My First Track Riding Experience (long post) - TwoWheelForum: Motorcycle and Sportbike forums
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-06-2006, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
 
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My First Track Riding Experience (long post)

So here is my brutally honest assessement of my first track day. I'm not Super Man, Rossi, or Hayden; I never will be. I made some bad mistakes (which I admit) and I made some major improvements (which I am proud of) so here's how it went down.

Note: All the guys I was riding with were in the same session as I was, so nobody was able to take pics. One guy had a video camera but i'm not sure it was digital so I'll post it up if can get the video but don't hold your breath.

Well despite my misgivings about riding on the shotty azz SV stock suspension I decided to pull the trigger and actually do a track day before it gets all snowy here in Michigan. So I had to work in the AM but that was alright because the track (Gingerman Raceway) I went to allowed people to ride a half-day for half-price so that's what I did. When I got there they had just switched to two sessions rather than just having a ride-on-ride-off open track, they didn't want more than 10-12 bikes (which is not many for a 2 mile track) on the track at a time since there was a pretty good spread of skill levels from novices to racers practicing for the CCS races at Gingerman this weekend. With two sessions the format was 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off which actually makes for a ton of riding (12 sessions for the people who were there the whole day) So a good number of the riders would go every other so that they were only riding 20 on, 40 off so that they wouldn't get too fatigued. Anyway, I proceeded to tape everything up, pull the mirrors off, etc, and got ready to ride.

When they made the first call for the "non-racer" session I rode over to the guy in charge and told him that I had just arrived and that this was going to be my first session. He pointed me to the starting lane and I was off, no class, no instructor, it was going to be the school of trial and error for me. Knowing that I needed at least a couple of laps to warm my tires up and familiarize myself with the track I set out at a comfortable and relatively slow pace.

Into my third lap I gave the SV some throttle (she loves it when I do that), since my speedo was taped over I have no idea how fast I was riding. Anyway, coming up turn 3 (just over a small hill on a short straight) I realized I was coming WAAAAY to hot, time to lose some speed in a hurry (nobody told me about shift points and where to look for them). I locked up the rear and had the front hopping like crazy, my first tank slapper. At that point I nearly shat in my leathers! Somehow things got under control (I don't think I can take credit, it was luck) and I just ended up taking the turn really wide but stayed on the pavement. That slowed me down a bit, which was good because it made me realize even more that it was my technique that I needed to be working on, not my speed.

Fourth lap of my first session (so about 12 min into it) I'm just focusing on my leans and looking well through the curves. Come into turn 9 (a wide left sweeper just after a right sweeper) and I lean just a little farther than I should have and I scraped my left peg and boot. Now this is my fourth month riding street bikes and I've never scraped anything (and I'm sure Gas and GR can attest to the prodigious size of my chicken strips). So needless to say hearing and feeling a new part of the bike and myself touch the pavement at a decent speed scared the living jebezuz out of me! Instinctively I stood the bike up and immediately realized that I wasn't going to make it through the turn. So I took a little short cut through the grass and made it back on to the track with no further ado (I knew not to touch my brakes in the grass). After that I figured that I had pretty much used up all of my luck for one session and I'd best just go sit down, have some water and figure out a new strategy for riding that wasn't going to wad me and my bike into scraps. Not to mention getting passed by anyone, much less race bikes, is rather loud and scary as hell your first time on a track.

So I went and sat down and waited for the other guys I was riding with to come back. When they got back they said that from what they saw (before they all passed me like I was walking backwards) I was all over the track and not using any proper lines. So one of the guys offered to ride his supermotard for the next session so that I could follow him and ride his lines.

My second session was much better, learning the basic lines was incredibly helpful. I stayed on the track and didn't have any close calls. The guys commented that they already noticed me getting much smoother and faster.

This pattern continued without much drama through the end of the day. I rode a total of 5 sessions and by the end I was feeling a lot more confident with my lines and braking points which made it possible for me to move onto the next area where improvement is needed: body position and posture. For that I'm afraid I'll either need a class or just more track time.

