Here at Motorcycle.com, we have a decidedly performance-focused approach to motorcycling. So, it should come as no surprise that we’re huge fans of track days. Yes, track riding is often seen as the gateway drug to becoming a club racer, and that does happen. However, the majority of riders stick with track days as their motorcycle fun time. There are so many measurable benefits to track riding that we can’t see why every sporting motorcyclist doesn’t go to them. So, in an effort to spread the track day religion, we’ve put together this list of reasons why you should sign up for a track day.
As always, use the comments to tell us what we’ve left out.
Yeah the image of motorcyclists is of the rugged individualist out there on two wheels. While there is some truth in that – when it comes to the rest of the non-motorcycling world – riders tend to congregate together. The social aspect of riding is even more intense as you start track riding. Getting to know other riders with the same performance interest can be the beginning of great friendships. And nothing compares to the adrenaline-fueled conversations after a track session after you spent several laps dicing with a buddy.
There’s no better way to suck the fun out of a nice ride than to see flashing red and blue lights. On the track, you don’t have that problem. The only rule about speed is that you don’t want to ride over your head and crash.
While buying a set of full leathers for track riding can be an impediment to getting on the track for the first time, some track organizations will let new track riders in what is typically called the C Group run with textile riding suits if they meet the organization’s standards. Ask. Still, you know you will ultimately want full leathers, and like your first ride on your first motorcycle, you’ll never forget the moment you slip on your first set of leathers.
On the street, even if you’re familiar with the road, every corner holds the potential for surprise. At the track, you’re going through the same series of corners repeatedly, allowing you the opportunity to work on your technique for that particular type of corner. Also, you’ve got corner workers to warn you with a yellow flag if something has happened that requires you to be cautious.
Modern tire technology has transformed what the average rider can do on track days, making the event faster, more exciting, and safer, too. No matter how long you’ve been riding, there is something uniquely satisfying about looking at a rear tire that has been shagged all the way to its edges. Go ahead, pluck one of those little balls of rubber off the edge. Roll it between your fingers and enjoy the moment.
Well, you probably won’t feel this at the track, but the next day you may feel it when you get out of bed. Non-riders will never understand how physical it is to ride a motorcycle quickly on the track. Too bad; it’s their loss. The only thing better than waking up with tight muscles the day after a track day is feeling that stiffness go away as you ride the first session of your second day on the track.
Don’t worry, we’ve all experienced it on the track. You are absolutely railing through a corner – only to have someone on a smaller, much less powerful bike pass you on the outside like you’re standing still. Maybe you use your superior horsepower to reel them in on the straights, but gradually, his “inferior” machine leaves you behind. No, you don’t need that intake upgrade and full exhaust you’ve been planning on; maybe you should take that money and invest it in something that will pay dividends every time you ride, like an advanced riding school to upgrade your skill set.
Like the cooked rubber on the tire tread, there’s something satisfying about a set of well-scuffed knee sliders. Over time, you’ll find that you start to use them differently. Initially, you’re just trying to get the dang things onto the ground. As your technique progresses, they become the sensor with which you track how much lean angle you’re carrying.
Track riding, while tons of fun, is really about advancing your skill set. There’s no safer place to learn how to handle those corners that you’ve been struggling with or get up to speed on a new technique. If you make a mistake, you’ve got plenty of runoff room to gather your bike back up and go around to experiment again. You can’t do that on the street.
As we said above, the ultimate goal of track riding is to become a better street rider. Yes, some folks go on to become racers, and that’s cool. Realistically, though, most track riders are happy to keep on just track riding. The payoff is more than all the items included in this list. When you hit the street, you’ll find that you’re able to process more information about your riding and the speeds seem lower. The two of those combine to make your street time safer and more fun since you have more tricks to handle what the road throws at you.
Go ahead, give track riding a try. We guarantee that you won’t regret it. In fact, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t start doing it sooner.