If you have ambitions to take your R NineT (this applies to all bikes, to be fair) on track then there are some simple basics that are worth covering off before you take the plunge. Whether it be a taster event, an evening session or full day of action, I’m going to cover it all here in its most basic form. This blog is designed for those who are thinking about taking their bike on track for the very first time to get a flavour for circuit riding. We'll be adding further blogs in the future for the more seasoned track day rider.
As my first crew chief said to me: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
This is going to sound beyond basic, but hear me out: “Clean your bike.”
Now, I don’t mean; hose off, spray detergent, wait 5 mins, hose off. NO. I mean clean your bike properly!
By getting down and dirty with your bike, you will see and spot things that you wouldn't have seen by wobbling a hose at it. In the evening of each race day, we cleaned the bikes. In the process of thoroughly cleaning your bike you will be able to spot any leaks, loose cables, broken cable ties, damage to the tyres, wear on the brake pads or loose bolts, just to name a few.
It’s in this process you might spot something that will possibly make or break your new adventure, or even save your life if it’s something serious.
Once again a real basic one, but something not to be overlooked. Before we go much further into tyres, I’ll tell you what you need in your toolbox to make sure your tyres can be set-up correctly for track action;
- Tyre Pressure Gauge with a Flexi-Hose - absolutely best way to achieve the right pressure, which is vital! We use a Draper 69924, choose a good brand as accuracy is key.
- Tyre Valve Extension 90 Degree - a godsend for getting in between those spokes. Just remember to take it off!
- Foot pump - it has to be a foot pump. A hand bike pump doesn't cut the mustard and will have you missing the first session or even more knackered than you need to be. If you have ridden to your day then a vital piece of kit for getting you home as those pressures need to be back up again for the road.
With the basic tools covered we're on to pressures.
32 PSI - FRONT 30 PSI - REAR
Before you go out for your first session, drop your pressures down to 32-30. Being your first session, it'll probably be early in the day and you'll be running a couple of slower sighting laps, broken up as the instructors will bring you in and out the pits to show you pit entry and exit. All of this means that you won’t generate enough heat to justify changing your pressures too much, you won’t really need to check your pressures till the end of session 2.
Check your tyres hot, make it the first thing you do after taking your gloves and helmet off (be careful as the brake discs will be HOT!) after session 2. Check and adjust them down to 32-30 at this point. If it’s a hot day, (25 degrees and above) then you can drop down to 30-28 for the afternoon, but make sure all tyre pressure adjustments (apart from the first and last of the day) are done hot.
If you've got high mileage on your tyres or they are squared off or feathered then we really recommend getting a new set. It’s not a make or break if your budget doesn’t allow it, but it really will make a big difference to your day, especially if they are squared off.
The dark art and one of the most spoken about topics in biking. First things first; you've done your clean, your down and dirty clean, right? So you know if your fork seals or rear shock have any obvious leaks which need looking at.
The original 2014-16 Roadsters have “adjustable” rear suspension, yet no adjustment on the front. The same goes for the Pure, Scrambler, Racer and Urban GS. If you have a post-2017 Roadster then you will have adjustable front forks, taken from the earlier model BMW S1000RR.
For a small cost we would recommend heading to your local suspension specialist so that they can check and adjust your sag, and give you best basic settings that the OE suspension can offer. It's just one of those things that can be done in advance that will improve your day and you won't need to then worry about as your mind will be filled with plenty of other things once you make it trackside.
Alternatively, source an aftermarket rear shock that has been correctly weighted to your weight and riding style. We use Wilbers 640 Road shocks in both of our bikes and they're more than enough for the track. We like to add a little extra height (no extra cost) in order to allow the bike to turn better.
Once again, a real basic one but one that needs to be covered. Bikes get very warm on track, even more so if we have a kind summer, and with this warmth comes a higher oil level as the oil expands inside the engine casings.
Make sure your oil level is no higher than half way up the the Oil Sight Glass (with the bike stood upright and the engine warm, it's very important it’s not measured on the side stand). If it’s a touch higher than halfway, just a bit, don’t sweat it too much. However, if it’s at the very top of the sight glass, then we recommend getting some taken out. You’ll need a new sump washer, drain pan, 8mm Allen socket, torque wrench and our Tightening Torques blog.
If you are riding to the track, fill up as close to the track as possible, and then you’ll probably need to fill up or top up again at lunch. Have a Google of the fuel stations closest to the track, you 100% don’t want to be searching for this on the morning/evening of your event!
If you aren’t riding there and back; fill your tank and take a 20 litre jerry can. It seems maybe too much, but trust us, 100% better too much than not enough.
Too loud? You have one chance, two if you're lucky, to fix it. Download a Decibel Measurement app on your phone (make sure it’s a well rated one) and test the bike. The sound testers at most circuits will test the R NineT at around 5000-5500 RPM, test this at home - do this with plenty of time leading up to your day. Check details of the track day provider to confirm the maximum volume allowed, generally speaking it will be in or around the 100db mark.
So, that’s the general overview on the bike covered. I hope all the above has been helpful and we have given you the information and confidence you have been searching for to give your first track day a go, regardless of your biking experience. We wanted to keep it brief, factful and not overload you with info, as it’s only the basics that count for the first time around. You won’t regret it, you’ll have a mega time! Enjoy! Full Gas!
With the bike ready and set for the day, check out our Blog on how to best prep the Rider here!