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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
so I've been riding for a few years... put down a good 200,000 miles on various motorcycles, thinking i'd like to refine my canyon riding skills somewhere where i'm less likely to fly off a cliff into oblivion if I push things too far.

So, I want to go down to buttonwillow raceway for a track day, and i'm wondering if I will look like an idiot on my wee strom, and two will I be more likely to get hurt on it due to it being a duck out of water.

the bike is basically stock with a few cosmetic exceptions and stiffer front springs, and a dl1000 shock on the back. I run street tires, conti road attack rear and pilot roads in the front.
 

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Garandman has, there may be others. He's since purchased a dedicated trackbike in an SV650.
 

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I'd either rent a bike with one of the track day organizations or just buy an inexpensive 1st gen SV650 and modify as needed to meet track day duties.

Coming off a modified SV650 to my Wee, it's a very different ride in the corners. I'm pretty sure if I rode as I usually did on my SV, I'd be scraping the peg feelers even more than the previous owner did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yea not ready to pull the trigger on getting a second bike just yet... I have my eyes on an aprilia futura or a honda vfr800, but thats a ways off...

I just want to spend a weekend and a couple hundred bucks or less having a little fun, and learning a bit more about how to really push a bike to the limit in a bit safer of an environment.
 

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Just do it.

If you really get into track days, a dedicated bike is worthwhile. But I bought an SV650s after having a blast on the V-Strom, and now my knee is hurting enough that I may have to sell it and go back to the DL or something roomy. In general, you will find the track day instructors like V-Stroms and their riders, because they know you probably ride it more, and better, than the kid on a GIXXAH! who is going to show them "how it's done" for about 1/2 a lap....*

In the Novice group there is a HUGE variation in riding skills and equipment. You will not be the most experienced or least experienced rider your first time, you won't have the slowest or the fastest bike, you won't be the bravest or most fearful, most or least talented, won't be the smartest or dumbest, and you won't have the slowest or the fastest lap times. You WILL have a LOT more respect for Suzuki engineers once you ride the V-Strom on a track. You will also horrify many sport bike riders and delight the instructors.

The way it works most places is you go through tech inspection. Different track day organizations have different rules, but most now require you to safety wire your oil filter, drain plug, and filler cap. This takes a cordless drill, a few bits and about 15 minutes. You use a hose clamp on the oil filter. The V-Strom is virtually identical to the SV in terms of this prep. I'll tell you right now that if you weigh more than about 170 you are going to have to take it easy or scrape hard parts. My bike has an upgraded suspension. No biggie, that's what the peg feelers are for:


Also funny when you come out of a bike shop and see three guys crouched down looking at your rear tire: the "reverse chicken strip"




Then they have a riders meeting, and the first groups go off. All the Novice riders go in for a chalk talk to learn in-and-out rules, hand signals, passing areas, etc.

When you go out the first session of the day, most track day organizations will decree follow-the-leader for a few laps so everyone gets a feel for the track, sees the line, shakes out any mechanical problems or nerves. Some will even do an entire first session as follow-the-leader if it is cold out. there will also be a substantial number of control riders and/or instructors.

Last season I got the SV and got into the Intermediate group - could have done that on the V-Strom just as well. The SV is about 3 seconds a lap faster on the highly technical NHMS, not sure elsewhere.

Here's a video of my second-ever track day. I was still in the Novice group and turning laps consistently in the range of 1:40: to 1:50. It's actually much more difficult to get consistent fast laps in Novice because passing is limited and there are some really slow riders out there - but for different reasons. Some are new, some are scared, and some just like cruising around without working too hard. So don't get caught up and start racing: ride your own ride.


Now here's a video about a year later and my 4th track day, 2nd on the SV. The SV seems to be about 3 seconds a lap faster - noticable but not a huge amount. You'll notice the lines are a little tighter and the rider technique a little better. There actually doesn't seem to be a big difference in lap times - just closer to 1:40 than 1:50. My best lap is around 1:35 and there are more experienced, more talented riders who can ride the same bike in the mid 1:20's. That may not sound like much but it means they will lap you twice in the session. Those guys are in the Expert group, though. The guys who pass me after the 4:30 mark were doing low 1:30's lap times, which is my goal for this season - if I can ride.


