Tech inspection at a track...
Tech inspection at a track day can go a lot quicker and easier if you have your bike prepped properly. Having to come back and wait in line again when you’ve overlooked something can be frustrating.
On liquid-cooled bikes, many organizations will require that the coolant is drained and flushed from the system and refilled with distilled water or other approved fluid (glycol-based antifreeze is very slippery when spilled on pavement). Many clubs also allow you to run water additives such as WaterWetter, which provide corrosion inhibitors and better heat transfer than straight water while remaining much less slippery than antifreeze.
The aftermarket offers up all kinds of crash protection—plastic frame, swingarm, axle, handlebar and muffler sliders—that can minimize crash damage. There are also aluminum, steel, plastic and carbon fiber engine covers that keep precious fluids in motors. We went with LSL front axles sliders from Spiegler ($54.95, www.spieglerusa.com), GB Racing’s lightweight, plastic engine covers that go over the stockers ($243.65, www.orientexpress.com), as well as Woodcraft frame and swingarm sliders/spools ($69.95, www.woodcraft-cfm.com) for the Kawasaki.
That said, for crash-damage protection, Mark Rozema, the owner of Markbilt (www.MarkBiltRacing.com), is not a big advocate of sliders because he feels they can dig into pavement and send bikes flipping through the air. Rozema prefers case covers, sturdy rearsets, beefy clip-ons, folding levers and flexible race bodywork.
If you’ve got the budget,...
If you’ve got the budget, tire warmers are a good investment in safety. Instead of tip-toeing around the first few laps to get your tires warm, you can get up speed much quicker and with less stress.
When your skill level increases...
When your skill level increases and you begin running in the intermediate group, a good set of tires will provide a marked improvement in your speed and enjoyment. Tire manufacturers now have models that are specifically intended for track-day riders.
Some riders prefer reinforced...
Some riders prefer reinforced case covers like this Woodcraft unit over frame sliders, while some use both. Regardless, both are excellent investments in crash protection and safety.
This close-up photo of a Woodcraft...
This close-up photo of a Woodcraft case protector after a crash shows how easy it would have been to grind through the stock cover. Note how much was taken off the protector, despite being much thicker and made from a more robust aluminum.
When speeds elevate, stickier, race-compound DOT tires or race-only slicks pre-heated with tire warmers are a winning combo that give increased traction—and confidence. For this year’s track-day season, the ZX-6R was shod with Dunlop D211GP and D209 GP A DOT-legal race tires and heated with tire warmers to ensure sticky buns every time we hit the track.
When a rider is able to comfortably ride his or her bike near or up to its performance limits, exhaust mods and fuel injection mapping are the best bet to power up. Late in season one, the ZX-6R got a Vance & Hines CS-One slip-on (5.5 pounds lighter than stock) and a Fuelpak, a simple plug-and-play device that allows push-button fuel-delivery adjustment. During its second season of track-day scratching, the Kawi got a full Akrapovic exhaust (6.5 pounds lighter than stock) and sophisticated Bazzaz fuel-control system.
To perform a full race prep Markbilt removes all unnecessary items, strips various unneeded wires, connectors and relays out of the wiring harness (sometimes up to two pounds worth), then reroutes it out of harm’s way, inboard of the frame rails where possible. Other tricks for ease of maintenance and repair include drilling a hole in R6 subframes for easy shock removal and modifying various components for quick wheel changes.
Another way to extract better handling, faster acceleration and quicker lap times is by removing more excess weight from the motorcycle. Replacing the ZX-6R’s battery with a tiny lithium-iron unit from Full Spectrum (see SR Tested, August 2011) saved 5.3 pounds. After dismounting the lighting equipment for free, this tiny power unit is the easiest and least expensive way to realize weight savings.
Aftermarket bodywork is a bit more involved. The set of Hotbodies bodywork and windscreen ($649.95, www.HotBodiesRacing.com) that replaced our testbed’s multitude of stock pieces and fasteners saved nine pounds after the ZX-6R’s headlight, taillight, turn signals and rear fender were pulled off (see SR Tested, May 2011). The aftermarket pieces, which can be removed in five minutes, also make the bike incredibly easy to work on. You’ll need to get pieces like this painted, such as the understated two-tone spray job on our bodywork performed by DC Paintworx (610-360-8037).
And this is why a well-prepped...
And this is why a well-prepped bike can survive a crash relatively unscathed. Note how the frame slider kept most of the bodywork from getting rashed, as well as the case guards keeping the generator cover from getting worn through. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the fuel tank and tail section, but the result is still much better than normal.
As riders approach a high level of two-wheeled ballet, they may want to explore some high-buck options that may lower lap times. Revalving a bike’s fork and shock, modifying the stock steering damper or adding a high-quality unit are just a few. We had the ZX-6R’s particularly ineffective damper revalved by Race Tech with great results, but the bike’s suspension remains stock.
Another item we’ve found invaluable is a lap timer to gauge on-track progress. We’ve been testing a Starlane Stealth GPS unit from Yoyodyne. There are many other racer-derived bits that advanced riders may want to consider, including aftermarket rearsets, clip-ons, folding levers, brake upgrades, race fuel, quick shifters, traction control units and slipper clutches. We didn’t go with any of these, but have personalized the ZX-6R with a quick-turn throttle, also from Yoyodyne (SR Tested, January 2011).
To help track-day riders get ready to race, some clubs have high-level go-fast training to get budding racers their competition licenses with group and one-on-one training. Another route is to attend a nationally recognized riding school. There’s a huge number of schools run all across the U.S. SR