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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene
Motorcycles are fast and fun, more so these days than ever. If you have a sport bike capable of speeds of 150 or better, it's no fun to ride in today's congested streets and highways. It's not so much speed that kills, more like differences in speed.
But we have a need for speed.
If you come up behind a cage that's doing 50, when you are doing 150, assuming the cage driver is paying attention, you'll travel almost 600 feet between one look in the mirror and the next. Chances are, he'll never see you coming, and with sloppy driver habits, he could change lanes, stop short, open a door or throw a breech block out the window as you pass. Not to mention, fast-weaving sports bikes really PO the citizenry.
The best information I saw on track days is Lee Parks chapter in Total Control, the book. It has great information on everything from finding a track to getting you and your bike ready, and you will need to brush up on his cornering technique to keep up with the pack at the track.
Track Day Locations
For locations of track days, see kawiforums.com or sportrider.com or just search online for track days near your town. You could also ask around or check your local track web site. Prices vary, expect to shell out something like a c-note.
Prepping the Motorcycle
You will have to prep your bike for the track. Lee also covers this, or see sportrider.com. Different track day organizations have different requirements, but you may have to tape or remove glass and plastic lenses and mirrors, remove parts like kickstands, wire oil drain plugs and other critical fasteners, replace coolant with water or other items as specified by the track day organization. It's usually a good idea to plan to trailer your bike to the track day, you'll be glad you did if you have a bad crash.
This prep is in addition to an especially tough pre-ride inspection, and you might end up doing an extra oil change or accelerating regular PM. You'll need plenty of meat on your tires and brake shoes. The track organization will specify tire pressures, which will probably be on the low side, and you may want to get good hybrid road/track tires.
The organization will specify protective gear, see our mitigation chapter for that. At a minimum, you'll need a Snell-approved full-face helmet, a decent suit of leathers (or joining combinations) with full armor, boots and gloves. When it comes to prepping yourself, maybe you'll need some track-based training. See our national training map for availability near you.
The track day organizers may provide various training and/or mentoring services, and may organize riders by skill level and impose other disciplines.
Fun, fun, fun...
You will learn more than you ever thought you could about you and your bike, and have as much fun as is possible with your clothes on.
Track days are addictive. It's a short step to having an extra bike for track days, stripped for action. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Satisfying your need for speed on the track will make you a better rider, because of the skills you learn, and because maybe you mightn't be bothered to push it so hard on the street.
There are those who caution against track days and sports-style training: see msgroup on the subject. We say: if you are going to ride fast, do it on the track.