Top speed on this track was a probably a little over 100mph on the V-Strom, probably 110 or so for the SV. A DL1000 or SV1000 isn't much faster on this track because they are heavier so while they have more power, they are slower to transition between turns, take longer to slow down, and are thus harder to maintain a rhythm. In fact SV's (and by extension, DL) do well on this track against 600cc sport bikes because they have a lot of torque throughout the rpm range. Even though the 600's have up to 40 more hp, they can only get it down on the straight and the straight is short. At higher-speed tracks that would not be the case: there's usually "the" bike class for every track. Almost anyplace has higher average speeds than the 10-turn 1.6 mile NHMS.

By contrast, I took a course earlier this year at NJMP with CSS on a BMW S1000RR - 148hp in rain mode, 193 in sport mode. I was backing off in the straights at 130-140mph and guys were passing me going 20mph faster, then tucking in for the 70 degree RH turn at the end of the straight. Fast enough for me....

* A young co-worker took his Ducati 848 to the track for a track day. He was convinced that he was going to "show them how it's done." He said that he had an epiphany when he was going at it as hard as he could in a LH turn - then noticed an instructor, on the outside of the turn, sitting up on his bike, steering with RH, and waving at him with his left hand to "cool it." He realized then - before he "ran out of talent" - that just maybe those guys could teach him a thing or two....

You will meet some wonderful people and have a great time! Do it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I ground my curb feelers down flat on angeles crest highway long ago, but I have noticed I haven't touched down since I dropped in the dl1000 shock ( I weigh 278) so yea i'm fat, and it shows in the bikes behavior.

man it does look like you had a blast. guess the next step is trying to come up with the necessary safety equipment. none of my gear is 360 degree zippered :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
has anyone ever replaced their feelers? once I tried to get some more from dealer and they didn't have them in stock and had never ordered any.
 

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You can usually rent a track suit. I bought a used Vanson suit for $450 as the rental was $50-75 per day and they didn't always have one that fit. It's white so I look like a flying marshmallow, but the price was right given a new Vanson race suit is nearly $2,000.

If you are hitting the curb feelers, your suspension is too soft, your technique is bad, or both. If you weigh 270 the suspension is MUCH too soft. Lee Parks estimates that 80-90% of the road bikes in the country do not have appropriate suspension settings.

I have 1.0 kg/mm sonic springs in front. I have an ELKA rear shock with a spring rate suitable for my riding weight of 260 or so.

Not sure what the difference is in DL1000 spring rate - if any. But Sasquatch can hook you up with an upgraded stock shock and appropriate spring. Or you can put a new spring on yourself - they're cheap. You can certainly max the preload at both ends.

At my first track day I still had the stock suspension and had to be very tidy about getting on to the brakes in a straight line, enter the corner, and then get back on the gas to raise the bike on the suspension. I went from hitting the curb feelers 4 times a lap to almost none. I'm not sure I ever touched them once the higher rate springs were in place. I did hit the side stand foot once. Contrary to popular belief leaning the bike a lot is not the best way to get around a corner: you've got to get your body off the bike. I still have a lot to learn but have worked hard to get my body moving - it's hard work but pays huge dividends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have touched down a lot less since I swapped the front springs out for 1.0's and got the dl1000 which I think is 40 pounds heavier. They still touch down on occasion but it's literally when the tires are about to give out, about as far as i'd ever chuck the wee over anyway.. once they start to tag down I know I have to start putting myself into a exaggerated lean off the side of the bike to get that last but of turn in.
 

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you've got to get your body off the bike
The Lee Parks' Total Control riding class, held in a parking lot with great instructors, would be an excellent preliminary to track riding. I took the class but don't ride on a track.

Lee Parks:
 

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Agree, and the Lee Parks van now has that pic on it!

