Tips for Searching for a Track Bike
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Author:  War of 1812 [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:06 am ]
Post subject:  Tips for Searching for a Track Bike

Hello. I am still pretty new to the track, but I am searching for a bike that I can dedicate to the track only. My question is, for a noobie, what are the most important technical features I should be looking for? I found a few promising candidates on craigslist, but I come across two issues.

1. Many of them are missing the titles and I am not sure how concerned I really need to be about that.
2. Many will list their upgrades etc, and I am not sure what priorities to give to those upgrades.

Any first time buyer advice you guys can bestow upon me? I am ready and willing to make fun of 61Cubes in some manner in order to obtain this advice.


Author:  Eskimo [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tips for Searching for a Track Bike

War of 1812 wrote:
I am ready and willing to make fun of 61Cubes in some manner in order to obtain this advice.

Oh, you're gonna fit in just fine around here!!

First, I wouldn't look on Craigslist. I'd hit up enthusiast forums first:

If you have a certain make/model in mind, then also hit up the big forum for that, like the R6-forum for R6's, kawiforum for a ZX, or the manlove forum for a CBR. :gay:

No titles do scare away some buyers, and thusly, lowers the price. It could be no title for numerous reasons.. Some legit, some shady, and some downright bad. I'd certainly run the VIN through this: and if the seller won't give it to you via e-mail, walk. My race bike has no title, FWIW.

Mods: (In saying this, I assume you're looking at something Japanese, and nothing pseudo-exotic)

--The FIRST thing that (for me) differentiates good bikes from other bikes is the quality of the bodywork. If I read Sharkskinz or Armor Bodies, it says to me that the seller isn't a cheapskate. They know that quality costs more, and were willing to pay for it. That will often carry over to everything else. I don't care much about the paint.. But the bodywork matters.

--Suspension. I don't care if it's not sprung exactly for my weight (especially since spring rate is dependent on pace AND rider weight), but upgrades are good. Find out when they were last serviced. Many trackday guys don't ever service them. No receipt, it didn't happen. Ohlins & Penske are the 2 that carry the most value in the used market, but don't discount an otherwise sweet bike for having K-Tech or something else in it. If it's there but hasn't been freshened in say, the last 2 years, budget in ~$400 for a refresh. Even stock stuff should be refreshed.

--After that, for things like rearsets, clip-ons, and other things that wear (steering damper, as an example) or can hit the ground, I want parts that are currently repairable (I.e. company is in business) and of a name that people know. Woodcraft, Vortex, etc. Some super-high-end Italian rearsets are sexy, but when a footpeg costs $20 from Woodcraft and $100 from Aculign, well...

--Power Commander / Bazzaz / other fueling boxes : Cool. You're going to buy one anyway, with a quick shifter. Saves you some cash now. However, they're plentiful on the used market too, so it's not a deal-breaker. If installed, the bike probably has a full exhaust. It should have some sort of tune on it, whether dyno-tuned (preferred) or a mail-order tune (which is OK for bolt-ons, but NOT if the engine has work done). Also, if the ECU has been "flashed", that can do away with the need for an external fueling box, and sometimes a quick-shifter plugs right in.

--Steering stabilizer: You'll want one eventually. Ask when it's been serviced. (It's basically a shock, it wears out too)

--Slipper clutch - ONLY if the bike didn't come with one as OEM. They're typically not cheap if you have to buy new.

--Things I don't care much about and won't pay extra because a bike has:
a certain brand of brake pads (you may change them anyway, and it's a wear item)
auto-tune boxes (worthless)
Super-duper expensive exhausts over just good quality (I.e. Akrapovich vs. a Yoshimura, M4, LeoVince, etc.)
titanium ANYTHING
Aftermarket master cylinders (R6 only, some other OEM ones suck)
Tires (brand-new or nearly new ones of a brand and model (I.e. Q3, Pirelli DRC, etc) you're considering may add some value. Race take-offs hold NO value.
Aftermarket levers that AREN'T a name brand, like CRG or the like. These Chinese clones will eventually cause you trouble, and you will end up replacing them.
Keyless ignition / keyless gas cap - doesn't matter much for a trackday bike.
Aftermarket brake rotors of ANY kind. (OEM rotors don't typically suck anymore)
A certain brand of stainless brake lines over another.
Built engines (for a trackday bike). Until you get towards the pointy end of the fast group, power won't really get you better times. It can be a hindrance in fact. (You know this since you're on a 300, just putting it out there). Built motors are higher maintenance, can go "pop", and at the very least, are built with a certain grade of oil in mind from the builder that may cost more.

