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Thread: Sport Bike track time

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Sport Bike track time

    Two-wheeled fun
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    Having a 140-hp sport bike in your garage is great. Learning how to ride it to its potential -- and yours -- is even better. But most of us are limited by the realities of cops, crowded roads -- and all the dangers inherent in trying to "learn on the go," by ourselves. It's a recipe for a mile-long DMV record, impossible insurance premiums -- maybe even some broken bones and a trashed bike.

    We don't learn much, either.

    That's where a couple of days with Sport Bike Track Time (www.sportbiketracktime.com) come into play. You'll get professional, individualized instruction on some of the country's most technically challenging road race circuits -- including the Skip Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham (www.barbermotorsports.com), where I spent two of the best (and most useful) days of my riding life lapping the 2.3 mile,16-turn course with a group of fellow writers there to evaluate the latest Aprilia sport bikes, including the RSV1000 R and Tuono Factory.

    Each day is set up to provide maximum seat time -- seven revolving 20-minute sessions that will keep you on the track from morning to late afternoon. A typical day works out to 120-160 miles of track time. Track-side tire service and a catered breakfast and lunch are included. A professional photographer is on site -- and you can even camp out overnight at the track itself if you like.

    Though not a basic course -- it's assumed you already know how to ride a motorcycle -- Sport Bike Track Time is not just for extreme lean angle racers, either. You do not need to have an AHRA, CCS, WERA or other sanctioning body competition license to get on the track. Your bike just needs to pass tech inspection (see the web site for specifics) and each rider must have appropriate one or two-piece leathers, DOT approved helmet, boots and riding gloves, etc.

    Riders are grouped according to their skill level -- Novice, Intermediate and Advanced, with each group set up to keep the riders in it within their "comfort zone." There is no pressure to play Eddie Lawson here -- although you will grow in confidence as the day progresses and speed picks up. The groups themselves are fairly small; typically 5-6 riders per instructor -- in order to give each rider as much individual attention as possible.

    The founders and operators -- Monte Lutz and Bonnie Strawser -- launched Sport Bike Track Time in 1998 with the idea of providing fellow sport bike enthusiasts (Monte rides a BMW R100GS; Bonnie has an R6) the opportunity to ride and learn in a safe, controlled environment where the emphasis is on riding smart, not just fast. Anyone can grab a handful of throttle on a straight; but it takes real skill to take an off-camber, decreasing radius left-hander at speed without testing how well your sliders work.

    This is why there are three riding groups -- each one tailored to the individual experience and comfort level of the rider. The Novice group is for street riders with little or no on-track experience. Instructors teach throttle control, lean angle/rider positioning and other basics -- in addition to showing the group "the line" around a particular track, as well as track etiquette.
    The first Novice session starts out with a couple of familiarization laps, with speed building very gradually. Instructors observe each rider's technique -- and after each session, there is a "classroom meet" where the session is discussed, questions asked and pointers given to each rider before the group heads out again for the next 20 minute session.

    If you've never ridden your motorcycle on a track before, this will be a tremendous learning experience -- in a very non-threatening environment.

    The Intermediate and Advanced groups are less structured, with no formal classroom meeting in between sessions -- although instructors do ride with each group, both to make sure everyone's riding safely (you'll get red-flagged if you aren't) and to be able to offer constructive criticism of your technique.

    A rider in any group/skill level can ask an instructor to follow him as he laps the course, then pit for a one-on-one evaluation of what you're doing right -- and where improvements might be made.

    To ensure safety, Sport Bike Track Time insist upon a "six foot passing rule" for the Novice and Intermediate classes -- and close attention is paid to each group to make sure no one's riding out of their depth, or riding recklessly. Instructors will drop an Intermediate rider to the Novice group if they deem he's not able to safely keep up -- and will yank an Expert (or anyone else) who showboats (wheelies and stoppies are verboten) or does anything to endanger the other riders on the track.

    Whether it's your first time on a track -- or you're an experienced club racer looking for a way to get in some fast-paced practice laps on some great tracks for a reasonable price, Sport Bike Track Time has got you covered.

    In addition to its regular three group (Novice, Intermediate and Advanced) programs, Sport Bike Track Time also offers more "hard core" Limited Endurance Days for just Intermediate and Advanced riders, a Femmoto program for female riders -- and a PRO school for serious riders (AHRMA/WEAR) looking for 120-150 laps (220-250 miles) of track time with just two groups of 20-25 students per event.

    These programs typically sell out well in advance, so plan ahead if you're interested in getting a slot. Details of the '05 season, schedules and tracks, etc. are available on the Sport Bike Track Time web site.

    END


  2. #2
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Re: Sport Bike track time

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Two-wheeled fun
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    Having a 140-hp sport bike in your garage is great. Learning how to ride it to its potential -- and yours -- is even better. But most of us are limited by the realities of cops, crowded roads -- and all the dangers inherent in trying to "learn on the go," by ourselves. It's a recipe for a mile-long DMV record, impossible insurance premiums -- maybe even some broken bones and a trashed bike.

