Preparation for first track day

California Superbike School BMW K 1200 S track day
  • In our first in a series on beginner track days, British blogger Dan who writes the popular Bike Track Days Hub, gave us his advice on whether riders should take the track-day plunge. If you were convinced, he now offers advice on how to prepare your bike for your first track day:

If you’re thinking of getting your first taste of track day action, you’re likely looking down two particular avenues.

The first may be to hire a bike for the day. This is a common practice and is often taken by riders who have concerns about damaging their own pride and joy.

While hiring a machine for the day acts as a great insurance on your own steed, there are many good reasons as to why you should consider taking your own set of wheels out there.

For those riders, here in this article I want to cover a few areas of note that will help you prepare before you set off, as well as get sorted shortly before hitting the track.

Before Setting Off

It’s worth going over the bike to make sure it’s in good working order.This is worth doing a few days in advance in case you need to buy anything.

You want to check:

  • Chain – Check for slack in the chain and adjust accordingly.
  • Brake pads – Have you got plenty of meat left on the brake pads? If not get them replaced, but not with cheap rubbish. Stock pads will be fine for a track day.
  • Oil – Is the oil at the right level? Track days use more oil than road use so if it’s looking low (very unlikely) top it up, or if it’s black get it changed.
  • Check fixings – Make sure everything is tight. Things like fairing bolts, calliper bolts etc that can come undone through vibrations should all be checked.
  • Levers in comfortable position – I imagine this will have already been done if you ride all the time, but make sure they are in a comfortable position as you’ll be using them all day. Everyone is different but having them positioned so you don’t have to bend your wrists will see you on the right lines.
  • Tyres in good condition – Tyres take the biggest pounding on a track day. As long as your road tyres are not too old (less than 4-5 years) and have plenty of tread they should easily provide plenty of grip for a day’s track riding. And no, you don’t need super sticky rubber. Road tyres are fine.

track day oilThings to do on the day

You’ve arrived at the track, now what?

Use the time in the morning to prepare your road bike for the track. It’s ideal to get there with plenty of time to spare so you can get this done.

  • Tape up lights – Tape up your lights front and back to help keep the glass/plastic intact in the event of a crash. Taping the rear light completely also covers up unwanted brake light flash to riders behind you (particularly unnerving mid corner).
  • Tape up or take off mirrors – The only purpose of this is to stop you looking in them when you’re on the track. You only want to focus on what’s going on in front of you, not what’s coming up behind.
  • Check tyre pressures -You will want to have the right tyre pressures for track use, this will mean lowering them. This is because your tyres get to higher temperatures on track with the greater loads put on them, so having tyre pressures suited to the road will make them feel like they’re over inflated on the track. Ask the tyre specialist there on the day what tyre pressures he would recommend for your bike and tyre combination as different manufactures will have different recommended pressures.
CycleAT tyre pressure monitor - nitrogen
Check tyre pressures

Things to take

Assuming you’re riding to the track, and assuming you haven’t got 19 different sets of panniers, you’ll most likely have a rucksack to take your bits with you. With that in mind, here are some of the more important things to take:

  • Food and Water – Important to help keep energy levels up and dehydration at bay.
  • Duct/Electricians Tape – It’s highly advisable to tape up mirrors and lights on the day. Pack this so you can do it in the morning at the track.
  • Tools –Take the necessary tools to remove trim pieces, mirrors, or for other planned jobs. Though do note you’re never short of finding the right tool on any given track day, so don’t worry if you can’t bring it.
  • Documents/Driving Licence etc – Be sure to check what your circuit and/or organiser require for you to take part on track.
  • Visor wipes/Rag – Keep those bugs off your visor by having something to wipe your visor with throughout the day.
  • All of the above should be all you need to go out and have a fantastic experience on the track with your own machine.

Simply take note of the advice here and you’ll be golden. Track days really can be done very simply and you don’t need a van full of tools and gear just to enjoy yourself.

Use the tips above to help you best prepare, after which all that’s left is to get out there and enjoy yourself!

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