Riding on the street is fun, but there’s the whole speed limit thing, dirty roads, distracted drivers, and traffic. So the question that comes to mind is, how can I test the potential of my bike and riding skills in a safe controlled environment? The solution is, doing track days at your local track!! This is a controlled, safe environment where you can hone your street skills, and really open up your bike and learn it’s full potential. Almost every track has some kind of riding program or track day event. Here we will go over some basic stuff that will get you ready to tackle your first track day.
What gear do I need?
Safety gear is required by all track day providers.
- Helmet (full face)
- Leathers, full or two piece (Jeans or Doubled up Jeans are NOT OK)
- Gloves (full gauntlet)
- Boots (full height)
You can find some great deals on ebay to keep the cost down. Sometimes a vendor is available that will rent all these things so you will not have to buy them. Renting gear is a great way to test the waters before taking the big plunge. Check your track for specifications and rental opportunities. We have links to safety gear in our speed shop as well. Be sure to check out some of our great deals on new stuff.
Do I need to do any prep to my street bike?
Most track day providers will make you tape your turn signals, tail light, headlight and license plate. Wiring your kickstand up is also a required for some organizations. The faster the group you run in the more safety prep there will be. In the advanced group you will be required to drain your antifreeze and replace it with a product like water wetter. This makes it easier and safer to clean the track if you do take a spill. Check your track for the exact rules before you head out.
How do I get my bike to the track?
There are many different options for this dilemma. A small 4×8 utility trailer with a front wheel chock works well.
The Baxley front wheel chock is a great tool for track days and for hauling your bike. It can mount in the back of a pick up truck or on a trailer. It secures the front wheel by cradling it after it goes in. This unit also works great out of the truck or off the trailer to hold your bike upright at the track or in your workshop. Another method, although a bit more pricey, is the pitbull restraint system. Chad and I personally use this system to haul our track bikes. If the Pit Bull Trailer Restraint system is used in your bike hauler, a rear stand will be needed to hold your bike up at the track. Easy to load and unload by yourself. We have a video going over the installation on our blog site titled, Track day bike hauler.
THINGS TO BRING TO THE TRACK
Stuff for your body
WATER should be the first and most important thing on your list. It gets hot and you lose a lot of water sweating. The track is the last place you want to be dehydrated. Dehydration causes you to lose focus and causes cramps. Gatorade or sports drinks are good ADDITIONS to water, not a replacement. We usually freeze a gallon of water to keep things cool and when it melts you can drink it. Gatorade bottles freeze well also. This keeps your food in the cooler dry and everything cold. No more draining the cooler and messing with plastic bags.
FOOD is obviously something that is a must. We pack a cooler with sandwiches and lots of fruit. Fruit has a lot of water and vitamins. It won’t fill you up and digests easily. Bananas are a must in our cooler. They have potassium and vitamin B6 which reduces the risk of cramps in the muscles. High salt snacks, pretzels and chips, are a good idea also to help replace salt lost to perspiration.
SEATS are a must when you’re not tearing up the track. It gets hard on the keester when you’re sitting on a bench or tailgate all day. Your butt will thank you. Folding chairs or stools are nice because they fold up and can be stored where there is free room.
A CANOPY is a nice addition to any track day set up but isn’t a requirement. They are a bit pricey but worth it. This allows you and your bike to have some time out of the sun. If this isn’t an option then try to park under a tree or find some form of shade.
EARPLUGS are a must. Chad and I have an old clear plastic peanut butter jar that stays in the trailer or the van. We can easily see when we are getting low. Ear plugs are cheap insurance against hearing loss. Some of the bikes at the track run full race exhausts, these get very loud by the end of the day.
EXTRA CLOTHES are a good idea. You get hot and sweaty, changing into a dry not so smelly set of clothes is a nice thing after being on the track all day. Some tracks even have shower facilities so bring a towel and shower foot wear, we don’t want to get athletes foot!
SUNSCREEN should be tucked away in your bag-o-stuff. Every time you take off your helmet, your face, neck and ears are out in the open. A little bit of sunscreen will go a long way from keeping you looking like a lobster.
Stuff for the the bike
SPARE KEY, you laugh now but wait till you get to the track and realize you forgot it. Day ruined. I’ve even heard of guys going to the track, opening up their trailer and realizing they forgot to put the bike in!!
GAS JUGS are essential. You will be burning up more than a tankful when doing a track day. A simple red gas jug will do or you can invest in a race gas jug. Chad and I prefer white VP racing fuel jugs. The white jugs offer a transparent view so you can see exactly how much fuel is left in your jug.
TOOLS should be included in your gear. A set of wrenches, allens and any specialty tools your bike requires will do the trick. Chad and I have a dedicated tool box in the race trailer and in the van. You can see both set ups by looking at our past blogs. A quality air pressure gauge is essential to a good safe track day. Tire pressure is critical in utilizing the full potential of your tires. We usually fill our tires up past the recommended pressure before we leave then we can drop them down when we get to the track. Duct tape and zip ties are a good idea too. These can be utilized to fix broken fairings in the unfortunate event of a crash. These should only be used as a temporary fix. Some spare parts like shift levers, clutch and brake levers are a good idea too. Chad and I have found that braking brand folding levers weather a crash pretty well and can be used again and again.
motion pro 0-60 pressure gauge
This should be enough stuff to get you through your first track day. In the unfortunate case that you forget something most fellow riders are more than happy to lend a wrench or a hand. Both of us have helped in the pits to get a bike back on the track even if it is just a track day. What goes around comes around and I have found that most riders are almost like a second family at the track. Step up your skills and get to looking into doing a track day!!