RedAnt and I took the ARC II last summer - great courses and great track prep.
 

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Took my previous Wee to a couple track days, tons-o-fun.

1.0 springs, SV Racing brake caliper mod, and Conti Trail Attacks, all worked well together.

Made an 11th hour totally ghetto camera mount too, to record behind.....it got almost the same amount of laughs that me riding the Wee did, LOL:












Here's the vid from the back of the bike, yes it's pretty rough, mount went in garbage after track day.

 

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Perfect track bike

I've done 20 track days over the last 3 years. All on a dedicated R1. I can't count the number of times I've been passed by a rider on one 650 or another both on the straights and in the curves. I haven't considered putting my Wee on the track but NOW I'm thinking, why not. A little tape (for the lights), add a few slider pegs here and there, change to some Pirelli Corsa IIs and here we go.

Track days are fun and great for improving technique and learning the feel of the bike when it's working hard. NESBA is a terrific organization with dedicated control riders that are willing to work with the novice riders, intermediates and advanced. You're sorted by skill level with limits on what's allowed on the track. All the rules are on the website Motorcycle Track Days | NESBA
 

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I've seen BMW GS, Goldwings, KTM dual sports and other non-sport bikes at my track days. Faster riders just go around and slower riders cry a little. As long as you go there for yourself - to have fun, maybe learn something - you will do just that. What you're mounted on doesn't matter nearly as much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
holy crap! I didn't know you could drag a knee on a v-strom, I've got to start learning how to lean my body over like that.
 

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so I've been riding for a few years... put down a good 200,000 miles on various motorcycles, thinking i'd like to refine my canyon riding skills somewhere where i'm less likely to fly off a cliff into oblivion if I push things too far.

So, I want to go down to buttonwillow raceway for a track day, and i'm wondering if I will look like an idiot on my wee strom, and two will I be more likely to get hurt on it due to it being a duck out of water.

the bike is basically stock with a few cosmetic exceptions and stiffer front springs, and a dl1000 shock on the back. I run street tires, conti road attack rear and pilot roads in the front.
I did an ART clas two years ago , Advanced Rider Training. At first I too thought OMG. a race track and what will people think, etc. The instructors explained that we were here to have FUN and learn proper techniques for cornering. I think that was the best class ever, there are twomore classes I would like to do, but it gets pricey.
On the big track I was watching a group a few weeks back, about 10+ bikes tore the track up, just having a blast, trailing behind must have been a first timer. He took the turns like a gramma but kept going. Not one person made fun of him or yelled. We all start somewhere and with something.
If you are worried about how you look and what you ride - don't go !!!! You'll be too conscientious of how you look that you wont learn a damm thing. If you want the experience and training and fun and hope to learn something to improve your riding skills, by all means do it and enjoy !!!

EDIT : I now work at the Track in the sommer time. Miller Sports Park in UTAH, SBK is a blast
 

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Took my previous Wee to a couple track days, tons-o-fun.
Not that it was boring to watch, far from it, but I bet it takes longer to watch than it took to make.
 

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Not that it was boring to watch, far from it, but I bet it takes longer to watch than it took to make.
I'm not sure of you're speaking to the actual video or the "custom mount"?

The video took no time to make, as it was loaded direct to youtube, from the cheapy cam.

The mount consisted of a block of wood, with a ram ball screwed into the top, and another piece of wood below it, sandwiched on either side of my top-case plate.....10min's time invested, haha
 

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I had my 1150RT at some track days in California and nobody laughed at me. Buttonwillow is a good track for practicing because if you go off there's nothing to hit. It didn't happen to me, and i actually suspect I pushed it a little harder knowing that.
 

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I did a track day on my wee on a moderately fast track. I was so much slower on the straights it was embarrassing.

They turned us beginners loose with the novices after lunch, the morning was classroom and riding with instructors.

I just went out at the back of the group and when the faster riders started to catch up I'd pull off in the pits and wait till the group went by then went back out.

the confidence in my ability and seeing what the bike was capable of were well worth the money.
 
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