
  20. ganze

    ganze lone biker of the apocalypse

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    I plan on attending Motorsports Ranch in Cresson, TX. Near Ft Worth.

    I appreciate all the input. Right now I am working on how I will get the bike to and from the track.

    I have an Avalanche and need a ramp, trailer or hitch carrier for the FZ1.

    Everything tends to add up expenses and I am working really hard to keep the wife away from the veto button.
    #20