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pgeldz

Advanced Motorcycle Training/Track Day...Completed!

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pgeldz
Well, as some of you know, my bike has been down for a while waiting on parts from overseas, parts to come back from powder coat, etc.  We were able to get all the mechanicals done in time for me to complete an Advanced Motorcycle Training course (AMT) with some track time at the end yesterday.
 
The day started in the classroom, going over some specific techniques on braking, cornering, and body positioning.  After that we headed out to a portion of the track that wasn't being used, as there was an actual track day going on independent of our AMT course.  From there we worked on specific braking drills and then was able to do some "sighting laps" for us to see what the track actually looked like, as many never been on a track at all...including me.
 
I've done many track days with 4 wheels (I have a track prepped Subaru WRX and Mazda Miata), but never on 2 wheels.  Closest thing to a trackday on a bike for me was when I was stationed in Southern California and would ride Angela's Crest Highway every weekend.  Felt like a racetrack in the mountains.  As fun as that road is though, it's just that - a public road.  A place where one really shouldn't be exploring the limits of man and machine.
 
I knew when I bought the FZ-07 I'd want to take it to the track, but felt as though I should have some proper instruction first.  I'm no stranger to motorcycling, as I've been riding on and off for nearly 30 years and was an alternate safety instructor for the MSF advanced riders' course on George Air Force Base back in the day.  Having said all that, I'm still a firm believer in upgrading the "driver".  There is always something to learn.  The minute you think there isn't is when you become complacent and can get seriously hurt.
 
The braking drills were extremely useful...for some it was the first time they've been put to the test, and for me it was a great opportunity to test out the FZ-07, especially with all the new goodies on it.
 
The bike did incredibly well.  The instructors couldn't believe how short the stopping distances were.  One even asked me if I changed my brakes to which I replied, "Yes, I upgraded the front pads and lines all around, but I'm really  here to upgrade the driver."  He smiled and gave me a thumbs up :)
 
After the drills were over it was time for a small debrief and then lunch.  Everyone started to check out the FZ-07 and seemed to be a big hit.  One of the instructors said he loved the way it sounds at full song...and thought it sounded like a mean Ducati (I have the Akra Ti with no baffle) :)
 
The second part of the day started with more discussion and then a different braking drill - trail braking whilst leaned over.  We started braking at one point with knee out and then had to leave the brakes on and come to a controlled stop where the instructor was.  Each successive run had the instructor deeper inside the corner.  Everyone did pretty good but one gentleman was too light on initial pressure and found himself squeezing way to hard mid corner to stop where in the instructor was resulting in a pretty nasty low side.  The EMT's came right away and said he may have a broken collar bone, reminding all of us of the inherent risks associated with our sport.  It also was validation for me that this type of training is best suited in a controlled environment, and NOT on the street.  He did have an unfortunate accident yes, but at least he didn't slide into a curb and break his neck, get run over by another car, etc.
 
So with the EMT's taking car of this gentleman, we wrapped it up and waited to get a couple of sessions on the track.
 
There were three instructors for our class and they broke us off into groups.  In my group it was only me and another guy.
 
The first session was very tame, considering the unfortunate low side earlier.  The slow pace was a blessing though, as it kept us all in check and let us get familiar with the track and the proper lines.  It took everything for me not to just stab it and wheelie down the front straight but I kept my head and just followed suit.  
 
The second session was game on.  I asked my instructor if he could actually follow us to critique body position, track position, etc. and he happily obliged.   He led for about a lap and then waved me by.  I only got one clean stab around, because we actually caught the other group within a lap!  He then passed me back, led us around the other group, and then waved my counterpart by to get a look at him from behind.
 
During the cool down lap the instructor got next to me and gave me a big thumbs up.  Upon debrief, I asked him what group I'd end up in if I was part of the actual track day.  With the A group being competitive weekend racer types, and C group being new to track riding, he said I'd be in the B group.  Not too shabby since it was my first time ever, and on track I've never been on before with a mostly unfamiliar bike.  I was grinning in my helmet from ear to ear.  I'm totally hooked.
 
Things I learned:
 
Got really familiar with the front brake during the drills, which helped immensely during the track session, as I knew about where the limit was and how far I can leave the brakes on during cornering.
 
My leathers were too tight.  I originally bought two sizes and returned the bigger one as I was always told they'd stretch, and if faced with choosing between the two to get the smaller size.  Well, it was like 90 degrees out and they didn't stretch much at all.  I wore them 2 times before that to break them in a little, but I don't think it worked at all.  I felt constricted the whole time, and literally had hotspots on my body when I took them off.  The knees were very tight.  I used up all the stretch panel in that area and the tops of my knee caps were bright Red, as were the tops of my shoulders.  I think I might get the bigger size and if I do, I'll likely put the smaller one up for sale.
 
Downshifting and rev matching.   Definitely could use some more time in this area to be smoother.  The bike has a lot of engine braking so it was throwing me off guard a little.  The bike makes so much torque though you can really just leave it in gear and have fun.  Less gearbox action if you want.
 
Top end power.  I changed my gearing (went up two teeth on the rear), and although on the street it's extremely fun, I seem to run out of rpms a little faster now, which probably exacerbates the engine braking.  Gonna leave it be, but I do need more time on track to get used to it at full boil.
 
All in all it was a great day, and looking forward to the next one :)
 
- Paulie
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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jerryv
Nice write up ... any pics of all the mods made to your ride or any vid's from the track?

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pgeldz
Nice write up ... any pics of all the mods made to your ride or any vid's from the track?
Sadly no.  My GoPro is in my track car which is currently out of state being worked on. 
I'm still waiting on some items to call the FZ-07 project "done", and then I'll put up a thread about its transformation, to include pics and reviews of all the mods :)
 
- Paulie

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Cruizin
Sounds like a great day at the track. Here in Boise, we either have to truck our bikes to Salt Lake City or Portland, Oregon to get to a track. There is a group here trying to get funding to build a track here but that is a tall hill to climb.

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Guru
Excellent write up ! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to see some pictures of your bike, maybe a sneak preview?

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fromthecage
Great write-up. After a bit more riding, I would love to get into either the advanced riders course or a superbike course. Glad you had a blast and waiting to see pictures of your bike!

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pgeldz
Thanks guys!
 
I'd take some pics but the bike is apart again, lol. Waiting for some other small items to come from overseas, and some other items to come back from the powder coater before it all goes back together :)
 
I promise, as soon as it's finished you guys will be the first to know :)
 
In the meantime, I signed up for the California Superbike School 2-day course, as a Birthday present for myself. I've been wanting to do this for nearly 20 years, so it's time. I can't wait!!!
 
This is the full school where you use their bikes, leathers, etc. My only concern is that the FZ is going to feel slow after this and I'm going to want something with more top end power, as the school uses BMW S1000RR's for their program.
 
On a positive note though, I'd rather ring the FZ's neck on future track days than have a bike I'm either scared to push on, can't explore it's limits.
 
Wish me luck, lol.
 
- Paulie
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motomeek
Thanks for sharing! Great to hear about other's experiences, especially in settings off the street.
 
Can't wait to see your bike when you have it all back together.
 
And sorry to hear about your tracksuit woes. I too understand how it feels to be in a suit that seems too tight. I'm just hoping if I wear it more, it'll stretch enough to be perfect in all the right places. 

Instagram: @meekmade | You don't need to flat foot a bike to ride it.

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