You see the pictures everywhere on the Internet. Leathers, lean angle and lots of throttle. Look good? This could be you too. Here’s how to carve a canyon.
Make no mistake, this is dangerous. Cars, cops, sand, gravel, animals and yes…fellow bikers all represent significant hazards. While you can still get hurt with it, head to toe gear will defray some of the extreme risk.
But what to wear? A one-piece race suit will give you the most safety and the most freedom of movement — something you need as you slide from one side of the bike to the other to hang off in corners. Continue that race theme elsewhere — race boots, race gloves, race helmet, race back protector and race chest protector. Not only is that the absolute safest stuff out there, but it’s designed to facilitate the sport of fast riding. You need a dedicated sport helmet because its horizon is higher than other types, enabling you to see forward when folded across the bike. You need race boots because they allow you to feel the pegs and levers and are designed to keep your feet intact even in the most extreme impacts.
Plus, you want to look good in photos, right?
Photo by Mark Muller
Prepare Your Bike
Whether you’re planning to do this on an R6 or an FZ-09, you can’t leave your bike stock if you want to go fast. Start with the tires. Stock ones are garbage on both those examples, so put them on Craigslist and buy your self a set of Dunlop Q3s. Don’t be that guy that thinks he needs track tires, they’ll actually give you less grip and control most of the time on the road as you’ll struggle to heat them up, then to keep that heat in them. That’s not a slight on anyone’s riding, they’re just designed to work best in a different environment.
Next, you’ll need to alter your ergonomics. Consider any stock bike a starting point only and tailor it to fit you. New handlebars, new rearsets, StompGrip on the tank and a higher windscreen are usually enough (and likely the minimum you’ll need to do.) But, you can play with different seat materials and pads, different levers and all sorts of other things too.
And, did we mention how dangerous this is? Protect your investment by fitting your bike with significant crash protection. Check out an owner’s forum for your particular make and model and see which frame sliders, swingarm spindles and front axle sliders are reported to be the most effective. There’s some cheap stuff out there that just doesn’t do anything when you go down. You may also want to fit bar end sliders and flip-up levers or just hacksaw a groove in your stock levers so you’ll have something left if they touch down. Track bodywork also tends to be both tougher and cheaper than the stock items; the best works as sort of an all-over frame slider.
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