    That's where a couple of days with Sport Bike Track Time (www.sportbiketracktime.com) come into play. You'll get professional, individualized instruction on some of the country's most technically challenging road race circuits -- including the Skip Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham (www.barbermotorsports.com), where I spent two of the best (and most useful) days of my riding life lapping the 2.3 mile,16-turn course with a group of fellow writers there to evaluate the latest Aprilia sport bikes, including the RSV1000 R and Tuono Factory.
    Hi Eric,

    Just in case anyone might be interested I've put my impressions of one of my trackdays below, it might give someone who is hesitating a nudge in the right direction.

    CADWELL PARK 9TH JULY 2007.

    Well, the day (Monday 9th July) finally arrived and luckily I was well enough to go along to Cadwell Park to join my club group at a Hottrax track-day with my new CBR600RR-7.

    It was a bit iffy as I had been off the new 'bike for about eight weeks with Polymyalgia but the doc had worked wonders, I felt fit enough and had gone for a run with my brother on Saturday. The 'bike, however, was not fully run in although it would still enable me to run at a fair pace. But - good news - I was reckoning on a 1000 mile run in period but, checking the book, it said OK to open up after 600 miles. I had managed to put in a hundred miles in on Saturday and was up near the eight hundred miles mark. So, take it easy for the first session, time to re-learn the track, and then 'let her rip'.

    Arrived at the track at 7:30am to tape the lights up, drop the tyre pressures to 30 front and 32 rear from their usual 36 front and 42 rear, go through the scrutineering and noise checks and get the appropriate stickers put on the 'bike. Then in to the clubhouse/restaurant to book in, have my licence checked and get my group wristband. Then, at 8:30, it was in to the pre-ride briefing, off for a quick pee then back to the paddock to await our first call.

    It was good having a Wolds Bikers club group. We were well equipped with a sizeable marquee, chairs, electric generator, and electric boiler for tea and coffee (all part of the club's show stand facilities that we have built up over the last four years). We also had the necessary supplies of tools, gaffer tape, tie-wraps, petrol, oil and water, just in case.

    The first session was called and I felt the usual flutter of nerves as we lined up in the pit lane to go out. The first two laps were sighting laps, then the Instructor pulled off and we were waved on our way. The new 'bike felt very different to the old one, it tipped in much more quickly and initially I was not holding the lines I wanted. By the end of the session, however, it was beginning to fall into place and I was getting used to it.

    During the second session I upped the pace a little and started to push the 'bike a bit harder. It is certainly a hell of a lot quicker than the old CBR and has a lot more grunt driving out of the bends. Toward the end of this session I started to move around on the 'bike more, hanging off slightly on the tighter curves. I must admit it did seem to make a difference of several mph through the bends.

    Then the clouds came over and it started to rain - we expected the organisers to stop the sessions but they kept the day running and left it up to individual choice whether one went out or not. The CBR handled very well in the wet and was little affected, even by standing water. Cadwell is a grippy track and, once the initial nervousness of travelling at (fairly) high speed on a wet track was overcome there was probably only about ten seconds a lap difference in lap times.

    For the fourth session the rain had stopped, the track was still, mainly, very wet although a dry line started to appear toward the end of the session and the speeds went up. At the end of the Start and Finish Straight I was seeing about 95 to 100mph, tipping into Coppice at about 95. Park Straight is the fastest section and I was hitting about 130 before braking down to about 75 - 80 for Park Bend.

    The fifth session was fun, still wet in parts but with a good dry line appearing, I was starting to give the 'bike its head now and really enjoying myself. Then, going into The Hairpin, I missed a gear and went completely off line, coming out I ran wide, onto the kerb then onto the edge of the grass. One of our club boys asked me afterwards 'How the hell did you manage to stay on, you were showering me with bits of wet grass and mud and I was waiting for you to drop it'. I just shrugged and said 'Ice cold nerves and a steady throttle hand' - actually I should have been honest and said 'It is easy when you are frozen with fear' I got back on the track without losing my place and we went on our merry way,

    Back at the club marquee there was a group round one of our members new Yamaha R6. Apparently the engine just stopped and he couldn't get it started as the battery seemed to be flat (wouldn't turn the engine over). It was quickly linked up to a car battery and - the motor would still not turn. Attempting to push it, whilst in gear, showed that the motor was locked solid and a quick check showed that although he had plenty of oil there was no water in the engine which has seized solid. It looks as though it is going to turn out a very expensive track day for him.
    For the last session the track was clean and dry again and I gave the Honda her head. The club Chairman and I were first and second out on the track and we were still first and second as the session ended.

    All in all it was a great day, I used about $30 of gas and I think I will need to replace my tyres in the not too distant future. (New rear tyre duly fitted). However, as one of the track-day regulars pointed out, the molten rubber all round the edges of the rear tyre will give me a lot of street cred. The bike ran perfectly, except for a small fuelling glitch at one point, which, I guessed, was due to lack of free play in the throttle cable (I had adjusted it to take some free play out). The CBR needs a definite amount of free play to enable the throttle position sensor to establish the 'Closed' position accurately, I added a bit more free play and the problem was gone.

    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Sport Bike track time

    Man, I can almost feel it!

    Great write-up.... spring can't get here soon enough!

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