TRACK DAY TYRE TIPS

There are many mis­con­cep­tions when it comes to tyre choice for track days. Here’s Gary’s guide to achiev­ing rub­ber per­fec­tion...

Fast Bikes - - TYRE ADVICE -

W hen it comes to tyres, first and fore­most, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that they are the only part of the bike in con­tact with the track. Un­less, of course, you’ve ex­ceeded the lim­its of ad­he­sion, or made a mis­take, and then it won’t just be the tyres mak­ing con­tact with the cir­cuit…

WHERE IS THE LIMIT OF AD­HE­SION?

A mod­ern tyre’s limit is way be­yond the av­er­age rider. How­ever, it’s easy to make mis­takes and ask the tyre and bike to do some­thing it wasn’t de­signed to do – and this can po­ten­tially be trou­ble. To help make the best use of the grip avail­able, be­low are some tips to help you get through the day.

Al­ways set pres­sures to the man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­men­da­tions for track use. These pres­sures could be hot or cold pres­sures, but my ad­vice is to al­ways set them while hot. Set from cold you don’t know what they will rise to as am­bi­ent and track temp’ can vary through the day, so one par­tic­u­lar day will give dif­fer­ent re­sults to an­other day. Keep­ing the hot pres­sure checked pro­vides bet­ter re­sults, not only with grip lev­els but also dura­bil­ity and, in turn, es­sen­tially your pocket.

For ses­sion one, set the hot pres­sures on the warm­ers slightly higher than you’d want them. When on warm­ers the discs are cold, the hub is only slightly warm and when they’re up to work­ing tem­per­a­ture it will af­fect the pres­sures as you’re now adding ex­tra heat which in­creases pres­sures. So, go and do the ses­sion and get all com­po­nents up to work­ing temp’ then come back in and re­duce the pres­sure to your de­sire. This should give you the most ac­cu­rate set­ting to start your day.

Make the fol­low­ing a ‘must do’ part of your checks be­fore you have your ban­ter with your mate when you come in off track.

Bike on pad­dock stands Warm­ers on Check pres­sures Ad­just if needed Tell your mates how good you are… If you’re rid­ing home, be sure to raise the pres­sures back to the man­u­fac­turer’s road rec­om­men­da­tions.

DO I NEED TYRE WARM­ERS?

On track then it’s ad­vis­able to use warm­ers, but not es­sen­tial, es­pe­cially with road tyres. They’re de­signed to work at lower tem­per­a­tures and will of­fer more grip at these temps than a road le­gal race tyre (or slicks). Road le­gal race tyres and slicks, like our (Bridge­stone) R10 & V02, op­er­ate at far higher temps and ide­ally need warm­ers. They can be used with­out but it will take longer to reach op­ti­mum tem­per­a­ture, re­sult­ing in lost track time. If you don’t have warm­ers, then you will ben­e­fit by us­ing a road-based tyre. Let’s put it this way, Leon Haslam can lap Don­ing­ton on a stan­dard ’Blade on the Bridge­stone T30 Evo tour­ing tyre in sub 1 min 35 sec­onds…

If you do buy tyre warm­ers, be sure to buy them with a vari­able ther­mo­stat that has a range that will suit all tyres. The dif­fer­ence in op­ti­mum op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­tures be­tween road/race tyres is con­sid­er­able. If you heated the road tyre to a race tyre temp, it will de­grade the com­pound and re­duce grip lev­els. The whole point of warm­ers is to in­crease grip lev­els!

WETS! HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED WETS?

Good ques­tion – the gen­eral rule of thumb is to go look at the track. If there’s spray, then you need wets. If there’s no spray, then there’s no wa­ter to shift so you don’t need wets. It will also de­pend on how wet the re­main­der of the cir­cuit is as to what your choice will be, so go with the high­est per­cent­age. Or, if its damp all the way round, go for an in­ter­me­di­ate or soft race tyre op­tion. As a last re­sort, you could in­vest in a tyre cut­ter and make your own in­ters and wets from soft slicks

One ques­tion we get asked on a reg­u­lar ba­sis is ‘do I need warm­ers on wets?’ That’s up to the in­di­vid­ual. Warm wets will prob­a­bly mean a more con­fi­dent start to your ses­sion, but be care­ful. If you don’t have ad­justable warm­ers, chances are you’ve heated the wets up to dry tyre temps. This will cook the com­pound and, se­condly, will give you huge amounts of grip to start but from this point on, the tyres will be los­ing all their heat, which, in turn, means grip lev­els will de­crease. So, turn one on the first lap you wind the throt­tle on and no move­ment, do the same on a wet with a third of the tem­per­a­ture and it could be a very dif­fer­ent re­sult. If you do use warm­ers on wets, then en­sure you change the set­ting to suit. And check the tem­per­a­ture rec­om­men­da­tions, too.

TYRE SIZES

You may have your favourite brand when it comes to tyres but even chang­ing the type of tyre in the same brand can cause is­sues. Ever won­dered why? Let me ex­plain – tyres can vary in sizes from width to over­all di­am­e­ter. For ex­am­ple, a cer­tain tyre like a Bridge­stone R10 medium rear (180/55-17) will have an over­all di­am­e­ter of, say, 640mm, but the S21 could have an over­all di­am­e­ter of 634mm. This means when you fit the S21, the rear of the bike will be low­ered by 3mm, and will likely af­fect the han­dling. The fronts can vary in the same way too, so be care­ful. You could eas­ily change your ag­ile bike into an ill han­dling chop­per. There you are scratch­ing your head, won­der­ing how that’s hap­pened, think­ing to your­self that you’ve not changed any­thing but, un­know­ingly, you have!

Tyres are a cru­cial part of your bike and are there to keep you up­right. Pay them some at­ten­tion and if you treat them right, they’ll do the same.

Beau­ti­ful wear!

You can change tyres your­self, but it’s far eas­ier get­ting some­one else to do it!

Tyre pres­sures are cru­cial.

A set per ses­sion? If only!

We love a tyre lackey...

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