When talking about modern motorcycles, I’m sure the vast majority would agree that as standard they are plenty capable enough to handle anything that gets thrown at them when ridden on the road.
It doesn’t stop people bolting on motorcycle performance upgrades, but it is more out of the enjoyment and aesthetics factors that comes as part of it, rather than the feeling that they need the extra performance.
When you get to the track however, you will be more greatly testing the components of your motorcycle to the point where upgrading said components could yield you greater results.
Some would argue that these upgrades aren’t needed for most riders, even on the track, but while you may not necessarily need these upgrades now, having that extra level of performance and safety in hand as you push your limits on track can only be a good thing.
Below I have listed some of the best motorcycle accessories and upgrades you can add to your motorcycle that will improve both the performance and safety margins of your machine.
Braided Lines – The rubber hoses that you find on most stock bikes will expand under high pressure and also stretch and deteriorate over time. Braided brake lines do not share these traits, meaning they give you much more consistent performance and feel, and also further reduce the chances of brake fade. For many, this is the very first addition made to a bike when prepping it for the track.
Race Pads – Buying race sintered pads is a sure fire way to improve your braking performance in terms of initial bite and reduced brake fade. They contain metal particles which improve friction characteristics, but also handle heat better to greatly reduce the chances of experiencing fade due to overheating pads.
As a side note, some manufacturers do in fact utilize sintering for their stock pads so it’s worth checking if they do, that way you can just throw some OEM pads back in.
Shortening your bike’s overall gearing is the quickest and least expensive way to considerably improve your motorcycle’s acceleration. It will mean sacrificing some top end speed, but that won’t be missed on the majority of UK tracks; assuming of course you don’t over shorten your gearing.
A popular gearing change is to go one tooth down on the front sprocket and one or two teeth up on the back. You may need to lengthen the chain after doing this, though if you’ve had your current chain for a good while then buying a new one to go with the new sprockets wouldn’t be a bad idea as a worn chain is going to have adverse effects on your new sprocket’s wear rate.
Having your suspension set up for your weight and riding style is one of the most beneficial changes you can make to your machine. It can also be done at zero cost if you are prepared to do a little reading into how you go about doing it.
A fairly simple suspension change you can make yourself to get it working better (and to set yourself up for future, more complex changes) is to set the correct laden sag for your weight. Laden sag is the amount the suspension compresses when you sit on the bike.
Making sure that you are running the correct sag for your weight will put your suspension in its most compliant range, meaning it can better deal with whatever the road throws at it and will have less chance of topping or bottoming out.
To set your sag you’ll need to use your preload adjustment (something that all modern motorcycles should have) to change the amount your suspension compresses when you climb on-board. Check out my guide on setting preload.
Once your sag is set, this opens the door for making changes to your rebound and/or compression damping to further improve how your bike handles. Though this is something that should be tackled with a good knowledge of what each change will do to the bike’s handling.
Alternatively you can use the suspension services that you can find at many track days for a reasonable fee. They will make sure the suspension is set up correctly for you personally and make changes throughout the day based on your feedback.
While they won’t necessarily save you time on the track, they could well save you both time and money off the track.
They are bolt on ‘bumpers’ that are designed to stop things like the fairings and engine covers touching down if the bike ends up on its side. Good quality crash bungs could be the difference between a few minor scuffs and a large repair bill to replace fairings, tanks etc.
Tyres have come such a long way in recent years, and having decent track orientated tyres will give you bundles of much needed grip as you explore both your bike’s limits and your own while out on track.
You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy the stickiest rubber going, but having track biased tyres will do wonders for your bike’s performance, your own confidence and your overall safety margins.
Many riders are under the impression that rearsets are more for show than they are to serve a purpose, but they do indeed serve a purpose.
The adjustability of aftermarket rearsets will allow you to fine tune your lower body’s position on the bike so you can more comfortably and firmly anchor yourself to your machine. A solid base frees your upper body to work on the delicate job of operating the controls and turning the bike.
While they might not be a necessity for many riders, being comfortable on the bike is, so if you feel your lower body position could do with a tweak then rearsets are a great avenue to achieve this.
Another benefit of rearsets is the added ground clearance they give you.
You really don’t need to spend thousands on fancy suspension or engine upgrades to get more out of your steed at the track. By implementing the above relatively inexpensive motorcycle performance upgrades you will most certainly have a machine that is fully capable of dealing with a life chasing apexes.
Photo by Renthal
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How to Deal With the Panic When Someone Takes Your Line
Learning to Trust Your Tyres Through Technique & Experience
Using Other Riders to Gauge Your Speed and Uncover Weaknesses