Updated: Jan 28
Whether you've just passed your test or you've been riding for years, if you ask people how to improve, someone will no doubt suggest doing a track day. But will doing a track day improve your road riding? The answer is probably but with a number of caveats.
The track is a great place to practice your cornering and braking as it's a sterile environment with smooth tarmac, plenty of run off areas and no rope barriers, lamp posts, trees or oncoming traffic. You can repeat the same corner over and over again, working out the best place to brake, turn in, feed in the power and maybe even get your knee down. But does that translate directly to the road? The answer is sort of.
If it's an open corner with no hazards then your practice on the track will hold you in good stead; you're taking the best line for speed through the corner. However, we should know that the line to take on the road is prioritised as safety first, then view and, only if there's no advantage to those, we take the line for best speed. If you aren't sure why then you should read the article on Positioning for Bends.
So will a track day make my road riding worse? No it won't, but only if you take the lessons from the track and apply only the relevant parts to road riding. If you try to ride on the road like you just did on the track then it will make it worse; and it will probably be a very painful and expensive lesson.
But after your track day, what else is there to learn? You've mastered open corners but instead of going as fast as you can, you need to learn to temper that speed within the road laws. It's also vital that you're able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear on your side of the road; there's a much greater chance of there being a broken down Ute just round the next bend than there was on your track day. And remember that the distance you need to stop when your pegs are scraping at 80kph is significantly longer than it is in a straight line. And you also need to learn the position to enter the bend when you can't see the exit or there's oncoming traffic or gravel or a junction or the millions of other scenarios you'll meet on the road which alter your riding plan. And you'll need to learn the techniques for scanning, anticipation, defensive riding, overtaking, filtering, multi-lane riding and the principles to apply to make sure you minimise your chance of crashing.
Some of these skills can be learnt in off-road training areas but in the same way pilots can't learn to fly entirely in simulators, the best place to learn these skills is on the road. Training with Roadcraft Australia is conducted almost entirely on the road with bluetooth communications so the instructor can give you a commentary about the decisions he's making about speed, road position and anticipating the actions of other road users to create his riding plan. He'll also be able to follow you through various road scenarios and guide you through the earpiece about where to focus your attention, how to read the limit point in bends, which hazards to prioritise, where to position your bike, when to slow down or when you can make safe progress.
If you're interested in improving your road riding then you can book a personalised training session with Roadcraft Australia by clicking the logo below to book on the Facebook page or click here for more riding tips.