I’m the first to admit that I’m not one of the fast guys. Never have been; never will be. But I love riding a motorcycle on a race track, and I like it even better when I can get some training during my ride.
Why would a slow guy want to spend time on the race track? Because the track might be the absolute safest place to improve your street riding skills. In a track session that is well-run, there’s no cross traffic to contend with – no intersections, no stop lights, no driveways. There are pro riders and coaches setting guidelines and observing participants to make sure that nobody’s riding beyond their abilities. The pavement is perfect, the turns are challenging but safe, and there’s enough straightaway to experience a real sense of speed.
The downsides of a track day are few, but real. If you’re riding your own bike, you must spend some time and money preparing it by taping up lenses, changing coolant (if you have a liquid-cooled bike) to a track-friendly mixture, safety-chaining parts that might fall off or scatter in a crash, and other preparations. You’re going to burn through a set of tires (or more) during a full-day track session. You must get your bike to the track and home, either riding it or hauling it. If you’re participating in a track day with instruction, it can be pricey, especially for multi-day sessions where you’re using a school bike.
But if you’re serious about riding, and serious about safety, track day training is a worthwhile investment. You’ll come away with more confidence, honed riding skills and an improved understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a rider so that you can work to get better all the time. Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) classes are great, but they’re generally low-speed affairs held in parking lots. Track day training takes rider instruction to a new level.
My favorite motorcycle school is the Yamaha Champions Riding School, run by rider training expert Nick Ienatsch. The school is based at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Classes run from $495 to $1995.
Other popular schools include Keith Code’s California SuperBike School, Reg Pridmore’s CLASS Motorcycle School and Jason Pridmore’s STAR Motorcycle School. Check the websites for classes near you – most schools are moveable feasts, setting up at different tracks across the country at various times of the year.
Do yourself a favor, and try riding on the track, even if you’re a cruiser rider or touring rider. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn and how much your riding will improve.