Track day Q & A

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Q. If I get lean crazy and lowside the bike, is there something I can do to protect the fairings?

A1. Either crash into a wall of pillows and marshmallows or take off the fairings, although they do protect the frame. If you crash, you're going to break parts, no matter what you do. That's why it's called a CRASH.

Remove the mirrors and turn signals. In the rear, you can undo the four bolts that hold the rear fender on, and the turn signals and tail light all come off together.

A2. Through the usual sources you should be able to find some used, not-in-the-greatest-shape fairings cheapish. Of course, they may be two different colors and have some other cosmetic issues, but if it is just for track days, who cares?

Q. Will the stock dunflops do okay for this sort of riding? I know they are okay tires but they are solid as a freaking rock and such a hard compound.

A1. Okay, so I've said that the stock Dunlops are pieces of crap for YEARS, and yet you ask this question? I should hunt you down and slap you silly.

A2. Don't know. I never used them on a track. (Standard answer from experienced 250 riders.)

Q. How often should you change the oil on a race/track bike?

A. I do 25-30 days at the track every year and average about 100 miles of riding each day. I change the oil about every 1000-1500 miles. I generally ride until the bike starts feeling a little sluggish and in need of a valve adjust. After I adjust the valves I change the oil, since I had the engine open.

My engines seem to be holding up just fine with this minimal maintenance. The one engine I lost was when I was using dinosaur oil and let the level get down near the low mark in the sight glass. Since changing to Rotella T synthetic and keeping the level full, I've run a full season (nearly 3000 track miles) on an old 15,000+ mile engine.

In short, my recommendation is to: 1) Use high quality synthetic oil such as Shell Rotella T. 2) Keep the oil level full at all times in the EX250. 3) Change the oil at least once a year.

Q. Are there any additions to the bike I should make to not harm anything, or will the little 250 handle 20 minutes of straight racing in stock form? I'd assume so...

A. Well, let's see... Once again comes the distinction between track days and racing. Sure, you can take your stock EX250 to the track, but after a couple sessions you will probably be wanting most, if not all, of the following:

  • Make sure the oil is fresh and full. Bring some extra and top off as necessary throughout the day.
  • Get out the owners manual (or Service Schedule) and check every item on the maintenance list, whether it's due or not. If they're all in order, then the bike will survive.
  • Check with the organizers about bike prep. They will have specific items that must be prepped how they say. If you don't do it, then you don't get to ride (and you usually don't get a refund either).

Q. Am I more likely to crash at the track?

A1. I'd be willing to bet that even though you may be more likely to have a crash on the track, you're less likely for the injuries to be life-threatening. Just look at the differences between the two:

  • You are geared up to the hilt (good boots, leathers, back protector, helmet, gloves)
  • No opposite direction traffic
  • Every vehicle is the same size (mass)
  • If you leave the track, there's typically plenty of runoff
  • Corner workers to assist (if there's an accident you need to avoid)
  • 95% of the riders are not willing to put others at risk just to get ahead
  • Many wear gear of some sort, usually minimal
  • Traffic going in every direction
  • You are the smallest thing on the road
  • If you leave the street, there are light poles and grandmas
  • You are the only one looking out for you
  • 95% of the drivers (in some areas) don't see you as anything but a speed bump

A2. One thing you can do to lessen the chances of crashing at the track: Don't be part of the very first group to blast off on the track once they unleash the masses in the morning.

  • Let the first, impatient group go around first.
  • Let them warm up the track and find the hairy, slick spots in the shade.
  • Let them come back and fill you in on what the track is looking like.
  • And most importantly, let them crash their bikes without you risking yours in order to avoid theirs.

A parting shot

Eventually you will just start to feel like you're in the "zone".
Your engine will be screaming.
You're going to be feeling the front tire abusing the asphalt below you.
You're going to smell the other engine exhausts all around you.
You'll be feeling your body weight shift from side to side, and feel your muscles prepare for the turn ahead long before you actively start to think about doing so.

And, eventually, you will be ripping through a corner, and a smile will take over your face as you realize that they didn't charge you nearly enough money for this much fun.