--Things I'd prefer a track bike DIDN'T have:
"No cut" frame sliders - it's a compromise, and can damage things.
Big ass frame sliders that stick way out. - Bodywork is sacrificial. Only protect the important bits. Anything that extends out beyond that is asking to be grabbed in the dirt and can send the bike flying.
auto-tune boxes
Tiger stripes - There can be only one, damnit! :hammer:

I'll add to this as I think of it, but it should be a good start.

Oh, about being crashed.. It doesn't scare me unless the bike is known NOT to crash well. Other than the frame itself, everything else can be replaced pretty easily.

Author:  War of 1812 [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tips for Searching for a Track Bike

Holy crap! That was very thorough. Thank you for taking the time. I will take a look at those bike forums this evening!

Author:  funfred [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 2:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tips for Searching for a Track Bike

Eskimo is spot on.

Having said that, I have a lot, most all, of what he mentioned on my bikes. They are not for sale, however.
Part of the beauty of having a track bike is individualizing it. It doesn't have to conform to race specs, let alone street regs.

The point is, with few exceptions, my track bikes started in stock condition. In one case, I didn't have to do anything but add bodywork, mostly to preserve the OEM stuff. In other cases, everything gets replaced, as mentioned by Eskimo. When looking to purchase, it's not necessary that upgraded components be fitted to a bike destined for track duty but it helps to allay the costs if it has even a basic assortment of upgrades.

This may be time for a list...
What priorities should be given to the various mods?
Consider that there are also the various skill levels to consider when choosing these mods and, assigning their priority.

And, yeah, Title-less bikes concern me. An whole other topic...

Author:  Eskimo [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tips for Searching for a Track Bike

Priority for mods.. good one.

I think bodywork, clip-ons, rearsets, brake lines, and some kind of exhaust is a given for a track bike. So after that?

Steering damper
Slipper clutch (if needed)

In that priority, and IMO, regardless of skill level & pace. Why? It's all reconfigurable. Spring rate, valving, etc. can all be changed by a suspension guru to suit your pace. As you work the bike harder, you'd be visiting said guru more often anyway, but to have those parts already installed is a big $$$ saver. You might pay $1000-$1500 more for a R6 with Cartridges and a great shock as you would for a bike without it. The parts alone are $2400 + new.

I say regardless of pace because (again IMO) someone in novice group doesn't need a track-only bike yet, or if they don't have anything to ride, then should be looking cheap - something like a used Ninja 250/300 or an old SV650. I know very little about the Ninjette/SV world, other than they make MacGyver look like someone whose toolbox consists of a cell phone and a checkbook. They seem to be BIG fans of re-purposing other model's OEM parts, likely because you can't pay as much for suspension as you did for the whole bike, the chassis on the little bikes isn't rigid enough to take advantage of something like a gas-charged fork cartridge, and/or the forces at play are less. ;)
Once you've decided that track life is for you, you can certainly wring the life out of the little bike (and can run it well into the Intermediate pace) and will likely be a better rider for it, or grab something in the supersport world and have fun with your buddies.

Author:  Eskimo [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tips for Searching for a Track Bike

a (very) quick scan through some forums.. These are some I'd look into a little. ... 50.333796/ ... r6.333320/ ... 900.37341/ - little pricy IMO for a previous-generation bike.

Author:  funfred [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tips for Searching for a Track Bike

Eskimo wrote:
..little pricy IMO for a previous-generation bike.

With three sets of wheels, three sets of bodywork and two new sets of Pirellis? Price might just be right.

However, my GSX-R750 has gone through that specific equipment and the numbers thereof, more or less. The reason(s) behind it isn't as cool sounding...It hit the ground a lot. Violently. :D

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