Riding clinic: Enjoy that first trackday of the year

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It’s not a race, so take it easy

Trackday season is upon us. Now’s the time to blow out those cobwebs on your favourite circuit, but for the next few months at least, until it’s properly summer, you’re going to be riding on cold tarmac.


Keep your hands working

A cold rider is a distracted one and your hands take the biggest cold weather beating. There are lots of racing-style gloves available now that will keep you warm and give you excellent feel and protection on track. Wear thermal undersuits with a thin vest underneath, a neck warmer and even a balaclava to keep cold windblast at bay. And if you’ve got an S1000RR, crank the heated grips to the max.

Get heat into your bike

Your bike feels the cold even more than you. Engines will cool between sessions, so warm the motor before heading out on the circuit. Brakes, tyres, the oil in the suspension and your body, will all need an extra lap or so to get up to temperature.

Cold tarmac is your enemy

During the spring and early summer in the UK and even in Spain, tracks will have cooled overnight and won’t be at a sensible temperature until well into the morning. Chilly tracks give less grip and can ‘cold tear’ and destroy your tyres.

Watch the lefts

Most UK circuits run clockwise, so there are more right-handers than lefts. The right side of your tyre will warm up relatively quickly and you think you’re locked-in and ready to go after a couple of laps, but it’s easy to forget about the next left-hander. Be patient on the lefts for the first few laps and don’t carry too much lean, drag the front brake into the corner or get too hard on the throttle coming out. Cadwell’s Gooseneck, Craner Curves at Donington and Graham Hill at Brands Hatch are all classic cold-tyre crash sites.

Go the sports touring route

In cool conditions the latest sports and sports touring tyres will be easier to get along with than a race tyre. If you’re using race tyres go for a hard, not soft, compound to avoid cold tear. A dedicated trackday tyre will work in a wider temperature window, won’t need tyre warmers and will perform on the road.

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Michael Neeves

By Michael Neeves

MCN Chief Road Tester, club racer, airmiles millionaire.