I’ve been riding my Yamaha Thundercat for over 3 years now. She has been my iron horse for over 45000 km, mostly touring in Belgium, France & Germany but also work traffic, fine foods deliveries and one trackday so far. I bought the YZF600 for a decent price of 2600 euro with one year of warranty included. Pretty cheap for a great motorcycle. Ok, Miss Thundercat is not a lightweight but if you’re planning to do some trackdays, touring, city traffic or a lot of highway miles, she’ll never complain! A great bike to learn the trade but not a starter bike in my opinion. The bike is powerful, has no electronic aids and weighs quite a lot.
Last year, finally, I pushed myself to go on track @ Zolder Circuit in Belgium and I loved it!
So… what can I tell you so that your first trackday runs a bit smoother.
Before you leave for that first trackday, get to know the circuit by watching some onboard videos on Youtube (links on bottom of page). Maybe print out the lay-out of the circuit and make notes after each riding session. You could write down what gear you should be in before each corner or where your turn-in point is exactly, etc. Make sure your bike is in good condition and your tyres are not over half their lifespan and have the correct amount of pressure.
For the moment I ride with Dunlop Roadsmart 3 (picture), it’s a road oriented tyre but still good enough for my level of track riding. For road use I inflate the front tyre to 2,4 bar (34.8 psi) and rear tyre is at 2.8 bar (40.6 psi). For track riding I put both tyres on 2.1 bar (30.4 psi)
Do some physical training so your body is also in good shape. Being fit let’s you focus longer. Staying hydrated is very important and do not eat heavy meals, small snacks throughout the day are better.
Put on your leathers, boots, gloves, racing helmet and certainly a back protector and you are ready to ride.
Start slow and build up your speed, get some heat in those tyres & brakes. Try to teach yourself the correct riding techniques and talk to experienced riders to learn the track.
Count your gears or learn to ‘feel’ what gear you are in. This is especially important during downshifting before a corner. Learn to blip the throttle during downshifts to maximize the engine braking and keep your bike stable before entering a corner. I leave the rear brake for what it is and use the front brake only, there is enough to think about already.
As I mentioned before, the bike is heavy and does not have ‘new’ brakes. You’ll need to apply a decent amount of force to get the bike stopped. I only use my middle finger to brake while my hand is on the outside of the handlebar (picture on the left = more leverage /picture on the right = less leverage). I used to brake with 2 fingers but that didn’t work well with the throttle blipping under heavy braking.
Body position: Move your backside before you start your braking, as you can see in my video, I need to work on that. It is useful to film yourself and learn what you should improve next time. Squeeze your legs under braking, your upper body should be relaxed so you can treat the controls with a gentle touch.
Why I like to ride this ‘old’ bike is because it gives you great satisfaction, definitely when you’re passing let’s say a Ducati 1098 or Yamaha R1. Also my bike is not that expensive, when I wreck it, it doesn’t wreck my savings account 🙂
Ride safe & always wear your gear!
The video I watched before going to my first trackday @ Zolder: Marty Debruyne at Zolder
The video I watched during my first trackday @ Zolder because the instructor apparently didn’t want to pay attention to my problem & I was destroying my right boot: Hayden Gillim racing footwork
Crazy level – MotoGP: Petrucci body- and footwork