Tips & tricks | 28 Jun 2022

Buying A Bike For Track Use? Here Are The Key Things To Remember

Having been associated with two-wheeler racing for over three now, TVS Motor Company has been playing a key role in popularising two-wheeler motorsport in India. With initiatives like the One Make Championship, the Company has tried to democratise track racing and made it accessible for everyone.

If you are someone who wants to learn the finer nuances of track riding, you can hone your skills at one of the three racetracks in India, that is - the MMRT in Chennai, the Kari Speedway near Coimbatore, or the F1 grade BIC in New Delhi. While only these three tracks have been catering to the needs of track racing enthusiasts until now, the good news is that quite a few new race tracks are coming up in India, promising to make riding around a racetrack more accessible to biking enthusiasts from various parts of the country.

If you are a true-blue racing enthusiast, and wish to hone your dexterity at going around a racetrack, you will need to own a bike that helps you learn the skill quickly. In this article we talk about all the aspects that you need to consider while buying a track bike.

 

Assess Your Skills

There is a wide variety of track friendly motorcycles available in the market. From the humble 150 cc singles to the thundering 1000 cc inline fours, there’s a sport specced motorcycle for every budget and need. A more expensive, or powerful, or faster motorcycle, however, isn’t necessarily the best for you. If you have been riding 100 cc scooters or low output commuter bikes sedately until now, then you would probably do well with a 150-200 cc sports motorcycle to get you accustomed to track riding without the risk of a serious fall or injury. If, however, you have been riding 250-350 cc singles or twins with reasonable confidence and skill around bends, you can choose a motorcycle up-to 350-400 cc to further hone your skills. Riders who are past the stage of learning the essential skills at a racetrack can consider the bigger, and much faster 600-1000 cc capacity machines. The underlying thought here is to assess your skill honestly. If you are a novice, and choose a high-powered machine as a starting point, the chances of you ending up in a bad crash are significant. Hence it is extremely important to grade yourself for your riding ability honestly, and choose a motorcycle which allows you to upgrade your skill in a progressive manner.

 

Pick a track friendly motorcycle

While cubic capacity is one thing, motorcycle type is also an important aspect to consider. Over the past two decades, the Indian market has evolved a lot, and today there’s a whole variety of motorcycle genres available to choose from. Starting with streetfighter nakeds, to scramblers, to tourers and ADVs, specialised motorcycles for every terrain and riding style are available. For a racetrack, however, a fully faired sports motorcycle with a reasonably committed riding stance, raised exhaust, and rear set pegs for clearance is important. Fully faired motorcycles are advantageous, as they are streamlined to offer minimum aerodynamic resistance, typically have a higher output, their rider triangle lends itself better for aggressive riding, and the track-oriented ones among them are often equipped with goodies such as suspension adjustability, quickshifter, redline flasher, lap timer etc. TVS Apache RR 310, for example, is a wind-tunnel tested motorcycle, which is fully ready for the racetrack. The motorcycle comes with front and rear suspension adjustability, preload as well as damping adjustment, quickshifter, built-in lap timer and is designed for the dual purpose of street as well as track use. A motorcycle like the TVS Apache RR 310, therefore, is ideal as a track motorcycle for intermediate riders.

 

Adjustability Is The Key

Different riders have different riding styles. Also, different race tracks demand a motorcycle to behave differently. A motorcycle that can adapt itself to the rider and racetrack is therefore a great choice. The ability to be able to fine tune your motorcycle also allows you to get an edge over other riders if it’s a competitive event. From the handlebar position, to suspension preload and damping, every bit of adjustability offered on a motorcycle gives it an edge over motorcycles which don’t have such options. Go for a motorcycle that offers you all that adjustability, allowing you to extract that wee bit extra from it, as you upgrade your skill level.

 

Cost

There’s simply no limit to how much you can spend over a fast motorcycle. You will have to clearly define your budget for the motorcycle that you are going to buy for your track days, and will also have to make sure that the money you spend on maintenance, including service and spares isn’t too much. A motorcycle being ridden around the racetrack is prone to crashing more often than its street-oriented counterparts. If the parts which have to be frequently replaced are beyond your budget, then you will soon have a dysfunctional piece of metal and plastic lying in your garage. Unless money is not a concern, buy a motorcycle which is made locally, isn’t too expensive, and the service and spares of which won’t cost you a bomb.

 

Is It Just For The Track Or For Street Use As Well?

While making your buying decision, you also have to ask yourself whether you are going to be using the motorcycle only for the racetrack, or as your everyday (or occasional) street ride as well. There are purpose-built motorcycles with extremely peaky, high revving engines, overcommitted stance, stiff suspension and uncomfortable seating which are very effective on a track, but fail miserably in the real world. This is fine, as long as it’s a motorcycle that is dedicated for track use and its singular purpose is to help you go faster around the circuit with no compromises. If the motorcycle will be used only occasionally on the track and more often on the street, then something which has a slightly more forgiving stance, an absorbent suspension, comfortable seats and an engine which has a decent low and mid-range for low-speed usage is important too. As an example, TVS Apache RR 310 straddles the two requirements perfectly. It is a motorcycle which feels completely at home around the racetrack, but with its balanced rider triangle and practical, torquey engine, is perfectly usable on a day-to-day basis as well. Make sure you decide the use case for your track motorcycle properly, before zeroing in on the final choice.

 

Track Oriented Features Are A Plus

There are some features which suit a track biased motorcycle more than a regular motorcycle. Quick shifters, wind tunnel tested fairings, lightweight alloys, race spec suspension, lap timers, slip and assist clutch, adjustable levers, lap timer etc are features that go a long way in enhancing your performance and experience on a track. All other things being equal, a motorcycle that checks the maximum boxes in terms of such features, for a reasonable price is generally a better choice.

 

Reputation And Reliability

Simply put, there are two-wheeler makers who put their motorcycles on the track in competitive racing, and then there are the ones who don’t. The learnings from the racetrack in terms of riding dynamics, performance and reliability are priceless, and help manufacturers build motorcycles which are better not just for the track, but for road use as well. A motorcycle that has to be used on a racetrack has to go through a lot more abuse and extremes as compared to a street motorcycle. One should, therefore, go with a motorcycle which comes from a brand with a proven track record in racing, and is known for making reliable motorcycles. Having won a few championships is always a plus for the brand. A motorcycle maker which can win at the highest level of competition is likely to make a motorcycle that helps you go the fastest around a lap as well. Also, reliability is as important as performance, as even with the best skills, a racer won’t be able to do much with a motorcycle that breaks down midway, would they?

Having dominated the motorcycle racing scene in India for over 35 years, participated and won in several international championships, and securing the best finish by an Indian manufacturer in the Dakar Rally, at TVS Motor, we understand what goes into making racing motorcycles. All of that knowledge and learning is also duly transferred to our road going motorcycles, and that’s the reason why our bikes are the tools of choice for professional racers. So, when you’re buying your track machine , keep the above points in mind before making a decision would definitely help, as coming from us, you can rest assured it’s all sound advice.

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