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A Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycle Track Days

For many motorcycle enthusiasts, the thrill of the open road is unmatched. The wind rushing past, the roar of the engine, and the sense of freedom are incomparable. However, sometimes the road’s limitations prevent riders from truly experiencing their machine’s capabilities. This is where a motorcycle track day can be your ticket to legal hooligan activities.

Restrictions, traffic, and safety concerns can often hold one back. But what if there was a way to break free from these constraints and truly push your motorcycle to its limits? Ever felt the urge to unleash the full power of your motorcycle, but the open road doesn’t offer the freedom or safety you crave?

Introduction: The Allure of Motorcycle Track Days

Motorcycle track days are events organized at racing circuits, where enthusiasts can ride their bikes without the usual restrictions of public roads. It’s the ultimate playground for riders looking to push their limits in a controlled environment.

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Why Opt for a Track Day?

Safety Benefits

On a track, there are no oncoming vehicles, no sudden stops, and no unexpected obstacles. The design of these tracks prioritizes rider safety, with ample runoff areas and marshals ready to assist. This is the place to push your skills. If you go down you should generally be fine if your wearing the correct gear.

Improve Riding Skills

Track days offer the perfect setting to hone your riding skills. With consistent turns and stretches, you can focus on mastering specific techniques, like perfecting your lean or tweaking your throttle control. It’s not easy to practice full force breaking and acceleration in road conditions. There could be gravel, oil, other cars and so many other variables it’s tough to actually just ride. Track days give you the chance to do it all in a fun place with like minded people.

Experiencing Full Throttle

Ever wondered what it feels like to hit the top speed of your bike? Motorcycle track days allow you to explore your motorcycle’s capabilities without the fear of breaking any speed limits. There is nothing better in the world than pinning your throttle and feeling the rocket beneath you take off. This is what your sportbike was designed to do and it loves every second of it. Get out there and experience greatness.

Preparing for Your First Motorcycle Track Day

Choosing the Right Track

Not all tracks are created equal. Research local circuits, consider their layout, and pick one that aligns with your skill level and what you aim to achieve. If you’re not sure where to start we’ve found the top 5 motorcycle tracks in the United States. These are great for beginners and pro’s alike.

Here’s a list of the top 5 beginner-friendly motorcycle race tracks in the USA:

  1. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Monterey, California): A world-renowned track, Laguna Seca offers a unique corkscrew turn that’s both challenging and thrilling. While it hosts professional races, it also has events and days specifically tailored for beginners.
  2. Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin): This 4-mile track is one of the longest in the U.S., giving beginners ample opportunity to learn and practice. Its long straights and wide track layout make it less intimidating for newcomers.
  3. Virginia International Raceway (Alton, Virginia): VIR offers multiple track configurations, with the “Patriot Course” being particularly suitable for beginners. It’s shorter and less complex than the main track but still offers a variety of turns and elevation changes.
  4. Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, Alabama): Not only is Barber a beautifully manicured track, but it also houses the Vintage Motorsports Museum. The track itself is smooth with a good mix of technical sections and fast straights, making it beginner-friendly.
  5. New Jersey Motorsports Park (Millville, New Jersey): NJMP has two tracks: Thunderbolt and Lightning. The Lightning track, with its fewer turns and shorter length, is particularly well-suited for beginners.

While these tracks are beginner-friendly, it’s essential for new riders to participate in motorcycle track days that offer instruction and to always ride within their limits. Track days specifically designed for beginners often provide instructors, controlled environments, and peer riders with similar experience levels, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

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Motorcycle Maintenance

Before hitting the track, ensure your motorcycle is in top condition. Check the brakes, tires, and fluids. Some tracks have specific requirements, so always review these beforehand.

Here’s a list of some other important motorcycle maintenance steps to consider before your motorcycle track day:

