Sportbikes are among the most popular categories of motorcycling, particularly big bikes. This is especially true in the Philippine setting, wherein bikes like the Yamaha R1 and Kawasaki Ninja are rather common sightings in big bike destinations on weekends. A lot of people buy sportbikes simply for the aesthetic, as well as the enjoyable performance they offer on the street. However, in order to make the most out of your sportbike, you need to hit the race track.
While most, if not all, sportbikes are perfectly capable of hitting the circuit right out of the box, there are indeed a few upgrades you may want to consider doing, especially if you see yourself committing to the trackday lifestyle. Perhaps you’re up for your fourth or fifth trackday, and are beginning to hone your skills and build confidence alongside your bike. Now could be the right time to invest in any of the following upgrades.
Tires are an excellent way to drastically improve your confidence aboard two wheels, regardless of the type of bike you ride. Be it on the street or the track, an excellent set of rubber undoubtedly goes a very long way in providing a fun and enjoyable riding experience. On the race track, this is much more evident. Most, if not all, performance sportbike tires make use of dual, or even triple compounds. This means that a softer rubber is used on the sides of the tire, providing additional grip when leaned over mid-corner. Several popular manufacturers such as Bridgestone, Pirelli, and Michelin produce performance-oriented supersport tires that are suitable for both street and track use.
When riding on the race track, you’re very close to, if not, actually on the limit of your bike’s cornering capability. This means that crashes such as lowsides are a lot more likely. While there’s little you can do to protect your bike in the event of a highside, lowsides are a different story. Installing crash protection in the form of frame sliders and axle bobbins can go a long way in keeping your bikes shiny parts clean and scuff-free, saving you a hefty repair bill in the process. Additionally, sliders make for essential pieces of protection, especially on the street, where everything is just all the more unpredictable.
When riding your motorcycle at ten-tenths, it’s always important to make sure that the bike fits you like a glove. As such, ergonomics are very, very important. Few things are more important than ensuring you have a comfortable feel for the hand controls consisting of the clutch lever, front brake, and throttle. As such, installing a set of adjustable levers can greatly improve your bike’s ergonomics, and give you just a little more confidence when you’re sending it on the track. A lot of this boils down to personal preference—some people prefer having their brake and clutch levers closer to the grips, while those with bigger hands will naturally prefer a slightly extended reach. Fitting a set of adjustable levers simply ensures that you’re able to find the setting that’s right for you, and hone your skills in the process.
As fast as your sportbike may be, all that grip and power isn’t really worth much if you can’t come to a stop. Few things are scarier than when the dreaded brake-fade hits you as you’re coming hot into a corner. Brake-fade is the sensation of losing your brakes, as your brake fluid overheats. On the track, this could result in you overshooting a turn, and taking a tumble on the grass. Worse, if you ride in a tight circuit with little run-off such as Batangas Racing Circuit, you could end up grazing the barriers and causing significant damage to you and your bike. Brake upgrades oftentimes come in the form of better brake pads, steel-braided brake lines, and of course, better brake fluid.
The last upgrade on our list isn’t an upgrade to your bike per se, but rather, an upgrade to yourself. That’s right, improving your motorcycle skills isn’t all about strapping on your leathers and hitting the track. No, in fact, becoming a skilled motorcyclist requires hours of training—both on the track and behind a desk. Taking classes, be it online or in person, goes a long way in refining your technique. Additionally, hanging out with motorcyclists who are much more skilled than yourself gives you the opportunity to pick up a thing or two about advanced riding techniques. Just like many things in life, when it comes to performance motorcycling, practice indeed makes perfect.