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Old November 14th, 2018, 08:21 AM   #1
scotty
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Tips and advice

Racing has always been something I wanted to do, but never pulled the trigger on it. Well, this coming summer I'm wanting to commit to it.

So the bike I decided on using to learn on is a 2001 kawasaki zx7r. This would be my second "super sport". Last time I owned a sport bike was in 2012 on a zx6r. I only had it a year. So its been a while with that type of bike for me.

So questions I would have:

What should I do on the bike to prepare it? Other than tires and basic maintenance of course. I will note that I plan on street riding this next year as well.

How do I get started into this sport? Mid-Ohio offers track days with class room and training instructors. I will take advantage of that. How do I get into actual beginners racing class?( Not training).
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Old November 14th, 2018, 10:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty View Post
Racing has always been something I wanted to do, but never pulled the trigger on it. Well, this coming summer I'm wanting to commit to it.

So the bike I decided on using to learn on is a 2001 kawasaki zx7r. This would be my second "super sport". Last time I owned a sport bike was in 2012 on a zx6r. I only had it a year. So its been a while with that type of bike for me.

So questions I would have:

What should I do on the bike to prepare it? Other than tires and basic maintenance of course. I will note that I plan on street riding this next year as well.

How do I get started into this sport? Mid-Ohio offers track days with class room and training instructors. I will take advantage of that. How do I get into actual beginners racing class?( Not training).
First step for the 2001 ZX7R would be to sell it. Take the money are "re-invest" it into a better bike for a beginning-racer. Building and running a track-day bike is one thing, but racing is something different.

Take a look at classes where you would compete to see where the best place to start would be, then figure out what is the best bike to have in that class (if you think you can run towards the front).

The learning curve for racing, especially in the faster classes, is brutal and starting on a bike of that type and age is going to set you way back in the long run.

Now that the Ninja 400s are out, chances are there will be set-up Ninja 300s on the market.

That would be a good starting point in my opinion as a former cycle/kart racer, but current racers may have other suggestions.
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Old November 14th, 2018, 11:14 AM   #3
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How much money does it take to go to the track?

All of it.

How much does racing cost?

More than that.

You're not going to be racing a street bike, ever. However, you may well do track days on a street bike and many people do.

Here's the big reason why: All the stuff that makes a street bike road-legal MUST be removed from a race bike. Chances are you won't be using street tires either--race rubber only that would actually be dangerous to use on the street. But none of that is true for a streetable bike ridden on the track. You can tape over lights, etc. and use road tires, and still go ride on the track.

Here's the small reason why: You can have huge fun riding on the track with very low risk unless you decide you have to "win" the track day from some bizarre reason. But the mindset in racing is different. Winning is the goal and that makes you far, far more likely to crash. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, stitch up the bike (at considerable cost) and go do it again. Race bikes get crashed. A lot.

Re training: Learn to walk before you run. Racing is a laudable goal but it's not where you begin. Training is necessary. Experience is necessary. Go do some track days first. The overwhelming reason is safety both for you and those around you. But there's also a practical reason: You have to earn your race license. You don't get to just show up and say "Yo, I'm totally down with racing" and grid up. That's not happening.
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Old November 14th, 2018, 11:36 AM   #4
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advice...

good advice from previous post.

go to a school, like California Superbike School, and see how you like it and how you do compared to others.

For me, that is the best deal.

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Old November 14th, 2018, 03:22 PM   #5
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Do you want to race or do you want to win?

Many club race orgs support the Super Street class, where you don't NEED any preparation other than the safety related ones, as oil container belly pan, safety wiring and lights out.
And you actually can't make many mods.

If with that set up you're not too far behind the last one, then you're already racing and very probably having fun. From there on, it's all learning, improving and having fun.

Then, if you want to WIN, that's another story. You'd better have a big wallet and plenty of time.
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Old November 14th, 2018, 03:34 PM   #6
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The ZX7 defiantly has mixed reviews, that's for sure. This is a bike to just get my feet wet. (Budget bike). I know it's dated compared to other bikes in its class.

