Motorcycle Track Days: Getting Started at Schools or Open Sessions

Motorcycle track days are fun, fast, and a great learning tool. If you’re addicted to speed, they allow you to push your motorcycle to the limit. If you’re tired of dodging cages, you’ll love the security of a car free road. Perhaps you want to become a better, safer, more proficient rider. All of these are phenomenal reasons to attend a motorcycle track day, improve your riding skills, and get your kicks for speed in a safe environment.

There are several ways to get your motorcycle on the track, from high profile schools, budget schools, and open track sessions. While costs can be high, there are many affordable options, and the benefits are well worth the investment for both the prolific commuter and the weekend warrior. Here are several of the options:

High profile schools offer close instruction, and advanced tactics for performance riding. You’ll learn a lot in these programs, in a short time, because the student to instructor ratio is very low, and the classroom training is race proven. Cost for these intensive sessions are high. Expect to pay between $400 on the low end, and upwards of $2,000 for multi-day schools on the high end. You’ll learn specific techniques to ride faster, lower your lap times, and demystify the physics of racing.

On the lighter side, there are several schools that provide instruction and track time for a more modest fee of $150-$300. While not as tactical, the instruction here is still excellent, depending on the school, especially for novice street riders where a small amount of instruction and track time go a long way, and translate into huge gains in proficiency, safety, and confidence on the street. This is a great way to start, test your bike, and begin thinking critically about your riding.

For around $150-$250 one may participate in open track days. While there is no instruction, if one inquires politely, many experienced riders may be willing to provide advice as time permits. Ultimately, the rider has to take it upon himself to experiment, practice techniques, and build knowledge of safe riding. The real value is the ability to practice riding your motorcycle on the track, learn and make mistakes in a more forgiving environment, and have experienced riders on hand for questions. In addition, the cost to learning ratio is good. Couple open track days, with a more expensive class, and you’ve got a great combo to gain skills.

To get started, check the websites of local tracks and motorcycle clubs for information on schools, and open track sessions. Start your research early, in the winter, as schedules fill up on popular tracks. Once you locate a program in your area, dive into their website and find out how much instruction they provide, how much time you get on the track, and what kind of protective clothing they require you to wear. Call them, ask questions, and make sure your bike and gear will pass inspection before you plunk down money.

As far as protective clothing, most schools require one or two piece leathers, while some approve of textile suits. If you’re not ready to spring for full leathers, for about $200 you can buy textile pants that zip onto your jacket, making a two piece suit. Don’t have a jacket? Although rare, some programs have leathers available for rent, as well as boots, gloves, and helmets.

The degree to which the bike must be prepped (lights taped, turn signals removed, clean fluids), varies from school-to-school. Ask before you sign up. The main requirement is low-mileage tires, and a leak free bike.

Track time is a great benefit for novice riders. You’ll become more proficient, more confident, and you’ll also be safer, as you know more about your motorcycle, how it handles, and how to ride it. All of this will increase your riding enjoyment–on the track, on the commute, and on the weekends.

Below, I’ve detailed some of the more nationally know schools that offer training across the country.

âÂ?¢ Reg Pridmore’s CLASS Motorcycle School (http://www.classrides.com/)
âÂ?¢ Keith Code’s California Superbike School (http://www.superbikeschool.com/)
âÂ?¢ Freddie Spencer’s High Performance Riding School (http://www.fastfreddie.com/)
� Fast Track Riders (http://www.fastrackriders.com/)
� Adrenaline Freaks (http://www.adrenalinefreaks.com/)

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