Despite the growing popularity in “track days” and rider schools that so many sportbike riders enjoy, there’s still a large number of street riders sitting on that proverbial fence, wondering if they’re ready to make the leap to the racetrack. In this article, we’ll explore some of the barriers that prevent riders from taking that first step. Whether it’s track days with friends or finding your way to your first club race, the racetrack is a great place to learn and practice skills that you simply cannot achieve on the street.We all have that one friend who’s an avid track day rider or coach and they’re quite persistent about getting you onto the racetrack. He or she tells you how much fun it is, how much you’re going to learn and all the great people that they’ll meet. So what’s stopping you? All too often, the responses are: “I don’t want to crash my bike”, “it’s too expensive”, or “I don’t have the proper gear” and the list goes on. It’s a common discussion, even debate, in many bike forums. Like most things new and unfamiliar, a little orientation can go a long way to address such concerns. Sure, there’s the ever-present ego we all possess and no one wants to be the slowest guy or gal on the track. Don’t worry, you won’t be. There are many riders at all levels and each there for their own reasons: fun, learning, getting ready for that next race, etc.

We all have that one friend who’s an avid track day rider or coach and they’re quite persistent about getting you onto the racetrack. He or she tells you how much fun it is, how much you’re going to learn and all the great people that they’ll meet. So what’s stopping you? All too often, the responses are: “I don’t want to crash my bike”, “it’s too expensive”, or “I don’t have the proper gear” and the list goes on. It’s a common discussion, even debate, in many bike forums. Like most things new and unfamiliar, a little orientation can go a long way to address such concerns. Sure, there’s the ever-present ego we all possess and no one wants to be the slowest guy or gal on the track. Don’t worry, you won’t be. There are many riders at all levels and each there for their own reasons: fun, learning, getting ready for that next race, etc.

Before we jump into this debate, newer riders considering the track should understand that track days are not racing. There is no clock to beat and there is no winning track day. It’s an opportunity to ride at a pace where “you” are comfortable and can focus on riding technique vs. how fast you can twist that throttle on the straights. With the help of track day instructors in the classroom and on-track, learning proper riding methods will greatly improve your overall riding ability and speed will come naturally. More importantly, the skills you learn on the track will directly translate to the street, ultimately making for safer riders.With that, let’s wind back to some of the concerns highlighted above. First and foremost, no one can assure that you will not crash on the track, especially on the street. I often find it interesting that so many new riders express concerns of crashing when considering their first track day, yet don’t give a second thought to throwing a leg over their bike when riding the street. Again, it’s the familiar vs. the unfamiliar. In the case of the racetrack, however, the consequences of a crash may be a lot to do about nothing. For example, you may run wide while navigating a particular corner and find you’ve run off into the grass. Compare that to missing a corner and running wide on the street. The results could be deadly whereas on a racetrack, we’re talking about a few grass stains and perhaps a bruised ego. This is just one example where proper braking technique can make all the difference, track or street. There are several articles floating

With that, let’s wind back to some of the concerns highlighted above. First and foremost, no one can assure that you will not crash on the track, especially on the street. I often find it interesting that so many new riders express concerns of crashing when considering their first track day, yet don’t give a second thought to throwing a leg over their bike when riding the street. Again, it’s the familiar vs. the unfamiliar. In the case of the racetrack, however, the consequences of a crash may be a lot to do about nothing. For example, you may run wide while navigating a particular corner and find you’ve run off into the grass. Compare that to missing a corner and running wide on the street. The results could be deadly whereas on a racetrack, we’re talking about a few grass stains and perhaps a bruised ego. This is just one example where proper braking technique can make all the difference, track or street. There are several articles floating about the web that discuss a technique known as trail-braking. Whether you’re driving a Formula One car or a motorcycle, this is a must have skill in your toolbox.Many riders also feel that track days are too expensive and will break the bank, or that gear is simply too expensive. A typical track day is often just a few hundred dollars or less and, for

Many riders also feel that track days are too expensive and will break the bank, or that gear is simply too expensive. A typical track day is often just a few hundred dollars or less and, for first time riders, many track day organizations provide new rider incentives to help newcomers find their way onto the racetrack. When considering expense, ask yourself this: what’s a crash going to cost me on the street? In many instances, we see newer riders, even experienced ones, find that their little mishap on the street was arguably preventable with skills that riding on a racetrack would have provided. While this topic may spark debate, there’s no doubt that essential skills developed on the track can -and will- assist you when needed on the street.So you’re thinking of putting that big toe in the water? Your next move is to find a track day organization or rider school that makes sense for you. Many organizations have first-time rider programs, incentives and even rental gear that will help to make your first track day a day to remember. Be warned, this sport is addicting, but not just for the thrill of riding your bike on a racetrack. You’ll find that life in the paddock and the like-minded, friendly people you will meet are all part of the allure of track days and why we keep coming back for more.

So you’re thinking of putting that big toe in the water? Your next move is to find a track day organization or rider school that makes sense for you. Many organizations have first-time rider programs, incentives and even rental gear that will help to make your first track day a day to remember. Be warned, this sport is addicting, but not just for the thrill of riding your bike on a racetrack. You’ll find that life in the paddock and the like-minded, friendly people you will meet are all part of the allure of track days and why we keep coming back for more.

In our next installment, we’ll dissect the anatomy of a track day and provide a guide on how to best prepare you and your motorcycle for your first track day, some of the do’s-and-don’ts when riding on track and advice that will help you advance through the rider groups.Ride safe.

Ride safe.

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