Track Day Learnings [3]

This past weekend was one of the last track days of the season, and the last one scheduled for Ridesmart Track Days.  As such, there were a LOT of racers in the upper groups, and every group was filled.  It was very cold in the morning(40F) and warmed up during the afternoon to the upper 70's to lower 80's I would guess.  This meant that tire pressures, suspension damping, carburetor jetting, track grip, etc. would all be changing throughout the day, making it challenging for everyone.

With my trackside suspension setup duties, I didn't get to ride until the afternoon.  But during my setups, I noticed something on a handful of the street bikes that concerned me.  Several bikes came through with VERY sharp, machined metal bar-ends(not rounded at all, sharp enough to scratch your fingernail).  Effectively, the owners had installed javelins on their bikes.  This is an INCREDIBLY bad idea.  A tech inspector should make the owners take them off prior to being allowed on the track, because if they hit someone, or clip someone accidentally, they could cause serious injury.  These would never pass inspection at a race, and shouldn't have passed it at a track day, even though the standards are very different.  

Plus, I don't know about anybody else, but when I eject from the bike involuntarily, I always seem to hit my legs on the bars.  Add to that the number of hands that have been trapped under a bar slider when the bike falls over, and it really makes me nervous about those bars.  These same bikes usually had stylized, pointy/elongated bolt-heads around the windshields and other strategic locations as well, since nothing can be TOO SHARP on a motorcycle.

If you insist on having these things on your street bike, be smart and replace them with proper round ones before coming to the track.  While they're nice chunks of complex metal(especially the pointy cone with more pointy cones sticking out of it), it's only slightly better than installing a knife into your gas tank with the point sticking up.  Sure, you're hard-core, and I'm sure your friends think you're cool, but it's really a dumb move.  And I'm sure, if you asked these guys, they'd say that it just means you should stay away from them so you don't get hurt, but that just shows a complete lack of knowledge about how a track day works, as well as a complete lack of responsibility.

The second thing I discovered while at the track this weekend: 74 horsepower + cold gp slicks = slide fest!  All of a sudden, we had a break in the customers, and so I threw the tire warmers on the bike with the HOPE of getting a little heat in them(it normally takes about an hour to heat the tires s.t. the wheel itself is warm, which is what you want).  I suited up while Roger set my tire pressures, and immediately discovered how controllable the Husqvarna really is when it's all loosey goosey.  It broadcasts in no uncertain terms when it's about to slide, and then is controllable while it IS sliding.  It's a bit odd to have the front wheel feel so disconnected from the direction of the motorcycle.  But after three laps, the tires were warm, and the sun had come out to heat up the track a little, and I was dragging knee in several turns.  So the moral of this story?  DOT-R tires are more tolerable to ride without warmers on the first few laps than a GP slick without warmers.  If you go out on cold slicks, watch out!  It IS rather fun though.  I wonder what would have happened if my front forks hadn't lost nearly all damping control...

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