Journey to Track Days (J2TD)

Journey to Track Days

by Larry Lulay

I've had sportbikes before (see my bikes), but have never taken a bike out for a track day. I decided to set a budget and show you guys the process - choices I made, and your who/what/why/where/when questions will be answered here.

See the videos (adding throughout summer of 2017) and click any photos below to see the higher resolution versions.


Journey to Track Days Introduction
J2TD Introduction - 2:44 minutes

What am I wanting to do?

I'm beyond that time in life to think about racing... and don't want to go ride "practice laps" with kids that are chasing some trophy. I just want to ride at a fun speed without worrying about gravel crossing a corner, dogs running out to great me, dodging dead critters and other debris, and getting a ticket or my bike hauled. I've always wanted to hook up with a good group and go do track days, but I'm not willing to risk messing up my big buck Ducati. When I find a sportbike, I want the bike to be streetable, so I would be able to spend some time doing basic riding to get acclimated to the riding the position. I don't ride a sportbike regularly, and any time I can get on the street riding normal pace will still at least help me get used to the feel of the bike. As usual, I always try to make a decent buy up front so when the day comes to sell it I can make back as much as possible.


Bike Selection
Bike Selection - 6:27 minutes

Determining my Budget

I needed to determine an amount that I would be willing to risk losing if something goes bad... while at the same time trying to get the best equipment I could find to help me have fun while trying to play safely. I determined that I should try to stay around a budget of $5k - which would need to include the cost of the bike, plus the accessories that I would want/need to get to go. I looked in the garage to take inventory of what I had that I could use in this adventure, and I found the following: front and rear bike stands; new tires (standard sportbike size); apparel/gear (want to upgrade if possible); parts from my 2001 R1 (extra tank, race body), parts from my 2007 R1 (brakes, chain/sprockets). I am estimating I will need about $1k to spend on accessories, so that leaves me a budget of $4k for a bike.

Find a Bike

I knew I wanted at least 900cc or bigger, so I started looking around to see what could be found at the $3k mark... but quickly found that bikes at that price had too many miles, rebuilt titles, or too much damage... so my guesstimate at $4k was going to be more realistic. I was targeting bikes with clean titles, that didn't have damage - because I knew I was going to be doing high speeds and I didn't want to risk shimmy-shakes from something being out of whack.

Based on the information above, I identified some 1999 - 2003 bikes that had under 20k miles and had not been down. The candidates were 1999 R1, 2003 GSXR, 2003 Aprilia, 2000 RC51, 2003 Ninja, and a 2003 954RR. Even though I had lots of parts to fit the older R1... out of that group I narrowed it down to the RC51, the Aprilia, and the 954RR - which all had similar HP and top speed stats. Without going into all of the details that lead to my final selection, let me just tell you the points that made the 954RR stand out to me:

  1. I had ridden my little brother's pristine 929RR and the bike was incredibly stable at high speed;
  2. Hondas have a better resale value than any of the others;
  3. I didn't have a close dealer to do maintenance on the Aprilia and knew the cost of parts would be high and the availability of parts would be low;
  4. The 954RR seemed to have a newer technology than the two V-twins;
  5. Both the RC51 and Aprilia had better race position setups, with lower bars - which would be great for the track, but may not be so good for an old dude that isn't in regular riding shape. I have attended track days so I know some of what to expect, and I know that every hour you are on the track for 15 minutes and by the end of the day I will be pretty wiped... so that little better position on the 954RR helped win the position comparison.

The bike I chose was a 2003 Honda CBR 954RR with 18k miles on it. Never down and other than sliders, a double bubble tinted screen, and a slip on - had not been modified in any other way. Complete with toolkit. It also had integrated lights (but not installed).


Leaving for any trip always has me wondering what I forgot, the moment I get about half way to my destination. This is even more evident when I am going to do something I've never done. When we went to the track to test cameras, we also checked out various trailer setups and got ideas. We added the bare necessities to my 14 foot enclosed trailer. In this video we identify some of the main things we needed to stay over night, and to do maintenance to the bike and ourselves throughout the day. In our case, we also were concerned with our camera equipment we use to record activities throughout the event.
Trailer Prep - 8:59 minutes
Trailer Prep
Trailer 1
Trailer 2
Trailer 3
Trailer 4
Also see... Bike Prep and At the Track

RDR Journey to Track Days Sponsors


Social Media

Go to YouTube
Go to Facebook
Go to Twitter
Go to Instagram
Go to NWRR Podcast