I've seen others tape their lights before and that's what I would plan to do for this year coming up. This bike will never be a dedicated track bike. My thought was if I really enjoyed this sport, then the following year I would invest in a more capable bike for the following year and make that a dedicated track bike.
@Topaz
I just want to have fun and learn. Winning isn't what I'm going for. . yet. Maybe down the road.
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Old November 14th, 2018, 03:41 PM   #7
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I just want to have fun and learn. Winning isn't what I'm going for. . yet. Maybe down the road.
then start off with just some local or near you track days
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Old November 14th, 2018, 04:49 PM   #8
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If racing takes all of your money you're doing it wrong. I've won two championships without breaking the bank. But since I'm not into spending all of my money on racing I primarily race small bikes.
I agree with selling the zx7 and getting a smaller bike. The ZX7 handles like a falling safe compared to the little Ninjas. The ZX is also much more likely to make you pay for mistakes than a more forgiving bike like the 300 Ninja.
I can honestly say these things based on 35 plus years of racing, however I do actually have a fully set up 250 Ninja chassis with a 300 motor that is for sale if you are interested. It's listed in the for sale section here.
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Old November 15th, 2018, 09:54 AM   #9
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The power of bigger bike masks mistakes that new racers don’t even know they’re making. They get on throttle and keep up so they must be doing ok right? These mistakes become habit over 1st couple years and become impossible to undo.

On a smaller bike, make mistake and you’re suddenly 50-100ft behind! You know it for sure as 10-20 other 250s fly by you on both sides!

Get a 300 ex-racer. Best deal ever.

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Old November 15th, 2018, 11:06 AM   #10
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Another thing you may want to check into is Mini or Supermoto racing on a kart track.

Not high speeds, but usually pretty technical and skills you learn will transfer to larger cycles and tracks.

Plenty of things to be learned on small bikes at lower speeds - and it looks like a blast!
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Old November 15th, 2018, 08:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty View Post
Racing has always been something I wanted to do, but never pulled the trigger on it. Well, this coming summer I'm wanting to commit to it.

So the bike I decided on using to learn on is a 2001 kawasaki zx7r. This would be my second "super sport". Last time I owned a sport bike was in 2012 on a zx6r. I only had it a year. So its been a while with that type of bike for me.

So questions I would have:

What should I do on the bike to prepare it? Other than tires and basic maintenance of course. I will note that I plan on street riding this next year as well.

How do I get started into this sport? Mid-Ohio offers track days with class room and training instructors. I will take advantage of that. How do I get into actual beginners racing class?( Not training).
You are in luck! I am a coach at Mid-Ohio. Call and talk to Mark Junge about the next time a race school is going to be offered during a normal "PTR", aka track day as they are based on # of requests.

I would have to agree with @adouglas on 99% of things posted thus far. Come do a few track days just to see if you like it. "If" you feel it's something you would consider investing more of your time and $$$ into, then look into 2 schools, 1. a riding school such as Mid-o or CSS or the likes. The 2nd school would be a race school. There is "protocol" to racing, you just don't get out there and go fast. There is more too it. Perhaps start out with local club racing to keep the costs in check.

Costs....
I would first say, never add it up, it will just make you sad. Next I would say, race because you love it or don't even bother, aside of a few races just to check it off your bucket list. For full disclosure, it cost me $20k to race 22 race rounds + practices + extra fun at more than average track days to work on skills (one season). Could I have spent less, sure... to each there own on what you really want out of it and how comfortable you want to be. Don't judge based on my input solely, as my experience is not average. I traveled alot to make friends and help others, many of them post here often.

What do you really need?
A turkey pan (or race belly pan) for a lower to be "oil tight" and to be safe, some safety wire and a full set of gear. The helmet being the most important... 5yrs or less old by the date on the inside tag. Don't forget the back protector either. You should be planning on around $1k in gear and some hours spent on working on the bike to pass "advanced group" track day requirements. Check with your local org/club for requirements on their website. If you still can't figger it out, post here. Many of us have ridden with just about all of them.

