Get Your Street Bike Ready for a Track Day

Given that you own a piece of machinery that makes sportscars look slow and cumbersome, it makes sense to want to push your bike closer to its limits in what is a far safer environment than public roads. But before you head off on your first track day with your street legal motorcycle, ensure you follow the below advice to get the most from your day.

1. Transport Your Bike If You Can

Not all of us are lucky to have a vehicle or a trailer to take a motorbike on, but it’s certainly convenient if you do when going to the track. The main reason why it’s beneficial to drive to and from the track with your bike in tow is fatigue. By the end of the day, trust us, you will be tired and if you’ve got a long way home afterwards it can be dangerous. Transporting your bike to the track is also an insurance in some respects – if you do bin your bike you’ll have a method to get it (and yourself) home.

Get Your Street Bike Ready for a Track Day

2. Protect Your Bike

Many people fit crash protectors/frame sliders/oggy knobbs to their bikes which are often simple cylindrical pieces of steel that take the impact of a fall. Be wary though – there’s has been many a motorcycle that has slid from the tarmac onto the grass only to have the sliders dig into the dirt, flipping the bike over. It can potentially turn a cosmetic low side into a terminal crash that will see your bike destroyed. An alternative is to fit engine protectors which ensure the most expensive part of your bike doesn’t crack on impact but won’t cause your bike to flip if it hits the ground.

3. Bring Some Tools

Don’t go to a track on the assumption that your bike will work perfectly or that nothing will need adjustment. In addition to the tools that come with your bike, bring some extra spanners, sockets, screw drivers, pliers and whatever else you might need. It might be something as simple as adjusting clutch cables but if you don’t have the tools you’ll be hampered all day – or perhaps even unable to race.

4. Get Rid of Your Mirrors

Unlike on the street, your focus on a track day should only be in front of you. Your mirrors will therefore only distract you on focusing on braking points, turn in points and getting the correct line. If you’re worried about those behind you – don’t be. Just stick to your lines and faster riders will go around you and it’s there responsibility to do so safely. Most tracks will make it mandatory to fold your mirrors down or tape them up – but it’s much cleaner just to remove them for the day.

Get Your Street Bike Ready for a Track Day

5. Consider Some Spare Levers

If you do have to ride your bike to the track, consider bringing along a set of spare clutch and brake levers. Cheap ones go for around $30 on eBay and AliExpress which is very cheap insurance considering that they’re one of the most common parts to hit the deck when you go down. There’s nothing worse than missing out on sessions because you can’t replace a part that takes less than 20 minutes to swap out.

6. Give Your Bike a Check-Up

Your bike will be under much more stress than when riding on the street which means it needs to be within its specifications. Ensure your chain slack is correct, that your clutch cable is operating correctly and that your brakes are working properly. From the front to the back of your bike, ensure there are no loose nuts and if there are tighten them accordingly.

Get Your Street Bike Ready for a Track Day

7. Have Good Rubber

Your 20,000 kilometre old tyres don’t turn into slicks because you’ve gone down to the wear indicators. It’s critical that your tyres be in good condition because you’ll need plenty of grip when going around corners at speed. On the other hand, most riders don’t need top of the line rubber – good quality sportbike tyres that are made for the road are more than adequate for all but the best riders. You can lower your tyre pressures at the track too – a rough guide is about 34 psi at the front and 30-32 psi at the rear.

Motorcycle Track Day Tire Pressures – What Should You Set Your Tire Pressures At For The Track?

You’re hopefully well aware that you should set your motorcycle tire pressures according your bike manufacturers recommendation.  That generally means a tire pressure that strikes a balance between grip and tire wear and will probably range anywhere from 32psi to 42psi (generally with higher pressures in the rear tire). But when you’re at the track, your only concern is grip. So how do you go about setting the correct pressure motorcycle tire pressure for a track day?

In almost all instances, you’ll set far lower pressures for the track than for the road. That’s because the lower the pressure, the more the tire will deform at speed – deformation creates more friction between the tire and the track which in turns generates heat. And the more heat (up to a point) the more grip you’ll have.  Lowering tire pressures also creates a larger contact patch, which means more rubber in contact with the track and hence again more grip.

If you’re an occasional track day rider, there’s no need to get too scientific. Most people recommend 28psi to 30psi on the front tire and 30-32psi at the rear. Don’t be tempted to go any less than these figures, as you’ll eventually hit a point where the pressure is so low that it begins to slow steering and turning.

If you’re more regular at the track or even an amateur racer, you can start to experiment a bit more and try different combinations of pressures. But if you’re such a rider, it’s likely you’ll begin to use dedicated track tires (either slicks or extremely performance orientated grooved tires). Here, you can again take the manufacturers recommended advice, but this time of the tire manufacturer and not your bike manufacturer.

Michelin has a great website called Michelin Power, where it allows you to choose your bike, the track you’re racing at and even the general weather conditions to get a tire pressure recommendation. You’ll see recommendations of 23-32psi for race slicks as they’re properly designed for high temperature/high grip situations.

Motorcycle Track Day Tire Pressures

But if lowering your tire pressures at the track is such a good idea, why not do it for everyday riding too? Because if you do, your tires will firstly wear to quickly but worse, they’ll deform to a dangerous shape. On the track, you’ll be leaned over on the bike much more than on the road, where you’re probably upright around 90% of the time. By lowering your pressures, you’ll wear the middle of the tire out and ‘square off’ the tire. A squared off tire will completely change the handling characteristics of your bike for the worse. You’ll have more than enough grip for street use following the manufacturers recommendations.

And remember, regardless of when you’re setting pressures at the track or on the street, ensure you do it while the tire is cold or you’ll have the wrong pressures once your tires heat up – cold inflation pressure is key.