Track Time

The first big step in your rac­ing ca­reer is ac­tu­ally very small

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Brody Cox

in europe, it’s com­mon to see adult rid­ers cir­cling a kart track on tiny mo­tor­cy­cles. If you’re ac­cus­tomed to watch­ing Mo­togp, the scale seems all wrong , but some of the world’s finest road rac­ers use small, track-prepped bikes for train­ing purposes. If 50, 85, or 150cc is enough for Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, they’re prob­a­bly worth your at­ten­tion too.

Min­i­moto rac­ing doesn’t re­quire a pro-level salary; the rel­a­tively low cost is a ma­jor draw here. Used small-bore ma­chines can be had for as much as a nice hel­met, and it doesn’t take much wrench­ing to turn one into a track-ready ma­chine. Ba­sic mod­i­fi­ca­tions—like de­cent road tires and suspension up­grades—go a long way. Min­i­moto track­days can be had for tens of dol­lars, and with only a hand­ful of horse­power on tap the con­sum­ables like tires, gas, and brake pads last many times longer.

Shorter wheel­bases mean minibikes are quick to re­spond to rider in­puts and track sur­face in­con­sis­ten­cies, which helps a rider de­velop re­flexes that are use­ful—if not down­right nec­es­sary—for rid­ing larger bikes. Learn­ing bike con­trol through body po­si­tion and rep­e­ti­tion is eas­ier on a bike that you’re not par­tic­u­larly wor­ried about crash­ing, and the risk for se­ri­ous in­jury is lower, due to slower speeds. To­gether, it’s a com­bi­na­tion that makes minibike rac­ing an ideal launch­ing pad for mo­tor­cy­clists look­ing to im­prove their rid­ing.

De­spite the low thresh­old for en­try, mini-rac­ing still feels high-stakes. Mini-spe­cific or­ga­ni­za­tions of­fer club rac­ing just as in­tense and com­pet­i­tive as full-fledged su­per­bike races. You learn the im­por­tance of choos­ing a line, stay­ing con­sis­tent un­der pres­sure, and ini­ti­at­ing safe passes. If you want to dice with your bud­dies, the smaller stature of th­ese bikes makes it easy to trans­port more of them at once. They won’t take up too much ex­tra space in the garage—that is, un­til you bring a whole fleet of them home.

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