You will also need the right attitude. If you have never been to the track before, you will get a "re-education" in what fast "really" is. The fast guys on the street are normally NOT the fast guys on the track.

Tell you what...
Call up Mid-O, sign up for a PTR and let me know when you will be there, tell them "Chris Smith" sent you. We can hang out, I will try to be your coach for the day and plan on staying for dinner. Then ride again the 2nd day. You will learn everything you need to know from track/race prep, to on track etiquette, to how to eat and sleep well at the track on the cheap. The only thing I ask you bring is your bike/gear, a good attitude and an open mind. Oh... might want to come a little on the hungry side, we eat well at the track.

Honestly... it's on a whole other level of mental stance and self control to ride 1000 laps, over 4yrs without even running off the surface.

Basic bike prep;
Tape all lights/mirros (or remove)
Silicon/Safety wire all oil fill caps/plugs, drain plugs and filters (no filters with nuts on the top... K&N)
Tires in good shape (80% tread life)
A working kill switch
A throttle that snaps back to 0 without catching
NO FLUID LEAKS... of any sort
Check your chain, proper slack is a big deal
Check your master link
Look for loose things, we don't like to see things dangling about.
Check for loose bolts... all that you can find/see.
Check your brakes, make sure you have plenty of pad left.
Drain radiator and fill with water wetter + water.

Gear;
Helmet, you might want to wear one.
1 piece or 2 piece suit that has a 360 zipper
Boots (over ankle)
Gloves (over wrist)
Back protector (if required)

Lemme know if you have any other questions, good luck, have fun and see you soon.
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Old November 16th, 2018, 12:58 AM   #12
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TL;DR: I recommend trying a year of trackdays first, and committing to racing in year 2.

First things first on the bike. Do not expect to ride your race prepped bike on the street, unless your local police are lax on rules enforcement. If your bike is prepped for racing (fiberglass bodywork, no kickstand, all lights removed, license plate assembly removed, etc), you will be spending a lot of time trying to swap back and forth. If you are dead set on going racing, you will need to read your local race organization's rule book to see exactly what kind of preparation they require. Some are fairly lax and some are more strict.

In the old days, the only way to ride a motorcycle on the track was to go racing. That meant you were immediately tossed in the deep end. However, almost all tracks have trackdays (basically practice days) separated by overall pace of the riders. Trackdays allow you to get up to a decent pace in a safer, more controlled environment. Passing at trackdays has an extra margin of error compared to racing.

If you do not have any idea of what your pace will be like, trying to jump into racing will be quite a shock as you may find yourself significantly off-pace and getting passed and lapped in less than ideal situations. Personally, my target in racing is to stay on the lead lap.

As the others have said, you should look at the categories of bikes for your local racing organization. If everyone else is on a modern bike, you are really setting yourself up to have a difficult time on the ZX7R. There are now a number of 300cc and mid 2000s 600cc track bikes for the budget racer to look at, and they will be significantly closer to the sharp end of things for their respective categories.
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Old November 19th, 2018, 08:26 AM   #13
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I was 12 months ago where you are now. I had purchased an ex-race EX300 that had all the good stuff, was planning a "riding academy" at the local track and would race whenever I could. I did the track school in May and quickly learned that track days were the way to go for the first year. Even though I've been riding 40+ years and do other forms of racing I would definitely have been in the back half of the field. After 5 track days this year I now feel I might run mid-pack and will indeed try some races in 2019.

If you get too close to other riders on a track day you can pull in or pull over and wait for clear track. There's no pressure about lap times and you can ride by yourself and work on what you want to. I would say you have a great offer from Chris Smith and I would jump on it if I were you. Caution: it's addicting as hell and lots of fun!
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Old November 19th, 2018, 10:31 AM   #14
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If you're going to do track days before dipping your toe in the racing pool at least get yourself a good laptimer. IMO if your goal is to race, then you don't want to feel fast, you actually want to know if you are fast. A laptimer is the no BS way to objectively assess your performance. The more sophisticated laptimers will give you the capability to assess your speed at any given point whereas a simple laptime will only tell your overall performance. Certainly at first, just knowing your laptime will be good enough to let you know how you are doing without overloading you with too much information. You can leave the corner by corner analysis for later.

