Where to spend your time and money as a new track day rider
For riders just starting out in the track day world, there isn’t too much you really need to worry about to get out there and ride around.
Really it just amounts to having a working motorcycle, the correct safety gear and a bit of fuel.
Once the track day bug bites, though, as it does for many newcomers, the opportunities to start ploughing money into your newfound hobby are quite vast.
But aside from the usual things like track time, tyres, fuel etc, where should that money go?
Assuming you already have the essentials to actually take part in track days, here’s my advice for riders just starting out on where the best places are to invest their hard earned pennies moving forward.
Get Training Early
This could be a riding school, a day with a coach, or even just picking up a book off the shelf.
The more involved the trainer is in what you’re doing, the better, but even if you’re just taking the time to learn correct track craft from a book or other trusted resource, I’ll be a happy man.
Learning the right way to go about this sometimes dangerous sport is only going to better serve you long term. Knowing correct technique earlier in your track life is going to reduce the formation of bad habits, but also reduce the chances of you making mistakes and potentially having an accident.
Even if you’re not interested in becoming incredibly quick on the track, learning what is expected of us is just as much about safety as it is about going faster.
Our bikes and tyres can only supply so much grip to keep us the right way up, and spending some time and money on learning correct technique is what’s going to keep you well within those limits of grip moving forward.
Getting training is top of my list on where to invest your money early on.
Get Your Machine Setup for You
Not too far behind the first point above is getting your machine set up for your weight and riding style.
You’d have to be pretty lucky to have a machine working perfectly for you before you’ve ever turned a wheel on the track.
If you’re riding on stock machinery they’re likely going to be setup for road use, meaning they’ll be more soft and forgiving. Great for bumpy back roads, but not so much for razor sharp track handling.
Not to mention that the spring and damper settings will be for your middle of the road riders in terms of weight. Perhaps even for lighter riders if you’re riding a Japanese bike.
Also, if you bought your track bike from someone else it’s very possible that it’s going to have suspension settings that tailor to them.
Getting your machine set up by a qualified professional will mean that your bike is working best for you. It’s something that’s very closely linked to the above.
Suspension that’s working in the ideal range is going to mean it can better perform the tasks you’re asking it to do, all the while keeping you further within the limits of grip.
Just like getting training helps keep you inside these limits, a well setup bike does too.
Bike Bling isn’t Necessary
As much as the parts manufacturers won’t want you to realise it, the truth is that if you’re riding a well maintained and setup motorcycle on good rubber, you really don’t need much more to reach a very good level of riding on the track.
Go back as far as the late 90s and early 00s and you’ll find machines that will happily tear up the track in standard form.
Now let me be clear, by no means am I saying we should all be riding on relatively ancient machinery and that anything else is pointless.
I do not begrudge anyone for making upgrades to their motorcycles, or buying newer, more powerful machines. Some people buy better “stuff” simply because they can and they love doing it. This is completely OK with me because, after all, we’re all here to have fun and enjoy what we’re doing.
All I’m saying is that it isn’t necessary if your main goals are to become a faster, safer rider.
If that’s what you want to get out of track days, then spending your time and money in the previous areas I mentioned is what’s going to best set you up to be able to do that.
Ultimately meaning more fun and less time in the dirt.
Something we’re all striving for, right?
Get yourself sorted:
A properly set-up bike really helps. Ultimately, though, if you really want to make progress you need to weed out bad technique, so seek out good training and knowledge.
Dan Netting is a guest contributor to Biker & Bike.
For more of his track day and performance riding advice and help with technique, positioning and bike set up, check out lifeatlean.com