Overall I have to say that this was an amazing experience. I'm pretty much hooked. Anyone else considering getting on a track for the first time, I would highly recommend doing something like STT or NESBA or somewhere that provides some structure and instruction. My close calls were due to the fact that I was not properly instructed or shown how to do things, having an instructor is definitely safer than just going on your own.

Finally, just as a contrast:

Session 1: On the track for 15 minutes, lapped 3 times by the fastest rider
Session 5: Took 4 laps (8 miles) for the fastest rider (a racer that should have been in the "racer group") to lap me and 6 laps for the rest of the pack. (I did mention that I was the only newbie right?!?!)

Session 1: 2 near wrecks (just by myself not with other riders) and the only barrier to people passing me was their fear that I would do something stupid and ride into them since I was all over the track.
Session 5: 0 near wrecks. Other riders said that by this point they had to start using strategy and proper timing to pass me. I was nowhere near as fast as anyone else there but at least I was more than a moving obstacle.

Session 1: After 15 minutes I stopped early and was shaking from the stress fatigue, and the terror of the close calls.
Session 5: They gave us just about 30 minutes and I used every one of them and could have kept going.

Session 1: When a rider would pass me they would be out of sight within 2 turns.
Session 5: When a rider would pass I could keep with them for 2-3 turns before they started pulling away.

Evaluation of the SV:
Suspension: Aweful, front dives like crazy, very squirrely, does not inspire trust or confidence. It will be interesting to see how much improvement there is when I add springs for my weight, 20w oil (stock is 5w), and RT gold valve emulators in the forks and a Penske Double Clicker in the rear.
Brakes: Adequate. With SS lines and new pads it should be pretty nice.
Gearing: -1 Front +2 Rear. It was a bit short, at least for this track. I spent significant time in 4th when I should have been in 3rd. Thank the motorcycle gods the SV has immense amounts of torque so it worked like a trooper but it was not ideal.
Power: More than sufficient. Race bikes and litre bike would pass like crazy in the straight but in the corners the SV and it torque/weight ratio was amazing and incredibly forgiving.
Comfort: I think I need a different seat. The stocker just feels hard to get out of. Other than that I have no complaints other than the fact that I'll eventually need rearsets...
Tires: The Dunlop Qualifiers performed great! I never felt any slippage and they wore very much like the PP's (which is what the other 4 SV riders I was with were sporting). Everyone was impressed by how good the Qualifiers were looking and performing.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-06-2006, 11:44 PM
 
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Sounds good. I anticipate my first track day (the 21st) to be the same way in the beginning. I had a chance to do two laps at Miller. It would've been more, but a v-twin passed me in mid turn and it scared me. I was on someone elses bike too. Didn't want to do any damage. It took me like 5 turns for me to be totally humbled out there. I'm pretty fast on the street, but the track, I am a turtle. You had a couple close calls and you learned from them. Good deal. It would've been nice to get into a class, but with a half day, you were lucky to have some buddies around to teach you. As far as posistioning and all that, READ UP! Sure, you can learn at the track, but how often is that gonna happen with winter knocking? I learned a BUNCH of stuff just from reading the posts on here. And pics do help, but oh well.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-07-2006, 12:53 AM
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i cant wait to do a track day, too bad there isnt one near the dragon, i would love to do one so jeeps can follow and comment



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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-07-2006, 01:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KnightHunter84 View Post
...for me to move onto the next area where improvement is needed: body position and posture. For that I'm afraid I'll either need a class or just more track time...

Go to your local bookstore, or go on amazon.com or a similar site and buy Twist of the Wrist II and/or any other sportbike riding technique books. You also mentioned something about needing to upgrade your suspension, but have you even checked to see if it's set up for your weight? Another good book is 101 Sportbike Projects (I think that's the name). It has step by step instructions on how to set up your suspension, as well as many other project instructions.

