After making the decision to head to the track this season, my attention quickly turned to determining what bike I should take with me. While momentary consideration was given to acquiring a bike specifically for track days and club racing, there was never really any doubt that it would be anything other than my trusted 2006 Honda CBR600RR taking this new adventure with me.
Aside from solving the challenge of already limited garage space and staying within my planned budget, the best thing about using this bike will be that it is familiar. After nearly a decade of riding it, every aspect of this motorcycle is second nature, which will allow me to focus on learning new skills instead of mastering a new bike.
Next up was ensuring that the motorcycle would be compliant with the technical requirements of the organizations that run the events I plan on attending. For track days, a discussion with Rob Darlington of HardNox Track Dayz confirmed the reality that very little modification is actually required. In addition to ensuring that you arrive at the track with a mechanically sound motorcycle that has lots of tire tread and brakes remaining, the only other requirement is to tape up or remove any glass parts, which on most modern bikes is limited to the mirrors. Now, that is the minimum, but based on my intentions to spend some serious time on the track, there were other considerations.
No matter whom I spoke with, the first modification they suggested for track days was upgrading the braking with braided steel lines and sintered brake pads to ensure adequate stopping power. Secondly was bodywork. Hopefully I will never find myself lying on the track surface, but if this situation does materialize, I will be thankful that I opted to purchase a second-hand (but never used) set of race bodywork for a price that is less than replacing even a single piece of the original OEM plastics.
The final consideration was whether or not to install a set of frame sliders. I have to admit to being surprised how divided people were on this subject. On one hand there are the definite benefits of protecting the bike from the racing surface in the event of a fall. Conversely there are many who are firmly against them due to the risk that a frame slider digging into soft ground beside the track can send a bike cartwheeling skyward. After considering all the available advice, I decided that the added protection of frame sliders was worth the risk.
While these modifications go far beyond the minimum requirements for a track day, they provide the opportunity to return the bike to its stock format when I am done on the track. They also take care of the majority of the requirements for the next step in my summer plans. By putting these items in place, the bike is not only set up as an effective track day machine, but it will only require a few more items such as safety wiring, switching out the coolant, removal of the side stand, and installation of clutch and brake guards when I am ready to take the next step and compete in a club race.
Stay tuned for more of this adventure. Next time I will review riding gear for the track as well as other equipment and tools you should plan to take with you.