MO's own Alfonse Palamia deserves muy grande kudos for his contribution to this story. I have never spent three days with a photographer who worked as hard as Fonzie did on this piece in my entire life. Thank you.
This was a very enjoyable read. I've yet to venture on to a track (maybe this year at PIR?) so the individual views and descriptions made me picture in my mind some of what was going on. It's much more than I thought. I was suprised at first about draining the antifreeze out of the cooling system but after I thought about it, it made sense. However, does water alone keep those bikes cool enough? I'm sure there are some tricks to it but it's better than a rider leaned over in a corner hitting a patch of antifreeze-I would bet it would ruin your day!
Actually, Antifreeze is exactly that... its purpose is to prevent the coolant from freezing, it also includes additives to inhib rust & sludge, as well as lubricating properties for your waterpump etc...
Pure H2O has a better capacity to absorb and dissipate heat, so your bike will actually run cooler on water than it will on antifreeze. Adding a surficant like Water Wetter to the water will improve it's heat dissipation ability, as well as adding lubricating and anti-rust properties.... However, your water will still freeze and break the waterpump impeller, at 32 degrees. -Sean
(In response to Wambo's inquery about effective cooling with water only-- 100% distilled water keeps your bike cooler than an anti-freeze/water mixture. In Cali, most people (in cars and bikes) run a 70/30 mix (water/anti-freeze), because our winters don't get cold enough to require that much anti-freeze. Water Wetter works great too!)
I have been wanting to do a track day for a while now. After reading this article, I am even more anxious! I've even been playing with the idea of significantly limiting my street riding, as long as I could make up for it with track day time. Expensive sacrifice though(?).
Outstanding article!! Martin, et. al. youve performed a great service by showing all of us street riders the right/responsible way to enjoy the max performance of our bikes.
Walking us through the entire process with novices pure gold! Personally, this is EXACTLY what I wanted to know. When/if I get stationed at Edwards again (I was there for a year, but my time was pretty much spoken for), Im going to make it a personal goal to spend quality time at Willow Springs.
Having piloted F-16s and T-38s (from the back seat and only after clearing 300 ft), I can see the comparison with motorcycle riding. However, I prefer bikes they dont pummel my brain/stomach/sinuses. Pulling Gs is indeed a young mans game
I think the track is where many of us belong. Trouble is, it's damn expensive. If track riding became more popular, who knows, the price could come down. Then, bi-monthly track days might become the equivilant to a golf outing. Anyway I'd rather be pushing my bike/luck, on the track, than the street. Thanks for the piece.
Reading this story is why I can't go to the track. It would result in another addiction, that would cost me whatever is left from my other 10 addictions, the biggest of them is owning 4 bikes. Track time would be a blast, and the way they wrote about it, I'm sure Steve and Pete are hooked for life. The only reason I would go to the track is just to say I know Martin. That alone would do it for me.
Darn lucky people! If I lived in southern California and had access to multiple tracks, I would love to do track days. Unfortunately living in central Arkansas means a 6-hour trip to a track in the Dallas area, or a 9-hour trip to Barber or Talladega. Adding up the expenses of attending the school, tires (because I wouldn't want to spend money on new tires and square them off for 6 or 9 hours before taking them on track), renting a truck (like these two guys, I only have a bike), gas and so forth, a track day gets really expensive really quickly. Of course, I don't see the point in having a high performance bike and not doing a track day...
So who wants to come with me to the track? I'm hoping to go to Barber on June 11 and 12 with Sportbike Track Time (http://www.sportbiketracktime.com). I'm sure I'll be the slowest one there, but at least I'll get my track-day cherry popped.
Little did I know how one day at the track would challenge my skills.
The first thing that struck me out on the track is how much I had been depending on the old suggested turn speed limit signs you see on most street corners. If I saw a sign that said 35 MPH I knew that I could probally easily take the corner at 65 to 70 and so forth.
Out on the track there are no suggested turn speed limit signs. All of a sudden I am having to evaluate corners by looking at them with no help. This new ability alone helped me on my next street ride.
Also all you Buell haters out there take note. While you are changing out your radiator anti-freeze for water I'm ready to hit the track.
Another note, another guy I saw at the track with a modified XB9S Buell (Stock engine, modifided suspension) was giving all comers a really hard time in all the corners.
And it wasn't just Buell's giving some of the high end sport bikes a challenge, I found out that a really good rider on a Triumph Tiger on stock street tires can just STOMP on a new guy on a new GSXR600 in the corners who was running his mouth off about how good his bike was.
Final story, it's not the bike guys, it's the rider!!
"Final story, it's not the bike guys, it's the rider!!"? No way!, if that was true I'd feel like a MOron. Every year I have to take a big loss on last years bike so I can get the latest and greatest. That way I can be faster than ALL the guys riding around on last years antiques!
You guys are SICK but I like that. Great job guys, another interesting and informative article. I rode the big track at Willow 28 years ago and remember it frequently. You HAD to get a good drive coming on to the front straight so everyone could see how fast you were, what scary foolishness. Pete you must have replaced that clutch by now, the REX wants some of that Bandit!
As the the popularity increased, more time would be purchased by different-companies who (if were lucky) would begin competing with each other...Or, it could just end-up costing more and be more crowded, like you pretty-much said.
Me, if I could get 4hrs of track time (spread over a month) that would be more than enough. After an hour of hard riding, I'M Wasted!