Putting A Road Bike On Track
As funds suddenly got tight this year, I was left with the choice of either risking riding my every day road Kawasaki ZX9R C2 on track, or simply not being able to afford a hire bike and not doing a trackday at all. So that was a no-brainer!
I am capable of riding the ZX9R quite rapidly on the roads, and am more comfortable with it than jumping on a totally unknown hire bike as I have done previously, but the disadvantages are that my road bike doesn’t have race-grade brake pads, I use Pirelli Angel ST (hard-wearing sports-touring tyres) rather than super-sticky trackday tyres, I scrape my footpegs on the roads, so on track could be a major problem with ground clearance, and of course a road fairing is VERY expensive to repair or replace.
Ideally, I’d sort all this out by using a race fairing, race rearsets to raise the footpegs, shove some race-grade brake pads in there, and fit some filthily sticky tyres for the day – but of course the reality of that is that you’re looking at close to £1000 just in preparation. That’s the very reason I decide to hire bikes before!
So what to do?
Well, I know I can get a Chinese made fairing from Ebay for around £340. I figure if I just use my bike as it is, and the worst happens, THEN I can buy the replacement.
The Pirelli Angels are great tyres, but I think they will overheat on a track. What that actually means in real life terms I have no idea! So I’m going to give it a go, and if I’m getting huge filthy great slides then I shall just call it quits or take it easy.
The brake pads I’m running are again great for the road. They’re actually unbranded pads from www.blackshadow-uk.com that can be had for £12.99 for FOUR pads! Compare that to the £120 that Lady Snoots use on their hire bikes, for example. Generally, braking is my ‘safety zone’ on track just as it is on the road, so I’ll simply brake nice and early, slow-in, fast-out, and see how it goes!
Someone from www.zx-9r.net came up with an ingenious solution to the footpeg situation, by recommending I tape a 5p coin into the hinge joint of the footpeg, instantly giving vital degrees of extra clearance. For the fit session I’ll go out as standard, and then give this a go to test it.
Aside from this, I had Stealth Motorcycles of Redditch (the only garage I still trust to lay their hands on my bikes) check my valve clearances and balance the carbs to make sure everything there is ok.
Then it was just general maintenance to prep the bike: lube and adjust chain, give it a quick clean for the photographs, and get the brake calipers off for a good clean and check all is working perfectly.
I got to test the brakes this morning as a lorry ahead on a dual carriageway slammed on it’s brakes and indicated right in front of me. All was clear behind me and I had no idea what he was trying to get past, so hammered on the anchors from Um Plenty Big Speed and all was perfect. Apart from my pants.
Tonight I will go through my usual trackday ritual of cleaning and treating my leathers (again, more for the sake of the photographs!), and then I’ll be off to Rockingham in the morning!
For anyone reading this who hasn’t done a trackday before, as well as the above, take loads of water, and quick-carb foods like chocolate bars. Snickers and bottled water is my staple diet on a trackday, to keep the energy up, with maybe a burger and chips at lunchtime.
When I arrive at Rockingham I shall remove my number plate, tape over my lights, and fold my mirrors in, as removal doesn’t seem like a great option for them. Then I’ll speak to the tyre guru’s about what psi to drop my tyres to…
Oh, and FFS buy a camera to film the day onboard the bike!
You can get an MD80 from Ebay for under £10 that will do the job, so there really is no excuse. See my previous blog about these cams here:
I’ve been excited since the second I booked it last night! Just pray for a nice dry day!