I’ve now been on two track days and on both there’s been rain. Despite the fact like most motorcyclists I don’t like rain (I don’t mind getting wet, it’s more the inconsistent grip levels) I decided the rain wasn’t going to ruin the latest one at Brands Hatch Indy – one of the Reclaim Our Tracks days run by Bike Magazine.
With that in mind I swapped to my clear visor and went out for a damp first session. I’m not going to lie, I really didn’t enjoy the first two sessions. Both were wet, although it wasn’t raining, and I was struggling to relax.
I tip-toed round corners unsure as to whether there would be any grip or nothing at all, and because of this the Bridgestone BT-016s – which I’d dropped to 34psi both front and rear – were staying cold and squirming around/
This in turn kept my speed down for fear of the tyres losing grip – a vicious cycle. It all finally came together in the third and last wet session. Something clicked in my brain and I started to go a little faster. With the slight increase in speed I found the tyres were no longer moving around and I was much more confident, if still a little slow.
After three wet/damp sessions the sun came out and the track started to dry (also helped by the touring car that was using the circuit during our lunch hour) and we finally got chance to ride the Indy circuit without wobbling round worrying if there was any grip.
Straight away the track felt completely different, Graham Hill bends and Surtees were both corners where I felt much more confident. Especially Surtees, where in the wet sessions the front tyre felt to be moving around quite a lot – not something I was used to.
After a couple of laps all the nervousness I had from the earlier sessions had disappeared. I stopped checking my mirrors (something I was doing even though they were pointing down) and concentrated on trying to be smooth and hit the turning in and apex cones.
Despite the weather and my own nervousness the GSR performed brilliantly, the strong mid-range meaning I was able to short shift during the wetter sessions. During those sessions I think I only used fourth and fifth. When the track finally dried the grip from the Bridgestone’s was brilliant. They inspired confidence – especially accelerating out of turns and they never once did anything I wasn’t expecting.
At the end of the day it was simply a case of attaching the tank bag – the metal tank meaning I don’t have to spend ages looking for suitable bungee points – and donning my waterproofs, as the heavens had once again opened, for the journey back to Peterborough.
The tank bag has helped with the wind problem I had at cruising speeds. Before, I was cruising at 80mph but suffering from neck ache after any decent length ride. Now I can up the cruising speed to 85mph and above without any neck ache and it’s only a small tank bag.
For my trip to the Nurburgring in September I may look at a larger tank bag to see just how much of the wind I can get rid of.
What is Reclaim Our Tracks?
The Reclaim Our Tracks events are run in conjunction with MCN’s sister publication Bike, to offer a track environment without fear of being intimidated by the presence of racers and expert track riders on specially prepared bikes. The events are now in their second year and attract a large following from road riders.
To get on track, bikes must have a number plate and working headlight. Vans are banned from pitlane, encouraging riders to arrive on their bikes, and the use of tyre warmers and specialist track paraphernalia is discouraged.
For more info go to: www.clubmsv.co.uk/bikemagazine
2011 Suzuki GSR750, £7,125
Fuel economy: 44mpg