Get a grip on your next track­day

Be­come a cir­cuit tyre ex­pert

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Riding - Michael Neeves MCN Chief Road Tester Thun­der­sport GP1 Elite racer and Ron Haslam Race School Elite in­struc­tor

Road tyres are up to the job

Most mod­ern-day, gen­eral-use sports tyres have enough grip for a track­day, even on a 1000. Even sports tour­ing rub­ber is fine, es­pe­cially in the cold and damp. Even Ron Haslam uses sports-tour­ing rub­ber at his race school.

Con­sider track­day tyres

Strangely, most rid­ers don’t use ded­i­cated track­day tyres, but they’re best for the job. All the main tyre com­pa­nies make them. They look like race tyres, with big bal­loon pro­files for fast steer­ing and side grip. But the com­pound is friend­lier and more man­age­able and they don’t need tyre warm­ers.

Don’t be tempted by race rub­ber

At best a race tyre will be about a sec­ond faster a lap than a good track­day tyre. That isn’t worth it given how fickle they are. Race rub­ber will need to suit the track con­di­tions per­fectly, need tyre warm­ers and will de­grade af­ter too many heat cy­cles. They won’t heat up quickly on a cold track ei­ther.

You have been worned!

You’d be sur­prised what tyres peo­ple use on a track­day. At the one ex­treme you have the race tyre bri­gade and the other the: ‘ig­no­rance is bliss’ lot. They’ll be on miss-matched, squared-off tyres and usu­ally end up in the gravel.

Feel the pres­sure

Road pres­sures are too high for the cir­cuit. Fronts can go as low as 31psi and rears from 30-31psi, de­pend­ing on the make and model of tyre. You can fine-tune pres­sures: less air gives you a big­ger con­tact patch, more grip, but less sta­bil­ity. More air: bet­ter sta­bil­ity, faster steer­ing, but less grip. Re­mem­ber to change them back for the road.

Sus­pen­sion set­tings

Track­day tyres don’t need spe­cial sus­pen­sion set­tings by them­selves but the fact they’re giv­ing you the grip to go faster means you’ll be load­ing the sus­pen­sion more. You’ll need to ad­just preload and damp­ing for more con­trol and sup­port and if tyres have dif­fer­ent di­am­e­ters to stan­dard you’ll need to ad­just ride height and trac­tion con­trol set­tings.

Don’t let rain be a pain

If you like rid­ing in the rain, wets have in­cred­i­ble grip, but don’t bother with tyre warm­ers. Check rec­om­mended pres­sures – too soft and the tread blocks squidge to­gether and the tyre can’t dis­perse wa­ter.

Think about the type of track rid­ing you will be do­ing. If you are a to­tal track­day nut it could be worth try­ing some ded­i­cated track day tyres but bear in mind that most mod­ern sports-tour­ing rub­ber is more than ad­e­quate. You might feel like a hero, but never use race tyres on a track­day. You should lower your pres­sures for the best con­tact patch on track. Fronts can be 31psi and rears 30-31psi.

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