Posted by: Jessie | September 27, 2011

KTM Track Day


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Eric and I decided to try out a track day. We don’t have a track-ready bike so we picked one that provides bikes for us. The Mid-Ohio School and KTM have teamed up to bring us the Arrive and Ride Program. You show up and ride their KTM bikes. You can even rent their leathers.

I had heard rumors that track days were full of jerky guys with testosterone poisoning. I did not see a single one of those the entire day. Everyone there was super nice.  I signed up for the novice group. The instructors were helpful and the other people in my group were great. Eric was in the intermediate group. He said the instructors in his group did not do much instructing, they were more like traffic controllers, Eric was on his own.

The bikes they provided were the 1190 RC8 R and 990 SM R. Apparently I was the shortest person there. There was some discussion over which bike I should ride, and they decided to put me on the RC8 R.  With a seat height of 32.4 inches, the RC8 R was too tall for me. The SM R was even taller, 34.5 inches. The interesting thing is that RC8 R seat height, clutch, brake, rear brake pedal and shifter are all adjustable, but they did not want to adjust anything because there were 3 different groups all sharing the same bikes, and you might not end up on the same bike from session to session. So I could not reach the ground on this bike, but these KTM guys were great. Whenever I pulled in to the pit a guy magically appeared and put down my sidestand for me, so I did not have to be afraid of dropping the bike. I had a blast. I could not believe how light the bike is. 1200 cc’s and it weighs a little over 400 pounds. Wow!  (If you are interested you can check out these specs at bikez.com.)  I thought it was interesting that several people said they thought the throttle was twitchy. I didn’t think it was twitchy. Eric says that’s because I ride a shaft drive and have good throttle control.

Unfortunately I don’t know enough about bikes to give you a decent bike review, but there is a nice review of this bike at about.com.  There were some guys from one of the magazines testing the race spec versions of the bikes during our lunch break.  They were very impressive to watch!  They were from Cycle World, I think.  Watch for their review in the next month or so.

Eric got to ride both bikes. He liked the RC8 R, but he said that the SM R was more fun. It’s a much more upright seating position. Eric says “I was sitting up sooo high, I could see sooo much further down the track… it messed up my reference points!”

It was an amazing experience to ride the track at Mid-Ohio.  I have watched so many races there, one would think that I would know all the turns in the track.  Not so.  It took me a little while to learn it.  The track is so wide and there are so many elevation changes you can’t see as big a section when you are riding it as you can when you are a spectator.  The information you have to process is completely different.  My instincts wanted to slow down and check for traffic at intersections, but my brain told me that it’s time to speed up and watch for the next turn because that is not really an intersection, nobody is entering the tack there.  This little bit of cognitive dissonance really slowed me down until I got comfortable with the track.  At first I felt really lost out there, but once I got comfortable I had a lot of fun.  We had four 20-minute track sessions with some time with the instructors in between.  The track was cold and wet during the morning.  This made is a bit slippery.  The track dried off as the day went on, but did not warm up much.  There were a number of wrecks that day.  Fortunately nobody wrecked hard enough to really hurt themselves, but it was enough to put 7 of the bikes out of commission.  Eric had to change groups because there weren’t enough bikes left for everyone in his group.

This was a lot of fun.  I’m definitely interested in doing more track days, but I would like to do it on a bike that fits me.  Something with smaller dimensions.  My instructor suggested I get a Triumph Daytona.  We’ll see.

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