I will say that there is something to be said for simply taking a race school and starting racing right away. It kind of forces you to figure out how to improve in order to be more competitive. That is unless you like getting beat!
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Old November 19th, 2018, 12:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgold View Post
I will say that there is something to be said for simply taking a race school and starting racing right away. It kind of forces you to figure out how to improve in order to be more competitive. That is unless you like getting beat!
Back in the day that was the only way to do it!

No such thing as a track day back then.
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Old November 20th, 2018, 12:04 PM   #16
Frank06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgold View Post
If you're going to do track days before dipping your toe in the racing pool at least get yourself a good laptimer. IMO if your goal is to race, then you don't want to feel fast, you actually want to know if you are fast. A laptimer is the no BS way to objectively assess your performance. The more sophisticated laptimers will give you the capability to assess your speed at any given point whereas a simple laptime will only tell your overall performance. Certainly at first, just knowing your laptime will be good enough to let you know how you are doing without overloading you with too much information. You can leave the corner by corner analysis for later.

I will say that there is something to be said for simply taking a race school and starting racing right away. It kind of forces you to figure out how to improve in order to be more competitive. That is unless you like getting beat!
The way I see it, the problem with jumping right in is that you could quickly be overcome by what's going on: riders flashing by on both sides, near collisions, etc. And I'm not sure knowing lap times is helpful: when you see you're 20 seconds off the pace will you able to think about the best thing to do? There's an argument to be made for understanding and concentrating on technique w/o worrying about times. That said, at some point I agree a timer can be a good tool for improvement.
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Old November 20th, 2018, 01:32 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank06 View Post
The way I see it, the problem with jumping right in is that you could quickly be overcome by what's going on: riders flashing by on both sides, near collisions, etc. And I'm not sure knowing lap times is helpful: when you see you're 20 seconds off the pace will you able to think about the best thing to do? There's an argument to be made for understanding and concentrating on technique w/o worrying about times. That said, at some point I agree a timer can be a good tool for improvement.
As far as trackdays go, the last trackday I was at had far more incidents than any race weekend I've been a part of in the last three years, so I would say that the relative safety of trackdays is somewhat of an illusion in that regard.
If you decide to start racing you can put yourself at the back of the grid if you think close passes will be an issue. That way you stay out of the first lap stuff and you can move through traffic at your own pace.

It's not worrying about laptimes, it's using laptimes as a tool. Laptimes are an objective indicator of your pace so they will tell you if your technique is producing results.
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Old November 20th, 2018, 01:57 PM   #18
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yeah, races are much, much more sane and safe due to way gridding works. Faster riders are ahead of your and they pull away at race start. Slower riders start behind you and they fall off as race starts. In many, many races, I've seen 1-2 people ahead of me slowly pulling away and that's IT. Many races end with exact same order as race-start; no one passed anyone!

Much, much safer than trackdays... where there seems to be crashes and pile-ups every other session regardless of group.
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Old November 22nd, 2018, 08:17 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by csmith12 View Post
You are in luck! I am a coach at Mid-Ohio. Call and talk to Mark Junge about the next time a race school is going to be offered during a normal "PTR", aka track day as they are based on # of requests.

I would have to agree with @adouglas on 99% of things posted thus far. Come do a few track days just to see if you like it. "If" you feel it's something you would consider investing more of your time and $$$ into, then look into 2 schools, 1. a riding school such as Mid-o or CSS or the likes. The 2nd school would be a race school. There is "protocol" to racing, you just don't get out there and go fast. There is more too it. Perhaps start out with local club racing to keep the costs in check.

Costs....
I would first say, never add it up, it will just make you sad. Next I would say, race because you love it or don't even bother, aside of a few races just to check it off your bucket list. For full disclosure, it cost me $20k to race 22 race rounds + practices + extra fun at more than average track days to work on skills (one season). Could I have spent less, sure... to each there own on what you really want out of it and how comfortable you want to be. Don't judge based on my input solely, as my experience is not average. I traveled alot to make friends and help others, many of them post here often.