  1. Chain and Sprockets: Ensure the chain is clean, properly lubricated, and adjusted to the correct tension. Inspect sprockets for wear.
  2. Coolant Check: Ensure the coolant level is adequate. Consider a coolant change if it hasn’t been replaced in a while.
  3. Battery Inspection: Confirm that the battery is fully charged and securely fastened. Loose or corroded connections should be cleaned and tightened.
  4. Suspension Settings: Adjust the suspension settings to suit the track. This might include tweaking the preload, rebound, and compression based on your weight and riding style.
  5. Leak Inspection: Check the motorcycle for any oil, fuel, coolant, or brake fluid leaks. Address any leaks before heading to the track.
  6. Control Check: Ensure that all controls, including throttle, brakes, clutch, and gear lever, operate smoothly without any hindrance.
  7. Electronics Check: If your motorcycle is equipped with electronic aids like traction control, ABS, or selectable riding modes, ensure they are functioning correctly and set them according to your preference for the track.
  8. Exhaust System: Inspect for any cracks, leaks, or loose mountings. Many tracks have noise regulations, so ensure your exhaust complies with any decibel restrictions.
  9. Steering Head Bearings: Check for any play or notchiness in the steering. It should move smoothly from side to side.
  10. Wheel Bearings: Spin the wheels to check for any roughness or play in the wheel bearings.
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Essential Gear and Equipment

Safety first! Invest in quality gear instead of quality medical treatment. You should be prepared for your motorcycle track day and plan for the worst. Here’s a breakdown of essential gear for a motorcycle track day:

  1. Helmet: A full-face helmet that meets safety standards is a must. It should fit snugly and provide clear visibility. Look for helmets that are DOT, SNELL, or ECE approved. We have also have a motorcycle helmet buying guide if you’re not sure where to start.
  2. Leather Suit: A one-piece or two-piece leather suit provides the best protection against abrasion. Many come with built-in armor for added safety.
  3. Gloves: Track-specific gloves offer reinforced palms, knuckle protection, and extended cuffs. Ensure they fit well and don’t restrict hand movement.
  4. Boots: Motorcycle track boots extend above the ankle to offer maximum foot and shin protection. Look for boots with reinforced toe sliders and ankle support. If not boots try at least get riding shoes that have reinforcements around your ankles.
  5. Back Protector: A separate spine or back protector provides additional impact protection. Some riders also opt for chest protectors.
  6. Earplugs: The noise on the track, both from your bike and others, can be loud. Earplugs help reduce noise levels, protecting your hearing and helping you concentrate.
  7. Hydration Pack: Riding on the track can be physically demanding. A hydration pack ensures you remain hydrated throughout your sessions.

Remember, while the right gear can offer protection, nothing replaces safe and sensible riding. Always familiarize yourself with the track’s rules and etiquette, and never push beyond your comfort zone. Your safety gear is there as a backup, but your primary safety tool is always your judgment and skill on the bike.

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What to Expect on the Track Day

Registration and Briefing

Upon arrival, you’ll register and attend a briefing. This session covers the day’s schedule, track rules, and safety protocols. This typically does not last too long but make sure to ask questions if you are not sure about something. It’s better to know than not and get scolded later. Speak up and ensure you understand everything before starting.

Track Etiquette and Rules

Every track has its etiquette. Familiarize yourself with overtaking rules, flag signals, and other essential guidelines to ensure a smooth ride. Be sure to speak with other riders and locals to see any inside information. You can sometimes learn who to stay away from and who is a good teacher. This is also a good way to see what they recommend you to do and not to do for your first day.

Riding Sessions and Feedback

Most track days are structured with multiple riding sessions. Between sessions, instructors often provide feedback, helping riders improve. A great way to get direct feedback is by riding with a Moto Headset. Another more experienced rider can coordinate if your posture is correct. They can also communicate where you should hit the apex of a corner. This is the ultimate advantage for new riders trying to improve.

After Your Track Day: Reflect and Improve

Post-track day, review your performance. Identify areas of improvement and set goals for your next track outing. Remember, every track day is a learning experience! Try take videos with a go pro and see how you did. This is a good way to learn about how you took corners, where you braked, accelerated and more. Think about how you can improve based upon this and improve. No one get’s good overnight. Take your time and you will be hitting new personal records.

Conclusion

Motorcycle track days offer an unparalleled experience for riders. They provide a safe environment to push boundaries, improve skills, and truly understand your bike’s potential. So, gear up and hit the track – an adrenaline-packed adventure awaits!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I need a special license for track days?
    • No, most track days only require a standard motorcycle license.
  2. Can I rent gear at the track?
    • Some tracks offer gear rental, but it’s always best to check in advance.
  3. Is it compulsory to have a sports bike for track days?
    • No, riders can bring any type of motorcycle. However, ensure it meets the track’s safety requirements.
  4. How do I know if a track is suitable for beginners?
    • Research the track’s layout and seek reviews from other riders. Some tracks even offer beginner-specific days.
  5. Are track days only for aspiring racers?
    • Absolutely not! Track days are for anyone looking to experience the thrill of riding in a controlled environment.

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