Glad to hear you didn't have any disastrous get-offs at the track and especially glad to hear that you learned something.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-08-2006, 03:01 PM
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Its always great to learn. Even better when done in a safe environment. Even better with proper instruction. I highly recommend the before mentioned books and or vids. I also recommend anybodies first track secession to be with a ridding school. Faster riders may find it a bore at first but always seem to learn something. Slower riders always come out better riders and usually faster from the experience.

KnightHunter You may not even need the rearsets after you get the suspension dialed in. The stronger springs might maintain enough ground clearance.

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-08-2006, 09:14 PM
 
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Good to hear you had a great time. Don't beat yourself up over a few small misjudgements, but give yourself a pat on the back for not binning it! Welcome to my addiction!

As far as your suspension goes, Find someone who knows what they're talking about to help set your bike up. I did a race school at Eastern Creek in July this year. A Bloke in our group was on an Aprilia RSV 1000, he was slow, and really unsteady through the corners. I was on the Mito, so He'd blast away from me on the straights, but I'd be past him after a couple of corners around the back of the circuit.
During the lunch break, a suspension workshop was scheduled for those who wanted to attend. Terry Hay, from Racetech suspension, ran it, and he needed a demo bike. Aprilia Guy asked Terry to use his, and explained that his bike had been handling like a mop. Terry adjusted the suspension as best he could, the rider was a large bloke, and Terry explained how, if he ran out of adjustment, the only fix was to replace the spring with a heavier one. Terry used most of the adjustment, and got it as good as he could. Terry only adjusted the rear, but explained that the procedure was the same for the front.

The guy went out next session, and came back in with a grin from ear to ear. He said the bike felt great, and his laptimes dropped signifigantly.
I can't recommend enough the benefit of getting a professional to help with your suspension. You'll feel a lot better on the track!

As far as the riding goes, forget lines until you know the track. Aim to ride around the middle of the track, slowly at first, gradually improving until you feel you're going as fast and as smooth as you can, then when you begin to use the racing line, you'll have so much more time to play with, you'll wonder why you were going so slow. The tricky bit is, you'll go faster naturally, without feeling like you're pushing too hard. Remember, smooth is fast, but vice versa may not be the case. (as you found out!)

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2006, 05:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by drewpy View Post
i cant wait to do a track day, too bad there isnt one near the dragon, i would love to do one so jeeps can follow and comment
Riding in the moutains and on the track are 2 different places. I figured my 1st track day was gonna be a piece of cake since I live close to the Gap and have thousands of miles around here. Ran off the track 2 times and it was completely open!!! Just didn't know how to handle open space on the road... So with that said and about 23 or so trackdays, the twisties are easier to handle and they are taken with allot more caution than they use to be. Go out there with and open mind, new tires!!! not "they look ok", and have a good time. If ya get skeert the first day......well join the club!!
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2006, 08:25 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the comments and encouragement guys! This is why ! Yeah I definitely caught the track bug, now I'm just pissed that I won't have any more opportunities to do it again until next spring (it snows here and no tracks within several hours of me are open). Oh well, I'll just have to hit it hard next season with my new suspension!

side note: my next post will be #1000 for me....
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2006, 12:33 PM
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Yeah, that is awesome Knight. Next April 1st come check out the Team Chicago race school track day with us, it is at Grattan every year. IT's cheap, and you learn A lot. The day starts off in the classroom and the instructors really know their stuff. Looking forward to that and getting your bike setup for it will make a long cold winter not quite so bad!

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2006, 01:57 PM
 
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don't use your rear brake and keep the r's up...
set your suspension stiffer than normal to start with.

-a|ex
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2006, 10:30 PM
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So Knight... what's next on the chopping block for us? Brake lines... way easy! Get the parts!




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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2006, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickle.of.doom View Post
Yeah, that is awesome Knight. Next April 1st come check out the Team Chicago race school track day with us, it is at Grattan every year. IT's cheap, and you learn A lot. The day starts off in the classroom and the instructors really know their stuff. Looking forward to that and getting your bike setup for it will make a long cold winter not quite so bad!
more info... i wanna play....