What do you really need?
A turkey pan (or race belly pan) for a lower to be "oil tight" and to be safe, some safety wire and a full set of gear. The helmet being the most important... 5yrs or less old by the date on the inside tag. Don't forget the back protector either. You should be planning on around $1k in gear and some hours spent on working on the bike to pass "advanced group" track day requirements. Check with your local org/club for requirements on their website. If you still can't figger it out, post here. Many of us have ridden with just about all of them.

You will also need the right attitude. If you have never been to the track before, you will get a "re-education" in what fast "really" is. The fast guys on the street are normally NOT the fast guys on the track.

Tell you what...
Call up Mid-O, sign up for a PTR and let me know when you will be there, tell them "Chris Smith" sent you. We can hang out, I will try to be your coach for the day and plan on staying for dinner. Then ride again the 2nd day. You will learn everything you need to know from track/race prep, to on track etiquette, to how to eat and sleep well at the track on the cheap. The only thing I ask you bring is your bike/gear, a good attitude and an open mind. Oh... might want to come a little on the hungry side, we eat well at the track.

Honestly... it's on a whole other level of mental stance and self control to ride 1000 laps, over 4yrs without even running off the surface.

Basic bike prep;
Tape all lights/mirros (or remove)
Silicon/Safety wire all oil fill caps/plugs, drain plugs and filters (no filters with nuts on the top... K&N)
Tires in good shape (80% tread life)
A working kill switch
A throttle that snaps back to 0 without catching
NO FLUID LEAKS... of any sort
Check your chain, proper slack is a big deal
Check your master link
Look for loose things, we don't like to see things dangling about.
Check for loose bolts... all that you can find/see.
Check your brakes, make sure you have plenty of pad left.
Drain radiator and fill with water wetter + water.

Gear;
Helmet, you might want to wear one.
1 piece or 2 piece suit that has a 360 zipper
Boots (over ankle)
Gloves (over wrist)
Back protector (if required)

Lemme know if you have any other questions, good luck, have fun and see you soon.
Gear is definitely something I'll be gathering together throughout the wintet months. I checked out mid-ohio's website a few weeks ago but looked like they didn't have any schedules out for 2019. So is that only created when they recive enough requests? I may just come for the food!

Can I call during the off season and put my name down for the class? I really appreciate all the info!

I know this sport isn't cheap. I'm not to concerned about costs right now as I'm just trying to get my feet wet, (No sport is cheap, that's for sure!).
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Old November 22nd, 2018, 01:04 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Much, much safer than trackdays... where there seems to be crashes and pile-ups every other session regardless of group.
That depends heavily on which track day provider you ride with. They're all over the place in terms of quality, from wild-west "Just send it, bro!" to highly safety-oriented.
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Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.
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Old November 22nd, 2018, 05:09 PM   #21
csmith12
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Name: Chris (aka Reactor)
Location: Northern KY
Join Date: May 2011

Motorcycle(s): 2010 250 (track), 1992 250, 2006 R6 (street/track), 2008 R6 (track)

Posts: Too much.
MOTY 2015, MOTM - Nov '12, Nov '13
Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty View Post
Gear is definitely something I'll be gathering together throughout the wintet months. I checked out mid-ohio's website a few weeks ago but looked like they didn't have any schedules out for 2019. So is that only created when they recive enough requests? I may just come for the food!

Can I call during the off season and put my name down for the class? I really appreciate all the info!

I know this sport isn't cheap. I'm not to concerned about costs right now as I'm just trying to get my feet wet, (No sport is cheap, that's for sure!).
The PTR schedule normally comes out mid Feb. and you can call during most normal business days/hours and talk to "Gwen" or someone working "registrations." While you can't sign up for a day that hasn't been scheduled, you can buy a "gift cert" that is good for any day you choose to use it within 2 years. As a matter of fact, they should be doing their black Friday sale any day now.

So no worries on that early xmas gift.

Oh, and your welcome and happy Thanksgiving!
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