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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2006, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by pickle.of.doom View Post
Yeah, that is awesome Knight. Next April 1st come check out the Team Chicago race school track day with us, it is at Grattan every year. IT's cheap, and you learn A lot. The day starts off in the classroom and the instructors really know their stuff. Looking forward to that and getting your bike setup for it will make a long cold winter not quite so bad!
Oh yeah I'll be there for sure! I've been planning on that one since I first heard about it 2 months ago. I think you might have even told me about it at the LapDance track day at Grattan while I was watching you guys.

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So Knight... what's next on the chopping block for us? Brake lines... way easy! Get the parts!
Actually, I have fork springs and emulators here, heavier oil and a Penske rear shock are in the mail...SS lines are on my X-mas list.

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more info... i wanna play....
We'll keep you updated for sure! Even though I haven't ridden there yet, I think of Grattan as my home track since it's about 30 min from where I grew up.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2006, 01:28 AM
 
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Actually, I have fork springs and emulators here, heavier oil and a Penske rear shock are in the mail...SS lines are on my X-mas list.
Knight
PLEEEZE take my advice, and get a suspension expert to set up your current suspension before you spend any (more) money upgrading, or make any modifications. The best bike in the world will feel like slush if it's not set up right. At the very least, if you modify the suspension before you've got your current set up right, you won't know if you've actually improved the bike! It may feel better than it did before, but it may not be capable of being adjusted as well as your standard setup (do you know the weight rating of the springs for your forks and the Penske? If not, how do you know if you've gone in the right direction with your purchases?).

Suspension setup is a black art, and it's easy to screw up. Get expert advice before doing anything more.

P.S. I'm betting the cost of the Penske would just about pay for your next track day!

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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2006, 01:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckademus View Post
Knight
PLEEEZE take my advice, and get a suspension expert to set up your current suspension before you spend any (more) money upgrading, or make any modifications. The best bike in the world will feel like slush if it's not set up right. At the very least, if you modify the suspension before you've got your current set up right, you won't know if you've actually improved the bike! It may feel better than it did before, but it may not be capable of being adjusted as well as your standard setup (do you know the weight rating of the springs for your forks and the Penske? If not, how do you know if you've gone in the right direction with your purchases?).

Suspension setup is a black art, and it's easy to screw up. Get expert advice before doing anything more.

P.S. I'm betting the cost of the Penske would just about pay for your next track day!

Its a SV it need help on the suspension. Factory stuff is junk and little to adjust.

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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2006, 05:17 AM
 
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One guy I know sent off his forks and they sent him back a reworked set. You send in yours as a core and if they aren't FUBAR, it's a trade + the cost of reworked forks. It isn't cheap, maybe $700+. His rear shock is an After Shocks reworked GXXr1K. I guess you get one off ebay and send it in and tell them it's for an SV and they hook you up. He said it made a heck of a difference!!
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2006, 05:49 AM
 
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Since we are now talking suspension...


I found a Ohlins rear for my 92 on kneedraggers. $717 bucks. I would buy it if I was gonna keep her forever...so I doubt it.



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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2006, 03:39 PM
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When you spend that kind of money. You have to take that into consideration. You can never get it all back on a sale.

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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2006, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
 
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When you spend that kind of money. You have to take that into consideration. You can never get it all back on a sale.
Precisely why I'm keeping all my stock bits. If I ever sell it I'll convert it back to stock and sell the mods on the side. Since I got most of them used anyway I shouldn't take much of a hit.
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2006, 11:00 PM
 
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Rock on Knight! Glad to see you're hooked & glad that someone stepped up to give you some pointers, reps to him lol.

Quote:
That slowed me down a bit, which was good because it made me realize even more that it was my technique that I needed to be working on, not my speed.
Amazing how many folks don't think about what they did while on the track & go out & repeat the same mistakes. Good for you for being smart about it!
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